To give you just one example, I recently spoke with a client who had their support staff calling invited guests for their holiday party to see if they were going to attend. That is such an unproductive way to use staff time and yet – when a headcount is necessary – it must be done.
It turns out; the client had a 20% last minute cancellation rate and at least 10% no shows. About 25% of the invited guests just never RSVP’d (to be expected even though I don’t consider it polite). The last minute cancellations and no shows cost the client close to $3,000 because they had to provide the caterer with a firm number several days in advance. Our client even estimated for 15% no shows in the number.
The bottom line: if you’re hosting an event that calls for a headcount (unless it’s a wedding), you should account for about 20% no shows. You should also give your guests several ways to RSVP including online tools (like e-vite), e-mail addresses and telephone options. And don’t depend on RSVPs utilizing social media event tools (they’re not yet reliable).