At Ticketleap, we realized we’ve never really used our own product. We decided to fix that by throwing an event of our own. And I’m really glad we did it — we learned a TON. One of the biggest things we learned is just how hard it is to sell tickets to a first time event. We sold 211 tickets, but 120 were left unsold.
The fact is, we got a lot of buzz. Local blogs wrote about it, popular people tweeted about it, and we worked hard to promote it. But selling something online is hard! There are so many things competing for attention, that even if your event does get talked about, it’s difficult for the buzz from your event to cut through the buzz from everything else online. What made it especially challenging is our event was new — people weren’t sure what to expect. Without that known-entity factor, it’s hard to convert attention to ticket sales.
A first time event can have a known-entity factor. If we had booked John Legend, I’m sure we would have sold out. People know exactly what they’re going to get from John Legend. But for most event creators, us included, it takes time to build your own brand, to become your own known-entity. For example, one of our favorite events here in town is called “Ignite Philly.” Their most recent event was Ignite Philly 12, and they sold out in 2 days.
The point is NOT that you need to have a proven act or even be proven yourself to create a great event. It just means, adjust your expectations. Don’t book that 364 seat venue for your first event. It doesn’t mean don’t be ambitious, but if your space that holds 50 people sells out quickly, I don’t think you’ll have any regrets — that first small event will always be special.
Despite the struggle to sell tickets, our event was well attended, and the feedback from everyone was great. The event was a success and I bet that the event that’s in your head, waiting to be created, will be successful too, even without John Legend.