Where have our manners gone?
There was time if you were invited to an event or gathering, you would politely respond yes or no. It’s just good manners.
Nowadays, we have so many options that go beyond a simple ‘I’ll be there’ or ‘I can’t make it’. It is no longer black or white.
We have the new faithful ‘maybe’; – hedging our bets something better comes along or not wanting to upset anyone by saying no. Facebook has changed that to ‘interested’ and ‘ignore’. What does that mean? How do you plan an event based on ‘interested’?
Even if you do ask people to commit by RSVPing, sometimes they do not bother to show up.
Did you know RSVP actually is French for ‘please respond’? Répondez s’il vous plaît = RSVP. This does not mean you have to commit to going; it just means ‘please do me the courtesy of letting me know if you are coming or not so I can plan my event’.
As an event organiser, planning an event is nerve wracking – getting your presentation just right, organising sponsors, where will people sit, bump in and out details, catering, worksheets, workbooks, ensuring the activities are engaging and then wondering if anyone is going to show. That nail-biting moment half an hour before start time, hoping you will not be spending the day by yourself.
It is not like the act of RSVPing is hard. It is as simple as clicking a box or sending a message; we do not even have to pick up the phone anymore. Yet, for some reason, the no shows or no replies prevail.
When you are putting on an event – be it a party at your home, a workshop, networking evening, or a lunch – no event is free. There is an investment of time and energy … and often money to book a venue, pay for catering, resources etc.
Of course, things happen, life gets in the way, deadlines get moved, kids get sick, traffic sucks, clients need help … and a quick call, message, text, PM, tweet to say you can’t come would not go astray.
So why do we not bother to tell people if we can’t come? Why do we force them to chase us just to get an answer? I admit I am guilty of this. I do not have the answer but being on the receiving end means I am going to get better at RSVPing.
That’s a bit of a rant! What’s it got to do with PR and storytelling?
PR to everything you say, everything you do and everything others say about you. Business is all about relationships and connections. Business is all about you. People do not do business with businesses; they do business with people. So the people who do not show to your event are telling you something.
I can’t do anything about the ones who do not come or do not let me know they are not coming. All I can do is ensure the ones who are there get me at my best.
I worked out a few ways to minimise the no-shows.
- Do not run free events
If people are willing to put their hard-earned money down, they are more likely to show up. I ran a lunch recently where people had to pay at the door. Twelve people did not show, did not call or let me know they were not coming. It was a catered event and I was lucky the venue did not charge me for the 12 meals they had over catered for. I learnt something valuable – place a value on the event. It is not enough to have a great speaker or great content.
- Tickets have to be pre-paid
We all love free but when someone is putting on the line their knowledge, time and expertise, there is value in that. If they are sharing tips and strategies to help you grow your business, there is value in that. By getting people to pre-pay for a ticket, you will have a better show up rate. It is not enough to register or be ‘interested’, there has to be a value exchange. I get 98% attendance when I do a pre-sale for events.
- Have intimate events
It is tempting to fill a big room but unless you have money to put on the line, stick with smaller events especially if you are doing workshops. Smaller rooms mean you give more one-on-one advice and attention; people learn more. With huge events, it is easy to think ‘I’m only one person, they will not miss me.’ Yes. Yes, we will.