For anyone planning an event, the RSVP list are the most important sheets of paper (if you’re still using paper) in the whole building on the day of. Unfortunately, more and more people aren’t responding with a yay or nay for their attendance.
According to Lizzie Post, a spokeswoman for the Emily Post Institute and the great-great-granddaughter of the woman who wrote the book on etiquette, Emily Post, the speed of the latest technology is to blame.
“We want to be able to decide that morning if we want to go that night—we have forgotten how to simply commit,” she told the Wall Street Journal.
In all cases, the non-response is rude. But at least when it’s a cocktail party that might be marginally acceptable. Everyone is standing, schmoozing, having one or two drinks. It’s a little easier to plan in terms of refreshments and swag bags. There’s a margin of error.
When you’re talking about a sit down dinner, it’s terrible.
Others say it’s the number of events that’s the problem. With the holidays here, we know all about that. Two weeks in advance of Christmas, everyone expects to have at least one event per night for about 10 days straight. It’s hard to remember everything, saying yes seems polite, but saying no to something is what people really want to do.
And, according to the WSJ, with more people celebrating every single thing in life, you’ve got a busy social calendar.
There’s only so much you can do to get people to RSVP, but here are a few suggestions to mull over:
-Send invitations more than twice, emphasizing the need to RSVP for entry. Rather than sending something three weeks in advance and then sending a reminder a few days out, send a third invite in between. When people see it turn up in their inbox a few times, they feel some sense of urgency and will turn their attention to the note.
-Spend more time on the subject line. Rather than just saying that an event is happening, craft a news hook as you would any other pitch. Make the event seem like a must-attend, showcasing the purpose and most interesting aspect of whatever’s happening.
-Build some flexibility in your plans. If you’re thinking 100 people are going to show up, plan for food, drinks and tchotchkes for 150 (at least). The worst that’s going to happen is you take everything back to the office and you have appetizers for breakfast at the office the next morning and giveaways for the next event.
-Shut things down. That means either closing the RSVP list after you reach a maximum number of people and/or shutting the doors when latecomers are too late. These are reasonable measures that people should understand. And they’ll be more diligent in their planning next time if they really want to attend.