Why did no one come to my event? How to avoid no-shows and create an unmissable event.
There’s nothing worse than putting time, money and resources into organising an event to only have a few people show up on the day. So, how do you create an event that people put in their calendar and also prioritise going to? You’ll be contending with busy schedules and other commitments, so it’s important to make your event stand out.
What was the reason that no one showed up? Did everyone forget? Did the event not seem exciting enough? Was there something else happening that evening? We’ve listed some things you can do to create an event that your guests won’t want to miss!
Target the right audience
As soon as your event idea is born, consider who you want to be there and get them on your invite list. Think about the demographic you’d like to target and how to connect with these people. You could also reach out to relevant businesses, charities and press contacts and ask them to promote your event to their audience too. With the right people on your invite list, you’ll have a better chance of filling the room with an interested and engaged audience on the day.
Create an incentive
Why should someone give up their evening to come to your event? Even if it’s for charity, most guests will want something more to entice them to come. People need to be persuaded that coming along in person is worth their time! After all, they could just make a donation online or go to the shop to buy your product.
Will there be complimentary refreshments? Will you be launching an exclusive product or revealing some exciting information?
Market your event as an exclusive moment that gives guests an opportunity they can’t find anywhere else. Whether it’s a discount, a freebie, a special speaker or a live music performance – you should sell it to your audience so that they are incentivised to attend. If the event has a social element, make sure that you emphasise how fun it’s going to be and how many other like-minded people will be there.
Promote your event
“Oh, I wish I’d known about that – I would have gone.”
You can’t expect to have a packed out venue unless you tell people about it. Promote your event to your audience in whatever way reaches them best – flyers, posters, email campaigns, social media, and word of mouth are all great ways to get your event out there.
Include a call to action, such as “book your tickets here”, or “sign up before the event sells out” to encourage people to include your event in their schedule.
Communicate with your guests
Once you have some names on the guest list, don’t stop there! You should stay in contact with your attendees in the lead up to the event to get them excited. Ask guests to reconfirm as you get nearer to the time so that you can have a better idea of numbers.
Put together a communication schedule that will keep your guest engaged and encourage them to attend. An example schedule might look something like this:
- When booking – Confirmation email
- 2 weeks before – Can you still join us?
- 1 week before – Important information for the event
- 1 day before – Last reminder and see you tomorrow!
If you’re using the Ensemble system, you’ll be able to send push notifications to guests’ mobile phones in the run-up to each event. You can watch the 4-minute demo video here.
Confirm the date in advance
If you’re organising an event at the last minute, don’t be surprised if half your invite list can’t make it. Send a ‘save the date’ as soon as possible to make sure that guests mark the event in their schedule.
If your event is ticketed, encourage guests to book early so that you know how popular tickets will be. If you are sending invitations, aim to get them out at least 8 weeks before the event to allow for a good turnout.
Check the date of your event against any other major events. For example, avoid bank holidays, world cup finals or hosting something on the same day as one of your competitors. If possible, you don’t want to make your guests choose between your event and another alternative.
Overbook to allow for no shows
Did you know that free events often have a dropout rate of over 50%? Missing a free event doesn’t come at a loss to the guest, so you’ll find that lots of people book but then don’t show up. As an event organiser, this can be frustrating – so you’ll want to be prepared for the possibility.
Depending on your audience, overbook to make sure that your event reaches capacity on the day. Look at similar events to predict a dropout rate and consider expanding your invite list to allow for no shows.
You may have heard of airlines using this method to ensure that they take off with full planes! For example, if you’re planning a free conference for 300 people – don’t be afraid to add 350-400+ names to the guest list. Plans often change and things come up, so it’s likely that many of your guests won’t actually be able to make it on the day. If you want the room to look full, overbooking slightly can give you peace of mind.
Warning: This strategy works best if you are inviting a new audience to an event that has a flexible capacity. If your venue capacity is really strict, be more cautious with your approach and don’t overbook too much.