Top Studies on When, Where, Why People Purchase Event Tickets

For event planners, finding enough event attendees always makes its way towards the top of the list of the biggest challenges. You can throw the best event ever, but if nobody shows up, your event will be considered a failure.

For years, the industry has come up with unique and clever methods of trying to ramp up ticket sales.

But, behind all the strategies lies some real science. What influences how people are buying tickets? After all, if you can tap into the truth behind how people buy tickets, you can figure out how to leverage that to sell, well... tickets.

Today, we will look at when, where, and why people buy event tickets.

infographic on ticket buying patterns

When do people buy tickets?

The truth behind when people buy tickets is a little more complicated than you may think. Some brands have done questionnaires, and some have even created full-blown white papers over the topic of when people buy tickets.

Today, we will break their findings down for you.

  • 45% of people who purchase tickets at free events buy those tickets at-the-gate. This is a good thing seeing as how around 50% of people who reserve free tickets don’t show up!

  • In contrast, less than 20% of people buy tickets at-the-gate for paid events. Of course, 20% of people is still a crowd, so you must manage that crowd at the gate appropriately!

  • People reserve more expensive tickets earlier. Tickets that cost over $50 are often (50% of the time) reserved months in advance. In contrast, $10 tickets are often (56% of the time) bought at-the-gate.

  • Females generally book tickets further out than males.

  • The older people are, the more likely they are to book tickets further in advance.

  • The type of event you’re throwing also impacts when people buy tickets. Check out this post to learn why!

In short, when people buy tickets is influenced by a variety of factors, including event type, age, gender, and even ticket cost.


Where do people buy tickets?

People generally buy tickets in three places.

  • At the door
  • Online
  • From a secondary market


This is the most traditional method of ticket buying. A consumer comes to your door on the day of your event and buys a ticket. It’s that simple.

Of course, it’s also that difficult. It's recommend that you hire staff and keep things organized to give people the opportunity to purchase tickets this way. Again, as many as 50% of people may be purchasing tickets to your event in-person, on-site, and last-minute. So, you should always have this option available.


The online ticket buying industry is worth well over $40 billion at this point. You 100% have to have a way to sell tickets online.

That may be Facebook, Twitter, or an event website utilizing a registration software. But you have to offer online purchasing as an option. Just make sure that your website is up-to-snuff or people could turn to the final option.

From a secondary market

The secondary market (this is a nice way of saying ticket scalpers) is worth a massive $15 billion. Ticket scalping is annoying enough, but a good chunk of that industry is fueled by fake tickets.

In fact, there are over 5 MILLION fake tickets sold per year. Make sure that your ticket security is capable of handling the influx of fakes.

In short, people buy tickets online and at-the-gate — as well as the unscrupulous ticket scalping market.


Why do people buy tickets?

This is the most complicated part of the when, where, why process. There are about a billion reasons that people buy tickets. Don’t worry! We will not go through them all here, but we have an entire post dedicated to this subject that you can check out.

For now, we’ll stick with the most obvious answer — to attend your event! So, you should always focus on making your event as-good-as-possible. That’s your #1 priority.

In short, people buy tickets for a variety of reasons, and you may be able to use some of those reasons to your advantage when you’re trying to sell your tickets.

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