Ticket Pricing

Introduction

We’ve been getting a significant number of questions about what goes in to the “black box” of event planning. This letter is intended to answer your questions about our budget process and how we set ticket prices.

Over five years, we have grown to six times our original size and three times our original number of class and dance options. Since 2008, when the event started with just over 100 people in Houston and a top price of $180, the event has grown to over 600 people and a top price of $349. We’ve gone from 2.5 days and one room, to 3 full days, 3 evening dances, 3 late nights, and 3 rooms. Our extreme growth forces us into a different venue bracket usually reserved for mega-competitions and corporate events. Our desire to grow fusion, be more accessible to more people, and to give you more every year also requires us to raise the price. But, we first reduce our margin and take on more risk, before we ever raise the price. We put our attendees first at every step in the process.

 

Why do we ask the dance community to vote on their preference for FX’s location, venue, and ticket prices?

Starting in 2013, we have put our location and prices to a vote amongst the community. This means we research and negotiate four or five separate deals with viable venues. We try and negotiate venue costs (including catering if required by the venue, room booking guarantees, hotel room rates, and additional costs) into a preferred budget which does not have any impact on our preferred ticket pricing. When a venue does not make our preferred ticket pricing possible, we adjust our ticket prices to make the venue financially viable. After we’ve negotiated all the deals, we assemble and present the costs and benefits of each venue (including bottom and top tier prices) to the dance community so that they can vote on which combination of location, venue, hotel room rates, and FX AA ticket costs are the most desirable to them.

Why do we do this? In 2013 as we researched venues, it became clear to us that LVFX was a rare circumstance where we could find a hotel large enough to fit our attendees and allow us to bring in our own food and beverage. The vast majority of properties do not, under any circumstances, allow outside food and beverage in their facilities due to liability and health code concerns. Accordingly, we did not feel comfortable raising our prices to unless we gave the community a say in the matter and let them choose which combination of costs and value they were most comfortable with. This ensures that each attendee knows the upper limits of our ticket prices and buys into the venue, location, and amenities. It tells us very clearly what the dance community wants and supports our decision to take bigger risks because we know that the attendees have bought into our risk taking.

 

How do you set your ticket prices?

We sell our tickets on a sliding scale determined by the venue costs and voting of potential FX attendees. The sliding scale helps keep tickets accessible, as well as rewards early buyers for their commitment. To give early registration discounts, we take a loss (of at least $30,000) on a certain first number of attendees. But that loss has to be made up somewhere. The higher ticket prices at the end account for the lower ticket prices at the beginning. Based on surveys, attendee voting, and economics, we develop what we consider a maximum reasonable ticket price.

Because the budget is set based on the number of people, we set the prices per quantity of tickets sold, not by date. If we set price by date, all tickets would be sold at the lowest level and we could not cover our budget. In return, we’d have to do away with all tiered pricing, just to make our budget.  That would result in the event being out of reach for many more people.

The vast majority of tickets are not sold at the full price. Our budget is not 500 tickets multiplied by the top tier price. Remember that we front-load our risk and lose money per attendee for the first several hundred attendees who register. The event doesn’t break even until far beyond where the ticket price and event cost per attendee even out.