"Our events are really small and infrequent, we can handle the registration manually."
"There's no point in getting an entire event management system just for this, it's just a small one-off event."
I get this from prospects all the time. Personally I think it's absurd to use the size of an event as an indicator for how much effort and investment it warrants. The goal or purpose of the event should be the main concern here.
Let me give you an example.
A couple of weeks ago, in the foyer of a preschool, I was watching as my son put his shoes on and simultaneously showed me his latest paintings. The phone went off and I, as you do, picked up despite being preoccupied.
The caller wanted to invite me to a chocolate and coffee tasting, which as you may know is right down my alley. As the event was taking place around lunchtime and conveniently close to the office, I promised to consider. The caller even mentioned the date, but I didn't have a chance to consult my diary there and then, as my son was already happily skipping towards his bicycle in the yard.
The caller promised to send me a confirmation email, so I'd be able to book the date as soon as possible. Trust me, if your event isn't mentioned in your invitee's calendar, it doesn't exist.
Needless to say I forgot all about the phone call. The confirmation email never showed up, neither did any form of calendar appointment. The entire tasting slipped my mind, up until a couple of days ago. I got another phone call, this time from a friendly lady who inquired whether any of the products at the tasting had caught my fancy.
Once I realised what she was on about, I was mortified. I was a no-show! Even though I preach about no-show reduction on a near-daily basis! How could I? I had callously taken away the chance to attend from someone who maybe really, really wanted to be there.
But then it started coming back to me. This event never even entered my calendar, due to reasons I had no control over. The organiser had completely overlooked all attendee communication bar that one phone call. It happened to arrive at a moment when I was 100% incapable of memorizing anything permanently.
I forgave myself. I also apologised profusely, but the lady on the phone told me not to worry about it. Apparently they had had more than enough attending participants, enough to cause a bit of confusion as to who actually did show up and who didn't. That was why she was calling every single person on the contact list to follow up.
That's right, nobody knew who participated in the event.
She asked me whether I was interested in purchasing chocolates anyway, perhaps as gifts for my employees. I agreed to receive more information via email.
350 pounds of coffee, please
The following day I got a lengthy email about the opportunity to order packets of coffee, adorned with my very own custom printed labels (despite having discussed chocolate over the phone...). My jaw dropped: "The coffee we recommend for you costs only 6,14 €/250g (+14% VAT) when you order the minimum amount of 150 kg. The only additional charge is the printing costs of your custom label, 340€ (+24% VAT)."
A quick calculation revealed that the sales potential would have been a respectable 4024€ per participant, disregarding the VAT. I assumed that was why the tasting event was organised in the first place, to boost sales.
Even if the maximum capacity would have been set at a mere 20 participants, I dare say it would have paid off to put a couple of thousand €:s towards making sure every single potential buyer was present. Just one sale would have covered it, and then some. Heck, they could have hired a fleet of cabs to pick up every single participant around town and drive them to the tasting.
This time, they decided to forgo something as basic as a comprehensive event management sysytem, in order to pinch a penny. Did it actually save any money? If so, was this the really the best way to save? Did the event meet its financial goals?
If you're interested in minimizing no-show and maximizing ROI at your events, please feel free to contact me. I'm happy to help!