It’s common knowledge that personalised invitations are the only way to make guests sit up and take notice. Addressing your guest by name and taking their dietary preferences and other pertinent information into account will define whether your invite gets sent straight to their trash folder, or opened, read and replied to. Communication that acknowledges a guest as an individual instead of a random recipient is essential for companies wanting to encourage brand loyalty and advocacy. For example, if you’re holding an event in Johannesburg, and some of your guests are from Cape Town, remember to include logistical details and information.  Providing details about available flights, accommodation and car hire automatically positions your brand as one that’s got the best interest of their clients at heart.

While you may have a vague idea of what personalised invitations entail, you may not be aware of the following ten crucial considerations:

Thou shalt get gender correct.

If you’re addressing guests using titles like: ‘Ms’ or ‘Mr’, you can’t afford to get them wrong. Nothing screams ‘couldn’t care less’ as much as correspondence that begins with an incorrect title. This only serves to alienate your guests from the get go. (There’s one, but only one exception to this rule, which is if Tannie Evita is on your guest list).

Thou shalt make changes immediately based on feedback.

There’s no room for error where this vital information is concerned. If you’ve received feedback from a guest about incorrect personal information such as the spelling of their name, make it your priority to add these changes to your list. The last thing you want is to send a follow up email to a guest that contains the spelling mistake they’ve already told you about. Using an RSVP tool like the one we use at The RSVP Agency means you only have to make the changes once and any future communication will automatically reflect them.

Thou shalt keep up to date with your guests’ changes.

If a customer of yours gets a new job, they’re highly likely to still require the services you provided them while they were in in their previous job. It’s therefore important to keep up to date with changing job titles and surnames (when a customer gets married, for example).

Thou shalt not be a slave to gremlins in the matrix.

If your event management company is using a RSVP system that automatically populates your personalised invitations, avoid the embarrassing mistake of addressing someone as ‘First Name’. Safe-guard against this by replacing your filler text with ‘there’ – so if you do happen to be missing the names of several guests, they’ll receive invitations that begin with ‘Hello there’ – a greeting that’s infinitely preferable to the glaring oversight of the alternative.

Thou shalt segment thy list for optimised RSVP rates.

Segmenting your guest list according to location, past purchases or interactions with your brand is an efficient way of further personalising your invitations. If you’re inviting foreign delegates, you may want to send them invites in their native language. Similarly, if you’re holding a series of launches for different products you’ll want to ensure that those interested in product A don’t get invited to test-drive product B.

Thou shalt keep meticulous records.

If your events company organises functions that often consist of repeat guests, ensure that you have a record of personal information like their dietary preferences, shirt size, their partner’s name or even their golf handicap. Being able to include details that are unique to each individual will go a long way in ensuring the event is well attended, and that the brand is showcased in the best possible light.

Thou shalt always follow up with your guests.

It’s imperative that event companies do all that they can to ensure that their events are well attended. Guests frequently have either forgotten to RSVP, are away at the time of receiving their invites or haven’t yet had a chance to reply. A follow up phone call is therefore crucial, as is being equipped with all of the particulars of the guest in question– their first name, the company they work for, and any other related information.

Thou shalt consider the PA.

A personal assistant acts like a gate-keeper of sorts. They’re tasked with the management of their boss’s inbox and diary, so event agencies will do well to familiarise themselves with the PA’s particulars if they want to make sure that their invitations are received and replied to. Instead of sending a generic mail, it’s preferable to personalise your communication with them. For example: “Dear Edna, we have sent John an invite…” etc.

Thou shalt ensure that thy guest list contains as much information as possible.

Endeavour to gather as much info about your guests relevant to your event. From their PA’s name, their dietary preferences and their relationship to the brand, to the name of the sales person that they’re dealing with. Sending an invite along the lines of: “Paul (the account manager in question) would like to invite you to Brand ABC’s golf day” – by making this communication personal, event managers will automatically up their RSVP rates.

