Since RSVP was invented, event planners have been plagued by one notorious group of “attendees” know as… the no-shows. no-shows add stress to a planners plate during an event by having to add in the FLAKE FACTOR. They are the reason for a half empty room when you are expecting a full event. Whether your event is paid or free, every planner needs an effective method to reduce the amount of no-shows at their next event. Aside from inviting twice as many people the venue will fit (guilty!), there are 10 methods that can reduce the amount of no-shows at your next event.
1. Traditional E-mail
I’m sure e-mail reminders for reducing no-shows is a method you have heard over and over again. As a matter of fact, you probably are doing this already! E-mail reminders are an effective method against the notorious no-shows, and we have a few that will improve your no-show rate.
Immediately after registration, send an attendee a registration confirmation email with all the event details, such as: event name, date, time, location with links and contact info. This will give them the opportunity to star the e-mail while you have their full on attention. A registration email is a good reference for attendees to look back on when they are spreading the good word about your event.
In the upcoming weeks before your event, a reminder email should be sent to all attendees who registered. This email serves as an opportunity for you to include additional information about the event, your social media accounts and your event specific hashtag. Providing social media gets attendees engaged before they step through the door! You can send out personalized emails with programs like Mail Chimp, Eventbrite or Streak. Make sure to remind them of the value they are getting from attending your event.
2. Personalized Text
Text reminders creates a personalized connection to the attendee. Think about it, we use our phones for everything nowadays. They have become the backbone of global communication for friends, family and businesses. When you get a text to your phone, you don’t delete the message right away. Odds are, you are reading it before you decide what to do next.
Mailchimp for events has an exciting new feature that automates this process for you. The software allows you to send text reminders to those on your distribution list if you have their numbers. No longer do you have to sit and type the same text or use a depersonalized group chat!
3. Old School Phone Calls
To create an intimate and more personalized connection with your attendees, give them a call. Yes, a phone call. In the world of text communication, a phone call can set you apart from other event planners who are afraid to pick up the phone. Call each one individually (depending on how many RSVPs you have, of course). I made phone calls to over 200 people for an event one time and the results were fantastic!
The phone call should be short, yet friendly and to the point. Let them know how you are looking forward to them attending your event. Say you will look out for them. When attendees feel a personal connection to the planner, they are less likely to flake on the event.
4. Have Invitees Register to Attend
Even when you are planning a free event, have people register. This gives the attendee a sense of responsibility, that they should put priority to your event over a walk-up event. Registration creates exclusivity for an event. Asking invitees to invest time in their RSVP gives rid of the idea that you are running a “free for all” event. My favorite platform for converting invitees to attendees is Eventbrite.
5. Printed Tickets
Ask your attendees to provide a printed ticketed at the door of your event. Politely inform your attendees that they will need this ticket to get into the event and that they can transfer to a friend if needed. Like concert or sporting event tickets, people value these pieces of paper. If they can’t use it, they will find someone that can. The “wasting a ticket” feel creates a sense of urgency as the date approaches.
6. Encourage Pre-Event Connections
Start a buzz about your event by encouraging attendees to start networking before they get there. By starting a Slack channel, you can have your past attendees chatting up the potential no-shows. Having this group of people build an event community will keep them engaged and less likely to bail the day of your event. This will give them incentive to meet the people they have been talking to online.
7. Develop a Reputation
Do you have the best drinks at your events? The most elaborate interior design? Or best gifts? Use your reputation and if you don’t have one, develop one. Create a reason why an invitee is going to choose your event over another event on their night off. Attendees will look forward to an upcoming event if there are raving reviews from their past participants.
8. Keep Your Event Exclusive
People want to feel important, like you are letting them in on a secret that they don’t have access to just yet. Maintain your events exclusivity by limiting the number of attendees for the night, making those who attend feel like a VIP. Start a wait list. Take the Big Sur Marathon for example. That event sells out in minutes because of the limited number of runners that are allowed to take part. It’s a BIG win if you get past the wait list.
9. Promote SWAG
Because who doesn’t like swag? Promote an incentive to get to your event before anyone else. One effective method to reduce no-shows is to offer a trending gift for the first x number of people who get there. Want to spread the word? Offer gifts to those that extended the invite and got more people into your event. Spread the love!
10. Be Interesting
No one wants to come to a boring event, right? One mistake planners make is giving away all the juicy information right off the bat! Don’t do this. Create anticipation for your event, get people excited for wanting to attend. In our reminder emails, create a subject line that announces a new addition to the program. An addition that will make an attendee not want to miss your event for any reason.
There are plenty of methods out there to reduce your no-show rate at events. These are a few of the methods I’ve tested and have actually worked! Pick a few and try them out for your next event. We love feedback, let us know which ways worked best for you!