73 € for one ticket is a lot of money – Not to mention the PLUS or BIZAAM sponsor ticket prices. It’s definitely not always an easy purchase, especially with hotel and travel costs to consider too.
On top of that, there are over 1.000 visitors at GalaCon every year, surely the convention must run a big profit, right? Is there no way to lower the ticket prices?
The unfortunate reality is that GalaCon is not even close to swimming in money – Running a convention of this size comes with serious costs. In the end, we’re left with just a small reserve for the future, and zero profit. In this post, we want to be transparent and show you what your support and ticket money for GalaCon goes to!
About the Organization
GalaCon is not at all geared for profit. The convention is set up via a registered association, the Pony Events Federation e.V., with the goal to organize community events and meet-ups which would otherwise not be profitable. Everything is run for fans, by fans. No staff member is being paid out in money or other rewards, our rule set strictly only allows for reimbursement of actual expenses. As a result, prices are based on the event’s costs and nothing else, since there are no salaries.
Here is a graphic to illustrate what your ticket payment goes towards, based on the 73,- € BASIC ticket price:
All of these principles also apply to money raised through merchandise sales or StartNext fundraising. In fact, the actual income from ticket sales is not enough to cover all costs of GalaCon! This is why we use other means of raising funds – Otherwise, the tickets would have to be even more expensive, and we try to avoid that as much as possible.
What exactly are the venue costs?
As shown in our graphic, the venue rent makes up more than a third of the convention budget. How does that break down, exactly? We sadly cannot give you all the details due to contractual obligations, but we can give you examples for some of our rooms and facilities (calculated by splitting the actual venue rent from 2019 considering the opening resp. sales times):
- Running PlushieCon costs us a total of ~2.356,- €.
- The music stages cost ~1.055,- € per hour.
- One single typical panel costs ~540,- €.
- The Games and Karaoke Room costs a total of ~2.012,- € or ~144,- € per hour.
- The CCG Room costs a total of ~665,- € or ~47,- € per hour.
- Providing one vendor stall costs us ~88,- € per table – and an additional 16,- € per display and 15,- € per power plug. Thus, the actual vendor ticket (46,- € per table) does not even cover the actual costs of a table! If we also take VAT and fees into account, a typical vendor setup (2 tables for 46,- € each, 73,- € for the vendor’s entry ticket) still doesn’t quite balance out for us based on the payment by the vendor alone – We additionally cover a vendor stall like in the example with ~40,- € to make it work.
These numbers only consider the room rent and direct costs for technical equipment and personnel. As described above, these room and equipment costs make up less than half of the convention’s budget.
What about Food and Autographs?
Other important parts of GalaCon include the food you can purchase and the autographs you can get – Why are the prices so high? Why were the autograph prices raised?
It’s simple – These things are not part of our business. GalaCon’s staff is not involved in the actual business of food and autographs, and as such we don’t determine the prices or receive any share of the resulting money. Our volunteers may assist with sales, but that is as far as our involvement goes.
- Food and Drinks are solely provided and sold by the official venue catering. We are not allowed to sell food or drinks on our own, and since the catering business is attached to the venue, we cannot request a different, potentially cheaper option for food. The prices are set by the caterer without our input, and their revenue does not touch GalaCon in any way.
- Autographs, Photos and Voice Recordings are directly sold by the Guests of Honor. The prices for anything offered by the guests are set in their respective contracts – The whole profit from those sales goes to the guests and their agents themselves. This revenue, too, is not at all involved with GalaCon. We do our best to negotiate in the interest of everyone involved, but the contractual decisions ultimately lie with the parties we negotiate with, who have requested an increase in prices.
What about the Early Bird System?
As you might have noticed, we especially appreciate early ticket purchases. To incentivize this, we introduced an Early Bird System last year with discounted ticket prices for early buyers.
We absolutely know that there are other things to pay for and a convention visit needs some planning, so purchasing a ticket early is not possible for everyone. Still, a lot of you ordered your tickets very early last year and we are very grateful for that!
But why is this such an important factor, exactly? If the budget adds up in the end, why the hurry?
There are two reasons why early ticket sales are so crucial for us:
Estimating the Amount of Visitors
First, we need to know how many tickets we sell to adjust the budget to the amount of visitors. Ticket sales are still doing well, thanks to all of you, but even 100 tickets sold less would make things a lot more difficult. This is sadly a consequence of a tightly calculated budget – Keeping ticket prices as low as possible means we need to sell at least a stable amount of them.
If most potential visitors buy their tickets late, we cannot be certain if our budget can still be met. This is dangerous, because we need to place orders, finalize contracts and make payments which cannot be reversed – In the worst case scenario, even our reserve funds wouldn’t be enough to cover these costs and GalaCon would have to be canceled at the last minute.
A quick example: If we could estimate a heavy decrease in visitor numbers in Spring, we would be able to arrange a new contract with the venue host, book less rooms and lower the costs enough so that GalaCon could still happen. However, if this heavy decrease occured a few weeks before GalaCon, that kind of plan B would not be possible and we would have to quickly find means to cover the venue rent.
Due to how we are set up, we only work with a small reserve and are reliant on ticket purchases. Unlike major companies, we do not have a huge amount of resources or capital we can use for expenses. We always have just as much money as we have recently earned. Additionally, banks do not grant us any credit – Unlike companies, a registered association such as the PEF can’t just borrow some money or overdraw our accounts in case finances come up short.
Bills have to be paid on time – Most payments for GalaCon are due between May and June. So we need most of the ticket earnings already at that point and not just by the end of July when GalaCon takes place.
Therefore, early ticket sales are also important to ensure we can pay our bills for GalaCon on time and do not have to put our private savings at risk.
So all in all, a visit to GalaCon doesn’t come cheap, but we don’t make it so out of greed – Everything comes down to covering the expenses of running such a big event. There is no profit getting pocketed and no shady business operating behind GalaCon. We’re simply a bunch of dedicated people spending their free time to host a convention both worth visiting as well as affordable as possible.
Costs can increase from year to year and sadly little can be done to compensate it – At least without heavily cutting down the event diversity, panels, activities, number of guests and general atmosphere.
We promise to always do what’s possible to keep the ticket prices low. In fact, appropriate budgeting allowed us to prevent a price increase this year! No matter what happens, for now and every GalaCon in the future, you can be sure that each Euro spent on GalaCon directly contributes to making a great time happen!
Disclaimer: All given values are approximate and average values and the result of project calculation for GalaCon 2019. This post does not represent an official accounting or financial statement, it merely serves informational purposes.