When you go through the hassle of planning and hosting an event, it’s obvious you want people to show up. Unfortunately, some don’t — even when they said they would. So where did you go wrong and how can you fix it?
Most people skip an event because it no longer interests them, something else came up or maybe they just forgot. Whatever the reason, an empty room or a tournament without competitors can damage your business’s reputation, cause sponsors to drop out, and discourage speakers or panelists from working with you again.
It’s unlikely you’ll ever get an event with 100% attendance. No-shows happen, but you can decrease the no-show rate with careful planning. Use these tips for both free and paid events to keep people hooked, engaged and eager to attend.
Post about the event consistently and make sure to feature everything. Photo Credit: Shooters Archery
By routinely sharing event details and information, you’ll keep the event front and center in your attendees’ minds so they don’t forget or lose interest in it. This idea comes from the article “” by Ben Schwartz, a marketing manager and Eventstant blogger. He said that from the moment you create the event to the day it happens, you should use email, social media and direct mail to feature images, videos and other event content to keep folks interested in what’s to come. Creating a communications schedule helps keep you on track. This strategy helps build excitement and enthusiasm for the event, which also helps people remember it’s happening.
In your communications, Schwartz said, clearly define what people will get by attending the event. In other words, give them a reason to show up. Are you handing out a free gift? Is there a door prize? Will they learn a new skill? Is there going to be food, drinks or a well-known speaker? Incentives like this entice people to show up and get what you promised.
“Attendees may surely have peers who are interested in the topic of your event,” Solaris said. “Leverage their social networking activity to fill up those empty seats and possibly offer rewards or discounts if money is involved.”
By having attendees invite their like-minded friends, you might double your attendance number and kiss no-shows goodbye.
People are busy and life is chaotic. To ensure attendees don’t forget about your event, connect with those who showed interested or RSVP’d in the affirmative as close to the event as possible. General reminders work well, but personalizing your message to individuals shows you care about them, not just the spot they’re filling. Some people don’t check their email or social media daily, but they probably carry their phone everywhere. Try calling or texting them if you have their phone number. If not, use the next best thing.
The poses a good question. Author Mike Fletcher asks, “If you truly considered that your nonattendance at an event would have an environmental impact, result in food wastage and incur a potential cost for the organizer, would you still fail to show up without a valid reason?” Remind people that their attendance requires careful planning and that when they don’t show, it negatively affects the shop, community and the event logistics. If people knew the consequences of skipping an event, they might be more compelled to attend.
Charge a small fee to attend the event and allow the archers to preregister. Photo Credit: Ace Archers
The Eventbrite website talks about event price as an additional attendance motivator. When people don’t financially invest in an event, they don’t feel as obligated to go. The article “The Ultimate Way to Reduce No-Shows at Free Events” recommends putting a small price tag on what would otherwise be a free event to increase its perceived value. Having to pay admission might put some people off, but it will likely increase a customer’s commitment to attending because they don’t want to lose their money.
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Advertise on your social media and any other outlets you think might reach your potential attendees. Photo Credit: Music City Archery
Need help planning an event worthy of attendance? Use the to get started. It was designed to help archery pro shop owners launch and manage archery and bowhunting events that generate revenue, build brand awareness and attract new customers. The workbook describes the planning process and provides tips and insights for making important decisions. It includes an overview of an event, including budget, timeline, checklist, marketing plan, attendee list, equipment and supplies, and follow-up and evaluation. It even includes bonus tips, which are hot insights from retailers and ATA staff. The workbook’s pages also provide space for writing down ideas and taking notes.
The ATA’s "" document is another great resource. It was created to help ATA members host fun, engaging events year-round. The document features at least five event ideas to consider each month, as well as more than 20 events you can host at any time of year. You’ll find educational lessons, decoration ideas and sample shooting games for each event.
When your event has a good turnout, get your attendees involved to help boost your marketing efforts for future events. Ask them to post about your event online, tag your business in their pictures, invite their friends to future events and spread the word. Their enthusiasm and support for the event will likely generate interest in future ones, which also helps prevent no-shows.
If the no-show trend continues despite your efforts, try to pinpoint potential reasons by tracking event details (date, time and time of year), guest names (who regularly shows and who doesn’t) and outside factors (the weather or another event, such as a concert, festival or craft fair, happening on the same day). You might find a pattern of unfavorable dates or times. You might also identify a particular person who skips often. Then you can plan your events for better days or know who’s unreliable for your headcount.
Questions? Contact , ATA’s manager of range and retail programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (866) 266-2776, ext. 116.