This article is being written after a member of staff at the University contacted the editors and asked us to address the fact that many people sign up for events but then fail to turn up.

“Both I and many others who organise events have issues with employees signing up for an event and then not coming. This has escalated after the pandemic to the point that today around 50 percent fail to come to an event despite signing up,” notes a person at the University who regularly organises events aimed at staff.

Leads to more work, higher costs and larger carbon footprint

The person would prefer to remain anonymous as they do not want their visitors to feel uncomfortable or singled out. She goes on to say:

“The dropouts are a problem that not only creates additional costs in terms of booking a larger venue, food (which is thrown away), but also extra work such as making leaflets and nameplates. I would like the University to address the issue and draw employees’ attention to the fact that signing up represents your actual intention to attend and is not just a show of interest.”

The editors have spoken to a few different people who usually organise events – both for staff and external visitors – who confirm this trend that dropouts have increased and are a problem. One figure that emerged during those discussions was that 70 percent failed to attend one digital event.

The figures above (50 and 70 percent respectively) are only isolated examples, as more comprehensive statistics are unfortunately lacking.

Has Facebook changed our behaviour?

One hypothesis is that the increasing number of dropouts is at least partly connected to Facebook and the culture that has developed there since they released their sign-up function for events.

A notification via Facebook is often seen more as an encouragement of the organiser, much like a thumbs up, rather than a binding registration. This has perhaps changed the way we view a notification.

What is the problem and how do we solve it?

Naturally, there are several angles to this issue.

Hand on heart: most of us have experienced both being an organiser, when you realise that what was supposed to be a sold-out event to discuss an important issue turned out to be hardly worth the effort to organise, or being a participant who feels excited about an upcoming event you are supposed to attend, but then feeling that it’s turned into something stressful you would prefer to avoid.

Get in touch with the editors!

What are your thoughts about this? Are there too many events? Should we manage the sign-up process in some other manner? Do you have any tips or good or bad examples?

Get in touch with the editors, we would like to tell you more about this issue and the different perspectives, thoughts and solutions.