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Offering A Guarantee: Increase Attendance By Promising Value

Dec 22, 2007
Many event planners, especially in the seminar and commercial events verticals, are always looking for new and innovative ways to increase attendance and revenue. While many event organizers have instituted strict refund policies when you register for an event they may actually be hurting their bottom line instead of protecting revenue.

Think about it: do you trust me more if I tell you that there are a lot of rules surrounding the return of my product, or if I tell you that if you're not satisfied, for any reason at all you can return the product, no questions asked? The answer is in the implication that there may be a reason to return the product versus the assumption that there couldn't possibly be a reason to return the item. And the same is true for services or events.

Getting Away from Refund Policies

Countless times when we've explained to meeting planners that their complex refund policies may actually be hurting them they have been in disbelief. It's understandable because refund policies are supposed to protect the event organizer from people taking advantage of their event and then getting their money back and thereby getting something for nothing.

But the downside to refund policies is that they can have a negative effect on potential registrants. The negative effects of refund policies come in two forms: questioning and hesitation.

When a potential attendee sees a complex refund policy it may occur to them that the reason you have such a complex and upfront policy is because you have received many refund requests in the past. Could this be because your event doesn't deliver as promised? Do you not trust your attendees? Many questions spring to mind that may give your potential attendee second thoughts.

Any hesitation on the part of your potential attendee is a distraction that prevents them from completing registration and attending your event. If your potential attendees need to plan several months or quarters ahead to attend your event a restrictive refund policy could be a factor in them not registering right away. If you have done all the advertising and marketing to get your registration form in front of an attendee you don't want anything on the form that would cause them to think "maybe I should come back next week..." or "maybe I should put this off until I know my schedule better." If you require lots of commitment upfront, you are going to lose a lot of potential registrants.

How to Structure a Guarantee

Unconditional, money-back guarantees are the way to go when you want to offer assurance to your registrants that the value you promise is the value they will receive. Whenever you're selling something confidence is what helps you close the deal. No one wants to deal with someone who isn't confident in their ability to do as promised.

Publicizing your guarantee is as easy as showing the guarantee everywhere you mention the price of your event. Put this in your emails, promotional materials, registration form and registration website.

Our experience has shown that offering a guarantee increases registrations to the point where any refunds you do actually need to give out are far outweighed by the extra revenue. Try it out with your next event and let us know the results!
About the Author
Ryan is a member of the marketing team for RegOnline, a producer of easy-to-use event registration software, and a company dedicated to making event planners' lives easier.
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