Building The Guest List: Managing RSVPs And Registration


Table of contents
Building The Guest List: Managing RSVPs And Registration

Support the site.

July 24, 2023



July 24, 2023


Table of contents
Building The Guest List: Managing RSVPs And Registration
July 24, 2023


July 24, 2023

Putting together the perfect guest list is one of the most critical steps in event planning. Who you invite sets the tone and energy for the entire event. This comprehensive guide look at proven strategies for crafting targeted invite lists, promoting your event, tracking responses, avoiding no-shows, and leveraging registration platforms. Follow these best practices to create buzz, fill seats, and deliver powerful event experiences.

Crafting The Initial Guest List

Start by brainstorming with all potential attendees and stakeholders. Cast a wide net initially – it’s easier to cull later than scramble to add people last minute.

  • Make a list of target demographics: age groups, local organizations, affiliated businesses etc. You want attendees who will care about your event’s purpose and content.
  • Note any VIPs: speakers, sponsors, community partners etc. These key stakeholders deserve special treatment and direct outreach.
  • Check past events: Were specific individuals or groups engaged previously? Make sure to include relevant return attendees.
  • Review membership and mailing lists: Which existing contacts might be interested? Flag relevant people to include.
  • Request input from internal teams: Ask staff across departments for suggestions. Sales or client services may have insight.

Once your brainstorm list is complete, refine it by:

  • Organizing into segments: speakers, VIPs, target demographic groups, general public etc. This enables tailored communication.
  • Eliminating redundancies: Merge duplicate names and contact info. Remove irrelevant contacts.
  • You are setting parameters: Maximum capacity based on venue, target attendance, and waitlist size. This determines how many invites you send.
  • Adding contact details: Name, mailing address, phone, email, organizational affiliation etc. Accurate data is crucial.
  • Noting Status: VIP, speaker, expected attendee etc. This helps segment outreach efforts.

Maintain the list in a master spreadsheet or database. This keeps all guest info neatly organized in one place for easy access and updates.

Promote The Event And Manage Responses

With your guest list set, it’s time to promote the event and gather RSVPs.

  • Send official invites by email, postal mail, social media etc. Include event details plus clear RSVP instructions. Follow up periodically with non-responders.
  • Promote across communication channels: website, email blasts, social media, press releases etc. Share event registration details everywhere.
  • Add a link to the event registration page prominently on your website. Make it easy for people to learn more and sign up.
  • Post on social media regularly as the event approaches. Share speaker spotlights, schedule teasers, promotional freebies etc to generate excitement.
  • Look for media opportunities: Pitch the event to local newspapers, radio stations, influencers etc. Earned media exposure expands your reach.
  • Track RSVPs in your master spreadsheet or database. Note confirmed attendees, declines, and pending responses.
  • Personally follow up with VIPs to confirm their attendance. Give them VIP treatment with special invites and reminders if needed.

Choose The Right RSVP Management System

Use a systematic RSVP tracking process to stay organized as responses roll in. Consider these options:

  • Simple spreadsheet or database: Perfect for smaller events. Lets you easily mark attendee status and sort data.
  • Email management: Have guests RSVP to a dedicated email address. Easier to manage than mixed inboxes.
  • Invitation platforms: Services like Paperless Post, Punchbowl, or Evite have excellent response tracking.
  • Event management platforms: All-in-one tools like Cvent allow registration, payment, promotions, and response management.
  • Custom registration form: For advanced tracking, create a tailored web form to capture all necessary data points.

No matter the system, set an RSVP deadline 2-3 weeks before the event for the best results. This allows you to follow up with non-responders and confirm the final numbers.

Manage Waitlists For Overbooked Events

If your event fills up quickly, waitlists help manage high demand:

  • Keep waitlisted guests warm with periodic updates on their status. Let them know if confirmed spots become available.
  • When the RSVP deadline passes, alert waitlisted guests to register if they still wish to attend. Ask them to confirm their continued interest.
  • Give waitlisted guests priority notice for future events if they miss out this time.
  • Avoid overbooking by more than 10-20% of capacity. Waitlists are a safety net – not core attendance. Most waitlisted guests won’t make it in.
  • Have check-in staff or ushers turn away late arrivals if the event is at capacity, even if they claim to be registered. Don’t over-pack rooms.

