Edyta, an InterNations member and Activity Group Consul in the Netherlands, addresses all those mysterious “Ghost RSVP’ers” in her open letter.
If you think you might be infected by the “Ghost RSVP’er” disease, I highly encourage you to get a cup of a good coffee, sit down comfortably and read my letter carefully.
My name is Edyta, and since last year I have been a Consul for one of the InterNations Activity Groups in The Hague, The Netherlands. As much as I like being a Consul and I believe that initiative is what keeps the world running, I have considered quitting. The only reason for that were the “Ghost RSVP’ers”: members who repeatedly click “attend” on multiple activities, without ever actually showing up.
Please do not get me wrong: It has happened to me, too, to skip events organized by my colleagues, even though I was on the guest list.
You are looking forward to an InterNations Activity, you are ready to leave the office, when suddenly your supervisor stops you and hands you a critical task, which needs to be finished immediately. You stay in the office, you miss the activity, and you have no chance to change your attendance status on time.
This happens to all of us, and skipping an activity or two does not make you a “Ghost RSVP’er”. Ghost RSVP’ers click “attend” for all other reasons than the actual intention to attend the activity, and they do it repeatedly. A very weird phenomenon, most probably very familiar to all Consuls.
After some simple experiments and chats with other Consuls, I realized that the problem is rather easy to solve. When an InterNations Activity was posted without mentioning anything about the RSVP, the turn up was around 50%, depending on the nature of the activity.
When the activity description was clearly labeled on the bottom, a bit like an alcohol commercial or a pack of cigarettes, asking the members to “RSVP wisely”, the percentage rose to around 70%. In one of the latest activities I went even further and sent a private message to all guests subscribed.
The result of my message? Incredible. The turn up was probably around 90%, and the day after I received two messages with short apologies from those who could not make it.
People are great. Communication is what makes the difference, and a lack of it is the source of most of our problems. The guest list is communication! By clicking “attend”, you communicate to the Group Consul and other members: “I find it interesting and I am planning to attend the event.”
However, the guest list is not a field to promote yourself, to support the idea without the intention to join, or whatever other reason you have for clicking to join.
Three reasons why you should never turn into a repeat “Ghost RSVP’er”:
Your profile on InterNations is your personal brand. Carefully chosen picture, professional profile description, etc. You try to brand yourself as well as you can; you try to show yourself at your best. The message seems positive, but the actions are what matters.
Will you trust a brand if the products are failing you over and over again? If you click “attend” randomly on all events, but you never show up – this is how others will remember you.
The attendance list is not a black hole; your name and picture won’t disappear unnoticed if you do not show up repeatedly. It is an important tool for Group Consuls, and yes, the Consuls have a really hard time filtering all ghosts from the guest list when estimating the actual number of attendees.
“30 people subscribed? Let’s see… 5 master ghosts (‘They are always clicking “attend” on all events I create, but I have never actually even met them in person!’) and 5 aspiring ghosts (‘Did not show up a couple of times, so who knows what will happen this time?’); I should better make a reservation for 20 people. Or should I make it 15? But what if they all show up?” Dear Consuls, does this sound familiar?
Just like fortunetellers, it seems that Group Consuls need to be able to predict the future. If we overestimate the number of guests, the restaurant owners will claim we are to blame. If we underestimate it and not everyone has a place to sit – we are also to blame for being bad Group Consuls. I must admit that being a Consul really helps you to refresh all the statistics lectures on calculating probabilities you had in college!
Then we arrive at the second point: If you avoid becoming a “Ghost RSVP’er”, you do not only make the life of us InterNations Consuls easier, but also your own.
Will you take a person seriously who promised you something three times, but never actually did it? It is a natural human reaction to ignore that person.
If you skipped three events in a row, but suddenly decide to attend the fourth one, do not be surprised if you do not meet the group in the announced meeting place. They may have changed their mind about the venue and might be already in another restaurant. No one waited for you because they’d already waited for you three times in vain.
And above all, because of the ghosts, the InterNations Activity Groups may not grow as much as they could: Their full potential is not used, there isn’t as much variety as there could be, the activities are not as frequent as they might be, and a lot of great ideas stay forever hidden in the minds of the Consuls, never to be actually realized.
How many Consuls might decide to quit and leave their groups abandoned and facing a slow death? Among those who still decide to keep up their task: How many great ideas are abandoned? Because of the unreliable nature of the guest list, the Group Consuls will avoid exposing themselves to a high risk.
Organizing a simple meet-up for after-work drinks, where everyone pays his or her own bill, is not a high-risk event. The only negative thing which could happen is receiving “that look” from the restaurant’s manager: “Are those the thirty people you expected? Really? What kind of unreliable friends do you have?”
Please remember that the Consuls of our InterNations Activity Groups are not professional event managers; they do it voluntarily, and they do it for you. If they book, for example, a venue based on the number of people subscribed and less than one third shows up, they may end up with a serious financial problem to sort out.
If the guest lists were reliable, the Group Consuls would be more willing to organize more complex, more interesting, more special activities by taking bigger risks. But unfortunately, until the “Ghost RSVP’ing” disappears, what we will see the most will be simple “coffees” or “drinks” all over and over again.
So please remember: It is all about communication and simple human interactions. Someone is counting on you! So if you change your plan, please change your status.
You completely forgot or it was too late to change it? I think your Consul would appreciate a short message; at least he or she will know you take it seriously next time.
Let’s all together try to make the guest lists more reliable and avoid the “Ghost RSVP’ing”, and it would benefit us all.
(Image credit: iStockphoto)
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