How to Keep No-Shows to a Minimum when Selling Tickets Online


As an event planner, maximising ticket sales will always be one of your primary goals. After all, this is one of your major revenue streams that makes your event financially viable. If you've already met your ticket sales targets, well done. Just remember: the hard work doesn't end there.

If you want to ensure your event is a real hit, you need a good level of attendance.

But why does this matter? After all, if a punter has already bought a ticket, why should you care if they bother turning up?

Well, can you really consider your event a success if nobody attends? Whether you've recouped your costs from ticket sales is irrelevant.

People really do make the party.

You can have the best line-up in the world, but if your audience aren't captivated, the event will fall flat on its face. Can you really generate the same buzz if your venue is only half-full?

You also have to consider your sponsors. They've paid for a certain level of exposure; if hardly anyone turns up, they're not getting their money's worth. If you are relying on their sponsorship money for future events, you might have to look elsewhere.

And what about your other revenue streams? Not all events can generate huge profits, and the success of many events--particularly smaller ones--rests on small margins. If you are expecting to recoup some of your costs from food and drink sales, a full house will generate the most sales.

If you want to keep your no-shows to a minimum, here are a few strategies to follow.

1. Charge an Entrance Fee

Free events will generate a higher number of no-shows than paid events. That's a matter of fact.

If your tickets are free, you'll get a number of subscribers who are only half interested in attending. When the date rolls round, these are going to be the people who drop out first.

People place a higher value on something they've had to pay for. Even if you only charge a nominal fee, this will be enough to deter the least interested, and the least likely to show up.

2. Keep Buzz Levels High

Have you ever bought a ticket you were really excited about, only to find your excitement levels falling as the date ticked closer?

This happens more often than you think, especially if people buy their tickets months in advance of the event--it's just difficult to stay that excited over long time periods.

This is why you need to manage the buzz surrounding your event. If anticipation peaks too early, you might find a large number of people drop out.

Luckily, there is a simple strategy to combat this: Don't disclose your full line-up on the first day; drip feed your announcements to build anticipation steadily.

If you feel the buzz levels dropping in the build up to the event, announcing a big act at the last minute is a great way to ensure excitement peaks at the right time.

3. Considerate Planning

While an initial wave of excitement might ensure your tickets get hoovered up, at some point potential attendees will have to seriously consider the logistics of attendance.

This is where smart event planning comes to the fore.

For example, is throwing a rock concert on Christmas Eve really a good idea? Your event might sell out, but will people actually attend? Will August's impulse buyers really have factored in things like the weather, family commitments and public transport disruptions when they made their commitment to attend?

Of course, most won't have, and this will result in a significant number of no-shows.

A smart event planner will factor in public holidays and locations in the early stages: The fewer problems people have trying to attend, the lower your no-show figures will be.

4. Simplify the Cancellation Process

This might seem counter-intuitive, but simplifying your cancellation process is a great way to keep no-shows to a minimum.

If you make your cancellation process quick and easy, those people unable to attend will be more likely to request a refund.

This will allow you to put those tickets back on sale, where they can be purchased by people who can attend.

5. Oversubscribe Your Event

If your event has been running for a while, you should have collected some very useful data relating to attendance. For example, what percentage of tickets result in a no-show? The longer your event has been running, the more reliable your data will be.

With this information at hand, could you sell extra tickets, safe in the knowledge that a certain number of people won't show?

Of course, this is a risky strategy: Most venues will have maximum capacities for health and safety, and this number cannot be exceeded. Turning away ticketholders would be a PR disaster.

With this in mind, make sure you leave yourself a strong margin for error!

6. Pace Your Ticket Release

A person who bought their ticket months (or even years) before the event is more likely to become a no-show than someone who bought their ticket at the last minute.

After all, a number of things can happen over a longer time period: circumstances can change, unforseeable events can arise, and even the person's enthusiasm for the event could drop.

If you sell all your tickets on your event's launch day, you're far more likely to have poor drop-out figures by the time the event comes around. Of course, selling all your tickets at the last minute is fraught with risk.

The solution: spread your ticket sales out. Release them in batches, ensuring only the most eager fans--those most likely to turn up--to get hold of them at each stage.

7. Non-refundable Deposits for No-Shows

If attendance is a significant problem for you, consider collecting a non-refundable deposit with each ticket bought, which is held in the event of a no-show.

This is especially effective for free events, which are notorious for no-shows.

This strategy will deter anyone on the fence from buying a ticket. It will also encourage ticketholders to attend, so that they can avoid the financial penalty.

Wrapping Up

If you want to ensure a great turn out at your next event, these simple strategies are a great way to keep non-attendees down to a minimum.

Of course, there are many more factors that will impact attendance: ticket sales, the general buzz surrounding your event, and your track-record for throwing a great event.

However, these strategies will safeguard you against no-shows, ensuring your event gets as close to a full-house as possible, and allowing it to become the success it deserves!

How do you combat no-shows for your event? Share your experience in the comments section below!