A person in our Chamber Professional’s Group on Facebook asked about canceling events due to low attendance and she referenced a breakfast that had a very small number of registrants.
Here’s my take on all of this. If you schedule the event, you should probably hold the event for quite a few different reasons.
3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Cancel Chamber Events:
- Committed attendees. The people who did sign up for the event, marked it on their calendars. They may have paid money. They made a commitment. By doing so, they may have rearranged their hectic schedule to attend or they may have turned down other invitations because they were already committed to yours. Cancelling on them can harm that relationship and harm the chance of them attending your events in the future.
- Event value. While it may not be the large-scale event you intended, there’s still value for those who signed up. This large event now becomes a very intimate event around one table or so. Rearrange the room or seating, so that it doesn’t look like a few people in a large room but a purposefully executed gathering. Get rid of the extra chairs, divide the room, whatever you need to do to bring attendees closer to one another. Hold the event, just make it a smaller venue.
- Staff message. If the staff knows that you will cancel the event if only a few people are registered, it relieves them from having to put forth the added recruitment efforts. It’s not a good message to send. Your board probably won’t appreciate it either. If you’re the CEO overseeing the efforts of your event staffers, you don’t want them to think it’s okay not to give it their best efforts.
If the event just isn’t going to work, then don’t cancel and reschedule. Don’t hold it again. If there’s something really wrong with the venue, the topic, or the whole reason behind the chamber event, don’t do it again. But don’t use low attendance as a reason to cancel.