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What do I do with a meetup to which only 1 has RSVPd, in a 6-member group?

Menno Rubingh

I have a philosophy meetup group, of a few months old, with 6 members now (incuding me). During our last meetup (visited by 5) we set a date for the next meetup, which is in 3 weeks. For that meetup, only 1 member apart from me has RSVPd up till now. I did announce the meetup (via the meetup.com "announce" button plus also an email to each member).

Granted, the meeting is still 3 weeks away, but I'm wondering why the other members do not RSVP (this is different from my experience with the 4 previous meetings). Also granted, the group is small, but I'm trying to get meetups off the ground here and am getting a bit tired of one-to-one meetings between me and only one other member, and personally I find a meeting of at least 3 more fun.

What do I do? Should I in one way or another, maybe 10 days or so before the meeting, gently urge the members to give their RSVPs or advertize to them the fact that I'll be considering canceling the meeting if fewer than 3 have RSVPd by this or that date? Or is it better to tell them nothing and just cancel the meeting if 3 days before the meeting still no additional members have RSVPd? Is it possible in the meetup.com machinery to set a minimum number of attendees for a meeting?

Up 1 rated Down
gina May 07, 2014 10:39AM EDT
I think that the best thing to do is set a deadline for the RSVP and if a certain amount of people do not RSVP by that date, cancel it. I think this will show the others that you are serious and if they want to attend they need to make sure they RSVP. I think a 2 week time frame to put the announcement out with a deadline date is sufficient.
Up 0 rated Down
Prabha May 08, 2014 09:53AM EDT
I agree with Gina's answer, and I would mention the possibility of cancellation everywhere I could. You can put something in the event description like "event will be cancelled if there are less than 3 attendees". I would put something in the optional note that can be sent when you "Announce" the event. If you definitely don't want to meet with less than 3 people, then I suggest that you remind people to update their RSVP's a day or two before the event. You may also want to send a one-time announcement to your current members with your rationale for cancelling meetings - it's in their best interest as well as yours to have only great events.
Up 5 rated Down
Theresa May 12, 2014 10:39AM EDT
I would take a different approach. Keep in mind you have a new group with only 6 members, and even though you only have 1 member attending at this time, I would focus on that one member who actually showed up, and enjoy that meet up. You never know where that relationship will end. I understand your frustration, but I would give it a little more time before I start cancelling. You cancel to many times, the members that are active might stop rsvp(ing), then what do you have?
Good Luck with your group. Hope this helps
Up 3 rated Down
Don Uhrig May 19, 2014 10:03AM EDT
Group Organizers are often a particular temperament. We are, well, 'organized' and know what we are doing well in advance. I often make flexible plans a year in advance.

Other people are not like that. :-) For my group, I do set an RSVP cutoff -- off 1-hour prior to the event. And there are people who are making their RSVP down to that wire.

For events with low RSVP - go forward with it anyway as long as doing so is not costing you more than you are willing to pay. This will let allow your event count to start growing which can indicate to potential members that you ARE a serious and active group.

Sending short reminders is perfectly acceptable. My events often consider the forecast, and my members are accustomed to receiving a brief weather update by 8pm the evening prior to the event - and I send it to ALL members, not just the RSVPs - with a link back to the event. This often generates a new wave of RSVPs. Reminders - used with prudence - are OK.

Educating your members on group etiquette -- in a kind way -- can also help with RSVPs. I recently wrote a "Page" titled, "Why RSVP No?" I let my members know that they can and should RSVP "No" as a way of communicating to the Host, "I got your invitation and have considered the event, but I can't make it. Maybe next time." The number of members responding to events increased. :-)

Attendance can also be improved through incentives. I offered an emergency whistle (rescue/rape whistle) to each member who brought in a new member. Be creative.

You might also set up a Poll to determine if the event time YOU are selecting is actually optimal for the majority. You can never please everyone, but you can at least try to narrow down a day of week for example that is optimal.

Building a group take time, patience, and energy. Add to that, your group is probably a very small segment of the population. Move forward with courage, patience, and kindness.
Up 0 rated Down
Natalie Jun 23, 2014 04:14PM EDT
Don,

Thank you for this!! I took your great advice and created an RSVP page for my group as well. It was such a wonderful suggestion along with incentives! I am not a quitter and I look forward to great things!

~Natalie
Organizer, Girls Go to Vegas
Up 0 rated Down
Menno Rubingh Jul 17, 2014 12:36PM EDT
Many thanks to you all for your thoughts and experiences !

After having slept on it, I think that in my question I conflated two
problems:
1) Getting no feedback (RSVPs or otherwise) at all from members;
2) The wish to have meetups with more than 2 visitors.

I agree that when you get NO feedback whatsoever, even after prompting
from your side, that then it's okay for you as an organizer to cancel the
meetup about 3 days before the meetup date, if you feel that way.

I've found (and used) the RSVP deadline setting, thanks. I'm currently
setting my RSVP deadlines to about 3 days before the meetup (= so that I
can gracefully cancel the reserved location in case no one should come).

Since posting my question, I've experienced that getting a brief quick
feedback (RSVP or otherwise) from members within a few days of the meetup
announcement very much reduces the planning stress for the organizer.
In a recent meetup I organized, I sent out an email to all, immediately
after I scheduled the meetup, telling them I'd appreciate it if everyone
send me a quick short feedback (actually I literally wrote that it's truly
frustrating to the organizer if he gets completely no feedback at all).
That brought in responses from 4 of the 5 members. So I conclude that
it's okay to send out reminders etc to members slighly aggressively,
or in any case it's certainly okay when you as an organizer are going
"mad with frustration":-) because of lack of feedback.

That solves the problem of feedback, and reduces the pressure of the
small-meetup problem.

After a few nights sleeping on it, I think I'd tend to agree with Theresa
(as long as for me as an organizer it's still fun do do). I experimented
with announcing meetups as "minimum 3 visitors", but I'm having second
thoughts on that. I'm coming to the viewpoint that in a small group the
best advice is to have NO minimum visitors quorum, and to take it easy on
any kind of complex "requirements" (beyond RSVPing) that must be met if
the meetup is not to be canceled, so that members who are interested and
cooperative are not frightened off for the next time. If this leads to
too many micro-meetups, then I think it's best to consider reducing the
frequency of the meetups before setting a minimum visitors number.

The RSVP etiquette idea is excellent, many thanks. I was already considering
a discussion etiquette page for my group; I think I may follow through
with that as well as write a brief RSVP etiquette page.

Thank you all again, and With best regards,
Menno Rubingh (Philosophy-Braunschweig)

Up 0 rated Down
Nancy Oct 08, 2014 04:54PM EDT
I think some members wait to see what the weather will be like and wait till the week of to RSVP. I liked when you could RSVP that you might go. Don't get discouraged, sometimes meetup with low RSVPs the week before end up having a waiting list.
Up 0 rated Down
Trang Le Dec 16, 2014 02:18PM EST
I agree with most answers here. Great advise! I, too, am having a young meetup group. The membership has just stopped growing and the RSVP rate is around 2 to 3 per meetup event.
So far, I am trying to not cancel an event, even if the attendance is just me and another member, in hope to show new possible member that I am serious in maintaining and growing the group. My first meetup event- I was the only one. The second one, it was me and another person. My third one - a few more. Very slow growing in both membership and RSVPs.
To grow new membership, I am trying to identify the most active members to include them in on the Leadership team and encourage them to spread the word
I know it could be frustrating and discouraging, at times. But hang in there, it will get better!
Good Luck!
desk@meetup.com
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