The Impact of No-Shows on Virtual Events

08 March 2021 | Temps de lecture : 11 min.

No-shows at an event. It’s our biggest fear as an event planner, and for a good reason, it represents an average rate of 35% for virtual events, which is slightly lower than physical events (50% for free events). However, this is a completely normal phenomenon, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important to work on! In this article, we reveal a few secrets to limit and capitalize on the no-shows of your events. 

What's an event no-show?

Let's start with a short introduction so that we’re all on the same page.

The definition of a No-Show

The term “no-show” in the event world signifies a participant who registered but did not show up on the day of the event, either online or in person. This person didn’t notify the event organizer in advance about their need to change their registration status or cancel it all together.

How do I calculate the no-show rate for an event?

It’s very simple. Divide the number of registrants who did not show up by the total number of registrants and you’ve got your no-show rate.

Be careful to only take into account those who did not show up without letting you know beforehand, otherwise the stats won't be 100% true.

An event management platform makes determining the no-show rate easy for you by automatically calculating participants who have been checked in via a check-in app or who have connected to the online event. Yes, this means you can distinguish between in-person and online attendees.

What are the risks for an event with a large no-show rate?

A high no-show rate at your event can present many risks for your company and yourself as an event organizer. 

A poor transmission of information 

During a meeting or product launch, for example, the information provided is crucial for all attendees. Ensuring that important messages are well transmitted, received and of course understood is a key objective of a corporate event. If people don’t show up, well they’re going to miss out on important information. This is not beneficial for the company nor employees. 

Fortunately, you can offer your no-shows (as well as those who attended) the on-demand version of your online or hybrid event so that they won’t miss out on important information.

Missed opportunities 

Corporate events remain an effective means of opening up new professional opportunities, whether hybrid or virtual. On one hand, registrants who can't make the event risk missing out on interesting opportunities and on the other hand the company misses out on opportunities to discuss major topics.

Lack of credibility

If there are not enough participants, there will be less interaction, creating a feeling of emptiness within the event itself and potentially tarnishing the company's reputation. At a time when interaction at online and hybrid events is the most important element for their success, you definitely don't want to be lacking in this area. 

If you ask questions, launch quizzes or word clouds and the number of overall participants is low, your event will lack impact and unfortunately lose credibility. Potential external speakers may also feel that they have been mobilized for nothing. 


You’ll have to deal with leftovers from your hybrid and in-person events. They should be distributed to avoid waste. 

A low participation rate

Finally, when you're working on your reporting and going over your KPIs, the data will be unsatisfactory and unrepresentative of your event's actual performance. 

As you will have understood, the no-show generates several problems that are not only advantageous for the company, but also for the registrants. 

Take a look at this article to find out how to optimize your event ROI.

And let's face it, even for the event planner, this is not a rewarding situation. The number of participants is often a key indicator of the quality of the organization and the no-show rate of an event can be hard to deal with mentally.

Find out more about other key indicators of event planning.

How do you explain your no-shows?

Why didn’t your participant show up? To answer this question, simply put yourself in your own shoes! Admit that you've already ghosted a conference that had initially caught your eye at first glance…

But the day before, you were suddenly extremely lazy to run across the city at 8 am. Finally, at 8 am, it was impossible to find the e-mail confirmation. And then, anyway, you have to stay home with your youngest James, the nanny is sick. Participating in an event online requires optimal concentration, and taking care of a child at the same time wouldn’t be the best experience. So it’s a no go.

Here are the three main reasons for a no-show on the event:

How to avoid a no-show at your event

You now know everything there is to know about no-shows. Now it's time for us to share our tips to decrease your no-show rate (user tested and event manager approved).

Choose the right date and time for your event

The choice of date, and especially time, is crucial to maximize the number of participants at your event. And this doesn't only apply to no-shows.

For in-person, hybrid or online events, pay attention to the time period when your event will take place. A participant is least productive between 2 and 3 pm, with a peak of drowsiness around 2:55 pm. After 3 pm, it is not advisable to plan an event because people are already thinking about going home or about which show they're going to watch on Netflix later that evening. On the contrary, mornings, especially 2 hours after waking up, is a period of particularly high productivity and concentration. We will consider this period to be between 8 and 11 am

You should think about adapting your event schedule according to your participant's circadian rhythm and of course their habits.

