5 Ways For Increasing Ticket Sales During Holidays

5 Ways For Increasing Ticket Sales During Holidays

It’s the holiday season and that means the public is looking forward to discounts. Fairs and Fairgrounds should be taking advantage of that concept as well. There are two reasons to offer Black Friday deals – first of all you’re continuing to keep the Fair event at the top of your fans  list of things to do and second, and more importantly, you’re adding revenue to your bottom line during a relatively slow revenue period. Typically the last quarter of the year has much less events on the grounds than other months. 

Below are 5 ideas for ways to offer discounts for Black Friday and other Holidays: 

#1 – Season Pass Discounts – If your fair sells a ‘run of fair pass’ (or season pass) consider offering it at the lowest cost possible on Black Friday. Grandparents/parents can buy the tickets for their grandchildren as holiday presents, and families can get the best possible value to attend the Fair multiple days. Make sure that the pricing is at least 20-30% off the regular pricing.

#2 – Discount Admission Tickets – Offering admission tickets at 30% on-site admission pricing is very attractive to those who are ‘cost conscious’. Consider a one price level for all, or a buy one get one free option. Take a look at what other venues/events are doing in your area . That will indicate what the public is willing to buy. It’s important that this pricing is lower than your regular discount pricing. 

#3 – Discount Parking Tickets – Consider offering a parking upgrade for those who choose convenience and time over price. Have a section of your parking lot designated as VIP Parking, it’s closer to the admission gate, has covered parking (ie solar panels or even trees), or provides valet parking. You’ll need to follow your state/county/city ADA guidelines and offer ADA spaces in this area as well. 

#4 – Concert or Paid Attraction Tickets that includes Fair Admission – if your Fair has paid concerts, or other paid attractions  (rodeo, demolition derby, car or other racing), offering those tickets for a larger discount than is normally sold will be attractive to those bargain seekers. 

#5 – Sign Up for the Fair’s/Fairgrounds e-newsletter and get a ‘code’ for a % off a purchase of a ticket, concert, event, etc.. This one will help you increase your email list, while also generating interest in fair fans purchasing tickets. You should have this be at a different discount level than the Black Friday deals. It should be less of a discount because they are receiving a different benefit for their email address. 

Bonus #6 – Flash Sale – pick a day and pick an admission ticket and do a ‘flash sale’ – an unadvertised sale during the pre-sale period. Encourage people to sign up for your newsletter so they get the email the morning of the flash sale. 

In developing your ticket sales marketing plan, take advantage of other nationally recognized holidays before your event and implement one of these 6 sales opportunities for those holidays as well.. Having a calendar of these promotions should be part of your ticket sales marketing plan so you can track the response. 

In the event you think discounting tickets will hurt your bottom line revenue realize you’ll attract those bargain hunter fans that all fairs have, and you’ll  provide some ‘weather proof’ revenue for your organization. You won’t severely impact your onsite ticket sales – there are always a group of people who do not take advantage of discount ticket sales for a variety of reasons. 

And there you have it – 6 ways to use Black Friday as a method to promote and sell Fairtime admission, concert, fair attraction tickets or increase your email database. 

#1 – Season Pass Discounts

#2 – Discount Admission Tickets

#3 – Discount Parking or VIP Parking Experience

#4 – Concert or Paid Attraction Tickets that include Fair Admission

#5 – Sign up for the Fair’s e-newsletter and a % off a ticket purchase

Bonus #6 – Flash Sale ie unadvertised sale

In all of these options, make sure that any convenience fees collected do not ‘gobble’ up any savings your fans would get. Each online ticketing company has multiple ways to price their rates, having a good contract in place to insure your fans aren’t paying more than they save is important.

Remember to check out what other venues and events are offering in your area as well as what other Fairs and Festivals are offering. Keep a spreadsheet of the venue/event, regular pricing and discount pricing so you have some actual data to compare. Another group to watch is major retailers – what are they offering to residents in your community or close to their retail outlets. These retailers have a massive research team (and budget) providing their marketing teams with significant data. Take advantage of that. For example, I observed a large retailer offering ‘tortillas’ on opening day in a community many assumed was not hispanic. Getting that type of data provided us with the ability to market to a different demographic than had historically been under-represented in that zip code for our demographic marketing. 

Hopefully these ideas can spark other ways to get some pre-fair ticket sales as well as some marketing and PR about the fair out in the community months before the event.

