How online invitations can help you with last minute guest list changes

All event managers know last-minute changes to a guest list are inevitable.Trying to keep abreast of developments when and as they happen requires round-the-clock vigilance, as well as the ability to think and act under pressure.

Ask any event planner and they’ll tell you that receiving a call from a guest that goes along the lines of: “So sorry! Been struck down with the flu. My PA will come instead”, is a common occurrence. There are a myriad of reasons why guests cancel or send a replacement at the last minute – having to travel for work, attending an urgent meeting or a family crisis are some of the few. Attempting to re-configure your guest list, table settings and name-tags on the day results in wasted time that could be spent on more pressing tasks.

Speed up your reaction time by utilising easily-accessible online invitations.

Most event managers are constantly glued to their phones – and for good reason.  It’s where they co-ordinate and plan every single detail of an event. From sending emails to suppliers to communicating with their colleagues – a mobile phone is an event planner’s lifeline. However, if you’re not using online invitations, you’ll end up wasting huge amounts of time as you check and reply to emails one by one. Having to deal with last minute changes over email isn’t conducive to an efficient and streamlined event. An online management system instantly reflects changes, cutting down time spent on admin, and ensuring you’re up- to-date at any given moment.

Ensure that everyone involved with the management of your event is aware of changes as they occur.

Most of the time, you’ll be communicating directly with a supplier or guest, and without an online invitation platform, the rest of your staff will be in the dark about last-minute changes. Having to relay crucial information – like that fact that your florist has double-booked and you’re now without centrepieces – will result in even more unnecessary time being spent on coordinating the logistics. Avoid an information vacuum by using an online invitation system, where changes are instant and happen in real time. Whether they’re on a mobile or are stuck at the office, all of your event managers will immediately be aware of any changes, enabling them to act timeously.

This is especially useful for those doing registrations off a tablet or iPad, so that when John Smith arrives instead of Paul Jones, they’ll be aware of the change and have a name-tag and personalised gift bag ready for him. Without the ability to view last-minute changes, you risk the implications of being unprepared, and worse, looking unprofessional.  

Online invitations allow you to efficiently streamline operations – even if last-minute changes have to be implemented.

Managing any event is stressful at the best of times, even when everything is going according to plan. Instead of having to run backwards and forwards from the dining hall to the registration desk to the kitchen, an online system allows you to view your updated guest list, altered seating plan and new menu requirements. It’s imperative that if a vegetarian attends in the place of their boss who’s fond of steak, you can quickly communicate with the kitchen enabling you to serve the replacement guest mushroom risotto instead of beef wellington. Being aware of personal details about your guests goes a long way in cementing the image that your brand is one that values and understands their clients.

Optimise your event management further by asking a third-party to communicate with suppliers on your behalf.

If you’re outsourcing your RSVP function to a company like The RSVP Agency, you can arrange with the company to notify your suppliers of any last-minute changes.  Instead of going backwards and forwards with conflicted updates, your event management company can devote a dedicated team to co-ordinate this for you. Having to call the catering company and tell them that you’ll only be needing 15 Halal meals instead of 10, only to find that the number has changed again to 12, is a laborious and unnecessary endeavour. Arrange that the company sends out notifications every hour, on the hour, so that there’s no chance of crossed wires.

Ensure that all of your post-event communication with guests is accurate.

Once an event is over, you’ll want to send out an email or SMS to thank your guests. An online invitation management system will enable you to personalise these message according to whether the guest attended your event or not. Nothing conveys indifference and unprofessionalism like receiving a message that doesn’t apply to you. Avoid the embarrassing scenario of someone thanking them for their attendance, when in fact they were holed up at home with the flu. Instead, send them a message that says: “We’re sorry you missed our Annual Gala. Attached are some photos of the evening and our list of prize winners.” This will differ from those who did attend, who could receive something like: “Thank you for helping to make our Annual Gala a roaring success! Please fill out this short survey about your experience.”

Image Credit: Always Lauren