For You Event Planner - How Do You Prevent No Shows?

Discussion in 'General Business Forum' started by Clinton, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. Clinton

    Clinton UKBF Big Shot Full Member

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    I've posted before about this free event coming up in central London on Feb 7th for business owners who are considering selling their business so I won't bore you with the details.

    This is to ask a specific question - for events like these where there are limited spaces and where one pays based on the number of attendees, how do you plan for or deal with no shows?

    Do you overbook and assume that a certain percentage won't make it? What percentage?

    Obviously, reminders and/or phone calls closer to the time to get further confirmation could help ...but that needs to be balanced by the consideration that such calls are intrusive and can be annoying (so needs to be done in moderation).

    But I remember my own wedding - at one of the poshest hotels in London many years ago. We invited 120 people, just family and close friends. It was a closely managed affair ... and we still had 10% no-shows! (Though, in fairness the no-shows could have been because people belatedly realised that I would be there on the day! :))

    So, any tips?
     
    Posted: Jan 10, 2019 By: Clinton Member since: Jan 17, 2010
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  2. Helpful Johnny

    Helpful Johnny UKBF Contributor Free Member

    68 12
    Whenever I've been involved in events we typically factor somewhere between a 25 - 50% drop out rate even with pre-event confirmations depending on the event and so far only once have I been caught out with seats being a problem.

    The flip side is I've also attended events before where 50 have been expected to show up and yet I've been 1 of 15 people who attended and been fantastically well looked after and the event incredibly useful. Personally I think if you get 15 people who are all deeply engaged is worth more than 50 half arsers!

    I guess a lot of it is how much perceived value does the attendee feel like they will be getting.
     
    Posted: Jan 10, 2019 By: Helpful Johnny Member since: Dec 28, 2018
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  3. Mark T Jones

    Mark T Jones UKBF Ace Full Member

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    You can realistically expect a turnout of just below 50%. Less if the weather is bad.

    Is there any way you can actively incentivise attendance?

    You can disincentivise for non-attendance, say a card swipe and £10 non-attendance fee (it really depends how desirable and relevant the event is.

    One tip that I was given was to create a time-critical element to arriving - ths works for example where the event is on a riverboat, which seems to focus the minds of ditherers.
     
    Posted: Jan 10, 2019 By: Mark T Jones Member since: Nov 4, 2015
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  4. Clinton

    Clinton UKBF Big Shot Full Member

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    The event is for owners of larger businesses (£1m t/o and above) so taking any sort of deposit might look a bit cheap. I've got 82 bookings so far for 70 available spaces. Only a small handful are not business owners - people like @The Resolver (No ten quid fine for him. I 'll charge him a dinner at the Savoy if he doesn't turn up, and you are all invited!)

    I'm trying to work out to what extent it's safe to overbook. But, blimey, 50% no-shows is bad! Funnily enough, this one is on a river boat - we've got the HMS Belfast for the day, but I don't reckon it'll be taking us on a joy ride down the Thames so can't use your great idea about time critical start.
     
    Posted: Jan 10, 2019 By: Clinton Member since: Jan 17, 2010
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  5. Noah

    Noah UKBF Ace Free Member

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    The problem is endemic to free events. Above estimates are consistent with my experience - if you get 50% you're doing well. My key tip is : Don't do free events - even a nominal sum can be a big incentive to attend; maybe something daft like £50 fee, refunded when you turn up at the door?

    Too late for this event, so I won't charge you for that one, but if you use it in the future, I want the cheque in the post.
     
    Posted: Jan 10, 2019 By: Noah Member since: Sep 1, 2009
    #5
  6. Clinton

    Clinton UKBF Big Shot Full Member

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    Er, you should have taken your daft £50 cheque first and before parting with the free advice.

    Duh!
     
    Posted: Jan 10, 2019 By: Clinton Member since: Jan 17, 2010
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  7. Noah

    Noah UKBF Ace Free Member

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    Good point.

    On the other hand, I just received a free lesson in business negotiation skills, so I'll call it even.
     
    Posted: Jan 10, 2019 By: Noah Member since: Sep 1, 2009
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  8. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

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    I've had to skip multiple free events over the years.
    Strangely enough I have skipped no several hundred pounds cost to me events ever.

