Top strategies for venues to increase event revenue

How can live entertainment venues increase event revenue? We take a look at different ways to improve the customer experience.

Venues are always looking for new and innovative ways to increase event revenue. It may seem like a simple solution to put on ‘bigger and better’ events or increase the number of events that happen each year. However, as any programming manager will know, organising events can be extremely time-consuming and costly. After all, the bigger the event the higher the costs. If the ROI is fantastic, then big events can pay off. But in the uncertain world of live entertainment, it’s impossible to know which events will bring in a reliable number of large crowds.

Live entertainment venues are now trying different tactics to increase the revenue of existing events.

Increase F&B offering

Cinemas are known for selling expensive food and drink, with many considering popcorn and fizzy drinks part of the overall cinematic experience. It’s becoming more common for cinemas to sell hot food and alcoholic beverages, too. Research shows concessions such as popcorn and sweets make up 40% of a cinema’s profits.

This trend is slowly being adapted by the live entertainment industry, too. Theatres are now expanding their offering to include cafes, bars and restaurants. Customers now have more options than an ice cream at an interval, with theatres capitalising on a captive audience to sell refreshments with a very high profit margin.

Other live entertainment venues, such as music venues or arenas, are also improving on their food and beverage offering. We’ve known for a while that selling alcohol can hugely increase a venue’s revenue, but a wider choice of drinks such as artisan gins or craft beer are becoming more commonplace.


Gourmet and artisan products are growing in popularity. Instead of low-quality, cheap snacks and drinks customers are more prepared to spend more to receive higher quality, more unusual products. Gourmet popcorn, speciality crisps and premium soft drinks are tempting customers to spend more.

Younger generations are drinking less, so there is an opportunity to promote premium soft drinks at live entertainment venues. Cheap, “standard” soft drinks are readily available anywhere, so venues can increase revenue by selling unusual non-alcoholic drinks that customers will class as a treat.

This type of upselling across the board can make a huge difference to a venue’s revenue.

You can also upsell your tickets, such as charging a small amount for early admission if you’re running a General Admission event. While you don’t want to be constantly bombarding customers with special offers and upgrade opportunities, you should always offer an option for customers to enhance their experience.


Almost every live entertainment venue will sell merchandise in a bid to earn some additional cash. The global music merchandise market is worth around $3.1 billion – definitely something that can’t be ignored.

Live music gigs are likely to sell signed CDs and band merch, comedy gigs are likely to sell DVDs and books and theatre shows are known for an array of merchandise such as keyrings, magnets and more. As a benchmark across all merchandise, though, it’s advised to aim for a profit margin of around 50%.

Many venues are now offering free products / gifts with every ticket sold or as part of a VIP package. This allows venues to increase the overall ticket price, without placing any expectation on the customer to buy additional merchandise. Album bundles, for example, can be a great way to increase exposure for the artist and also allow the venue to charge a little extra per ticket.

There is a rise in popularity of selling sustainable merchandise rather than plastic goods or throwaway products. Though the initial outlay will be more expensive, the ROI will be greater and ultimately these pricey products will help to increase revenue while also helping your venue stay environment friendly.

VIP packages

Venues are offering VIP packages to encourage customers to spend more from the moment they purchase a ticket. VIP packages can include the very best seats, exclusive products/programmes and access to special areas (similar to a VIP lounge at an airport).

These VIP options carry a high ROI for venues. You may already have a VIP lounge and you’ll definitely have an area of preferable seating in the venue. Offering these options to customers for an additional cost will equate to pure profit.

One in three music fans normally buy VIP tickets. And studies show that a third of VIP ticket buyers say a lack of VIP package could influence whether they’d even attend the event at all!

Meet and greets are also growing in popularity, with both artist and venue standing to earn a significant sum from those prepared to pay extra for a photograph opportunity or autograph. Customers are seeking unique and original experiences over material possessions. Meet and greets don’t just make for a stand-out Insta pic, they provide customers with a memorable, special experience that can’t be replicated. And, from a venue’s viewpoint, these experiences can come at a hefty price tag as they are, well, priceless.


Venues are turning to sponsors to earn additional revenues. From sponsoring a page in a programme right through to naming rights to a room within the venue, there are several opportunities for businesses to get involved. This provides a huge amount of exposure for them, and provides valuable revenue for the venue.

Securing sponsors can be a time-consuming and skilled job, and many venues have dedicated Fundraising Officers whose sole role is to secure additional funding for venues. If you don’t have budget to employ someone, why not work with a team of volunteers who have connections in the local and wider community? They’ll be able to network with local businesses and hopefully secure sponsors for your venue and events.

Refund protection

You might think offering refunds to customers would lose money. However, working with a third-party refund protection partner can actually provide additional revenue for your venue.

Booking Protect’s customers receive a percentage of every refund protection purchase. The refund protection partner then directly handles all refund requests. Venues don’t lose out by offering a refund – they make money instead. Plus, offering the refund protection option heightens customer experience, which will strengthen the customer’s opinion of and affinity with the venue.

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