You can’t expect to host a successful event when the attendance is low, so it’s frustrating when you spend countless hours planning an event only to discover a significant number of “no shows.” Whether it’s a trade show, conference, party, or any other event, you need plenty of guests to make it a success. But while there’s no way to completely avoid no-shows, there are steps you can take to reduce them.

Send a Reminder… or Several

Not surprisingly, one of the most common reasons why RSVP’d guests fail to attend an event is because they simply forgot about it. To overcome this hurdle, event planners should create a reminder schedule, reminding guests of the event during various intervals. For instance, you can send a reminder at one month before the event, another at 2 weeks, and another just a couple days before the event. Following a reminder schedule such as this is a sure-fire way to reduce no-shows.

Create a Standby List

As an event planner, there are some things that are simply out of your control. No matter how many reminders you send, some guests may still not show up at your event — and that’s okay. You can maximize attendance rates at your event by creating a standby list in which tickets for no-shows are given to other guests. If a guest fails to attend, you can give his or her ticket to someone waiting on the standby list.

Allow Guests to Back Out

It may sound counterproductive, but allowing guests who’ve already RSVP’d to remove themselves from the list can reduce no-shows at your event. If there’s no clear or easy way for a guest to cancel, he or she may simply not show up. But creating a transparency, easy-to-follow cancellation policy prevents this from happening.

Sell Last-Minute Tickets at Discounted Prices

This isn’t going to necessarily reduce no-shows. Rather, selling last-minute tickets at a discounted price will fill the empty seats with new guests. Alternatively, you can give away no-show tickets to journalists and other media professionals. You won’t earn any money giving away tickets, but you’ll still benefit from the increased exposure surrounding your event. And some event planners will argue that media attention is even more valuable than cash.

Mandatory 24-Hour Check-In

A fifth tip to reduce no-shows is to require guests to check in 24 hours before the event. This means guests must confirm their attendance by “checking in,” which is usually done online. By using this system, you’ll know exactly who’s attending your event and who’s not. Some event registration software and apps feature check-in systems such as this, making it easy for event planners to implement.