How to make more money from events: 14 ways to increase event revenue

How to make more money from events: 14 ways to increase event revenue

by Jocelyn KeJul 24, 2023
How to make more money from events: 14 ways to increase event revenue

While events provide opportunities for people to connect, they've also become a significant source of income for many businesses. Increasing event profit without overcharging attendees, however, can be tricky. Finding the right balance between maximizing event profits and crafting memorable event experiences can feel like walking a tightrope.

As event organizers, the demands of registration, logistics, and planning often clash with ensuring a profitable return. We've gathered some practical strategies to maximize the full revenue potential of your event, whether it's a paid or free event that you want to monetize.

Reasons to generate more revenue from events:

  • Cover costs

  • Generate profit

  • Long-term viability & sustainability 

  • Brand awareness & engagement

Planning a financially successful event

Financially successful events are a combination of managing costs, maximizing revenue sources, and achieving pre-defined goals and objectives. It isn't as simple as raising prices of tickets, making the events bigger, or organizing more of them each year. There has to be a balance between attendee satisfaction (which includes the price of the event) and profitability for organizers.

“The bigger the event, the higher the costs”

Sources of event income

There are 3 parts that contribute to overall event revenue:

  1. Number of attendees (or tickets sold)

  2. Amount earned per attendee (ticket price + upsells)

  3. Managing cost (keeping it lower than revenue)

Depending on your budget and type of event, these factors may differ in importance and level of opportunity.

In-person: venue, staffing, and logistics costs may be difficult to reduce, but you could potentially earn more per participant with upsells

Virtual: overhead expenses are low but earning more per attendee may be tricky; lots of virtual events are free while others struggle to sell tickets consistently

Hybrid: Hybrid events provide the most opportunities to increase revenue as you can leverage technology to improve efficiency, distribute content long after the event has ended, and reach people who cannot attend in-person

📈 On average, hosting an in-person event tends to be 47.8% more expensive compared to a virtual one

📈 80% of virtual events are free, but the average paid virtual event costs $443 [source: Zippia]

By considering these key factors, you can plan an event that benefits both attendees and organizers. Let's dive into strategies and monetization tactics for ideas that you can implement for your next event to diversify revenue streams and increase ROI.

Ways to earn more money from events💡Tip: Sell tickets online? Check out 10 Ticketing Platforms with the Lowest Fees [2023]

For all types of events (#1 to #6)

1. Sponsorships

When it comes to making more money from events, event sponsors are one of the first things that come to mind. They are often a crucial contributor to event budgeting, especially for charities and non-profits. If you are new to this, it might seem daunting to offer sponsorship opportunities. But it is well worth trying because it has the most potential payoff:

  • Secure necessary resources

  • Cover costs

  • Lower ticket prices for attendees

  • Offer your attendees more value

  • Lends credibility to the event

  • Get a boost in publicity & PR

  • Reach a wider audience

You'll find event sponsorships in a lot of places;

Sponsors on event website

Sponsors on event ticket (image from Downtown Sykesville Connection)There are 3 main types of sponsorships:

  1. Monetary sponsorship: financial sponsors provide funds in exchange for benefits

  2. In-kind sponsorship: products or services are offered instead of money. For example, venue sponsorship, or providing food and drinks at a networking event.

  3. Brand sponsorship: these sponsors mainly want to increase brand awareness, or showcase products to maximize audience reach.

Organizers can approach sponsors by selling opportunities to promote their products, connect event-goers with the brand, boost sales, and increase brand awareness. Other sponsor benefits that you can include as part of the package: product placements, discounted tickets, advertisements, attendee data, or speaking opportunities.

How to price sponsorship packages? Organizers can customize a package or set fixed prices for specific benefits. By strategically incorporating sponsorships into your event, you can generate additional revenue streams while providing valuable exposure for your sponsors.

🏆 Best for: financial support and resources, expanding reach, increasing credibility, and fundraisers

2. Tiered ticket pricing

A tiered pricing model offers tickets at different tiers (and price points), allowing attendees to choose the option that best aligns with their preferences and budget. By catering to different budgets and levels of access, you can attract a wider audience and increase overall ticket sales.

This method can directly affect how quickly you sell tickets. Here are some examples of multiple ticket tiers:

  • VIP or premium tickets: the highest priced option for those who are willing to pay a premium for extra perks and benefits

  • Early bird tickets: nudge people into committing to the event early on. Selling more tickets early might create some demand through word of mouth, as people tell their friends about it

And on top of general admission (base) tickets, limited-time promotions, bulk, senior or child discounts can seal the deal for attendees.

