12 Ways To Reduce No-Shows At Your Next Alumni Event

No-shows: the bane of every event planner’s existence. Unfortunately, there will always be people who signed up for your event that don’t end up attending. There’s no avoiding it completely. 

In fact, no-show percentages for virtual events range from a low of 35% to a high of 70%. In-person events generally have a lower no-show rate, but it still happens. No-show rates for in-person events can range from a few percent for highly sought after concert tickets whereas other in-person events can be as high as 40%.

So, while you can’t avoid no-shows entirely, you can reduce them significantly. Here’s a list of 12 things you can do to help your attendee numbers soar!

1. Communicate frequently.

Communication is key. If you don’t talk with the people who signed up for your event, it will be much easier for them to feel like they aren’t needed, making them far less likely to attend. Once you start communicating, make sure you maintain contact. Give guests a way to reach you easily, such as an email or phone number that they can go to with questions or concerns. And send multiple reminders leading up to the event. A good way to do this is through email, but you can also send texts and even make phone calls to attendees to make them feel like they’re wanted at your event. 

Also, be sure to say thank you! They took the time out of their day to come to your event, or even to just get a ticket in the first place. A simple thank you can go a long way, and the gesture will stick with your attendees for far longer than one event.

2. Consider paid tickets.

If you’re giving out tickets for free, then of course a lot of people are going to take them. Who doesn’t love free? However, this is one of the main contributors to no-shows. Free tickets are far less valuable to attendees than tickets that are paid for. They won’t feel an obligation to go to your event when they could just as easily stay home, watch a movie, relax and unwind. It was free, after all, so what do they have to lose? So instead of using free tickets, consider paid tickets.

3. Offer special tickets.

With paid tickets, consider offering upgrades for bonus activities or special seating. VIP tickets, behind the scenes access, better seating, a good table, what can you add to a particular ticket to increase the perceived value of the ticket and the event?
This has the added benefit of increasing the value of the free tickets, giving people the impression that they need to grab one while they still can. Since they see the value of their ticket as greater, then they’ll do whatever they can to make sure it doesn’t go to waste. This means that they’ll show up, or give their ticket to someone who will use it.

4. Give printed tickets.

Using printed tickets instead of virtual ones can also reduce no-shows.

It’s easier to remember that you have an event to go to when you have a physical reminder lying on your desk and staring you in the face. Plus, people are less likely to waste a piece of paper than an online ticket.

5. Prompt registrants to reserve their spot.

Something else you can do to reduce no-shows is having a “reserve your spot” function for free events. This indicates that seating is limited, so they’ll want to grab a good spot as fast as they can. This also makes them more likely to come to the event, so they utilize the special seating they’ve attained.

6. Create a waiting list.

Set up a standby list to create a feeling of anticipation. If there’s a waiting list, people are going to get spots as quickly as possible, and are more likely to show up to keep that spot that they managed to get. It’s a similar approach to reserving a spot; it increases the value of the spot obtained by the attendee.

7. Create buzz with giveaways.

Consider social media giveaways. Giving people the chance to win a ticket, or even a good spot in your event, will add even more value to the ticket. Entering into a contest also gives attendees a sense of excitement for your event, so it promotes as well as creates buzz.

8. Make it easy to transfer tickets.

It sounds like something you wouldn’t want to do, but this does help reduce the number of no-shows at your event. Think about it this way: you got a ticket for free, the date of the event is coming up, but suddenly there’s something else that comes up that you can’t possibly miss. Maybe it’s a family function, a last-minute work meeting, anything could pop up unexpectedly. Since your ticket was free, you don’t think much of it. Or maybe you think, “I’ll give it to a friend who may go to this event and enjoy it so I don’t waste this ticket.” So you go onto the website to see if you can transfer it, but after several minutes of confusion and frustration, you decide it’s for the best that you leave it be. Then the ticket doesn’t get used, and you get a no-show. Life happens, so it’s important to make transferring any ticket easy.

9. Create FOMO.

FOMO; the fear of missing out. To create FOMO, you need to make your event irresistible and create as much buzz around it as possible. A good way to do this is by creating increasing excitement as you get closer and closer to your event. There are plenty of ways you can do this: a post on social media, a call with attendees, sneak peeks, or even having something to give to attendees such as virtual event bags. When someone signs up for your event, having event bags to send out as a small thank you can go a long way! Who doesn’t love receiving packages, especially surprise ones? It also gives attendees more incentive to come, because they feel special and appreciated.

10. Analyze who isn’t showing up.

Analyze the types of attendees who don’t show up. This can give you a better understanding of why they might not be showing up so that you can do something to change that for future events, such as sending messages to the missing attendees to show them that they were missed. Doing so will encourage them to come to the next event because they’ll feel that they were wanted or even needed.

11. Post a guest list.

Publish a list of attendees to give a visual representation of how many people are signed up, as well as show other attendees who is going to the event. This shows other constituents how many people are interested.

12. Gamify your event.

Gamification is when you take elements of gameplay, whether it’s rules, competition, or points, and you apply them to a situation that isn’t a game. Lots of events use this technique to their advantage, giving out points and rewards for achieving certain goals at an event. A certain amount of points could win a special spot at an event, or a free gift, the options are limitless for gamification!

Put Them Into Practice

That’s it! You now have 12 simple ways to keep no-shows to a minimum. If you put these tips into practice, you should see a significant decrease in your no-show count. Practice makes perfect, so make sure that you try these tips for all of your events, and you should see more and more attendees!