Determining the right time to start selling tickets for an event can be tricky. You want to begin marketing and sales early enough to generate buzz and get people excited about attending, but not so far in advance that interest fizzles out. Here are some tips on timing your ticket sales strategy.
Consider the Type of Event
A major factor is the type and scale of event you are hosting. Large events like conferences, festivals, and concerts often require more long-range planning and promotion than smaller events. Here are some general guidelines based on event type:
|When to Begin Selling Tickets
|6-12 months out
|3-6 months out
|Performing arts events
|2-3 months out
|Small local events
|1-2 months out
Major events like large music festivals or conferences need ample time to promote ticket sales, get sponsorships, and nail down all the programming details. Smaller scale events can often be planned and promoted in a shorter timeframe.
Know Your Audience
The demographic you are targeting with your event also influences ideal timing for ticket sales. Groups like students, families, and budget-conscious buyers tend to plan farther in advance and look for early bird discounts. More affluent or frequent event-goers may be comfortable buying tickets closer to show date. Evaluate your audience and consider when they realistically start planning their calendars and budgets around events.
Consider Sales Cycles and Patterns
Look at historical sales data and cycles for similar events. Some instances when you may want to start selling tickets earlier include:
- Right before or after major holidays when people have more free time and are making plans.
- When similar events have sold out quickly in prior years.
- When you are introducing a new event and need extra time to generate awareness.
You also want to avoid launching sales too close to holidays like Christmas or summer vacation periods when many people are preoccupied.
Allow Time for Momentum to Build
For all but the smallest events, you want to allow enough time for awareness to grow and sales momentum to build. This means starting promotions fairly far in advance, like teasing announcements on social media leading up to the sales launch. Don’t expect to sell out overnight. Allow time for word-of-mouth buzz to spread.
Have a Series of Sales Phases
One strategy used by many event promoters is tiered sales opening at different times. This allows you to generate momentum and incentivize buyers at each phase. Here is an example multi-tiered schedule:
|6 months out
|Special pre-sale for loyal fans, email list etc. only. Limited number of discounted tickets.
|5 months out
|Discounted tickets to incentivize early buyers.
|Main sales launch
|3-4 months out
|Start of sales to general public at full price.
|1 month out
|Extra marketing push for last minute sales.
This encourages early sales while also planning sales spikes and momentum boosters closer to the event date.
Make Sure Your Event Is Truly Ready
It can be tempting to start selling tickets as soon as possible, but be sure all the key details are buttoned up first. You want to have:
- Venue, date, and time confirmed.
- Key staff like vendors and designers contracted.
- A solid event marketing plan.
- Ticketing processes and technology set up.
- Permits, insurance, and other legalities taken care of.
Rushing into ticket sales prematurely can cause headaches down the road if details need to shift later on. Do your due diligence so all the linchpins are in place before opening sales.
Leave Some Wiggle Room
When determining your sales launch date, build in some buffer room on the front end in case you need to push the date back a few weeks. Things often take longer than expected when planning major events. You don’t want to have to tell buyers the event is delayed after they have already purchased tickets.
The ideal timing for opening ticket sales depends on several factors like event size, target audience, and sales patterns for similar events. Larger festivals, conferences, and concerts require starting promotions 6 months to a year in advance. Smaller events may only need 1-2 months of lead time.
No matter the event scale, allow time to generate buzz, offer discounts to early birds, and build sales momentum. Have all the event logistics finalized before selling tickets. And build in some cushion in case timelines need to shift.
With careful planning and strategic timing, you can ensure your ticket sales launch hits the sweet spot to attract attendees and make your event a success.