Clever Carly: Ways to Reduce Your “No-Show” Rate

Use these tactics to encourage attendance

Hello, dear planning professionals!

I try not to be a complainer, but one of my biggest gripes about planning is one that we planners often don’t have control over: people who RSVP “yes” to an event but don’t actually show up.

Not only does it throw numbers to outside vendors off, but no-shows can also be costly to you and your client. And, on a personal level, after months spent planning, it can feel discouraging when people who seem to be excited about your meeting don’t come to revel in its glory. But that’s enough complaining.

No-shows are not necessarily a mark of your planning abilities, but there are steps we can take to match the number of attendees who tick “yes” with those walking through the door. Here are a few ideas to try:

Share exclusive content.

If you send out invites that say you’ll be livestreaming or uploading videos of the meeting later, you give people less incentive to come to the event and interact face-to-face. That means you must find a way to offer valuable content, such as exclusive speakers, panels or giveaways, available to in-person attendees only—and let attendees know what they could be missing beforehand. 

Ramp up social media.

Social media is home to vast networks of people, so take advantage and get the word out about your event. As you get closer to the day-of, increase the number of posts so you’ll be top of mind, but not too many so that you’re annoying potential attendees. Consider sharing videos, blog posts, pictures or event previews—anything that will get guests buzzing and feeling inspired—to raise anticipation and make showing up more likely.

If you’re hosting a networking event, consider creating a Facebook group for attendees to mingle before the meeting. Their banter will help get each other excited about the meeting, and the creation of new connections prior to the event will give them more motivation to meet and see people in person. 

Ask for an RSVP update.

A few days prior to your event, loop back in with guests who have RSVP’d to remind them about the occasion and ask for an update. From the responses, you’ll be able to garner a better idea of who to expect and the number of people who might be no-shows. If a no-show at a specific event is particularly costly, consider keeping a waiting list and offering any unclaimed seats to those who are next-in-line. 

Analyze your no-show rates. 

After the event, sit down and crunch the numbers. Who made it, who didn’t, and who said they would? Reach out to those who didn’t attend the meeting and ask why.
This kind of information can help you in the long run when it comes to planning your events. And if the event is an annual meeting for a recurring client, you can use this information to up the number of attendees for next year—and to better predict whether to operate with a thinner RSVP margin in the future.

No-shows aren’t something you can always prevent. But when you tweak your planning approach, you just might be able to turn some of those “tentatively comings” into “yesses.”

Until next time,
Clever Carly