Event Management

How to avoid no shows at free events?

Skift Take

The results of a discussion on how to ensure that people who RSVP'd yes at your free event do actually turn up.

Photo by: Jon Curnow

The intrinsic value of free events

I love free events. What I love even more is free events with free drinks. It seems like I am not the only one. It is getting ridiculously awkward to actually pay to get in.

If you did your homework chances are that you can cover expenses and make a profit just relying on sponsors.

Last week I attended a Trade Show, a Meetup, a Twestival and a Barcamp.

In all of those I got free food and drinks, gadgets and I did the best networking ever.

The next time someone shows up and tells you you need to pay 1000£/$/€ to attend a conference or a networking event, bear in mind you are actually paying for the steering wheel of organizer’s SUV.

One problem

Now, from the organizer perspective, getting sponsors may be relatively easy if you have a good target audience. But making sure the audience actually attends the day of the event, that’s a whole different ballgame.

I noticed at one of the above events that 40+ attendees did not show up. That’s a pity because they excluded at least the same number of people, who eventually got together for a parallel event.

My problem

I’ll be soon organizing a free event. Don’t be curious. It will be on the barcamp concept, which we love so much, but I cannot disclose more than that.

The problem is we got space for 60 people and much bigger forecast demand. We want to make sure that those who RSVP Yes actually turn up.

On a first come basis

It doesn’t work, as simple as that. That’s what was used at the above event and the results were upsetting.

A twitter conversation

I decided to ask my supercool twitter pals about it and here’s the conversation


Although I originally thought that money was not an option, I am sure that everybody will be happy to donate to charity.

At this stage this is by far the most accepted alternative. Returning the money could be a bit of an issue. Collecting the money online requires payment of fees and so forth, so in my opinion a straight donation policy with no returning option may work better in terms of planning.

A must is to have a symbolic contribution ranging from 8£ to 10£ sounds good to me (convert if you are not sure). Charging more than that brings SUV thoughts to my mind.

What’s your opinion?

The issue is not closed at all. Do you have an engaging way to enusre attendance? Do we need to use money?