A musician is selling her work in a way that made me think meetings—at least, some meetings—might be able to profit from. Jane Siberry lets people download her music from her site, then choose to either take it for free, pay what they think it's worth now, or listen for a while and later pay what they decide it's worth. In a very smart move, she also posts
% Accepting gift from Jane: 17% (freebie)
% Paid by determining price: 37%
% Paying Later:46%
Avg Price Per Track: $1.14
% Paid Below Suggested: 8%
% Paid At Suggested: 79%
% Paid Above Suggested: 14%
Could a meeting planner let the market decide what the going rate would be for a conference? It's a scary thought, until you look at those numbers. Only 8 percent paid below the suggested price, while 14 percent paid more. If your meeting is compelling enough, this could work. For a meeting this spring that had a fairly low pricetag, I actually paid double what they were asking for (and then ended up not going, but that's another story), because what they were doing is that important to me. Could an honor system work for your event? It might be worth thinking about.
Thanks to Freakonomics for the pointer.