There’s nothing more deflating than the faces of your hard-working event team when your expected guests don’t show up after you’ve all put in the work. No-shows are not only disappointing, they’re expensive and can make a big difference to your event revenue, particularly during the COVID-19 era of capacity restrictions and extra event safety costs.

Are you convinced that no-shows are a fact of life for events? With the right event ticketing strategy and plan, they don’t need to be. Careful consideration of the right event format, ticket types, and pricing strategy can give you certainty about your attendee numbers and in turn a successful event. Let’s look at our expert tips to minimise the risk of financial pain and let down that come with event no-shows.

Avoid free ticket no-shows

The riskiest type of ticket for a no-show? A free ticket that the purchaser invested no time or money in and is likewise happy to ignore on event day if something more interesting comes up. Think of Facebook events that go viral and attract thousands of “interested” or “going” responses, but get a lot less people through the actual event door. Avoiding free ticket no-shows is important all the time but during COVID-19 recovery, with stricter venue capacity rules in play, it’s vital to maximise your venue and effort by minimising event “tyre kickers”.

How can you avoid free ticket no-shows and get closer to the exact number of expected guests on the day? Make your guests invest some time or effort in it, potentially even by charging a small fee: studies have shown it can actually boost attendance. If you’re sticking with free ticket types, allocate actual tickets through Eventbrite so that guests have to intentionally register, rather than just clicking on your social media promotion and forgetting to sign up. In the lead up to the event, send periodic reminders to build excitement, and be sure to add a “changed your mind?” link so that they can easily let you know they won’t be attending. You can also run competitions or giveaways with prizes that can only be claimed at the event or discounted food and drink tickets to further incentivise people to show up.

Minimise last-minute no-shows with a smart refund policy

When it comes to paid events, it’s even more critical to avoid no-shows so you don’t lose non-recoverable event expenses. While a no-show might not be eligible for a ticket refund anyway, if you’re selling food, drink, or merchandise during your event every no-show will reduce your revenue, risking your relationships with sponsors and stall-holders who also shelled out to participate.

A smart refund policy can give you the right balance between understanding changes in a guest’s circumstances and a successful, well-attended event. Consider a cancellation policy that allows refunds within a specific timeframe (for example, one week prior). This will give you time to resell the ticket or reduce any expenses related to the loss. Set up the ticket registration transfer feature on your event listing so that any attendees looking for a refund after the expiry of the cancellation time frame can easily transfer their ticket to another guest online. Remember to check applicable consumer protection laws in your state or territory when deciding on your event policy, particularly if you want to have a no refund policy in place. Once you’ve determined the best policy to ensure maximum guest attendance, you can add your refund policy to your event listing with ease.

Offer diverse ticket types to boost sales and engagement

Mixing up your ticket types and rates can influence your no-show numbers for the better. Incentives like early-bird sales and group bookings not only encourage registration, they also subliminally discourage attendees from cancelling by giving them more reason to be there.

Early bird tickets attract more event attendees by leveraging our natural human fear of missing out (FOMO) and giving those who pay in advance the feeling that their ticket holds extra value. The benefit of avoiding no-shows? An early-bird guest is a more invested guest who’s had longer to make firm plans and get excited about your event. You can sweeten the deal even further by offering early-bird ticket-holders exclusive giveaways that can only be redeemed at the event: Early ticket sales mean more opportunity for you to pre-purchase merchandise at a discounted rate.

Group bookings are another great way to build even more excitement around your event and minimise no-shows. Heading to an event with a group of mates is fun in itself, so your guests are less likely to cancel if they’re in company. Add on the benefit of a discounted group ticket that offers the same extra value and exclusive feel as an early-bird offer.

Make your event unmissable

Everyone wants the hottest ticket in town. Turn a potential no-show ticket into a Wonka-style golden ticket by amping up the event hype in the lead-up to your big day. Your event strategy should include a PR and promotions calendar that continually builds excitement and even sends your event viral.

Critical to a successful promotions strategy is a solid understanding of your target attendee. Profiling your target guest means you can invest more effort in channels that are likely to boost initial sales and keep registered guests engaged. If social media is the preferred medium for your target group, promote your event via Facebook or Instagram, but don’t stop there. Set up groups for registered guests to access exclusive content before the event, or set up a recurring series of live stream events before your main event to showcase artists or activities. You don’t need to put all of your eggs in the social media basket to get the word out, either. Email reminders, blog posts, or print ads in the right publications can all boost your event awareness and engagement.

Have a COVID-safe backup plan

Running a COVID-safe event is essential during the COVID-19 recovery phase, and can also impact event no-shows. Without a clear plan that ensures guest safety, you’re potentially giving attendees more reason to rethink their attendance in the event of a sudden increase in local COVID-related activity.

Create a COVID-safe plan for your event (this is mandatory in most states and territories) and advertise this on your event listing to give guests peace of mind. Be clear about your COVID-related refund policy, too. Where possible, consider running a virtual or hybrid event so you can pivot online and minimise disruption in the event of a COVID-19 spike. If you can’t take your event online, have a backup date ready and automatically honour all tickets for the new date, or alternatively offer credit towards a future event.

Keeping the hype after your event

The right combination of event strategy, marketing, and planning can ensure maximum attendance for your next event and keep guests talking about it afterwards. You can leverage the work you’ve put into this event for your next number, too. Learn how to leverage past successes and boost your next event with a stellar post-event write up.

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