Or at least your brain thinks that's the case, according to a research study Tom Asacker talks about on A Clear Eye (looks like a story about it was published in Science magazine). So, according to the study, if someone gives you a glass of $10 wine and tells you it's from a $90 bottle, you actually will think it tastes better. From Tom's blog:
I wonder if they also studied the flip side, say if the TED Conference only cost $100 to get in, would people enjoy it less? That'd be interesting to know (I doubt it, not with those presentations!).
But it is a good argument for not underpricing your event. While you'd think a freebie would draw a big crowd, it's amazing how often people devalue something when it doesn't cost them anything, even if its actual value is high. Which may be why so many industry suppliers who provide fams, dinners, and other things of pretty high value for free or very low cost to planners find themselves getting stiffed by no-shows who RSVP'd that they'd be there.
This research also bolsters the meeting planning basic of doing everything you can to put on a champagne meeting at beer prices. If it looks like a million bucks, their experience will likely match that perception, not the more measly reality.
Humans really are interesting critters, aren't we?