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Pay What You Feel: Why We’re Keeping Our Flexible Pricing Structure

Bristol Ideas

Written by Bristol Ideas

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In September 2022, we introduced a new ticket pricing structure in response to the cost-of-living crisis, endeavouring to make our events accessible to those without as much disposable income. We have decided to carry our ‘Pay What You Feel’ ticket prices through to our new season – and hopefully beyond.

Our Pay What You Feel ticketing system enables our audiences to choose the ticket price they feel is in accordance with their means. Through this, those who can afford to can subsidise the tickets of those from lower-income backgrounds while also helping us ensure our speakers are paid fairly for their work.

Bristol Ideas aims to facilitate new topics, conversations and ways of thinking. We firmly believe that access to these things should be available to all, and we want people to be able to attend our events regardless of their socio-economic background. So much of the work we do, and the work done by the speakers we host, promotes diversity of thought, equality and equal access, so we believe it’s important that our ticket pricing system reflects this too. We are also acutely aware of the impact of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis on people’s access to disposable income, and that for some, finding the money to spend on events like ours is becoming increasingly challenging. That said, there are some for whom our recommended ticket price is still affordable, and they have the means and desire to help others access conversations like those taking place at Bristol Ideas events. 

We ask that people make their own decisions about how much they pay to attend our events. The ‘Recommended’ ticket price continues to be £8, which is what we traditionally charged for an event and which helps us make sure that basic costs are covered. The ‘Pay it Forward’ ticket at £10 is for those with a stable income who feel that they can financially contribute to someone else’s ticket. The final price is a ‘Supported’ option at £5, and is aimed at people who could use a subsidised ticket. The option people select is not shown on their ticket, and everyone has equal access to the events regardless of the ticket purchased.

Now that this new ticket system has been running for close to a year, we can look at the data surrounding the ticket sales and the different price points.

Audiences have been utilising all three pricing levels across our season, so we are able to continue offering subsidised tickets thanks to those who are using the ‘Pay It Forward’ option. Some events drew more ‘Supported’ ticket buyers than others, but we saw consistent engagement with all the different pricing options across the season. On average last year, when events didn’t have the ‘Pay What You Feel’ model in place, 48 per cent of ticket sales were from tickets purchased at the standard price and 36 per cent were concessions. With the Pay What You Feel model, we have seen 14 per cent of ticket sales from ‘Pay it Forward’ tickets, 32 per cent from Recommended tickets and 20 per cent from Supported tickets.

Thank you so much to everybody who has contributed to the Bristol Ideas community by buying tickets and attending events.

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