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Connecting With our Competitive Exhibitors During Shelter At Home Scenarios

We are in very uncharted and challenging times. Many of our fairgoers and competitive entry exhibitors have been mandated by their local government and/or health department to stay home. Some County/State Fairs, Livestock Shows and Rodeos have been cancelled for the year. Others are in limbo while their year round events have been significantly reduced for the next few weeks. 

For those who are moving forward with their Fair Planning activities, our team has identified a way to keep our message about the fair in front of everyone via social media. For those who know me and/or know our Fair and our Fair Team, I can share that TB (if you know her you know who I mean) came up with this idea of the video series and I think it’s great! Have our exhibitors create videos of them preparing to enter their item into the fair. 

The concept is to do a video series of some of our exhibitors preparing their item to enter into the Fair. Here are some of the ideas:

1 – Select an exhibitor in canning, quilting, arts/craft etc and have them do a self video of them working on their item.

2 – Find someone who can highlight what fruits/veggies/flowers they should be planting now/near future to be entered into the Fair. 

3 – Do a video for ideas for parents to have their kid’s do a craft to enter for the fair.

4 – Do a video for adults to do a craft to enter into the fair

5 – Do a video about learning a new hobby that the result can be entered in the fair – this can be done at a local craft store showing what items they would need to purchase. Note: Most of these purchases can be done online.

Encourage them to take up a new hobby, learn a new skill! Even if that means it’s learned online!

While this is very turbulent times, everyone is looking and seeking for some normalcy. Your fairgrounds and your fair can provide that to our employees and patrons.    

Be safe everyone!

Pandemic Preparation for Your Organization or Business

The Covid 19 Coronavirus has officially been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. With that declaration countries around the world are mobilizing to secure their borders, contain the virus, protect their people and prepare for the worst case scenario. 

Fairgrounds and other event facilities are being told to cancel all events for 3-8 weeks – depending on the State. Some Fair’s have already been cancelled by their cities – Houston Livestock Show, Miami Dade Youth Fair, Colorado River Fair are recent examples. 

The Centers for Disease Control has created this great checklist for preparing and dealing with a pandemic incident. It is called the Business Pandemic Influenza Planning Checklist. Although it was written for influenza and large businesses, any size fair organization or fair partner can benefit from reviewing and implementing activities listed. Here is the link:


Communication is the most important action your organization can take. Communicate with your Board of Directors, local city/county leaders, employees, event promoters, and your public – what are you doing and what is going on with events. 

Fairgrounds have a huge advantage over convention centers, theaters, meeting halls, etc. Fair Staff have been dealing with consumer protection issues for years – primarily preparing and preventing ecoli incidents, educating the public about human/animal interactions. Take all that messaging and protocols – modify for the current pandemic. 

Also, reach out to your Industry organizations: Fair Associations, NICA, OABA, etc.. They are communicating with Federal, State and Local officials, politicians, and their own members. If you don’t have a PR department, your industry organizations can provide you with valuable information that you can modify for your local fair organization or business. 

Remember, you are part of a large industry regardless of the size of your organization, your fair attendance or your budget. Be safe, and be prepared. 

Final Update On Creating New Events To Increase Attendance

Final Update On Creating New Events To Increase Attendance

It’s now 90 days after our Fair! I wasn’t able to post before we opened – so many new things going on and I just lost track of time! So here is the final update from our cultural events we created.

We had a great Fair! I’ll start out with that. The weather cooperated with most days at 80 degrees and one or two days in the 90 degree level. For those who produce outdoor events you know that weather is the key to success! You can have the best programming, entertainment, and advertising …. And if your event is outdoors and it’s 100 degrees …well, there goes attendance! Fortunately, we had great weather!

During the past 90 days since Fair ended, the team has spent hours having discussions on what worked, what needs improvement and what do we never want to do (ie go through) again. Oh yeah … and many of us have been on vacation enjoying some much needed time off!

My last post had us in a quagmire! We were unable to find a media partner to assist us in producing our asian continent themed events. As a result, we had reached out to an individual we worked with 6 years ago for our “Spice of India” event which celebrated the cultures of the Asian Continent. He knew us and knew what it would take to move forward. (Note: In case you were wondering why we didn’t go this route in the beginning we had a very small budget and planned for existing staff to take on coordinating each event. Unfortunately that didn’t happen). 

Fortunately, this person was interested and willing to assist us in coordinating and promoting our events. And, he understood budget limitations …. So ….60 days out from opening day we finally had a partner and someone we knew would deliver!

