4 Ways to Keep Your Event Guests From Leaving Early

March 17, 2023 Jessica Stewart

Attendee attrition is a real phenomenon. And for event planners, guests leaving early can be a sign that the event wasn’t engaging enough. In-person or virtual, there are insights to consider to keep your event audiences engaged from the moment they walk in until the final curtain call. Today, we’ll share those insights so you can boost your attendee engagement strategies.

1. Know Your Audience First

Let’s get down to business. If your event guests are leaving early, then you’ve fallen short on entertaining them. Sure, there will be anomalies when some attendees have to tend to personal emergencies or sudden illnesses. But if there’s a mass exodus of guests before the event is officially slated to end, their interest has waned. 

The truth is people will stay and enjoy themselves if they feel there is something to enjoy. If there is value, engagement, and a reason to stay, they’ll stick around. That’s why it’s so vital that event planners take the time prior to the event to learn about their guest preferences. Use pre-event surveys and polls if you need to, and talk with your event client to gain knowledge from them about the attendees. Once you know what events guests like, prefer, and care about, you can design the event around those preferences to keep them engaged for the long haul.

2. Don’t Give Away the Farm Too Early

A common mistake some event planners make is giving the farm away too early in the event. Don’t explode so early with your big entertainer, your headlining speaker, or your biggest announcement, that you don’t have any nuggets of excitement left to entice your audience for the remainder of the night. Of course, this doesn’t mean delaying your headliner until the end of the event. However, you can strategize so that you still have something energizing and fun to offer after those headlining activities are done. 

3. Don’t Make It Easy to Leave Early

People are creatures of habit. And “the last day” or “the last minute” of anything are often taken the least seriously. How many people do you personally know who admit to being the least productive on Fridays, for example? Or how many weddings have you been to where guests feel after the official cake-cutting or first dance, it’s a green light to duck out? 

Keep these habitual behaviors in mind as an event planner. Look to spot those natural “endings” in your event itinerary that might be a signal to guests that it’s ok to leave after. Build enthusiasm about drawings or contests slated to happen in the last hour of the event. Create something enticing that makes it less convenient for guests to duck out early.

4. Plot the Itinerary of Activities Through to the End

Dangle some event activity carrots that incentivize guests to stay until the last moment. Maybe it’s a big announcement you save until last. Or you can use those drawings and contests within the last hour. For virtual events, as another example, you can make the video of the digital event available for free to those who stay until the end. You can also save surprises for last, including swag bags and party favors. 

As an event planner, you’ll always look for unique ways to make every aspect of the occasion engaging. But if you really want to keep attendees from leaving early, keep these tips in mind. And for more event planning secrets and improvements, make sure you get to The Event Planner Expo 2023 this October! Explore all the ways you can participate as an exhibitor or sponsor and get your tickets! It’s one event you’ll attend through to the very last moment of engagement, too!

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