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Pass it on, or foot the bill? How to handle registration fees for your event.

Will your event attendees purchase tickets if they have to pay additional fees?

Let’s look at exactly what it means to pass on fees for the price of your event according to The Good Event Management Software Guide.

“The per-registration fee can be paid either by the event organizer or the attendee. If it is to be paid by the organizer, the fee is subtracted from the ticket price when your account is reconciled. If it is to be paid by the attendee it is added onto the ticket price. Some companies allow you to choose which approach you prefer, while others provide only one option. Some allow you to split the charge between the attendee and the organizer as you wish, for example, 50% paid by each.”

Often times, when an event company charges based on a per attendee price, the event organizer is able to choose to pass these fees along or absorb them. For example, if you are selling a $10 ticket, you may incur something like $1 + 1% per registration by the software company which would equal a $1.10 fee. You may also incur processing fees for card transactions, for more details, check out this article. With an online ticketing company like Brushfire, and several others, you will have 3 options:

  1. Absorb the fee. This means that the organization will completely handle the fee and it pay for it out of their own revenue.
  2. Pass on the fee. Passing on the fee means adding a $1.10 fee to the registration which will show the ticket is $10 + registration fee of $1.10 equals $11.10 total per registration.
  3. Build the fee into the ticket price. Sometimes, the organization will want to pass the fee on to the customer but not add a fee column so they will add the fee into the total ticket price. This means that the ticket will show as $11.10.

Between these three options, which should you choose? This will depend on your organization, event, and attendees, so here are pros and cons concerning each option to help with your decision making:

Pros and Cons of Absorbing Those Fees

Through absorbing the fee your attendees may feel as if they are paying less for their ticket, they definitely will not be complaining about a fee! One of the pros is that your attendees will be paying your advertised price, and not a penny more, with no surprise on the registration page. Of course, the obvious con is that you will end up footing the bill yourself.

Pros and Cons of Passing the Fees

The pro of passing the fees to your attendees is that you can run your entire event registration without paying a single penny out of pocket. Since your attendees will be paying the fee, registration and processing costs will not need to be a part of your event budget. The con: your attendees may feel as if they are paying extra because they see the “fee” column, which could negatively affect their experience. One thing to keep in mind though, for most any major concert, sporting event, or broadway ticket purchase you make, there is nearly always a fee attached. People are growing very accustomed to seeing this column and the associated charge(s).

Pros and Cons of Building Fees Into the Ticket Price

The pro of adding the fee into the ticket price minimizes the cons from each of the other options. There will be no fee column, but you also won’t be paying the fee from your own pocket. The downside to this option is that your ticket price might look much higher than your attendees are used to seeing, especially if fees were not added to the ticket price in previous years. You want your attendees feeling like they are receiving adequate value for their purchase, adding in an extra fee price may make it feel a bit too high.


Personally, based on the environment we are currently in, I think passing the fee on is the best option. For one, people are used to seeing those added costs, and it is not a surprise to most event-goers. Also, you are being a bit more transparent in breakdown for your event costs. You are showing the attendee how much you would like them to pay for the conference, and how much the fees for each purchase will be. There is one caveat though, and that is that you must know your audience. There is no clear cut “right” option, but hopefully, this article will help you make the most informed decision when setting up your next event.

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