Thou shalt never ever, ever send invitations that are not personalised.

The technology (like that offered by The RSVP Agency) is readily available to produce amazing and personalised invitations for large corporate events. This means that there’s simply no excuse to send generic invitations that’ll result in a low number of RSVPs to your company’s events.

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RSVP has the historical meaning of Répondez s’il vous plaît, or “please reply” (used at the end of invitations to request a response). The background to RSVP is colourful and interesting.

RSVP is not a new requirement, or an end in and of itself. The RSVP process, consisting of the invitation and confirmation process as the two most fundamental steps, is a key requirement to stage a successful event, function or gatherings of any size and description. Large and small events are fundamental to our social and professional lives making professional RSVP management an indispensable service.

In days of old, invitations to gatherings were to esteemed guests were delivered by breathless couriers on trusty steads. Handwritten invites sealed with royal wax on parchment, the RSVP process was personal and full of occasion. The entire process took days to complete.

The mechanism of creating invitations, having them delivered and tracking the responses has remained essentially the same. We still need to create the invitation design and copy, create our guest list, deliver the invitation to the guests, and then track the responses to finalise attendance and catering. The objective is to get the correct number of guests to a function that would be memorable and valuable to host and attendee alike. However, the mechanics of how the invitations are created, delivered and tracked has become more sophisticated.

In today’s electronic world, hand written papers delivered have gone the way of the Dodo. Paper is relevant in some rare circumstances and a hand delivered invitation is designed to make a statement. It is however, no longer convenient or practical for most of today’s functions.

Baseline your RSVP process

So, how can we create the best possible experience for the function or event coordinator and the invited guest? The first step is to base line where you currently are with your RSVP process. Are the current techniques you are using to manage RSVP as efficient and painless as they could be?

If you answer “yes” to any of the questions below when working on an event RSVP process, it is likely that there is opportunity to make things easier for yourself and your invited guests.

1. I send out email invitations using my email package (Microsoft Outlook)
2. I spend lots of time manually ticking off attendees on a spread sheet
3. I get multiple guest lists from my internal departments and it is difficult to coordinate the guests attending across the various lists
4. My guests have to recapture information that I should already know about them, for example their dietary preferences, every time I invite them to an event
5. When I need to capture guest information like dietary requirements, travel information and other preferences, it takes a long time to get the online registration forms set up
6. When someone asks “is Guest A or Guest B attending?” I don’t have the information on hand.
7. I spend more time running the RSVP part of the event than I should be
8. My event company takes on the RSVP because I ask them to, but they don’t seem equipped to manage the process
9. My IT department try to help, but the systems are not flexible enough to deliver what I need

If you answered “yes” to some of the questions above, you RSVP process is more painful than it needs to be and we can assist you! Opportunity to improve The simple checklist below highlights opportunity for a professional RSVP experience for you and your guests.

1. Do you send out personalised email invitations, a personal invitation for each guest?
2. Do you pre populate your invited guests preferences, ensuring they never have to provide you with the same information more than once?
3. Do your email invitations have a high delivery rate, using global mailing standards to avoid as many spam traps as possible?
4. Do you instantly know if your email invitations have been delivered?
5. Does your RSVP solution automatically improve the quality of your guest list by removing duplicates and checking for incomplete information?
6. Can you easily ask guest for any kind of information without having to program additional data fields?
7. Do you have a live record of online registrations including accepts, declines and no responses?
8. Can you easily handle multiple guest lists from internal teams?
9. Do you have an RSVP service team to back you up? 10. Do your team provide you with call down support for those invited guests that have not responded?

If the above checklist highlights area you would like to improve then you can take the first step to RSVP excellence. Improving the professionalism of your overall RSVP process will ensure better guest attendance and will create a great first impression for you and your brand. Ultimately, professional RSVP is the first step to event success! We look forward to hearing from you!