Low Guest Numbers? 6 Ways To Make Your Venue Look Full

February 15, 2018

Everyone wants their event to be a huge success. Part of its success will be how popular it seems to your attendees.

So there are six ways to make your venue space look full when guest numbers are lower than you'd like.

Free events attendance
The incidence of poor guest turnout is traditionally much higher at free events than paid events where people are literally "invested" in attending and want to get value for their money spent, and attend.

Free event attendees are also much more likely to leave early or part-way through if they're bored or the speech is not of interest.

If your event is free, you can assume that even if 100 people have confirmed they're coming, sadly, about 40-50 won't arrive.

Err on the side of caution and book a smaller venue for a free event (aimed at 100 attendees) that fits up to 60. Better yet, let people know there are limited numbers to suggest scarcity.

This way it will be and look full with the 50-60 guests who DO turn up. 

Paid events attendance
When people have to pay for something, such as an eagerly awaited concert, they value it more than something free, so if they've bought tickets to your event they're much more likely to attend.

Paid events have a much lower drop-out rate than free events with only 10-20% failing to attend.

If 150 people have bought tickets, assume up to 20% - or 30 guests - won't arrive and book a venue that fits up to 120.

For both free and paid events, increase your chances of higher guest numbers by sending attendees a reminder email and text message two days, one day and 90 minutes before the event.

If it's a new venue launch, don't use all the available space
When venues launch their new dining and/or open areas, it can be a huge temptation to open up the entire space for guests to explore the rooms and outdoor areas.

However, this can be a mistake as you'll have thinned-out crowds which makes the event look like it's not very well attended. Plus, they'll find it harder to imagine guests in there when only three or four are milling around.

For example, a new yacht club that can fit 200 guests at sit-down media launch can fit up to 350 cocktail guests.

If you're having a cocktail party to launch the space, you should either invite up to 600 people (allowing for 50% non-attendance rate for free events) or close off up to half of the available space to make it feel highly attended, and like it's going to be a hot new venue of choice.

You can always take guest on tours of the closed-off spaces. 

If it's a filmed conference, avoid filming empty seats
If it's a seminar or conference, and you're filming the speeches to use for promotion on your company website, the last thing you'll want people to see on the day - and later on your video and photos - are rows and rows of empty seats.

That won't get people coming back!

Instead, get your official videographer and photographer to shoot the guests' faces facing the first couple of rows of the speaker. 

Many people prefer to sit closer to the front to hear or see better or to get up close with the speaker, and you'll have more attendees in your camera or video field of vision.










Book a venue with flexible space and room dividers
People tend to spread out if there are many seats to choose from and when they have arrived on their own.

By placing your seats in two blocks with an aisle space, it removes a row or two of seats without anyone realising you have fewer guests than you expected.

Ask your venue manager to provide you with a flexible space that can be closed off if numbers are low.

If latecomers arrive in droves, you can always open up room panels to provide more seating space. 

Use bulky and/or space-taking decor and props to fill in venue gaps
Not only does it make your event look fantastic, it can also draw your guests' attention away from lower attendance numbers, but it fills in gaping space.

Use 3D backdrop curtains and floral walls as a fun photo opportunity and to act as a magnet for your guests' attention.

Use differently tiered staging platforms to subtly take up floor space.

Trees can be dotted around the room to create visual interest and to match your event theme.

Think palm trees for beach theme events and cherry blossom trees for say, Asian style product launches.

Feature a row or even a field of plinths or lycra-covered cocktail tables on the floor with flowering displays or product displays.

People give these a moderate berth to avoid knocking them over and again, these chew up floor space to make your venue seem larger.

Bring in bulkier furniture such as pallet bars for rustic theme store openings or those luxurious velvet three-seater sofas and matching armchairs for a fancy media launch.

Fill up venue spaces with food serving stations such as rustic carts, white candy carts or feature food displays such as chocolate fountains or antipasto grazing tables.

Enjoyed this? Find out why you should book daytime corporate events.