Here is the sales data from our eight most recent events. There were 80 tickets (one per couple) available for each of these.
Little Black Dress (sold out)
Military Appreciation (25 unsold tickets)
Glow (sold out)
Halloween 2 (two unsold tickets)
Halloween 1 (sold out)
Masquerade (sold out)
Red (13 unsold tickets)
Midsummer Night Dream (4 unsold tickets)
To the untrained eye, these ups and downs may seem like luck, but I can see the impact that themes have played.
Selling out a party is crucial. Tickets begin at only $43, and the last 20 are $83. This price differential means that a party can sell 65% of its tickets and be 50% short of revenue. As you can see, selling out a party isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity. Otherwise, not only did we not sell all the tickets, but the ones we sold were discounts.
Although we’ve sold 94% of the tickets overall, we cannot oversell one party to make up financial losses on another. Therefore one “bad” party has a disproportionately negative affect. For example, the Military Party was a failure financially. The next party, Little Black Dress, sold out three weeks early, and I could quickly sell another $3000 of tickets because it’s so popular. That would more than make up for the financial losses of Military but overfill Little Black Dress and cause issues. Plus, its’ a matter of trust. When I say there are 80 tickets available, there are only 80 tickets available. Not 85 if I need the money. Not 86 if we are really good friends, etc.
One of the exciting things is how new couples react to themes. A theme has to be instantaneously understood for new couples to buy. “Men’s Shirt” is an example of a subject that everyone instantly understands. A confusing theme like “Midsummer Night Dream” only has 16 new couples, whereas something like “White” will have over 30.
Regulars may become excited about a niche theme like “Grunge and Goth,” but someone new will not push the envelope on their appearance. They are already worried about fitting in, and now they are expected to try goth makeup for the first time. Or do their hair in a grunge fashion. These things are fun for someone with the confidence of experience, but to a newbie, there is little chance they will buy.
I also try to make sure that themes give people multiple dressing options. A “daisy dukes” theme sounds fun, but if someone doesn’t like the way she looks in daisy dukes, then she will not attend. It doesn’t provide any flexibility.
Every event is a multi-thousand dollar bet. So I work hard at listening to the questions that newbies ask about themes, as well as what themes regulars are requesting. Then I have to weigh both of those things against each other and ask myself what will sell the party out.
I win some, and I lose some.