What no-show rate do you expect at free events?

For our events we typically look at a 50% drop out rate if the event is free. But usually our free events run in the evening and are more informal. Recently we’ve started organising free to attend conferences (more often a paid for offer) where we’re seeing more people turn up on the day than have registered! I think it’s about the audience - if people don’t get out much and would be grateful to come to something for free, when normally they wouldn’t be able to afford to come - turnout will be much higher and drop outs much lower. If however it’s quite a senior audience and an informal, after hours setting - where the pressure and expectation is less, then a higher drop out. Predicting exactly, or to within 10%, is very difficult though!

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Love the idea of the ballot process inferring scarcity from the off and waiting lists is a great way of keeping the event on people’s radars. Will definitely build them in some time in the future when the opportunity arises. Thanks both.

I’ve always worked with an assumption that 30-40% won’t show if the event is free

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Have any of you run free events where attendees did not have to register in advance; they just rocked up on the day? The latter must make it almost impossible to judge numbers!

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Not brave enough for that :grimacing:

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@Voicey potential something here ^^ to think about on drop out rate?

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Yeah very true @nick_lawson - Have just been having a google re. SMS marketing services, but until we start making any money from our events it seems a bit unattainable at the moment! Unless I can find a local Birmingham company that might want to sponsor the service for us and offer it free!
But yes in theory I do like the idea of SMS reminders/push notifications in some way.

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hopefully going to try SMS reminders on an event in the next couple of weeks so will report back!

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Hi guys!

UPDATE: So, we moved from a free conference to charging £48 full price for a ticket. Drop out rate went from 35% to 9% of people not showing up. A huuuuuuge difference!

Just thought I’d let you know in-case anyone was toying with the idea of charging a fee. Lots of the feedback from delegates was that they viewed the event as being worth the value of the ticket so weren’t disgruntled by suddenly being charged :slight_smile:

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Amazing! A bold move that paid off - nice one. And great that you had positive feedback on it too, must be a good conference :slight_smile:

Did you find it harder to sell the tickets when you started charging?

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Discussed this recently with a contact who has years of experience in trade show registrations and he said he would normally expect a 50-60% conversion of pre-registered visitors to attendees for a trade exhibition. Luckily I delivered well within that window but it was nerve-wracking all the way. We continued with social media activity and emails throughout the show which definitely helped.

That’s great Claire. Did you have the same number of delegates as usual? Did you have to “add value” to justify the charge to previous attendees?

In terms of registrants, the numbers were lower byt about 50 people but in terms of attendance on the day - it was about the same! We did add value - had better (and more) food, and giveaways (branded notepads) etc.

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That’s really interesting. So it’s been a complete win for you :grinning:. @Voicey have you run a charged-for event yet?

Yes & no - we did a quiz night a couple of weeks ago, where we did charge £5 p/person, of which the entire amount went to the winning team’s nominated charity. But it was cash on the door, not pre-pay, & not an event where we retained any form of profit etc.
That’s still in the works at some point…

If Claire’s experience is anything to go by, maybe you should take the plunge? Keep us posted!

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Well done on being so brave!!

will do!

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Also wanted to add that the quality of the people we had attend the event (we use it for lead generation and brand awareness) was much better. There were people attending from bigger companies with bigger budgets which is exactly the kind of people we want to be in-front of!

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That doesn’t surprise me actually. It’s a good way to sort the wheat from the chaff!