One of the biggest fears for planning any event is attendance. What if all of your hard work and planning is for nothing and people don’t show up? It’s especially challenging for weekday events. Anything, from commutes to appointments to after-school schedules can get in the way of people deciding to follow through on attending an event.
This article will offer four questions event planners need to think about when organizing weekday events.
1. Am I offering my attendees an incentive?
One of the first questions prospective attendees have when receiving an event invitation is “What will I get out of this event?” They need an incentive before committing any of their time from their personal and professional schedules.
According to a study by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, the top three event attendance drivers are education, destination/location, and networking. Make sure your event satisfies at least one of these attendee needs.
2. How do transportation and traffic impact my event?
If your attendees can’t travel across town, they can’t make it to your event! Do most of your attendees live in a certain area of town. Choose a venue that is close to them and easy to get to by car or public transportation.
Look for a location that has plenty of off-street parking or a parking lot nearby. If public transportation is available, encourage your guests to use it to avoid getting stuck during morning or evening rush hours. You may consider partnering with rideshare services like Uber or Lyft to offer attendees a special discount for using their services for your event.
3. Does my event time and date work for attendees?
The timing of your event is crucial. No matter what time and day you choose, you can’t please everyone and you will most likely be competing with a number of professional and personal obligations of potential attendees. Before you settle on a time and date, consult your calendar to avoid scheduling too close to major holidays, and look at your local school district’s calendar to watch for vacation weeks such as spring break when attendees may be out of town.
If you choose a breakfast event or a dinner/cocktail hour, build in time at the beginning of the event for networking, registration or mingling. This buffer gives attendees more time to navigate commuting traffic, allows them to not feel rushed, and makes them more likely to arrive before your event officially begins.
4. Am I using email marketing the right way to reach attendees?
In general, it’s best to use a number of marketing tools to reach prospective attendees, but it’s important that email marketing is part of your strategy. Email has a higher conversion rate than social media and search marketing combined.
Start before your event, at least a month before the date by sending a save-the-date email to put your event on your prospective attendees’ radar. Follow up with emails in the weeks leading up to the event to remind anyone who hasn’t registered and include more details about your event — especially information about incentives — to drive registrations.
Email your attendees the week of and day of your event with reminders of your event’s schedule and any answers to frequently asked questions they may have. This keeps your event top of mind with attendees and the information you provide can help to reduce any barriers that result in no-shows.
Send an email after your event to thank attendees for coming and include follow up information and photos or videos, plus a survey that asks them about their satisfaction with the event, the location, the time and date, food, entertainment, and anything else you may want to know to improve your next event.
Start with these questions to create successful events
It may take some trial and error to find the best strategy to answer these four questions, but the more you consider them in your weekday event planning, the more you’ll learn about what appeals to your attendees. Be open to attendee feedback, and make adjustments with each event. In time, you’ll have the perfect plan that draws the most people to your weekday events.
Jonathan Morse is the CEO and founder of Tripleseat, a web application for restaurants, hotels and unique venues, chosen by more than 35,000 Event Managers and Restaurant Owners.