Meetings, conventions and trade shows consistently rank as effective undertakings to engage with customers, prospects and other employees.

Even so, increased competition, a higher number of no-shows, lackluster speakers, and not delivering to sponsors’ or stakeholders’ expectations are the challenges planners face today in getting people to their events. Many of these problems stem from an outdated invitation and RSVP process.

If you feel like getting individuals to RSVP is a major pain point, it’s time to reswizzle your procedures. Here are a few proven techniques that work well.


It Starts With the Invitation

First, focus on quality versus quantity.

  • Really drill down on your target attendee. If you have one large database, work on segmenting it into silos such as:
    • Location
    • Seniority
    • Past Attendance
    • Industry
    • Current Customer
    • Past Customer
    • Prospect
  • If you haven’t cleaned out your online database in more than six months, now is the time to do so.
  • Eliminate hard bounces.
  • Study past email click-through rates to determine who consistently acted on your event invitations. Are these individuals in your target audience? If so, great! If not, you need a better strategy to hook them.

Second, determine how many individuals you want at your event.
The general rule of thumb is you can expect 50 to 75 percent of those invited to attend your meeting. However, many things can affect this, including the date, time, travel, content and costs. Factor in at least a 25 percent rejection rate and check attendance numbers often.

Third, hook attendees with a story.
Tell them why they should come and what they will experience. Today’s invitations can include video, music, photographs and a strong call to action. Use these tools to make your invitation really stand out.

Fourth, give them all the specifics.
Provide as much information as possible, including when sign-ups close and details on how they should register.

The Modern RSVP Process


Digital Most of the Way

According to The State of the Event Industry Survey from May 2018, the following three methods were most successful in bringing in attendees:

  • 73 percent use social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to push their event.
  • 65 percent said email campaigns were effective and used them at least three times to promote their meeting.
  • 60 percent rely on their website, while 25 percent use an event registration site. Whichever process you use, it’s important that it can capture attendee details and payment processing in one fell swoop.

Get the Timing Down

According to research by Zkipster, your email campaigns must be properly timed. Too far in advance, your invitation won’t be opened. Too close to the event, there can be a scheduling conflict.

RSVP Agency states the following is the best schedule:

  • Eight weeks out: Send a “save the date” email and post the event on social media – the focus should be on who should attend and why they need to be there.
  • Six weeks: Send an email invitation, complete with the registration link, making the RSVP closing date three weeks away.
  • Four weeks: Send another email to those who didn’t respond, reminding them there is one week left to register.
  • Two weeks: Follow up with phone calls to your target list, starting with your A-listers.
  • One week: Confirm final numbers with the hotel and catering staff.
  • Two days: Send text message to attendees confirming they are coming – give them an opt-out message if they can’t make it.

Return to the Telephone

Calling potential attendees, especially those on your A-list, has been shown to increase attendance and minimize no-shows.

If they don’t show up, call to find out why. This will allow you to do one of three things: 1) Take them off your invite list for future events; 2) Keep them on but place them in a lower category; or 3) Accept their reason and keep them where they are on the list. If you don’t call, you won’t necessarily know why they were a no-show.



This process will ensure you will reach the people who matter and obtain the action you need. It may take a few more steps and a return to some old-school methods, but it will set you apart from the competition and ensure a better RSVP strategy.


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Kalahari Resorts and Conventions combines the best in family-friendly amenities with a massive, state-of-the-art convention space leading to a 20 percent increase in meeting attendance! Give our group sales professionals a call at 855.411.4605 or fill out our contact form for more information.