Thinking small – An alternative strategy for your event

Thinking small - An alternative strategy for your event

thinking small for your event

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The scope and scale of events can be a difficult thing to gauge. There may not always be a demand precedent to consult. Sometimes "thinking small" is a shrewd tactic, but it is important to know just what that means. We look at an unexpected source for inspiration on "thinking small" about an event of any kind, applicable for all venues.

Why do we blog this? Some of the best ideas come from unexpected sources. A breath of fresh air from outside the traditional ticketing industry circles can bring keen insight to the day-to-day operations of your venue or event. We'll be writing new "outside looking in" posts from time to time in our on-going efforts to be your go-to source for not only ticketing software but all aspects of event and box office management.

From The Outside Looking In

A very non-event industry source comes from the world of race cars, specifically the race car industry "bible" Racecar Engineering. In a recent issue, Sam Collins wrote of the need for racing events to "think small" and not fall into a trap of trying to emulate the huge attendance figures enjoyed by the titan of racing - Formula 1.

Collins writes that smaller local race car events should focus on quality over quantity and be smart about how the events are produced and promoted. The idea that a small town race should emulate the multi-billion dollar Formula One racing format is an impractical approach. The overhead costs of a gigantic event mean gigantic returns (ticket sales, sponsorship etc.) are a requirement. The signature Collins quote may sum it up best "You need to host events that appeal to the local market."

The Racecar Engineering article also uses professional cycling as an example of thinking small. If a bicycle racing series has its race in a major metropolis, in a multi-million dollar velodrome, it must have a high attendance event to support the overhead costs. That same cycling body could alternatively have several smaller events at smaller venues across a wide area. The distributed approach may end up being as profitable, or even more so, than the one giant event approach.

Looking to events where one would not necessarily expect good advice, like in the world of car or bicycle racing, is just the start. It turns out "thinking small", meaning lower volumes at higher profits, is a burgeoning trend in business in general.

Hotel California

The concept of "thinking small" is white hot in the general business world right now. The issue at hand is on providing value to paying customers at a more intimate level and avoiding the "just get as many as people as possible, who cares if they're happy" business plan. The smaller scale, higher quality strategy (and the resulting higher profits) is being applied by Harris Rosen, founder and president of Rosen Hotels & Resorts. When asked about "thinking small" he said:

Bigger isn't always better. For 35 years, people have always looked at us and said, ‘What a silly company. They have grown so slowly, from one hotel to seven hotels. They could have done so much more if they would have operated in a normal way.’ Well, it turns out that our rather conservative approach to operating hotels wasn't such a bad one after all.

Rosen goes on to emphasize quality over quantity and makes that related to any industry, not just hotels. He states that "One has to suppress the desire to grow just for the sake of growing." and the best path today, may not be what one has grown accustom to based on past experiences. Rosen says he is no longer focus on pure headcount or volumes of bookings, like he was back in the high flying boom days of the housing market circa 2006. He wants to cater to the mid to up-scale business travelers who appreciate value and recognize quality.

The amenities of a hotel room are increased a little bit (higher quality bedding, bigger TV, etc) and the availability is reduced - but - the nightly rate is increased to equal four of the previous high volume bookings. The Rosen resorts now use marketing themes like "Unsurpassed Standards of Quality" and no longer make their rooms available for booking through cut-rate discount websites.

Thinking Small Examples

This approach directly relates to any venue or event, regardless of the context. The days of selling as many tickets as possible may be over, at least temporarily. Intentionally making "smaller" amounts of tickets available, but at a higher mark-up or premium, matches the "think small" trend.


In sharp contrast to the massive crowds at a Formula 1 race, is the smaller, higher quality of the Lime Rock race track in Lakeville, Connecticut. The race track has a capacity in the thousands and relies on a quality experience to be profitable. Tickets for seats in the Limerock grandstands are often limited or held back to ensure a superior race fan experience. The company also offers exclusive premium experiences like "track days" and luxury hospitality suites. Limerock has taken the quality over quantity strategy to heart and fully embraces the new "thinking small" trend as describe by Sam Collins and Harris Rosen earlier.

What if you didn't make the maximum capacity of tickets available, but instead offered an exclusive, premium event for one half of capacity? What if the limited availability was part of the overall event marketing and the ticket purchase also included one or more add-ons like memorabilia or souvenirs? Selling half the number of tickets, but at four times the per-ticket price is...well, you can do the math. :D

Gate efficiency

We have written in the past about the impact of box office and admission gate efficiency. To tap into the new "thinking small" trend one must commit to the responsibility of a great experience from beginning to end. If there is a very long wait in line to get into an event, an impulsive person may perceive that as a reason to abandon buying tickets and go somewhere else. No one likes to wait in line for an unreasonable amount of time, so efficiency is critical. Tools to combat inefficiency include selling tickets online in advance of the event and having a knowledgeable event staff armed with the very latest in barcode ticket scanners.

The reduction of wait times also benefits the venue itself. The less time spent outside waiting to get in, means more time inside for patrons to spend money at the bar or in-house concessions like food and souvenirs. The lucrative bottle service experience, for example, may not be something patrons will make use of if they feel they must rush to their seats after a long wait to get in.

The concept of "thinking small" is still new, and the economic trends are still being quantified, but if the most profitable corporations in the world are doing it, there must be a reason.

Tools to Think Small

ThunderTix has some powerful tools to help you start thinking small. We offer the means to exactly limit the number of tickets sold and make mention of their exclusivity in an eloquent pre-sale announcement, or the ability to add lucrative ticket packages and up-sells that can include merchandise or special VIP access. Of course, you can continue to have events with the goal to sell as many as tickets as possible (We love those!), and since we don't charge you per ticket fees, high volume sales are that much more profitable for you when compared to our per-ticket fee laden competition. Sell tickets online with no fees. What is important is that you can choose your big and small strategies smartly with our event ticketing software.