With the rise of free events filling up social calendars across genres, event planners are faced with the familiar dilemma that comes with it – no-shows. For the average free event, organisers currently anticipate a drop-off rate as high as 50% on the day. But what can organisers do to prevent this from happening? While there is no foolproof way to ensure that everyone who signed up for a free event shows up on the day, there are proactive steps one can take to maintain the interest of attendees. Quicket, Africa’s most versatile platform for facilitating events, takes a look at ways to engage with your audience and ensure maximum attendance to yours.

Include paid experiences
This is not to suggest that your free event should no longer be free, but giving attendees an idea of the value they’re getting out of a free ticket makes them more inclined to show up on the day. We all work hard for our money, so we are more motivated to follow through on things that we’ve put cash behind, which may explain the reason for the high drop-off rate when events are free. Show your attendees that they are in for a valuable experience by including a paid ticket option, in addition to the free tickets available. This price may be R50, or even R500, but it will give the attendees an idea of what their free ticket is worth. You may decide that this ticket be for preferential seating, or even parking, and some may use that opportunity to upgrade their experience for these perks.

Offer incentives
As with the Global Citizen initiative that brought the likes of Beyoncé and Jay-Z to South Africa, you could adopt a similar concept (albeit on a less grand scale) to drive excitement around your event. Advertising that the first 50 or 100 tickets receive a certain perk – be it drinks before the event, or a discounted ride from a sponsor – will most likely spark interest in your target audience. It’s essential that the reward offered is aligned with the interests of your audience as this will determine the success of your drive.

Maintain the hype
By the time a week rolls on after clicking ‘Going’, most people have free events slip from their minds – unless they stay reminded. Sharing exciting news or line-up inclusions are a couple of ways to stay in touch with your audience and keep your event top-of-mind. Stagger the release of bits of key information to your attendees and ensure to keep the news more exciting as the event draws near.

Post-event hype?
Quicket believes it’s important to stay in touch with attendees after the event. Their platform allows users to seamlessly send out mails with the integrated Mailchimp feature on their website. Another way to ensure that attendees keep talking about your event is to share the content created on the day. Pictures and videos, a blog article and social media links to relevant speakers, performers, etc. are all great ways of providing attendees with memories of the event and the opportunity to tag and share the content they’d like to. When you’re running an annual event, the advertising essentially never ends. A great example of this would be the platform that Rocking the Daisies created. They’ve managed to keep conversation around the festival going by providing regular updates, content and announcements to long-standing fans, while attracting new ones through their social media channels.”With so much happening in today’s busy world, it’s essential that you keep your event and the attendees informed and excited – even after your ticket buyers have committed to coming,” says James Hedley, Co-founder of Quicket.

Running a smooth event

  • Staff: Ensure that your staff are properly briefed and know the answers to general questions that your attendees may have. Quicket advises having a supervisor at each door (depending on the size of your event) to manage staff and be responsible for handling any issues, preventing them from escalating and not taking any attention away from other attendees trying to get through the door
  • Equipment: Reliable tools make a huge difference to your guests’ event experience. Before your event takes place, download and refresh all your guest lists should you be using a scanner. The free QuicketGO app makes it easy for you to scan guests in and out efficiently and provides you with real-time statistics
  • Information sheets: Draft and distribute fact sheets on the event to give to all staff on the ground like check-in staff, supervisors and security. This will be helpful if guests approach them with questions like where bathrooms are, if there are any ATMs available, etc.
  • Cash-up space: Arrange a private area before the event where cash-ups can be done. This helps to make the process more manageable and having a printed cash-up sheet on hand will help too.

James Hedley is co-founder and co-director of Quicket and is at the forefront of the company’s brand

strategy and vision. He has been deeply involved in growing the company into a
major player in the African online ticketing space.