Reducing Event No-Shows

For many event organisers, the mere thought of invited guests not turning up to an event can be perceived as a direct criticism as they have spent so much time, effort and money to organise the event. Thus, we have found that one of the trickiest conversations to have with a client is to discuss how much allowance to make for no-shows at their event.

A recent Image event for one of our City clients at the Imperial war Museum

We can make generalisations that the percentage of no-shows will be higher for free events than paid ones for example; the larger the gathering, the more likely it is that guests will feel able to no-show without being noticed; and seated events with a seating plan will see fewer no-shows than a standing reception.

Over the years we have seen the no-show rate increase and although it’s not the client’s fault that their guests fail to turn up, the event organiser is a handy target. So, how can we make it more likely that our client’s guests will actually turn up on the night? Our job now is to ensure that the number of no-shows does not exceed our estimate.

Below are some of our top tips that have worked for us and our clients over the years.  Whilst you may think some sound obvious, you’d be surprised at how easily they can be forgotten:

  • Use event software that will allow you to send a personalised email to each guest one week prior to the event and then again the day before, or morning of the event.
  • Provide a location map of the venue and a suitable link or information about travel options so that guests know exactly how to get to the event and how easy it will be.
  • If the invite is for a ‘Plus 1’ don’t assume they will all bring a guest, contact them. Ask them specifically as part of your communications.
  • Explain exactly what the event includes (say canapés, bowl food or dinner) so guests know what to expect and can plan accordingly.
  • If something happens on the day i.e. bad weather, tube strikes etc, email the attendees again saying that you are looking forward to seeing them and provide alternative journey routes etc.
  • If it’s a small event for carefully selected guests, say so on the invitation, using the words ‘exclusive’, ‘intimate’, ‘soiree’, etc.  This subconsciously makes it clear to the guest that they will be noticed if they don’t turn up.

Image Events has used the Victoria & Albert Museum for large prestigious client events

Our high levels of repeat business would suggest that many of these techniques work well.

Finally, it is well worth following up on no-shows with a polite email saying how much they were missed and how you look forward to meeting them at a future event – playing the guilt card sometimes has long term benefits!

We will be expanding on some of these themes in our social media channels over the coming weeks and would welcome your own tips and experiences of what has worked for you to #reducenoshows.