During that 60 day period, many emails and phone calls occurred. We waived food concession revenue to get some food trucks in for the two days. We had 3 food trucks for each day which featured food from the asian continent. Fortunately, all 3 of the food trucks had been at our fairgrounds for a year round event so they already were familiar with our grounds and what it took to sell food to the public ie health dept permits, power, water and sewer needs, and an idea of crowd capacity. We told them to plan on 500 people each day to give them some idea of the crowd and their potential sales.

Our event promoter spent a great deal of time coordinating the various groups who would be performing. Our Fair team assisted in collecting information from the groups including their performance liability waivers, distribution of admission and parking tickets and helping them get in and get out of the fairgrounds on the two days. 

Most all of the entertainers made it onto the fairgrounds, however, the belly dancer had a sword as part of her performance and she was concerned that security would not let her through the metal detectors…..so we helped her get through that process securely.

We had scheduled the stage for programming from 12 noon – 6 pm. We open the Fair at 11 am. We allowed 1 hour for fairgoers to get in and reach the stage in time for the entertainment to begin. The first day the entertainment started a bit late, and the second day it started closer to 12 noon. 

Both of these events were held on Sundays to increase attendance on Sunday. We had some amazing performances and activities. On the Asian Pacific Celebration day, we had performances from all the asian countries with the exception of two countries and one of those two countries was represented via the food truck (Vietnam). During the Bollywood at the Fair some of the fair patrons were invited on stage to take part in the dancing. There was also MC’s for both days to explain and teach about the different activities going on. This made a big difference 

Overall, we do believe we had an increase in the demographics that we wanted to reach: asian american and indian american. 

Our rough estimates are that 1000 people attended each event, however, our fair team observed many others attending the fair throughout the two weekends 

We are so pleased with the results that we will continue these two events for 2020. We are meeting with the event promoter soon to discuss 2020! 

Update on Creating New Events to Increase Attendance

Part 3 Creating Events To Increase Attendance

We are 2 months away from opening day. Where have the days gone????? We have finalized the entertainment for the hispanic event, and we continue to work on the Asian Pacific American and the Indian American events. We are challenged working with media from these two cultural groups. It’s definitely not the same as working with Univision!

We had one radio station lined up for our Indian American event and they even provided some potential entertainers. I thought “great! We are close to finalizing our entertainment and food for this one”! And then when we reached out to one of the groups the radio station recommended, they wanted $2500 for a 5 minute performance, and then they wanted additional fees to do some on-stage classes. While this group had some high level performers…we are a county fair with a very limited budget so we respectfully said thanks but no to them.

I had a conversation with our media buyers about this situation. I learned that they too were surprised to learn that the radio station wasn’t coming through as they presented themselves during our in-person meeting. This radio station will only function as a media outlet – we buy media time and they will do promotions on top of our media buy. It’s so frustrating because they seemed so anxious to work with us overall when we met in person. As a result, we are re-evaluating our entertainment and food options. We have decided to reach out to someone our Fair worked with 6 years ago with ties to this demographic to help us book entertainment and make introductions to some food vendors. We’ve provided him with a budget and we will see what he comes up with.

We also have a second demographic, asian americans, that we are creating a separate festival for. We have chosen to call this event the “Asian Pacific American” festival. This event is moving slower than we want as well. The media partners we have reached out to haven’t been as receptive to our planned festival as we had hoped. It seems that these media outlets are more focused on us paying them a huge fee to produce an event in addition to our buying media time on their radio/tv stations. And how does that make us a partner??????? Anyway our team has decided to go a different route in producing this event as well. We have a team member with some connections to the entertainment groups we seek, and we also have a couple community groups from the asian pacific community who have performed at the fair in the past. We are reaching out to them to invite them to perform on the day of our Asian Pacific American festival.

So, with 2 months until opening day, where do we go from here on promoting these new 2 events? Well….we aren’t cancelling them …..sooooooooo …… As I tell my team, for every new program, we need to take a 3 year approach. What does that mean? Well, any new program you create needs 3 years to determine it’s success rate. The first year you create the event/program. Year 2 you tweak it, and by the end of Year 3 you decide to keep it or dump it!

Meanwhile, how do we provide our marketing team with information, photos, schedules, etc to promote these new events? As fast as we can get it to them…. Photo by photo, bio by bio, and the schedule as we finalize it with each event. It’s not pretty, and it’s not perfect, We can only provide them what we can guarantee will be there!

Stay tuned – I’ll give one more update before Fair…and then will give you an update after Fair on how it all worked out.