Planning & Promotion

Can We Make Event Subscriptions a Reality?

Eventually Learning Team

“We are on a plant of seven billion people, five billion mobile subscriptions.” – Paul Conneally.

I am a part of the 'Access Subscription' club, guilty as charged! And, it's that time of the month when my recurrent bill for Netflix will pop up on my account. These kinds of subscriptions periodically charge their audiences for their services and are in popular demand in the entertainment, retail, education and networking sectors.

Have you noticed the glut in subscription-based business models, or is it just me? You can even get flowers at your doorstep by agreeing to be a monthly subscriber! According to research by Gartner, almost all new software businesses and 80% of historical vendors are now pivoting to subscription-based business models.

Could this be the next big thing for the event industry? Implementing a subscription-based business model for events could have a colossal impact on the number of repeat registrations, thereby helping you build a loyal attendee base and a predictable cash flow into your bank accounts!

What do you think is better for your event business?

Returns on Event Planning Efforts 10X With Subscriptions

Just like the gig economy, Subscription Economy is materializing in 2022! It has been dominant in the B2B, B2C and D2C industries, especially in entertainment, education, sports and networking events. As an event planner, it is your call to integrate subscriptions, but remember that it can't be a 'one size fits all' policy! Depending on the type and scale of your event, your membership pricing must be altered often.

Right from the get-go, offering membership opportunities to attendees creates a shift in the mindset, the attendee switches from a 'passive observer' mode to a 'self-ownership and access’ one. Their ever-changing needs might compel them to compare event ticket pricing with a fine-tooth comb if it's a one-time sale. However, if it's a subscription-based event model, you can offer it at a slightly lower price than your average ticket sale to compel them to click on 'Subscribe now.' In addition, if your subscription comes with additional guerdons such as merch, access to insider sessions, intimate networking, VIP or early bird access, then the audience is bound to subscribe rather than buying tickets in an a la carte fashion.

Our advice: Try building an interactive experience or a guide on your event website or landing page, which informs your digerati about the kind of event subscriptions you offer and their benefits! Offering last-stage subscription incentives might also trigger impulsive buying, eventually leading to increased ROI.

Pick the Best-fit Strategy From These Subscription Types Below

According to Salesforce, an average of 217% of subscribers are more profitable than one-time customers. Similarly, you can sidestep the idea of event registrations and services to deviate toward the concept of subscriptions. Here are some types of subscription offerings to choose from:

1) Access Subscriptions –

  • Recurrent billing
  • Multiple services
  • Access only for members
  • Netflix
  • Amazon Prime
  • Hulu
Best for:

Event professionals with far-reaching clientele, patronage and attendees can leverage Access Subscriptions.

2) Box Subscriptions –

  • Recurring shipments
  • Distribution of new products/services
  • Differentiated experience
  • Dollar Shave Club
  • Loot Crate
  • HelloFresh
Best for:

Event companies, caterers, merchandise makers, and venues coming up with new launches/services can use the Box Subscription model.

3) Autoship Subscriptions –

  • Automated recurring orders
  • Cost saving
  • Maximized convenience

Ecommerce websites like Amazon have the option to 'Subscribe and Save.' You can choose a product you need monthly, and they will ship the order at discounted prices every month.

Best for:

Event vendors or product/service-based companies with a stable client base can pivot to the Autoship Subscription model.

Performance and Cohort Analysis With Subscription Data Is a Cinch

Let’s assume that Jan has had a subscription model on her event website for the past year. Now, it's easy for Jan to break down data bytes into sensible chunks of information that illustrate audience behavior. Say, Jan has consistently maintained an average of 2,0000 monthly subscribers. Now, it will become easier for her to plan her next event because she can quickly analyze the performance of her previous events based on the number of subscriptions increasing and decreasing. In addition, she can even pinpoint which event sessions or monthly newsletters were most subscribed for or which speaker was responsible for converting audiences into subscriber traffic.

In all, Jan can be a remarkable event planner and orchestrate perfect events because she has consumer trends and audience behavior data at her fingertips!

Subscription Business Model Success Story: A Tale As Old As Time

When it comes to B2B subscription models, companies like Adobe, Salesforce and Canva have made a fortune by pivoting from the transactional customer to software as a service (SaaS). But one successful example of a subscription-based business model is MailChimp.

Ben Chestnut, Dan Kurzius, and Mark Armstrong founded MailChimp together in 2001. It's an American Marketing Automation Platform offering email marketing services to its customers. In 2009, MailChimp came up with a freemium pricing model. The 'Free Forever' plan allowed people to use MailChimp's email marketing services for free until their email list reached 100 people. By offering their services for free, they noticed a staggering increase in their number of paying customers - by 150%!

Final Words

As an event planner, don't be afraid of testing the waters of subscription-based business models. You can seamlessly direct your audiences to transition from one-time users to paid repeat customers. While planning subscription packages, think of virtual, in-person and hybrid events. Based on your plan, you can create bundles that give attendees and other stakeholders the freedom to choose a model that allows them to support you in their capacity.

In addition, you can make your ‘Subscribers’ truly happy by making them feel like actual insiders. Offer them leeway to select seats, discounts for event passes, VIP access and other discounts. Get creative!

Frequently Asked Questions

What must event planners ‘Do’ while starting an event subscription?

Here’s a list of Dos that an event planner can follow while starting an event subscription:
  • Highlight the value of the subscription for the subscribers
  • Give flexibility to the audience to pick a suitable subscription model
  • Give a shoutout to your subscribers during your event (virtually and in person)
  • Keep in touch with your subscribers through emails, newsletters, blogs and other means

What must event producers avoid while starting an event subscription?

Here’s a list of Don’ts that event planners must take heed of while starting a subscription service:
  • Don’t spam your subscribers’ inbox
  • Don’t set the pricing too high
  • Don’t get too lax! Always think of creative ways to ‘wow’ your subscribers
  • Don’t make other audiences feel too left out or hurt if they don’t subscribe

What are the three main pillars for a business to flourish in the membership economy?

For a business to thrive in the membership economy, these are the requirements:
  • Subscriptions – Where companies offer services, products or content in return for recurring revenue.
  • Community – A network of loyal clients and stakeholders who help to enhance the value of your membership.
  • Loyalty – Always aim to please and value your audiences! It will help to expand word-of-mouth publicity and get you more customers and assist with customer retention as well.

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