Why Waiting to Pay at the Door is a Bad Idea

Why Waiting to Pay at the Door is a Bad Idea

Attention Event Attendees: Waiting to pay at the door is a bad idea.

There seems to be a perception in the marketplace that ticket sales to an event are just cashflow to the event presenter and that’s it’s acceptable to pay at the last minute, or even at the door.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

pay at the doorAdvance ticket sales is how events are funded. Attendees seem to be oblivious to the expenses involved in hosting an event that have to be paid PRIOR to the event. So let’s take a look at the expenses involved in coordinating an event.

First of all, very few event venues are free. Costs in the Charleston, SC area range from $35 an hour to $2,500+ for a full day. Most of the time, the event coordinator has to come up with a deposit to hold the room and then pay the balance PRIOR to the event day.

Depending on the venue, there may be a need to rent tables, chairs, linens, tableware, décor and other party rentals. Again, those items need to be paid PRIOR to the event so that they are available the day before for set-up.

Another expense that has to be paid PRIOR to the event is food. If you expect to have breakfast or brunch or dinner or even snacks, the food and beverages have to be purchased before the event. Not only does planning to pay at the door make it difficult for the event coordinator to buy the food, it’s also hard to estimate how many people need to be fed.

You know that nicely printed program you were handed at the door? It had to be printed and paid for PRIOR to the event. Want a filled-to-the-top goodie bag? Pay for your ticket in advance.

We recently co-hosted an incredible women’s brunch, When Leadership Matters. The event was powerful and well-executed, but attendance was low. More than 50% of all of the tickets sold were purchased in the 48 hours prior to the event. However, many ladies had clicked “Going” on the Facebook event page, or had indicated in conversations or emails that they were planning to attend, but they held off committing their money until the last minute. We seriously considered canceling or postponing the event, but scheduling our speakers for another date was not feasible.

In the follow-up event evaluation, attendees were asked to suggest improvements for future events. The most common suggestion: increase advertising so that attendance is boosted. That’s a great suggestion. However, advertising takes money. Even printing simple flyers is an expense. If you want to run an ad on the radio or in the local newspaper, advance ticket sales are crucial.

Paying at the door also adds an extra level of complication on the day of the event itself. The event coordinator has to have change available or have credit card capability, has to have someone available to collect payments, and has to make sure the payments are secured until the end of the event.

pay at the doorIf you want to attend high-quality events, you need to purchase your tickets in advance. And that does not mean the day before, it means buy your tickets as soon as you make the decision to attend. Waiting to pay at the door is a bad idea. Without your purchase, the event may be canceled, or not be at the quality you expect.

Thanks for reading. I’d love to read your thoughts on the topic in the comments below.




  1. I’m so glad you addressed this. It was kind & professionally done. Being from Virginia, this has been my biggest pet peeve about charleston. Wish we could come up with a solution. Hopefully your post will help. I will do my best to take heed.

    • Thanks Geri. It’s not just a Charleston issue — but it seems like there is really a reluctance to commit to doing something. It seems like a lot of people want to keep their options open “just in case …” The “just in case” doesn’t usually come up, but the fear of commitment is real.

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