How to deal with event no-shows

No shows are a major problem for event organisers. Is it organiser’s fault or is it to blame the individual?

September’s Event Huddle debate was about how to deal with event no-shows. Panellists were Lindsey Fish from Little Fish Event Management, Ricardo Monila from BrightBull Marketing, Kelvin Newman from Brighton SEO and Scott Hope an AR & VR Consultant. The session was moderated by Kevin Jackson from The Experience is the Marketing.

How to reduce event no-shows?

According to panellists, there are different options. Firstly concentrate on building relationships, find out more insights about the people when they register and continually communicate with them through different channels. At the same time be careful when you decide to over market the event because this might create speculative registrations.

Organisers must accept that this is part of the game – free events means no-shows – so just have about 40% more registrations. Be clear what your business model is – more registrations or more people through the door?

There must be always a balance between organisers who want to get many registrations and making it easy to register. If you make it easy to register you make it easy not to show up. So just understand how to reduce no-shows. You can make the event look more desirable to attend, by creating waiting lists, priority in the queue etc.

In the end of the day, attendees will register for free or pay, as an event organiser you must know what makes them tick and market to them.

Lastly, create scarcity by not extending early bird registration deadline.

event huddle

Should organisers charge a modest fee?

How about charging a modest fee to make attendees commit? This can be tricky, because when you have low costs to commit to attend – it might send the wrong message about the value of the event. If we take an example of Hosted Buyers model, charging them doesn’t solve the problem. The organisers still need to deliver to sponsors, so it’s about reducing it. Usually, people sign up with a good will, but might have a legitimate reason not to attend – if you still charge them this will create a certain, possibly negative, dynamics with the audience.

What to do about persistent no-shows?

Blacklist doesn’t work. The time it will take to manage the no-shows will cost more than the benefits the organisers get from it. Try to understand what is it about these guys that they are not coming and why. Maybe it’s free to register but going to London is so expensive it just doesn’t worth it? An example can be that sometimes companies register entire teams and only few will attend and they don’t bother to cancel.

Don’t complain, do something about it.

Commercial opportunities

Be creative with no-shows and see the product development opportunities. For example, organisers can have a sponsored  livestream from the event.

No commitment

There is a shift happening in the market as the exhibition attendee is getting more intelligent. People will just turn up to free event without registration to save time filling out forms. And also not needing to commit shall things change and they have to cancel.

Freemium model

Organisers want to grow their events through freemium model. Many in the industry know that even if the event is not free, at least 15% of the audience will get free entrance. If organisers end up inviting many people for free why not to invite everyone for free and rethink the model? Free ticket should be standard ticket, not paying for a bad experience.

If you want to keep your events small and boutique don’t do freemium.

Best tactic to get people to turn up?

  • Keep in touch with people who have registered to attend, constant communication, show the value of exhibitors and what they are going to take away from the event.
  • Post sign up campaign via social media and email, create FOMO and who’s coming, social amplification.
  • Guilt people and make them regret what they’ve missed out! Make the event trending on Twitter.

To conclude, it’s not the individual to blame but the organiser. Just don’t get personal if people don’t show up! Do you agree or disagree? Please share in the comments below.

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