VIP tier and premium experiences

💡 Tip: use a combination of strategies to encourage attendees to purchase tickets in advance.

Short promotional periods and discount codes can be used to smooth out ticket sales so that you can sell tickets in a more predictable manner. Why it's important to sell tickets faster & quicker:

  • Provides steady cash flow

  • Better event planning

  • Signifies strong interest and demand for the event

  • Generates FOMO (fear of missing out) in potential attendees

  • Easier to secure sponsors and advertisers

🏆 Best for: accommodating different audience segments and commonly seen in concerts, festivals, conferences, and sporting events

3. Workshops

Offering workshops, masterclasses, or training sessions as add-ons to your main event can be a great way to generate additional revenue without increasing ticket prices. This option isn't meant to appeal to all participants! It creates an additional revenue stream for organizers and enhances the depth of the event without compromising its core experience.

Masterclasses offered by AIIA National ConferenceBy pricing add-on sessions separately, organizers can provide additional value and knowledge to attendees who are eager to delve deeper into specialized topics.

  • Collaborate with industry experts or thought leaders to lead workshops, masterclasses, or training sessions

  • Ensure the topics of the add-on sessions align with the interests and needs of participants

  • Market the workshops as exclusive opportunities for attendees to gain specialized knowledge and skills

🏆 Best for: events revolving around a specific skill or subject (e.g. tech expos, art and creative skills, yoga teacher training, conferences, wellness retreats)

4. Cross-promote other events

Partnering with other event organizers can be beneficial and provides another source of event income. Why would you promote another event when you want people to come to yours? The key lies in identifying events that are distinct from yours but caters to a similar audience. The idea isn't to poach each other's guest list but to reach the common audience and offer them more events to attend.

  • Attract new attendees and grow your customer base

  • Earn commissions or referral fees from ticket sales 

  • Offer discounts or incentives to encourage people to sign up for multiple events

Other event partners could also be potential sponsors. Forming partnerships within your industry can lead to future collaborations and opportunities for joint ventures too. There are many ways to promote other events; from featuring partner events on your event site, running ticket promotions, to giving them ad space or a shoutout on social media. Remember to track analytics so that you can quantify how well it works - using custom URL links, QR codes and personliazed discount codes may help.

🏆 Best for: reaching the right audience, building relationships with other event organizers, increasing event income through commissions

5. Swag bags

Event swag bags, or goodie bags, have long been a favorite tool to distribute branded merchandise, laptop stickers, promotional items, and various freebies to attendees. The contents of a swag bag tend to be centered around a theme, with sponsors or event partners contributing branded merchandise or product samples.

2002 Oscars gift bag contents (from NY Times)While swag bags are usually given to attendees for free, organizers can offer premium swag bag options with higher-value items for an additional cost. Virtual events may also distribute digital swag like discount codes, e-books, or access to exclusive online content.

Regardless of its form, the primary goal of a swag bag is to enhance brand awareness and visibility, while also providing value and a positive experience to the event attendees.

🍿 Fun fact: "swag" is actually an acronym that stands for "Stuff We All Get"

6. Raffles or auctions

Who doesn't enjoy games? Raffles and auctions add a fun element to any event. If the prizes are enticing, even the most stoic of participants would be tempted to take part.

🎟️ Some tips for holding a raffle or auction:

  • Find a local business or sponsor to secure desirable prizes (you don't need many items, just a few good ones!)

  • Drum up hype using social media to build excitement and announce winners

  • Keep it simple and accessible so more people will participate

  • Set clear guidelines and rules to keep the process transparent

  • Silent auctions are an option too

We included this method as proceeds from a raffle or auction can serve as a source of income for events, but it can appear gimmicky, so use it wisely!

🏆 Raffles & auctions are best for: charity events, fundraisers, family events, fun and casual events, and larger events with more attendees

For physical or in-person events (#7 to #10)

7. Virtual event options

While the pandemic has forced many events to go online, some types of events are still best suited for an in-person, physical format. Blending virtual components into an in-person event - often referred to as a "hybrid event" - allows organizers to reach a wider audience and provide additional ways for attendees to engage.

