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Industry 'fed up' as no-shows account for up to half of all registrations

EventHuddle panel says free events are worst for no-shows, with better marketing the key to drawing numbers

Pictured: the EventHuddle panel of Kelvin Newman, Ricardo Molina, chair Kevin Jackson, Scott Hope and Lindsay Fish

Up to 50 per cent of registered attendees are failing to show up to events report organisers, who say marketing strategies are key to minimising the rate of no-shows.

Speaking at this month's EventHuddle at London's 1 Wimpole St, the panel of event organisers said the industry was becoming "more fed up" with the number of drop-outs, and urged other planners to stay in constant communication with attendees in the lead-up to the event while also creating a fear of missing out (FOMO) to minimise the number.

Ricardo Molina, co-founder of BrightBull Marketing, said free-to-attend events had the highest rate of drop-outs.

He said: "I think you can rarely reduce them. If you have a free event you're definitely going to have no-shows. You just have to run with it and anticipate it's going to happen. If you're looking at exhibitions, 50 per cent or more aren't going to turn up. The way to reduce it is to start charging."

Molina was joined on the panel with Kelvin Newman (founder of BrightonSEO), Scott Hope (director of AR Experiential) and Lindsay Fish (founder and director of Little Fish Event Management), and panel moderator Kevin Jackson (founder of Experience is the Marketing).

Molina said when charging for events, organisers could expect a 95 per cent attendance rate or more, while fellow panel member Lindsay Fish said average drop-out rates she had experienced were between 10-15 per cent for paid events.

Panel chair Kevin Jackson said that no-shows had always been a problem for event organisers, but that the industry was becoming more vocal and a "a bit more fed up about it". The panel unanimously agreed that creating an industry 'black list', which would contain the identification details of repeat offenders, was not a solution.

Kelvin Newman said: "I don’t see any feasible way of doing it. The time it’d take to maintain and manage. It’d cost more in the administration costs associated with it than it does people not turning up."

Molina added: "Just fine them next time. A blacklist doesn't achieve anything. What are you going to do with it? Publish it, share it? It doesn’t make sense, it’s nonsense."

To ensure the highest number of people turning up on the day, Scott Hope said creating a fear of missing out would work if it was "done for the right reasons".

Fish added: "Keep in touch with the people who’ve registered. We make sure we communicate the value of the exhibitors that are there, and we've also now got case studies of people who came last time. We also use social media; I collect visitors' twitter handles, and retweet them etc to get them involved."

While having a certain number of registered attendees fail to turn up was a constant, Molina added that conversely, the number of people showing up without having registered was growing, so they wouldn't have to spend time online registering.

"We’ve seen that there’s probably 10-20 per cent of people turning up. The user is very intelligent, they know they can show up because they’re rushed, they can give you a card and don’t have to fill in a registration form. I think the user is getting wise to it. I've seen that a lot."

  • Anonymous user 20/07/2017

    Well no shows and time wasters go hand in hand. The scammers, freeloaders, and blaggers have no real reason to be there and face no real consequence by simply not showing up. They have no boss or company to answer to. Any legitimate events professional wouldn't do that. So if you stop inviting the time wasters, you wouldn't have this problem.

  • Philip Crowther 15/09/2016

    Well said Gill-totally agree!

  • Gill Moulden of Moulden Marketing Limited 15/09/2016

    It's not so much the 'no shows' - we average 10 per cent on our free to attend industry events - it's the sheer bad manners when we have phoned and emailed right up to the day to gain reconfirmations, then to have no shows.
    What is totally unacceptable is how few ever apologise, they must think we are all mugs.
    I worked out the other day the cost of our time in recruitment and admin for such events is approximately £300 per person attendee excluding the venue and food and beverage costs - money spent just to get them there.
    Of course that doesn't cover the cost of the co-host exhibitor's travel and accommodation or their time.
    The industry needs to learn, as we were taught, 'manners maketh man' and 'good manners cost nothing'.

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