5 Problems With Event Guest List Management

And How to Solve Them

Successful events consist of many factors: a suitable venue and catering (for personal events), useful tools and technological innovations (for virtual events), an entertaining or educational program, inspiring speakers or performers. But one key element will always be the benchmark for your success: satisfied guests. To make sure that you have a constant overview of who is coming and what your visitors require, you need to manage guest lists. What might seem easy and logical at first glance can turn out to be complex and very time-consuming. This is a good reason to go through the most common problems with guest list management and how to solve them.

What needs to be included in a guest lists, and why is it so important for events?

A guest list is a list of participants for your event. Depending on the type of event and guests you are expecting, your requirements for this list can vary. Also, external factors, such as Corona requirements, can influence what data you need to collect.

You will want to start with the basics: A name, as this is needed to identify the visitor. Contact information can be very useful if you want to get in touch with the guest after your event – although you need to make sure you stay GDPR compliant. It might also be interesting to ask for a company name if you e.g. want to print it on a badge as identification.

Online Guestlist with Sweap Participant Software
Example of a digital guest list with Sweap

Depending on your event, further information on the visitor can be very useful. With a dynamic and smart registration form, you can find out about food requirements, means of transport, companions, and much more. Why would you need this? Because this information is power and it gives you the chance, to be perfectly prepared for your event. This is the moment where guest list management starts to be fun!

But why is guest list management so time-consuming?

Quick answer: it is not! With the right tools, your guest list will manage itself. You just need to keep an overview of what is happening and adjust when necessary. But more on that later!

Generally speaking, a guest list is created in 4 steps:

Step-by-step instruction for guest list creation
Step-by-step introduction to guest list creation

Guest list management becomes time-consuming and error-prone when the sources of your data vary too much. Information arrives in different formats and completeness. As soon as we start copying information from many files into one, there is a big chance for data-loss. Also, when information arrives via different channels, you will have to deal with it being incomplete. The follow-up process will be very time-consuming.

We have listed the 5 most common problems of guest list management and their solutions here for you:

Problem 1: I don’t have enough data to manage my guest lists

Data sourcing can be the most time-consuming task during your guest list management process. Finding the contact details of your guests can be a tiresome process. They could be spread out through emails, Excel sheets, and old guest lists, or they are possibly not even digital.

Sometimes you will receive contact details in very different formats and need to collect them and add them to your list manually. You might also realize that you are lacking data, e.g. if you are trying to get a specific number of guests to an event, but don’t have enough contacts to invite.

Solution: By sending out a detailed event invitation that can be passed on to other potential visitors, you canmarket your event to a broader group of people. You can ask your contacts to share the invitation with other people from the industry. As long as you have an event website with all information and one central registration form, you can streamline all registrations.

Problem 2: My data comes from too many sources

This is one of the most common issues when working with various sources of data. How many potential visitors have not received an invitation, because their details were lost during a copy/paste process between various Excel files? How many email addresses have been manually typed incorrectly or were unreadable due to handwriting? Endless. Often, when using different sources for your data something can be lost.

Solution: The first rule here is clear: try to get your guests to sign up in one place. This can be one e-mail address, one event website, one post address. Avoid receiving information from too many sources, as this will make the merge more difficult.

Digital guest management systems help prevent the loss of data. By allocating your guests to different guest categories, you can make sure, that you ask exactly for the data you are looking for – depending on what you need. Also, intelligent systems allow you to update data that you have forgotten to request by sending out an update via email. This way, you make sure all data stays under one roof.

Problem 3: My data requirements change regularly

What kind of data is needed from your visitors, or better said: what kind of data you think you need from your visitors, can change during the pre-event phase.

The best example for this was in the first weeks after the Corona Pandemia lockdown. While slowly small events started returning, the rules and regulations changed regularly. Event organizers had to present lists of participants with contact information (e.g. address, telephone number, and e-mail) to the authorities, to make sure infection chains could be traced in case of a Corona outbreak. Many hosts had not requested this data in advance and had trouble keeping complete lists of all attendants.

Solution: If you realize, you are missing essential information during guest list management, you have two options: you can either request this information in advance, e.g. via e-mail, which will mean a lot of extra work updating your lists. Or you ask for the information on-site, bearing the risk of not being able to deliver a complete list. Whatever you decide to do, we recommend having a strategy planned before to ensure minimum time-loss and maximum accuracy.

There is an easy workaround for this: Sweap offers you the possibility to ask for missing information with just a few clicks.

Problem 4: My RSVP’s don’t automatically update

Events can be planned. Life sometimes cannot. This results in registered guests deciding that they cannot attend any more. Unfortunately, many guests will forget to cancel and just not turn up. This is annoying enough for open events with unlimited invitees, but imagine you have a maximum capacity and a lot of people just don’t show up.

This can become a huge problem and diminish the success of your guest list management and the actual event. Keeping track of the replies can get very messy if you need to do it via an Excel/e-mail combination.

Solution: Smart event managers can make their life a lot easier by using systems that encourage the visitors to update their status by themselves. This will happen, if a status update is only a click away for your customer. Therefore: Make their life easier! Also, it is very important to always have an overview of who opened your invitation, who canceled and who never got back to you. This will help you evaluate the success of your event.

Problem 5: I cannot track who actually showed up for the event

The moment you have been waiting for has arrived, your event has started. The room is filling up and after a while, it is impossible to count the people or have a clear picture, of who arrived. You might have left a printed version of the guest list at the door, but this got lost or your doorman/woman lost track and couldn’t keep up with crossing off the names.

The event is over and you realize: you don’t actually know who showed up and who was a no-show. This is a huge problem for successful guest list management and withdraws you of the chance to contact all your guests after the event.

Solution: Understanding who showed up when is a crucial asset for understanding how it went and can help you manage your guest list for your next event. Professional Check-In Systems allow you to automatically check guests in via QR-Code or data (e.g. Name or Company). This saves a lot of time at the door, especially when time is scarce and queues are forming. Check-in should only take a few seconds, new guests need to be recorded quickly, and data needs to update automatically between all devices.


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As you see, guest list management contains some potential pitfalls that can not only turn out to be very time-consuming, but also very error-prone. Data-loss and no-shows result from these mistakes. Although there are some tips and tricks to keep your analogue guest list up to date, the time and money saved by using a digital guest management solution makes the extra investment worthwhile. Handling everything from registration to evaluation under one roof saves time and boosts success.

If you want to find out how Sweap can help you optimize the outcome of your events, get in touch here.

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