💻 Some ideas for leveraging technology:

  • Live-streaming parts (or all) of the event so that remote attendees can participate too

  • Offering virtual networking opportunities

  • Turning recorded sessions into on-demand content

  • Digital swag bags that can include e-books, discount codes, virtual backgrounds, or downloadable content

Hybrid conference (photo by Teemu Paananen on Unsplash)💡 Tip: Of all the event formats, hybrid events provide the most opportunities for monetization and profits

Remember, the idea here isn't to convert every event to a virtual one, so ensure that there's a balance of activities that cater to both in-person and remote participants!

🏆 Best for: reaching attendees that would otherwise not be able to join, extending the life of content, offering a cost-effective way for people to participate

8. Merchandise sales

Selling event-themed or branded merchandise is a versatile strategy used in many larger events. We all have one sports team cap or jersey, t-shirt from a band, conference, or marathon, or cute souvenir from a theme park at home. Or at least we know people who do, and wear them proudly! It's not limited to large-scale events, though. People buy merchandise for a variety of reasons, including:

  • To show support for a cause or brand

  • Take home a piece of artwork or exhibits

  • To remember the experience

  • For team spirit and unity

Band t shirts (image from sales don't just refer to custom-made items with your branding. Organizers can also choose to partner with local vendors or businesses to sell their products at the event, receiving a commission on sales.

🏆 Best for: fostering fan engagement, additional revenue, marketing promotions, and community building

9. Food & Beverages

Food & beverage sales play a crucial role in generating profits for certain types of events. In fact, you can't take F&B out of some events without ruining the experience (can you imagine a cinema without popcorn and fizzy drinks??)! Food and beverage provision becomes a must in scenarios such as: when the venue lacks dining facilities, during full-day or prolonged events, if physical activities are involved, or when networking is on the event's agenda.

Mobile coffee bar for hire (photo from serves both practical and experiential purposes. It caters to attendees' needs and comfort levels, enhances their enjoyment, facilitates networking opportunities, and supports the overall event atmosphere. F&B stations also act as gathering points during breaks, where people can connect with others over a coffee and some snacks.

Most organizers work with caterers or directly engage F&B partners. Make money from refreshments by:

  • Finding sponsors for F&B (in-kind sponsorship)

  • Taking a commission from F&B sales

  • Bundling F&B into ticket price (with a markup)

🏆 Best for: enhancing overall event satisfaction, providing networking opportunities, generating additional revenue

For virtual and online events (#10 to #13)

10. On-demand content

On-demand content refers to recordings, videos, or digital resources that can be accessed by participants after the live event has concluded. It also enables those who couldn't attend to access valuable content.

However, for organizers without the proper equipment or experience, it might be wise to hire a video production team. After all, if you're planning to monetize the content, it has to be professionally shot and edited. For certain types of events with long content longevity, this investment will pay off over time with more viewership. Or if you find that this method is something that you would like to do in-house, then there will be costs involved in purchasing equipment, and for video editing.

Video producer filming a dance class (photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash)💰 Ways to monetize event content:

  • Live-streaming options

  • Paid access to recordings (i.e. membership, pay-per-view)

  • Ad-supported content

  • License on-demand content to 3rd party online platforms

Don't forget to extend the value of these recordings beyond the conclusion of the event! You can transform these captured moments into various useful formats: lead magnets to attract potential customers, social media posts to engage your online community, marketing materials to promote upcoming events or products, e-books for in-depth insights or resources, and email marketing content.

🏆 Best for: creating continuous event income sources, content longevity, marketing and promotion, lead generation

11. Membership fees

Some types of businesses can benefit from offering memberships as well as events. A well-structured membership program is a great recurring revenue stream that also fosters a loyal community for your events. Here are some ideas for membership perks:

  • Free or discounted admission tickets

  • Early access to new products

  • Previews of exhibitions, films

  • Members-only events

  • On-demand or premium content

  • Access to a library of content, courses, and educational resources

  • Exclusive deals, promotions, and special offers

  • Webinars, networking (virtual or in-person), or workshops

  • Priority seating

  • VIP experiences membership prices🏆 Best for: professional associations, educational platforms, fitness or wellness studios, subscription services, communities and groups, technology conferences

12. Advertising

Selling ad space isn't just a financial win for you, but an easy way for advertisers to reach their target audience. Advertisers pay for the right to display their brand and products in a highly relevant setting. For organizers, the stronger your online presence, the more "real estate" there is to be monetized.

Ad space is commonly bundled as part of a sponsorship or partnership, or sold separately to programmatic ad buyers on Google Display Network. Ideally, you'd want to showcase relevant ads, so brands that are targeting the same audience will be a win-win. For example, yoga mats would be appealing to people going to a yoga retreat. To make it a hit, offer various ad space options to fit all types of budgets from small banner placements to full marketing campaigns. Good ad placement is subtle and resonates well with the audience.

