Have you ever run out of time? No? Surely that’s a fib! Either that, or you’re super human… Nobody’s perfect, we are all guilty of misjudging timings. Whether it’s turning up to a coffee meeting 10 minutes late, overcooking dinner, or sending invitations out with only a few days to go before your event – getting the timings right can be a fine art. Here at The BD Consultancy, we’re regularly contacted by clients who are running events and need help with getting the people they want there. More often than not, this is just 2 to 3 weeks before the event is due to take place. Although this is something we can help with, we’ve found some people often prefer to be given more notice about events. But how much notice should you give?
We now live in an age where everyone is busy all the time, with many people having events scheduled into their calendars months in advance. Having said that, we can understand why some organisations look to invite people last minute. It’s a fine line between providing too much notice – which can cause last minute dropouts or no shows – and sending invites too late, meaning individual’s schedules are too full to attend. We recently asked our contacts for their feedback via a Twitter poll. 50% of participants believe the best time to send event invitations is 6-4 weeks before the event takes place, with only 16% of contributors thinking you should send invites less than 4 weeks before.
Based on our research and experience, we’ve put together a timeline specifically tailored around event invitations and attendees. We believe our timeline can help to attract the right people, ensuring your event is a success and making your life that little bit easier.
6+ months before your event: Plan
The more planning time you can dedicate to an event, the better. As well as all other aspects, start thinking about the method and content for your invitations at this stage, ensuring all information is included (such as the full venue address). Do you have the necessary contact details for those you wish to invite? Will you use a system like Eventbrite, or simply send them via email and manage all the replies yourself? Will you follow up with a calendar invitation? There’s a lot to think about. When creating invitations to be sent via email, we advise you include export links to calendars so people can quickly and easily save the event details directly to their schedules.
3-4 months before your event: Collate attendee’s information
Data preparation should be completed well in advance of any contact with attendees. We also advise creating a data tracking document at this stage, which can be done using tools such as Excel and this is something we can set up and monitor for you. Within this document you can collate all information about the people you are inviting. For example, you can create columns to track whether or not they are attending and if they have any dietary requirements etc. You can also make notes about how the attendees registered for your event, which you can then use when planning future events. If you have a CRM system already in place, you could add a tick box for this event.
6-8 weeks before your event: Making initial contact
We believe initial contact should be made via email at least 6-8 weeks prior to an event. The purpose of this email should be to generate awareness of your event and to encourage people to register. If attendees are required to pay a fee for your event, you could mention an early bird discount at this stage to persuade them further.
2-4 weeks before your event: Confirm attendees
Following the initial contact, around 2-4 weeks before the event, we suggest you make telephone contact to confirm attendance. This will prevent no shows and allow attendees to ask any questions about getting to the venue etc.
1 week before your event: Make final checks
At this stage, you shouldn’t be focussed on registering any more attendees. Now is the time to check the final registration list and produce materials, such as name badges. Build reminders into your social feed so that delegates don’t forget – you could introduce a hash tag for the event now too. This is a great way of generating interaction before, during and after your event. The event During the event, make sure you have someone registering your attendees so you can monitor attendance rates. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your attendees for feedback. Encourage them to tweet and share the hash tag. No matter how great your event may be, there is always room for growth. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy yourself – the hard work will have paid off!
Make sure you have a chance to note the learnings from this time, to improve your next event. Thank delegates for attending and they may be more likely to respond next time. It’s also a good idea to connect with attendees on LinkedIn, if you aren’t already connected, even if you don’t have the time to contact them all individually.
We hope you find this timeline useful and wish you luck with your event planning! If you have any questions about maximising event attendance – or are interested in finding out how we can help your business to run successful events – contact us today.