What do you do when a major snowstorm keeps 100 people from attending your conference?
An event planner I know had this problem this winter. Bad weather is a hazard of planning events in Canada, and the winter months can be brutal for no-shows, contributing to many event organizers’ stress (as if event planning wasn’t already stressful enough).
Snowstorms aren’t usually a problem in April (usually — not a safe assumption as many Canadians can attest to this month) but there are still many other reasons people may be no-shows.
No-shows don’t only throw off your catering numbers. They also represent a missed opportunity to engage with people who are interested in your organization’s work.
As I’ve written, events are content goldmines that can feed your newsletter and social media for months after the event. And it’s important to make sure those post-event communications reach people who weren’t able to be there.
It’s not you, it’s them: why people skip events
The no-show is the bane of the event professional’s existence. Unfortunately, it is sometimes assumed no-show means no interest. Event organizers can make the mistake of assuming anyone who doesn’t show up isn’t interested in their event, in their organization, or in anything else about them.
This isn’t true. Beyond poor weather, consider some of the reasons people may not show up:
- family commitments or emergencies
- location (it’s easy for people to hear about events in cities they don’t live in, and to hit “Maybe” on the Facebook event invite)
- they had a terrible day at work and frankly don’t have the energy to leave the house (happens to the best of us)
It bears repeating that the the weather thing is really not to be taken lightly in Canada. Earlier this month, the Children's Hospital of Ontario (CHEO), which I do some work for, faced this issue when a record-breaking snowstorm made getting to their event really difficult (more on that later).
From weather to illness, many of the reasons people are no-shows have nothing to do with you or your event. They may love the work you’re doing or the speakers you had at the event, but they couldn’t be there.
Often, you miss an opportunity to tap into their interest because you don’t follow-up, simply because they didn’t show.
Engaging the no-shows
Wouldn’t it be great to send no-shows an email after the event saying, “Here’s what you missed”? If you sent them a blog post summarizing what happened, or a Q&A with one of the speakers, they would likely read it, and perhaps even send it to others or share it on social media.
If something major has disrupted your event, don't pretend it was business as usual. Turn the mishap to your advantage. With CHEO, we turned the snowstorm into a hook for an article, showing that people were so excited about the event they came despite the record-breaking snowfall.
Hundreds of people read the article, many more than the 50 people who attended the event, and because of it, CHEO received many email sign-ups with people interested in future events about innovation in healthcare.
Writing about the event was an excellent way of capturing the attention of people who wanted to be at the event, from those waylaid by the storm to those interested in healthcare technology and innovation who don't live in Ottawa.
The snowstorm meant a few less people were able to make it. It wasn't the end of the world -- and it didn't mean the end of engaging with those who weren't there.
A communications service to keep the momentum going
Events build a ton of momentum for your organization and its ideas, and it’s a shame not to ride that momentum and turn it into lasting engagement with your audience. In the example I used at the beginning of the post, think of how powerful it would have been to reach those 100 people who couldn’t attend.
This is why I’ve launched an event communications service to capture the rich conversations at events and use them to engage people long after the event is over. I have three packages to suit different needs:
The Highlight Reel
Spotlight the best parts of your event with blog and social media content.
Invite people to engage with your ideas. Target influencers to draw attention from their networks and reinforce your credibility.
Turn your event into an interactive digital experience.
Include the videos, stats, and quotes that had people talking. Offer a resource for people to immerse themselves in your content. Jump-start the promotion of your next event.
The Cinematic Experience
Create an entire world of content for all your needs.
Turn the content from your event into workbooks, annual report content, case studies, and more. Raise the profile of your event and show your stakeholders the impact it had.
Browse through the services I offer to draw inspiration for how you can use your event to engage people long after the event ends. You can do something as simple or as elaborate as fits your schedule and budget.
Something as basic as putting event photos in a Facebook album and sending the link to your Eventbrite list of attendees can do so much to engage people after the event and keep the momentum going.
Don’t let a snowstorm get in the way of getting your message out. Keep engaging people even when the event ends.
Do you have creative ways of engaging no-shows after the event is over? Leave a comment below.