General Question

jjd2006's avatar

How many people should I overbook for an event?

Asked by jjd2006 (743 points ) October 17th, 2011

I am helping to plan an event at work. It is a holiday party for 375 homeless children (including parents, 525 people total). In the past, we have had a hard time meeting our 375 target. How much should we over-invite our clients/families in order to meet our goal? Last year we invited 260 parents and 496 kids. In the end, we had 230 families and a total attendance of 385 people.

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6 Answers

augustlan's avatar

Perhaps you could over-invite as usual, but place a disclaimer on the invitation. Something like “Space (supplies?) is limited. First come-first served”.

zenvelo's avatar

Do you have a history of more than last year? If you have a regular record of no shows, over book at that rate. Sounds like you should be overbooking by 30 -40%. You don’t want to cut it too close.

Judi's avatar

For weddings they say 10% of guests who RSVP will not show up. That is not true in all cultures. At my daughters wedding we had 10% MORE show up than RSVP’d. I would guess, unless you are inviting people from a culture that has different practices, 15–20% of those who confirm will not show.
You can boost that with reminder invites or notes that arrive 2 weeks out, 1 week out and 1 day out. People have every intention of attending these things then forget. If someone called all the families the DAY OF the even and reminded them you would REALLY boost your attendance

keobooks's avatar

@Judi do you think the homeless families will all have cell phones so you can call them all? I think transient homeless families have a slightly different reliability rate than most upscale wedding guests.

I like @augustlan ‘s suggestion about “first come first served” in an event like that.

Judi's avatar

That is a variable that might change things. I still believe that the more reminders closer to the event that people get (by phone, mail or personal contact) the better your “closing” rate will be. Especially with this demographic.

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