In Part one, we discussed whether charging entry fees was right for your awards program and, in Part two how you can generate excitement with entry specials. Now, we look at different fee types and what they can mean for your program.

Entry fee

An entry fee is pretty much exactly as it sounds, a fee charged to submit entries into the program. Many programs, with a simple composition, will often have a flat fee, a single price for all categories. However, as programs grow, become more complex, and incur higher overheads, the price for entry, especially into specific categories, may change. 

The reason for charging different prices for different categories can vary across programs. Here are a couple of examples: 

  • Covering expenses
    • Some categories can be very technical and require more administration than others. Increasing the price of such a category can help with managing the cost.
  • Managing popularity
    • Some categories are more popular than others. Increasing the price of popular categories while reducing the cost of less popular categories is a great way to influence the distribution of entries across your program. 

Entrant fee (aka registration fee)

Some programs require entrants to pay a fee for the privilege to participate or register. In the Award Force platform, all registrations are free but you can impose a registration fee, a one-off payment, at the time an entrant first submits an entry.

This one-off payment, as implied, is a fee charged to an entrant only once per season. You could charge an ‘entrant fee’ and allow all submissions to go through free of charge or you could combine the fee types and have both an entrant fee and a submission fee. 

Pay to start an entry

Some programs require entrants to pay for their submissions upfront before they even start their submissions. In this case, programs are requiring an upfront commitment as well as rock-solid statistical data they can use to help them support and validate the program. 

This approach wouldn’t suit all programs. In fact, it could have the opposite effect on increasing submissions. Asking people to pay for their submission before they’re allowed to view the entry form can be like purchasing a shipping container without knowing what the contents are. 

If this is something you are currently doing with your program or are thinking about implementing, be sure to have a robust marketing website detailing all your categories, requirements and criteria. People will want to know exactly what they are buying before parting with their money. 

Tag price

There are many different cases where fees need to be charged after entries have been submitted. There are a couple of different scenarios where using tags to apply a ‘tag’ fee is a practical solution when using Award Force. 

Essentially, this is a payment pipeline with varying scenarios that may be unique to some programs and common to others. Award Force provides a system of tagging to help with these varying program scenarios.

Tag price scenarios

Scenario #1: Entry fee + Judging fee 

Some programs charge a reduced fee for submissions but also charge an additional fee to progress to the formal rounds of judging. In this scenario: 

  1. All initial submissions are paid for at a reduced price.
  2. Only quality submissions are invited to proceed by way of a 2nd payment.
  3. All unsuccessful submissions have at least the admin costs covered.
  4. The resulting list of submissions, in final judging rounds, are of high-quality and owned by serious contenders due to their ongoing commitment 

Careful consideration is a must for this strategy. Consider the following: 

    • Survey your industry. Are they willing to accept multiple fees to enter?
    • Ensure the payment process is well documented and validate the costs for each payment stage.
    • Be clear if feedback from judges will be shared.
    • Provide formal communication channels in case anyone wants to enquire about or contest results.
    • Ensure your judges are consistent and unbiased during any qualifying rounds.
    • Appoint a lead judge for accountability and consistency with standards.

There may be other considerations unique to your program. Ensure they’re all on the table and thoroughly contemplated when considering a fee structure for judging. The psychology is very different from providing a single entry fee. 

Scenario #2: Two-stage entry + fees 

Some programs have a two-stage payment process for submissions. This usually means people will submit and pay an initial fee before their submissions are initially assessed, as in a qualifying round. If they qualify, they’re invited back to complete additional sections within their entry form followed by resubmitting and paying a final entry fee.

For some program types, or categories within a larger program, this approach can be a good way to drive interest and the volume of submissions because entrants don’t need to invest as much time and energy as they would have otherwise. Generally, the initial submission would include basic criteria for an initial assessment. Then, the entries that meet or exceed these standards are invited back to complete their entry with additional criteria, such as greater details, examples, images, supporting documentation and anything else required before resubmitting and paying the final fee. 

This approach can result in a higher level of commitment from entrants as well as improving the quality of submissions. This is because most entrants have already demonstrated their commitment with their first submission.   

Conclusion

Determining the right fee structure for your program, including how to implement and manage it, is vitally important. A payment structure, not just the price itself, sets an expectation for entrants and can sway their perception and emotional investment into your program. 

A fee structure across categories can help manage the distribution of popularity and provide you with a means to influence that distribution. 

Enjoy this article? Keep an eye out for Part four, the final instalment, where we’ll look past paid entries and discover various other revenue-generating ideas to help maximise your revenue generating potential. 

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