Blimey. Today’s batch of 50 tickets went on sale at noon today, and they sold out in under 5 minutes. That is much faster than we expected, so we’ve brought forward the next batch to go on sale Monday 10th October, at noon GMT. There’s 200 tickets in this batch, so there should be plenty of time to get one before they all disappear.
It might seem strange, or frustrating, to sell tickets this way, but there’s a good reason – selling early bird tickets helps our cashflow, as the vast amount of the cost of running conferences has to be paid up front. By September, the time the first batch went on sale, we’d already had to spend nearly £5,000 on venue hire, flights, and other costs for the event, so getting early bird ticket sales really helps our cashflow.
However, this year, it does seem that the balance between getting money up front and demand for tickets is a bit out of whack. We’re learning every year about how to sell tickets, so it might be worth sharing some data from previous The Story events to show the patterns of sales.
For the first The Story event in 2010, tickets were sold in three batches – ‘early bird’, ‘later bird’ and ‘proper tickets’. It was the first year for the event, and tickets sold pretty steadily until just the week before the event. We announced speakers in batches in the run up to the event, so that we could spread the word and drive ticket sales, and daily ticket sales fluctuated as these tweets and blog posts attracted people to buy tickets. The last few tickets sold the day before the event, and the chart looked like this:
For The Story 2011, we released tickets in just two batches – ‘early bird’ and ‘later bird’, and again released speaker information in batches. We had faster sales around ticket releases, but outside of that, sales were pretty slow until a final burst in late Jan, meaning we sold out before February, a few weeks before the event. Here’s the chart for The Story 2011:
So, this seemed to show that releasing more batches is a better way of getting early ticket sales, so for The Story 2012 we’re trying four batches, partly as a way to help cashflow, but also a way to keep down the tickets price for early bird tickets. Demand has been *way* higher than we expected, with both batches selling out in minutes. The next batch has 200 tickets, so should sell much more slowly, so apologies to anyone who has been frustrated about getting a ticket – you should be able to next Monday!
After the event next February, we’ll share the ticket sales data again- if you’re organising a conference, this is a really hard thing to get right. I’d love to see what other people are learning from organising their events.