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From last minute to first in line: Navigating the trend of late ticket buyers
Event marketing strategies

From last minute to first in line: Navigating the trend of late ticket buyers

People are being more careful with their money, which has created a growing trend for late ticket buyers. Find out how you can adapt your strategies to get more fans interested, engaged, and committed earlier on.

Kait Huziak
March 5, 2024

Many folks are feeling the pinch of the economy these days, and event organizers are noticing this trend with more eventgoers holding off on buying tickets until the last minute. Even the world-renowned Coachella is seeing its slowest ticket sales in a decade.

The reality is people are being more careful with their money due to concerns about job security and general economic uncertainty. But it's not all doom and gloom.

According to Eventbrite's recent report on event trends, 90% of surveyed eventgoers plan to attend the same amount of events or more in 2024, and over half of them want to go to more events compared to last year. Plus, 70% of respondents said they prefer spending on experiences over material goods, especially those in the 21- to 35-year-old group who are 1.4 times more likely to prioritize event spending.

While eventgoers may be shifting toward a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to their ticket-purchasing behavior, event marketers can adapt by leaning into flexible and engaging strategies that balance the interest and economic realities of potential attendees. 

Understanding ticket buyer psychology

Late ticket purchases are often driven by a combination of factors. Knowing these reasons can help event marketers tweak their strategies to connect with the mindset behind last-minute ticket buying. Ultimately, late ticket purchases can be boiled down to a few key reasons:

  • Uncertainty: If people have uncertainty about their schedule, budget, or other commitments, they might delay buying tickets until they have a clearer picture.
  • Procrastination: Some eventgoers simply put off buying tickets until the event gets closer because it's not an immediate priority.
  • Financial considerations: If there's a fear of recession or inflation, people may delay spending money on non-essential items, such as event tickets, until they feel more financially secure.
  • Impulse decisions: Ticket buyers might decide to attend an event impulsively, especially if there's a last-minute deal or a sudden desire to do something fun.
  • Availability of discounts: Some people hope that by waiting, they might find a better deal or a special offer that makes the ticket more affordable.
  • Flexibility: People might want to see how their week or month shapes up before committing to an event. Last-minute ticket purchases offer that flexibility.
  • Social influence: Sometimes if people see others talking about an event or if friends decide to go, they might decide to join in at the last minute.

How to combat late ticket sales with FOMO and scarcity

Despite the psychological barriers for ticket buyers, emotions play a big role in getting people to decide to go to events.

In event marketing, reminding people that an event promises a great time creates excitement (this is where fear of missing out, or FOMO, comes into play). Also, if you let subscribers know that tickets are limited or have a special deal, it makes them feel like they need to act fast (that's scarcity). Putting these ideas together can help get fans to buy tickets early instead of waiting until the very end. Here's how to make it happen.

Use tiered ticketing and scarcity messaging

To combat late ticket sales and encourage early action, create a two-pronged approach with tiered ticketing and messaging that lets people know when tickets are running out. Tiered ticketing provides choices, and scarcity messaging creates a rush. Combining them makes people think, "I better get my ticket now while it's a good deal and still available!"

Since tiered ticketing is based on having limited quantities, be sure to communicate with subscribers when certain ticket levels are almost sold out. It nudges them to take action before it’s too late.

Create time-sensitive offers

When there's a limited-time offer, it makes people feel like they need to decide fast. They don't want to miss out on the special deal, so they're more likely to buy their tickets earlier. Some simple ways event marketers can create time-sensitive offers include:

  • Early-bird discounts: Offer a reduced ticket price for those who buy their tickets well in advance.
  • Flash sales: Introduce short-term discounts or special offers that last for a few hours or a day.
  • Limited quantity promotions: Announce that a certain number of tickets are available at a special rate.
  • Bundle deals: Combine tickets with additional perks, like drink tickets or VIP access.

To further create a sense of urgency, event marketers can use countdown clocks and deadlines in marketing materials to highlight the time remaining for a special offer.

Offer exclusive experiences for early birds

Early ticket purchases signal a commitment to the event. Giving these ticket buyers exclusive experiences is a way to reward this commitment and make them feel valued. At the same time, exclusive experiences spark FOMO for those who wait. Late buyers might see what early birds are getting and wish they had decided sooner.

To get people eager to buy their tickets early, here are some unique and special offers:

  • Reserved seating: Reserve the best seats or sections for early bird ticket holders.
  • Exclusive pre-event parties: Host special pre-event parties or gatherings exclusively for early bird attendees.
  • Discounted accommodation packages: Partner with hotels to offer discounted accommodation packages for early bird ticket holders.
  • Limited-edition merchandise: Include exclusive, limited-edition event merchandise as a bonus for early-bird ticket purchasers.
  • VIP access: Provide early bird ticket holders with VIP access, allowing them to enjoy special areas, amenities, or perks during the event.

Use strategic content marketing

Good content marketing makes people interested and eager to buy tickets. It's like telling a story about the event in a way that makes people excited to be a part of it. This can include videos, social media posts, and articles, such as:

  • Video teaser and highlights: Create short video teasers showcasing the event highlights, performers, and exclusive experiences.
  • Exclusive content for subscribers: Offer exclusive content, sneak peeks, or early announcements to subscribers of the event newsletter.
  • Interactive polls and quizzes: Use polls and quizzes on social media to interact with the audience and generate excitement.
  • Social media stories: Share engaging stories, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and countdowns on social media platforms.

Using different types of content on various platforms, event marketers can thwart late ticket sales. This helps keep the event in people’s thoughts and keeps their interest alive over time.

Try interactive marketing campaigns

The use of interactive campaigns helps turn promotion into a fun experience for subscribers. Rather than just watching or reading content, it allows hopeful eventgoers to participate and enjoy the process. This excitement pushes people to decide early and not miss out on the interactive fun or the event itself.

A few ways event marketers can use interactive marketing campaigns include:

  • User-generated content challenges: Encourage attendees to create and share content related to the event, such as photos, videos, or artwork, with a chance to be featured.
  • Quizzes and trivia challenges: Share event-related quizzes or trivia challenges on social media, with participants earning points or discounts for correct answers.
  • Social media contests: Run contests on social media platforms where participants can win free tickets or exclusive experiences by engaging with the event page, sharing posts, or using event hashtags.

The key is to make the interactions fun, related to the event, and easy to share, so they have a bigger effect. 

Wrap up

Even though current events may have an effect on ticket purchasing decisions among eventgoers, the desire to go to events is still strong. By understanding the nuances behind late ticket purchases and how to counter them, event marketers can adapt their strategies to get more fans interested, engaged, and committed earlier on.