Most chambers offer free and paid events for the community. But what do you do when you’ve decided a free event should become a paid one? How do you get people who were used to eating or drinking for free to suddenly pay for the benefit of attendance? It’s not easy and must be handled carefully. Here are a few things to consider.
Transitioning from a Free Chamber Event to a Paid One
The amount of your new charge affects how you roll out the new pricing. The event was free and now you’re charging, but what are you charging? Are you going from free to $80 a plate? If so, people might riot. Or are you going to a nominal fee of $5. The following will help you navigate the process based on your new fee.
If the increase is small… If the new amount is $5 or something fairly small, make a quick announcement that you’re going from free to $5 to cover recent increases in your costs. Don’t apologize. Just make the statement. Don’t make it into a bigger issue than it is.
If the increase is a little larger…If you’re going from free to something over the cost of lunch, see if you can get a sponsor to cover all or even part of the cost. That way you can either keep the price free for attendees or they can pay a little to help defray costs. A small difference is better than a large one.
If the increase is the cost of a full meal…Think about changing the theme altogether. For instance, if you had a free lunch and learn and now attendees are being charged $20 for the event, make it an “afternoon with an expert.” Changing the theme can help convey that while it may have some of the same informative speakers, it is now more specialized or focused at real-world wins. Change something about the event that seems slightly more upscale while keeping some of what people liked about it to begin with. A lunch and learn sounds very homey. An “executive seminar,” on the other hand, sounds a lot more exclusive and worthy of paying for entrance.
If you’re thinking about changing up your event, download the free 100 Chamber Event Theme Ideas to get your creative juices flowing.