Five Real Ways to Generate Revenue With Any Event

Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Stop relying on income from registration fees. Start generating revenue with your event now by implementing these 5 easy ways.

Money sign illustration
Break even quicker by generating outside revenue. Illustration by Svilen Milev.

The most recent guest post on an Eventbrite blog attempts to give you five ways of generating more revenue with smaller events. It’s a good read, but the title is a bit misleading. Only the last method is what you can qualify as generating revenue. Go ahead and read the post, so you know what it is. It is, after all, very informative.

The other four ways would fall in a category of cutting your expenses, which is saving rather than generating revenue. This prompted some thoughts on the topic: How do you generate more revenue other than registration fees? It’s a question every event planner asks, or at least should ask.

This is a shortlist of powerful ways you can increase your revenue for any event without relying heavily on registration fees:

1. Sell Sponsorships

This is a great way not only to generate extra revenue for your event, but you can get huge discounts and free stuff from your sponsors to give out to your attendees as a gift.

2. Sell Ad Space

This one comes in many forms, and to make it easy to understand here’s a quick list of ad space you can sell:

  • Allow advertisers to buy an opportunity to include something (brochure, flier, free sample, etc.) in your attendee gift bag.
  • Sell ad space on event website. Learn how to do it with Eventbrite page.
  • Sell ad space inside event program/schedule booklet. But really, don’t limit yourself to this. Sell ad space in anything printed that goes out to the masses.
  • Sell ad space for company logos on the event banner. Don’t have one? Get one and let ad revenue pay for itself.
  • Sell ad space on volunteer/staff T-shirts.
  • If you can print on it, sell ad space on it. Make it pay for itself. For example, large individual room schedules. Sell “sponsored by” space on them.

3. VIP

Turn free perks into higher-priced VIP registration. This was huge success with a nonprofit convention I ran. The president was a bit skeptical, but skepticism went away fast when they were sold out. What free perks you can monetize on?

  • Reserved front-row seating. Also goes for banquet-style setups, first row of tables.
  • VIP-only check-in at the event. Merge it with speakers and press. It’ll pay off.
  • Got free samples of something? Give them to VIPs.
  • For hotel events, negotiate a small reception at the front desk for VIPs. You can usually get it for free, if you know how to negotiate with the sales manager.
  • Don’t forget to slap “VIP” on their badge, make them important. They’ll come back.
  • Not free but works wonders. If you charge an extra $50 on top of regular registrations, negotiate special meal for VIPs only (breakfast, lunch, or dinner) at a lower cost to still make extra profits. TIP: Continental breakfast is usually the cheapest, per person, option. If you’re good, you can get it under $10. Have your speakers and executive staff attend the meal, so VIPs can network and socialize.
  • Anything free can be monetized. Don’t be afraid to do it. People love VIP status, no matter what comes with it.

4. Sell Books

Are you doing book signings? Well, why don’t you let your attendees buy them online and earn referral fees? This is where the Amazon Associate program comes into place. It’s easy to use and you can earn extra change on selling books written by your speakers. How to make it into an incentive? “Why pay a higher price and wait in long lines at the convention expo to buy John Doe’s latest book ‘The Book’ if you can buy it on Amazon right now and have it shipped to you or your hotel room. Don’t wait in two lines to get a book signed!” Something along those lines. The best option to do is include referral links to books on the speaker’s page on your event website. Also, do include a little blurb about it in each email that goes out to registered attendees.

5. Sell Merchandise

Sell event merchandise before the actual event. If you won’t have the merchandise before the event, use services like CafePress to offer special deals and cool merchandise that they won’t be able to get at the event.
Bonus for Nonprofits:

Run a low or no-cost fundraiser as a separate event at your main event.

There are many more. But these are some extremely profitable ways you can increase revenue for your event, hit the break-even point sooner, and go home with a fatter wallet. Feel free to share your tips on how you generate outside revenue for your event in the comment section.