Attendance is always a chief concern for event planners. Without attendees it is impossible to fund and coordinate a successful event. In the end, there are several obstacles that can make it difficult to fill all of your available seats. Competing events can draw from your guest list, insufficient marketing can fail to reach your target demographic, or worst of all, your event simply might not appeal to enough people.
But no matter what challenges your event faces, there are always a few options available to fill those empty seats. Use the ideas listed below to entice more registrants and maximize the impact each one has on the popularity of the event.
Bring on a Sponsor
Event sponsors can bring down the cost of hosting events, which in turn can allow you to lower registration fees. If your guests are saying they can’t afford to attend your event, then getting a sponsor might be an easy fix. Think in terms of sales leads before approaching potential sponsors. Look at the demographics of your audience and match them with a sponsor who could benefit from a presence at on the floor. If you do it right then “selling them” on a partnership will be easy.
Add a Celebrity
Star power can generate significant interest for an otherwise plain event. Try to connect your event or mission to a celebrity who is willing to make an appearance. You will likely need to pay an appearance fee or at least provide accommodations, but if these costs ultimately lead to more registrations your profit margin will increase. Celebrities can also attract sponsors, so keep your ears open for any opportunities to double your return on a celebrity appearance.
Offer Student Rates
Colleges offer a great source of attendees, especially when think of beyond students to include alumni and faculty members. Depending on the educational value of your event, some college programs will pay a reduced fee to give students and faculty access to the content. Start by targeting the specific programs (business, accounting, etc.) that have students who would benefit most from attending. Once you have opened negotiations on that front you can ask about reaching out to alumni and other partners who might be interested in attending.
Continuing education units (CEU’s) and certification programs have created an entire network of educational conferences in the medical and business industries. Use this concept to your advantage by either creating or implementing a unique certification program into your event. Corporate managers are more likely to approve event attendance when they see that their employees will come back with a new set of skills. All you need to do is structure your content as a learning opportunity.
Invite Writers and Bloggers
Media exposure is not always easy to secure, and if you need to hire a public relations consultant for assistance then it could make more sense to invite the newsmakers themselves. Search for influential bloggers and authors in your niche and invite them to participate in exchange for their coverage of the event. This type of agreement works best if they agree to promote the event in advance. For example, a blogger can write a post about their plans to attend the upcoming event, or they can publish an interview with you to discuss the different sessions and speakers you have planned.
Promote with a Wide Net
The biggest mistake you can make in promoting your event is to spend all of your money and resources on one marketing channel. In the months leading up to registration you should be searching for every available opportunity to pitch your idea. There are seemingly endless options for marketing events online, but there are dozens of great local opportunities as well. Look for meeting groups and networking functions related to your industry, and setup partnerships with other events that are related to yours. The key is to always be searching for the next communication channel that you can use to reach interested parties.