Minimize No-Shows With Engagement And Reminders

Expect 10-20% of confirmed guests to be no-shows on the event day. Minimize this by:

  • Requiring registration or an RSVP for free events. This taps into the “sunk cost fallacy”: guests invested time, so they are more likely to show up.
  • Using email and social media reminders leading up to your event. Gently nudge guests to show up.
  • Making the event experience scarcer with limited capacity messaging. Exclusivity prompts more guests to attend.
  • Eliminating cancellations with no refunds or transfer policies. Avoid financial incentives to cancel last minute.
  • Calling VIPs a few days before to re-confirm. Especially follow-up if they haven’t engaged recently.
  • Overbooking venue capacity slightly above target attendance numbers to buffer some no-shows.

Plan For Last Minute Registration And Walk-Ins

Despite best efforts, plan flexibility for last-minute registrations and walk-ins:

  • Have check-in staff ready to field walk-up attendees and take payments. Set up registration on-site just in case.
  • Only allow walk-ins if venue capacity, catering, and event supplies accommodate them. Turn people away gracefully if not.
  • Keep pre-printed name badges on hand for walk-ins. Have a few extras ready to go.
  • Bring some giveaway items for walk-ins who may not get swag bags. Have nominal supplies ready.
  • Add any last-minute registrations to the master list. Mark them as onsite payments for tracking.
  • Get catering numbers on target, then direct extra food into easy takeaway boxes. Donate excess food that would go to waste.

Leverage Registration Platforms For Big Events

Specialized registration platforms streamline management with automation and tracking tools for large conferences, festivals, or multi-day events.

  • Integrations allow seamless data sharing between your website, email platform, payment processor etc.
  • Collect payments safely by credit card through the platform. Avoid manual transactions.
  • Use automated reminder emails to drive conversions and reduce no-shows.
  • Issue digital or print tickets to registered attendees for entry management.
  • Generate custom reports on sales, demographics, messaging effectiveness and more.
  • Allow self-service modifications by attendees: changing names, cancelling tickets, transferring passes etc.

Leading options like Eventbrite, Universe, Tickettailor and Splash offer varying feature sets and pricing. Evaluate thoroughly before selecting your platform.


A meticulously planned guest list and registration process set your event for engagement and impact. Start early by brainstorming with attendees, promoting across channels, tracking responses, and planning change flexibility. Choose the right RSVP management system for your needs and guest size. With these steps covered, you can focus on crafting a fantastic event experience


Other posts you may like

How to Use AI to Personalize Live Shopping Experiences

Live shopping is becoming increasingly popular for brands to directly engage with customers in real time. By broadcasting live video streams and interacting with viewers through chat and polls, brands can provide personalized shopping experiences that feel more authentic and interactive than traditional e-commerce. Integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into your live shopping strategy can take […]

July 27, 2023
Read More
How to Use Facebook Live to Promote and Broadcast Your Events

Facebook Live is a potent yet underutilized tool for professional event managers. Going live on Facebook allows you to give your audience exclusive behind-the-scenes access, promote your event in real-time, and significantly expand your reach. With the ability to broadcast live video directly from your mobile device, Facebook Live makes streaming accessible and easy. When […]

July 26, 2023
Read More
How Live Streaming is Making Ecommerce More Inclusive 

E-commerce has exploded in popularity over the last decade. Online shopping offers convenience, selection, and competitive pricing that brick-and-mortar stores often can’t match. However, the online shopping experience still lacks a critical personal connection between brands and consumers. Live streaming is emerging as a way to make e-commerce more inclusive. Through live video shopping events, […]

July 26, 2023
Read More
The Rise of the Live-Streamed Shopping Event 

Live-streamed shopping is taking the retail world by storm. Online shopping events that are broadcast in real-time are becoming increasingly popular with brands and consumers alike. In this post, we’ll look at how live-streamed shopping transforms retail marketing, its benefits for brands and consumers and tips for planning successful live shopping events. Live-streamed shopping represents […]

July 26, 2023
Read More
The professional’s choice for your event technology. We're partnering with you to deliver unforgettable experiences.
NetZero website icon