Ideas for ads & ad spaces

  • Event website/event pages: Has high visibility - perfect for displaying advertiser content in various sizes and formats. It could be as simple as a banner or even sponsored articles

  • Social media: Post sponsored content, or collaborate on posts together

  • Lead generation: Run promotions and offer lead magnets for collecting emails. Use QR codes for tracking ROI

  • Email marketing: Add sponsored content, like logos, banners, or promotions to the emails and communications that you send out to participants

  • Virtual video or zoom backgrounds: Suitable for live streaming, video or recorded sessions

  • Featured ads in on-demand content: Offer ad spots within event replays for future viewers

🏆 Best for: partnerships, increased revenue, and website traffic

13. Affiliate ticket marketing

Affiliate ticket marketing is an indirect way to grow your revenue. Affiliates or promoters of your event earn a commission per ticket sold, and the goal is to sell more tickets overall.

The success of your event depends largely on how effectively you market it, and having an affiliate reward program will incentivize people to promote your event. This way, you can tap into the power of word-of-mouth and social proof to attract more attendees.

💡 Tip: 84% of consumers perceived a brand as more credible when it showcased user-generated content relevant to its products and services (source: Statista)

How to get started with ticket affiliate marketing:

  1. Set up an affiliate program either through a ticketing platform or an affiliate network, or create custom discount codes (for individuals and influencers)

  2. Establish a clear commission structure. Offer a percentage of each ticket or a fixed amount per sale

  3. Provide affiliates with resources to promote your event, e.g. event banners, promotional text, and unique affiliate links

Not sure if this is the way forward for you? Try reaching out to past attendees who enjoyed your event, and they could be your first promoters. If you have co-hosts, speakers, or teachers included in the event agenda, they could also reach out to their followers.

🏆 Best for: events with a dedicated and engaged community (music festivals, webinars, conferences, charity fundraisers), and experiential events (examples: cooking, fitness) where it's easy to share enthusiasm

14. Post-Event Revenue Generation Strategies

Most of the work is done while planning, but there are still opportunities to generate revenue after the event has ended. Some of the above strategies and methods can be reused post-event:

  1. Follow-up email campaigns

  2. Continue selling brand merchandise online

  3. Memberships

  4. On-demand content for those who missed it

  5. Repurposing event content for social media

  6. Start promoting or generating hype for the next event

  7. Post-event workshops, masterclasses, or training

  8. Nurturing leads and fostering loyalty

  9. Gather reviews and testimonials

  10. Reach out to past attendees to offer discounts or commission on future event ticket sales

Event planning is hard work! If you plan to run upcoming events, you can mix and match these tactics to maximize your return on investment (ROI).

🏆 Best for: maximizing tactics used pre-event, early marketing for upcoming events, event registration

Frequently Asked Questions

How much profit should an event make?

The events industry encompasses very small to huge events, and profit margins vary drastically for the different formats and types of events. Aim for a profit margin of 10% to 40%, considering expenses, ticket prices, sponsorships, and additional revenue streams. Percentage aside, the absolute amount matters too. It's crucial to balance profitability with providing value to attendees and managing costs. Virtual events tend to have much higher profit margins, up to 90%.

However, not all events are designed to generate a high profit. Some are primarily for brand exposure, community engagement, or other non-monetary goals. Others are inherently expensive to host or are lower profit margin ventures.

What are some ways to monetize my event?

There are various ways to monetize a free event. Common ways include selling tickets, multiple ticket tiers, seeking sponsors to cover costs, offering advertisement space, or selling merchandise and up-sells. Feel free to take any of the above methods to start monetizing your event!


Events play a strategic and financial role for many businesses, so returning profits from them is just as crucial. It's never too early to start thinking about your next event - almost half of event organizers start planning 6 to 12 months ahead!

There are plenty of ideas and ways to earn extra revenue from events. Start small, but start early. Not every method will make sense for every organizer, so pick those you have the resources for that are relevant to your business and audience. The right combination of strategies and tactics will drastically increase the chance that you'll host a great event that provides memorable share experiences for all attendees.

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Jocelyn Ke

Jocelyn Ke

Jocelyn is a content strategist and writer fascinated by systems thinking and the intersection of technology and human behaviour. She is passionate about empowering people and helping companies grow.

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