In the Paris region, for example, people start work later so an event rarely starts before 9 am, whereas starting at 8:30 am would be perfect for an event in Nantes. 

Some jobs allow more free time in the afternoon, if you're a private nurse, for example. In the same logic, if you are organizing a training session at a hospital, it would be better to host an event around lunch hour to bring together both morning and afternoon shifts.

When choosing a date for your participants, some days are unanimously agreed upon. Thursday is undeniably the best day, especially in the morning. Wednesday remains a safe choice as well. Some professions will tend to prefer to travel on a Saturday rather than a weekday.

Of course, Fridays aren't always appropriate - the weekend tends to be a bit too much of a stretch.

Choose a place that is easily accessible 

For an online or hybrid event, the platform on which the event will take place is a decisive factor in convincing your registrants. Too many things to download, for example, will tend to drive them away or discourage them from participating when it's time. Offering a single link without the need to download software will reassure the. An EMS, like Eventdrive, allows you to create a virtual event space that is easily accessible.

Your event communication is also a deciding factor. Participants should spend no more than a minute looking for their access codes. This is why setting up clear event marketing emails and automatic reminders is essential. 

For in-person (or hybrid) events, your venue can play a crucial role in limiting no-shows. We tend to organize events close to our offices. Big mistake! We should always organize an event with our principal stakeholders in mind: the participants. Where will they be coming from ? If your event takes place in the morning, they're probably coming from home, in the evening, more than likely straight from work. 

Let's ask ourselves if the place is easily accessible by public transportation for events held in larger cities like Barcelona, London, Berlin, Chicago, Rome, New York City, Paris or San Francisco. If they're coming by..

It is always better to have a central location. If it is a destination abroad, access from the airport should be simplified.

Don't hesitate to tell your participants about the multiple means that are available to access your event and the names of local applications to download to facilitate getting around - City Mapper, Google Maps and Waze, for example! If you're really nice, you could create a custom Google Map and share this on your event website.

Communicate efficiently and clearly

Prior to your event, it is essential to remind your participants about their registration so that they don't forget about your event.

Ideally, you should use a tool that allows you to program and automate email invitations for your event but you could also use other less integrated platforms. Also, by using event templates, you will increase your efficiency and your performance. 

To avoid pleasant surprises, participants should be made aware of the impact of not attending. A best practice to deter last-minute no-shows is to mention "Seats are limited, so please kindly cancel your registration if you are unable to attend." in the confirmation email as well as in your reminder emails. 

In addition, don't hesitate to highlight the impact of a no-show on the planet: food thrown in the trash, giveaways unnecessarily made... You can always provide participants with the option to attend virtually so that they have less of an impact on the in-person no-show rate.

Did you know? In Belgium, the Association of Communication Agencies has launched the "Don't spoil the party" movement, which encourages guests to make up for their absence by making a donation to an association.

Simplify access to your event information

As soon as your participant is faced with an obstacle, however small it may be, they will simply give up and your event no-show rate will skyrocket.

For this, we suggest you add an .ics file to your confirmation email. As an example, Eventdrive allows you to do this thanks to its event management platform: the registered attendee can easily add your event to their Outlook or Google calendar directly at the end of their registration or via an .ics file sent in your confirmation email.

You can also include a link or button to modify their registration directly in your confirmation email.

Rethink the layout of your event space

In the current situation, people are afraid to attend in-person events and could become a no-show at the last minute. Changing your event layout can help reduce no-shows for this reason When rethinking your layout, you have several elements to take into account.

Capitalize on your no-shows

Finally, let's be honest with ourselfes and admit that we have all experience not being able to attend an event and being unable to prevent it. So we need to try and be accommodating to the no-shows of your event!

You now have all the right tools, tips and tricks to manage your no-shows brilliantly before, during and after your corporate virutal and hybrid events!

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