If you’re involved in producing any kind of promotional events, then you know that there are people who make it their business (actually, I think it’s more of a sport) to attend as many free events in the city as possible. I’ve become convinced that this is an industry wide issue. It’s not personal, it’s just another aspect of our business.
Hey listen, I totally get it. On any given night in NYC, there are dozens (if not more) of free events taking place at bars, restaurants, galleries, nightclubs and other kinds of event spaces all over town. In fact, many of them are sponsored by companies eager to spread the word about their brand, a new product, or even an upcoming movie or television show. Party promoters are looking to fill up these events with as many people as they can, with the help of liquor companies providing free drinks.
But this is not the case with all events. Some of us are working hard to develop business relationships and strategic partnerships within a specific industry-based community. In other words, we want people to attend our events who actually have an interest in working with our other attendees, or learning about the product or technology that is being showcased. Translation: we are not just throwing a party.
So here are my thoughts. First of all, to the guests who may be getting the message here that you are not welcome at our events… please don’t take it personally. I’m sure you are very nice people, and probably a lot of fun to party with, but the food and drink served at our gatherings is not the main attraction. These are first and foremost business functions, and if that’s not part of your agenda, then you should be going somewhere else to get your drink on.
Second, I was recently forced to play bouncer. I did not enjoy being a bouncer. It felt really icky. I would prefer not to have to do it again.
So, to planners who widely promote their free events but are nonetheless concerned with this issue, here are a few practical ways to tighten up your guest lists:
- Make it a requirement to include certain pieces of trackable information as part of your registration process, such as company name, website, Twitter or Facebook account, and other types of industry specific identifiers.
- Make it a part of your invitation process that reservations must be confirmed. If people register whom you recognize as undesirable for whatever reason, do not confirm their reservations. Make sure you identify and keep track of individuals at your events whom you would prefer not return in the future.
- Consider charging a nominal entry fee as a deterrent.
- Consider using a ticketing service that offers an email specific invitation option, such as Event Farm. This type of functionality will allow you to pre-screen who qualifies to receive an invitation to your event.