Event professionals, how do you feel when you hear the two words “no-shows”? I guess it sounds like “Zika virus” to pregnant women. Just like mothers-to-be are afraid that their child might be born with a small head, we feel dreaded when imagining that our brainchild might be a disappointment to the sponsors, our boss and the public with too many empty seats.
The no-shows plague happens to both free and paid events no matter how advanced our ticketing technology we are using. There could be a number of reasons why registrants don’t show up for the event. Plans changed, excitement dropped, no money involved, etc. The list goes on.
Although we can’t get rid of no-shows totally, there are certain ways to maximize the chance of full house for your event. Here are the 5 tips to avoid no-shows at your next event!
#1 Communication is key
Have you ever experienced this situation: You register for an event and totally forget about it after that? Yes, I bet you did. It can happen to everyone. That is why constant communication is key to converting registrants to attendees.
There are four things you should do to maintain good communication with registrants and establish a relationship with them. A relationship is very important. Friends who can’t make it for the party always let us know in advance.
Schedule reminders: Depending on how early the registration is open for your event, set your reminder schedule accordingly. We advise that there should be at least 4 reminders: one month, 2 weeks, 1 week and 1 day before the event. With such timely reminders, there is no way registrants can forget about your event.
Engage registrants: First get to know who they are using an Event CRM, then design targeted marketing campaigns to different groups of registrants. Keep them feeling motivated to attend your event at all times by emphasizing on what they would be missing out on if they didn’t attend in your email marketing efforts.
Create a society: When I register for an event on Meetup.com, usually the event organizer will reach out to me and invite me to join conversations with other registrants. I will check out who will be attending the event and if I find some interesting people, I will look forwards to meeting them at the event. You can apply the same idea to your event with GEVME Connect.
You should also leverage social media to create a buzz for your event. Not sure how to do that? Here are the 10 Surefire Ways to Promote Your Event on Social Media.
Ask for RSVP update: This is important but often neglected by event professionals. I always asked my event registrants if they would be attending 3 days before the event. I also let them know that there were a number of people on the waiting list. Usually, the ones who wouldn’t be able to make it would respond to me promptly.
#2 Set up a standby list
That is what the airlines must do if they don’t want to fly with half-empty airplanes. So must event organizers if we don’t want to end up with the seats not taken.
Send direct emails to notify wait-listed people about the newly freed up spots, you will sell the tickets to these people even faster than if they weren’t on the wait list in the first place. They will feel like winning the lottery and don’t want to miss this chance to register for your event.
#3 Sell tickets on-site
Not being able to sell all the tickets online? No worries. You can still sell the rest on-site during event registration time. ATTENTION, you will have to keep this option a secret until the last few days before your event. That is to prevent people from deferring the decision of buying tickets until the last minute.
You will have the last chance to get more people to sign up for and attend your event. Remember to notify the registrants about available tickets to be selling on-site as they might come with colleagues or friends.
#4 Give away tickets to media
If you foresee an unavoidable number of people not showing up, consider giving away tickets to media, bloggers and influencers on social media. They might not show up as well, but if 50% of them do, this is a great way to fill up the empty seats and possibly get additional media coverage and PR for your event.
#5 Charge who do not turn up
Our last resort to stop the no-show plague for free events involves money, as expected. Money is a driving force behind the attendance rate of your event.
I once attended a free event that required a small registration fee which would be reimbursed to attendees after the event. Another option is to include an incurred payment for people who register but don’t show up in the ticket’s terms and conditions.
In case you have a series of events and a large number of wait-listed people, you might want to disallow repeated no-showers to register for the next event. That was the case of my university when they offered free workshops to students, and this method did make me avoid missing the workshops at all costs.
I hope the 5 tips above will help you fight against one of the most hated things to event organizers.
The bottom line of this article is to not eliminate no-shows. No-shows will always happen no matter what. Instead, it is that you do your best to keep registrants excited about attending your event all the way, and to get them to update their RSVP timely.
Do you have additional ways to deal with no-shows? Let us know in the comments.