    Value I think comes into it. And yes I would pay money to hear you speak at an event that utilises your experience.
     
    Posted: Jan 10, 2019 By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017
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  9. Mark T Jones

    Mark T Jones UKBF Ace Full Member

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    At risk of sounding like a luvvie; what is their motivation for attending?

    Usually it will be in varying degrees:

    • Bacon butties
    • Networking
    • To learn valuable stuff
    Naturally you want it to be the third of those (but I'd put good money on number 2 featuring highly with some people)

    What you really need to be doing is - wherever possible - quantifying and specifying where/how will make/save money by attending your event, and therefore why they would be foolish to miss it.

    In fairness, the sub 50% figure does refer more to networking / jollies - with a clear,identified target audience you should beat that figure, but >70% will be way better than average
     
    Posted: Jan 10, 2019 By: Mark T Jones Member since: Nov 4, 2015
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  10. billybob99

    billybob99 UKBF Regular Free Member

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    Just tell everyone someone famous in the industry sector is attending, Richard Branson etc - then say he couldn't make it last minute.
     
    Posted: Jan 10, 2019 By: billybob99 Member since: Apr 23, 2013
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  11. Mark T Jones

    Mark T Jones UKBF Ace Full Member

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    Or strippers?

    I’ll get my coat.
     
    Posted: Jan 10, 2019 By: Mark T Jones Member since: Nov 4, 2015
    #11
  12. AstEver

    AstEver UKBF Contributor Free Member

    32 6
    If you are going to often organise events you can make a 'black list' with frequent non-attendees. But then, the GDPR complicates it, I presume.
     
    Posted: Jan 10, 2019 By: AstEver Member since: Jan 10, 2019
    #12
  13. Clinton

    Clinton UKBF Big Shot Full Member

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    Actually, this is more of a problem than you think.

    A lot of characters have attempted to register who have no real business to sell but are looking for businesses to buy. Unfortunately, the large majority of "buyers" out there in the market are not real buyers - they are con artists (read about them here)! And they see this as a good opportunity to meet a bunch of business owners who are considering the exit (as they are always keen to find business owners who are not already represented by someone clued up and who can protect their interests!)

    I've vetted all applicants and think I've managed to exclude most (or all) of these crooks.
     
    Posted: Jan 10, 2019 By: Clinton Member since: Jan 17, 2010
    #13
  14. Noah

    Noah UKBF Ace Free Member

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    One of the worst events we ever attended was a 3-dayer in the middle of a large city, with some fellow from the telly advertised making an appearance. A large lounge was set up for adoring fans to talk to him and get autographed. It was empty the whole event.

    OK, not quite Richard Branson, but I still wouldn't bet some celebrity hanger-on as a compelling draw.
     
    Posted: Jan 11, 2019 By: Noah Member since: Sep 1, 2009
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  15. AllUpHere

    AllUpHere UKBF Ace Free Member

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    It's a well researched problem. Many marketers, psychologists and academics have researched this over the years. There is plenty of info about it you look for it.

    In its simplest form, attendance will be directly proportional to the difficulty of signing up. Other ideas that can make a difference are things like getting the prospects to actually commit to telling you if they won't be able to attend. Even having the prospect having to fill in the form by hand, rather than online or having someone do it for them, has been proven to massively decrease no shows.
     
    Posted: Jan 11, 2019 By: AllUpHere Member since: Jun 30, 2014
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  16. Financial-Modeller

    Financial-Modeller UKBF Regular Full Member

    203 59
    Using an app like MeetUp will not affect attendance behaviour, but because it is so easy to decline an event, should give you full visibility on attendees in real time - i.e. 5 minutes before arrival time, you'll have a good idea whether you have an under-attendance problem or an overbooking problem and can react accordingly!

    I guess that an audience of potential business sellers will be more likely to prioritise attendance if they perceive that the prospects of a successful sale will improve through attendance. By derivation, exposure to investors and the sale process will be valuable to them.

    Also consider that good feedback from your first event will encourage serious attendees (and reduce no-shows) at subsequent events and you can filter your core invitation list / waiting list / reserve list etc based on attendance at prior events.
     
    Posted: Jan 11, 2019 By: Financial-Modeller Member since: Jul 3, 2012
    #16