Poor attendance is one of the biggest frustrations in most events. I know how it feels scanning your event room, proud of the job you did organizing a dope event, but empty chairs fill the room. Some people really do not understand that not showing up to an event costs money, wastes resources and makes it difficult to plan the next event effectively. What went wrong? Sure, unpredictable stuffs come up. It’s easy to write off poor attendance on the premise that people simply are overscheduled. “I should be there is different from “I will be there”, but we often don’t notice the difference until we’re staring bitterly at empty seats.
So, what can be done to ensure your seats are filled?
Make sure your event information gives detailed instructions on how to make it to the event for those that wants it. This includes venue address, arrival time, driving and parking instructions and anything else that will be useful to your busy guests. If this is a local event, send an email with and last-minute info. That way, if they forget their invite back at the office, they have the info on their phone, at the top of their inbox.
Send automated or SMS/WhatsApp reminders. I do that a lot. One week out, one day out, and on the day of the event. It shows how much you value you guests. They also can sense this.
Kick your social media posts into high gear so people will see your events name in their social news feed more often and remember the event.
Share your contact details. Make it easy for people to let you know they won’t be there. Make sure attendees have a phone number they can call in case of difficulties on the event day.
Develop relationships with attendees in between events through increasing engagement. People are less likely to let down others who they feel they know personally.
If you have the permission, share the guest list so people can see the caliber of those attending. If you don’t want to share names, highlighting job titles and organizations will do some magic.
Don’t make it feel like a cattle call. Often, ongoing free events are seen as cattle calls and attendees who register feel they won’t be misse4ed if they don’t show. Personalize every bit of your communication so that no one ever feels like they’re just a number. “Numbers” don’t feel obligation to attend or advise you of changed plans.
Make sure attendees have a reason to be at your event. Give them a reason to be there.
Examine the date and time of the event. What time of the day do you schedule your event? Make sure to check any critical date that may be taking place around your selected event date, such as a major national or religious holiday that could affect guest attendance. If you have a regular audience, it is worth checking the days of the week which works best for them. Or more importantly any days to avoid.
Give away tickets to media, influencers, or “special guests.”
Share valuable content. Raise anticipation for your event by sharing good content using blog posts, video, images, infographics and reports. Cover the topics that will be discussed in more details at your event so people are hungry for more.
Get people talking about the event. Share past impressions from others, video testimonials, stats and other things that create a buzz. Make sure your speakers are talking about the event. Whether it is to encourage last minute bookings, give a last minute reminder or share why people need to be there.
Encourage Networking and matchmaking. If people can network in advance of the event, be matched with relevant contacts and set up appointments to connect face to face, people are more likely to ensure they don’t miss the event.
For educational events, issue certificates of participation or get your event accredited to offer professional development point for those that attend the full content.
Tag people on social media telling them that you’re looking forward to seeing them. This works well for small groups
Make personal calls the day before or day of the event to get an accurate headcount.
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To be continued....