Planning Pod Blog


Fresh insights and best practices for event professionals

2 proven ways to reduce guest list no-shows at your events and weddings

by | Dec 28, 2012 | Business Management, Industry Intelligence and Research

A big annoyance and major inconvenience of planning an event or wedding is when an invitee RSVPs “yes” and then doesn’t show up without as much as an email or text. Of course there are valid reasons for no-showing to an event … illness, car problems, etc. But on many occasions people may have been iffy about showing up in the first place and simply decided at the last minute to skip the event.

What these people don’t realize is that, on many occasions, the event / wedding planner and/or their client has spent a certain (and sometimes considerable) sum of money on each attendee. For example, for a wedding, money has possibly been spent on the no-show for the venue headcount, catering, gift bags, transportation and a variety of other things. And the client has no way of recouping this money.

Most people don’t realize this, so here are a few ways to ensure that a larger percentage of people who RSVP “yes” show up to your events and weddings.

1. Getting the attendee to make a commitment
Social psychology research shows that people are more likely to follow through on their promises if they express their commitment verbally or in writing. The reason this is effective is that people like to see themselves behaving in a consistent manner, and if they take action in making a promise to attend an event, they will more likely attend the event because they want to remain consistent with their previous behavior.

So when you are asking for their RSVP, you could require them to do a bit more than simply check a box. If they are replying “yes,” you could request them to include a message along with their response. If the event is a wedding, it could be a message to the couple. If the event is a fundraiser, it could be how they can help the cause. If the event is a corporate event, it could be a request for some type of programming or content. You can be creative, but the idea is to get someone to verbally commit to attending in their own words and actions.

Note: Another way you could get someone to make a more substantial commitment to a non-wedding event like a Meetup group or business meeting/event is to charge a small fee for attending. You would be amazed at how many fewer no-shows you have by simply charging $3-5 for attending an event.

2. Reminders, reminders, reminders
When people are reminded of their commitments, they are much more likely to follow through on them, again mainly out of desire to behave consistently with past behavior (but also out of guilt … and guilt does work as a compelling force for many people).

So sending out email, snail mail and/or text reminders a week before the event or wedding and again a day before helps to ensure that your “yes” RSVPs are in attendance. The message doesn’t have to be anything complicated. It should simply remind them that they previously committed to attending the event; provide the event location, day/time and any other relevant details about their attendance; and state that you or your client looks forward to seeing them at the event.

If it’s not too late to reduce your head count to your venue, caterer, etc., you can also include a P.S. line that asks them to respond if they can no longer attend; this way you can reduce your head count and your expense accordingly.

Note: Our event management and planning software lets you export your guest lists so you can send out bulk emails to your guests.

As a savvy wedding and event planner, you probably have other ways of getting people to show up at your events, so please provide your ideas in the comments below.

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