Nothing rains on a host’s parade more than event no-shows. All of those empty seats make your efforts appear to be lacklustre, no matter how engaging the content of the event might actually be.
The reality of the matter is that many people have a casual attitude towards events, and they don’t consider that their unanticipated absence has a negative effect on those around them. You can reduce the number of event no-shows with some savvy planning.
Make your event irresistible
The most obvious way to avoid event no-shows is to plan a simply unmissable event. Easier said than done. How do you make your function the event of the year? By choosing a truly unique, awesome venue – one that’ll leave your guests thoroughly impressed. Similarly, add some exciting, surprise elements to keep your event fresh. This could be a live entertainer, or performer, or amazing guest speaker. A drawcard guest speaker is a great way to fortify against event no-shows.
It all depends on what type of event you’re holding. For example, a string quartet may be a better option for a sophisticated party fundraiser than, say, belly dancers.
Choose your venue wisely
Some people have every intention of showing up, but life gets in the way. If the venue is hard to get to and the start time is scheduled during peak hour, they may dismiss attending altogether for fear of being terribly late.
Always choose venues that are easily accessible for most people. Also be wary that if the scheduled start time is at the height of peak hour, or too close to knock-off time (will people have enough time to run home and change?), you may risk event no-shows. If there are any other large events in the area around the same time, getting to your event may be inconveniently difficult.
Plan for standbys
The more people who RSVP, the higher the number of potentially empty seats you’ll have to deal with. Create a standby list. If people have the courtesy to cancel or if you have another reason to anticipate a high number of no-shows, contact people on the standby list within 48 hours of the event. If they can still make it, they’ll be able to pick up the slack. If even half of your standby people show up, you did substantially better than you would have without them.
Make sure your guest list is reliable
Some people don’t formally cancel their attendance because they may not know how to, or there’s no avenue for them to do so. If you clearly state that your cancellation process is easy, people will feel more inclined to use it. Offer quick refunds, even if they’re only partial. People won’t bother attempting to cancel if they know they aren’t going to get their money back, and offering a refund is one of the best ways to entice people who would have otherwise simply not shown up.
Send frequent reminders
You don’t want to flood people’s inboxes, but you definitely don’t want them to forget about your event. Try sending out reminders (including information about cancellations, standby lists, how to get to the venue (public transport options and logistics) two weeks before, one week before, 48 hours before, and the day of the event. You’ll increase the chances of being seen by people who don’t regularly check their email. You’ll also be reminding people to cancel through the proper channels if something else came up and they’ll no longer be able to go.
Increase the onus on the customer to notify the event planner (you) if they’re unable to attend by adding a sense of desire and urgency in your messaging. Closer to the event, try adding: ‘Our event is at near capacity. If you’re unable to attend, please click this link and get in touch, so we can allocate your seat to someone else.’
Offer a surprise ticket method
If you still have unsold tickets and cancellations a couple days prior to the event, announce that you’ll have a limited number of tickets available at the door. You can hire someone to sell tickets for a few hours on the night of the event. Don’t announce this too early – some people won’t purchase tickets online and depend on the availability of door tickets that may run out sooner than anticipated. You’ll also be able to fill empty seats all the way up to the last second.
While a packed house is never guaranteed, it’s always the goal. The way you combat no-shows can do a lot to keep every seat warm at your next event.
About the author:
Michelle Arios is a blogger and a project manager, currently working as a part of the team behind Aubiz, an online knowledge library containing info about Australian businesses. Michelle is also a staunch supporter of lifelong-learning and enjoys spending her time with self-improvement books.
Feel free to reach out to her on @MichelleArios.