Five Things That Discourage Event No Shows

Last Updated on October 7, 2021

It’s something no event planner wants to deal with – yet it’s one of the most common problems in event management. It can force you to turn away potential attendees, it can leave you purchasing too much food and booze, a venue that’s too large, lost deposits on empty hotel rooms, and on. It can cost event planners and little as time and effort to as much as huge money lost and an affair that falls flat after everyone works so hard to host it.  I’m talking, of course, about no shows.

No matter what event you run, you’re going to have a few people who simply don’t bother to show up. There’s honestly nothing you can do to change this. Yet so many decisions are based on head-count. How can you ensure that your head-count information remains as accurate as possible?

Event planners certainly employ tactics that discourage skipping out. There are simple steps that help reduce an event’s number of potential attendee no-shows.

Make Sure Your Guests Actually Care

This is a broad concept and relates to one’s skills as an event planner: you should be running events that resonate with your target audience, period. Create an event that attendees would feel terrible for missing. If your marketing can spark a fervent interest you’ve mastered step one of reducing no-shows.  Make your event’s objective clear, and be sure to emphasize it’s valuable – from industry leading guest speakers to awesome vendors.

This may seem like a silly piece of advice, but you don’t have a shot if you haven’t created something your audience may cares about.

Remind People That It’s Happening

This may seems obvious as well, doesn’t it? You’d be surprised how many people apparently forget to send off a simple reminder. As the planner, your event is all you think about, but your guests, even if pumped for it, have so many other things they consider infinitely more important – at any given moment. So engage, send out the occasional reminder, a month, week, day before, and include a new nugget of information, a new event or speaker added. Also consider including a call-to-action with your promotion.

Tip: have guests create personal profiles on your event’s website, and encourage guests to make plans in advance with one another. This way they’re committing to each other, not just to you!

Provide An Incentive

We’re not exactly fans of outright bribery, but many events and their vendors offer tangible gifts for guests who attend – I was sailing on a catamaran last weekend that was won at a tradeshow! The age old “first hundred people to arrive” is the promise a prize solely based on arriving early (or get something simply for attending.) Receive discount codes from useful business services in attendance.

Tip: the only rule we’ll stress is that in order for gifts to effectively encourage event attendance the prizes must be things your guests actually value.

Make People Pre-Pay

Another simple, but very effect way to discourage no-shows, require your guests to purchase tickets in advance.  Now, this isn’t a guaranteed tactic. You’re still going to have a few people who ditch out, but at least you’ll have made the ticket sales.

Connect With Guest After The Event

Let your guests know you appreciate their patronage. After your event is over and done, thank them for their attendance. This is the perfect opportunity to invite back to next years event (or If you’re running another event for the same client.) Include a super easy way for them to register right then and there. Suddenly their committed to attending once again and excited for next year.

Every event planner is going to have to deal with a few no-shows. It’s unavoidable. By following the advice laid out in this piece, however, you can hopefully keep the flakes at a manageable level – allowing you to focus more on the people who did bother to show.