We’ve all been there. You generate lots of hype about your event, and everything for the big day has been well organised. But all you end up with is a big space with lots of empty chairs, and piles of uncollected registrant name tags.

It’s not a good look for attendees, and it certainly doesn’t feel good as the event organiser. So, how did you get there?

What you did right

  1.     Right event:You had a good reason to hold an event and a compelling story to attract the attention of your target market. It may have been a new product release, a seminar, a webinar, a value-added networking event, a conference or a business celebration.
  2.     A good list:You had a list of people to invite. You made sure that they were the right people to contact and you had all their current details.
  3.     Meticulous organisation: You completed a run-sheet with all the event tasks, from the venue, catering, speakers, giveaways, agenda, flights and accommodation for out of town speakers, email and/or mailed invites, promotion on social media, a landing page on your website to accept attendee registration, automated reminders,etc. And then you organised it from beginning to end.

So, job done? Well, not quite.

Where it started to go wrong

Using your excellent organisational skills to make sure the event is run seamlessly and professionally, is only half the challenge. The other half is all about getting enough bums on seats to realise a return on investment.

Let’s talk numbers – important ones.

You’d like to have 100 well-qualified attendees turn up on the day. If you expect one person in 10 to accept, your database needs to hold 1,000 targeted contacts. And unless it’s an incredibly compelling event that will attract out-of-towners, they need to be all in the same geographical area to reduce the disinclination to do battle with traffic and travel costs.

Unless you’re Ed Sheeran, you should also anticipate that a staggering 25% of your registered attendees will be no-shows on the day. Even if they’ve paid for their tickets.

While event success can look like a straight numbers game, there are tricks of the trade to improve turnout rates.

So, how do you increase your odds of a good turnout?

We recently worked with The Taupō District Chamber of Commerce and Industry to generate attendees for their first ever large-scale motivational event featuring iconic and inspiring speakers.

The Chamber holds regular after-5 networking events which typically attracts 40-50 attendees. However, this new event was to be something special and pave the way for more.

As well as sending out email invitations, they decided to invest in telemarketing to drive registration numbers and to make follow-up calls the day before to reduce attendee attrition. This was their first ever foray into using telemarketing services.

And it worked a treat.

From a member list of 160 and another 128 non-member contacts we helped them generate an impressive 197 attendees on the day.

But it wasn’t a high-risk strategy for them, as they trusted our abilities and capabilities.

Our 3 secret weapons

  1.    One – Software: Unlike lots of other lead generation businesses who are wedded to spreadsheets, we use dedicated software which provides real-time reporting, so our clients can see how their event numbers are tracking. This gives them time to source more contact lists and step up activities if there aren’t enough registrations.
  2. Two – It’s what we do: While you’d like to think that your sales team or admin staff have the bandwidth and enthusiasm to contact every client and prospect on your invite list to generate committed attendances, it’s not often they have the time to do so on top of their normal work. But for us, it’s our business, and we do it well.
  3. Three – Our people shine. But don’t take our word for it. The Taupō District Chamber of Commerce and Industry got unsolicited feedback from their members on how much they enjoyed talking to ‘the nice lady on the phone’ and that they appreciated the reminder call the day before the event. “In a semi-rural area, it’s that polite, friendly and personal touch that impresses people. More so than an easy-to-ignore email. Thanks, Hot Leads!”

If you’d like to find out more about how we helped The Chamber have a successful and ‘event-full’ day you can read more here.