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

Bristol Ideas

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In September 2022, we introduced a new pricing scheme in response to the cost-of-living crisis as we endeavoured to make our events more accessible to those without as much disposable income. Since then, 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 has three price options for 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 ensuring 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 not only be accessible to more affluent people, 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 speakers we host promotes diversity of thought, equality and equal access, so we believe that it’s important that our ticket pricing system should do 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 many, finding the money to spend on events like ours is becoming increasingly challenging. That said, there are others for whom our recommended ticket price is still affordable and they want to help others access conversations like those taking place at Bristol Ideas events. 

We therefore 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 have traditionally charged for access to our events. We’ve also introduced a ‘Pay it Forward’ ticket at £10, which we suggest for someone with a stable income who feels that they can financially contribute to someone else’s ticket. The final ticket price is a ‘Pay What You Can’ option at £5, and is aimed at people who could use a subsidised ticket. If this price point is not possible for you due to your financial situation, please let us know and we will try to assist with this. The option you select is not shown on your ticket, and everyone has equal access to the events regardless of whichever ticket option you purchase.

Now that this new ticket modelling system has been running for close to a year, we can look at the data surrounding the percentage of ticket sales pertaining to each price point. So far, it is evident that people are happy to pay more to subsidise someone else’s ticket and that people are using the Pay What You Can option to access cheaper tickets. Across events, we have found great variation in the percentage of ticket sales that are at full or concession price. For example, for Leslie Kurn’s talk, What Can We Do About Gentrification?, 32% of people bought ‘Pay it Forward’ tickets, 44% bought tickets at the recommended price, and 16% bought financially supported tickets. In contrast, for Hanna Flint’s talk, How Can Cinema Represent Our Multicultural Society?, 11% of people bought ‘Pay It Forward’ tickets, 29% bought tickets at the recommended price, and 50% bought supported tickets. We think this shows that our new variable pricing is working well, as both the more expensive and subsidised tickets are being purchased, hopefully allowing people from all different economic backgrounds to attend our events. Therefore, we want to continue with these pricing options to make our events more accessible to more people. 

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

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