With the holiday party season upon us and free corporate parties happening every night in cities all across Canada, we wanted to issue this ‘Event Planning Service Announcement’ to all holiday party planners…
DON’T LET YOUR EVENT FALL VICTIM TO PROFESSIONAL PARTY CRASHERS. THEY’RE EVERYWHERE!
Now you might think we’re being ridiculous. Professional party crashers wouldn’t dare attend an intimate holiday affair! However, the sad truth is that no event is safe from these dreaded interlopers. Conferences, meetings, networking events, corporate parties and even personal occasions like weddings can fall victim to these unannounced opportunists.
Over the past year our team has had a surprising number of interactions with professional party crashers. Our Open House in May was crashed by guests who came for the free food. A few weeks later a conference we attended was crashed by the same group of people. Then in September, at an intimate association party, we came across a new group of crashers who ended up walking home with one of the high-value door prizes. In each scenario there was an opportunity for the event to be exploited, which ultimately affects attendees, event sponsors and the bottom-line.
A couple things about professional party crashers:
- It is NOT a coincidence that they just happened upon your event. Party crashers are planners in their own right and do their research! They scour social media for event postings, look at upcoming conference listings, check-out Meetups, and look through invitation websites like Eventbrite to find their next mark.
- As masters of deception, party crashers are opportunists with an agenda. Whether they’re in it for the free food, or want to gain access to your network to do business with your attendees without having to pay, they have a game plan in mind.
To help you avoid unwanted attendees, here are a few tips to ensure only invited guests attend.
Prevent uninvited guests from attending your next event with these Sage tips:
#1: Lockdown your event space
During your site inspection, be sure to discuss all access points into the space with your venue coordinator. Ask to see doorways or entrances that can be locked or blocked off. Double check who will have keyed access to these areas aside from your team. Additionally, when an entry point can’t be secured, have one of your team members, venue staff, or a security guard monitor it. Taking these steps will help safeguard your event from surprise sneak-ins.
#2: Check credentials
Step up your venue security by scanning badges or using RFID tags. Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology embeds a microchip encoded with a unique identification number into a wristband or event badge. When the microchip passes by a reader, an error light is triggered for any guest without the correct chip. If your event is smaller and you need a low tech option, just create a simple ID check point. Set-up a registration table with a list of confirmed guests and have your team check IDs as people walk-in. Or give each person a name badge and have someone stationed at the door(s) checking badges before entry or reentry is permitted.
#3: Create a barrier to entry
Free events with canapés and cocktails are quite enticing to party crashers. We know this first-hand! Therefore, wherever possible, charge a small fee or ask for a donation as a form of entrance. Creating small barriers like these will make your event less of a target. The extra effort required will scare off crashers looking for an easy win. If you’re planning a large conference, consider making your networking events ticketed so those trying to infiltrate your network will at least contribute to the cost of food and beverage.
#4: Where possible, avoid listing your event publicly
The best way to keep your event off a party crasher’s radar is to keep it private. Now we understand this isn’t possible with many events, but opening up your event to the public has it’s drawbacks. As we’ve mentioned, professional party crashers prey on public listings, so wherever possible use the private listing function on invitation websites and send invites directly to the people you want to attend. Having a bumping public event is only great if you’ve accounted for the cost of having extra people attend in the first place.
What if you’ve taken all these steps and party crashers still show up? We suggest deflecting. When dealing with guests who are not part of your event assume they are lost and innocently ask if you can help them find their way. Or if you prefer a more direct approach, straight up ask them if they’re part of the event and request the name of the person who invited them. If they are unable to confirm their attendance, direct them to the exit or have a security guard escort them out. Try not to let your actual attendees know anything is wrong. You do NOT want to cause a scene.
Need help putting together a security plan for your event? Or need help assessing your event access points? Our Sage Event Planners are here to help! Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org for your free quote.
Have you ever hosted an event where uninvited guests crashed your party? Let us know what happened and how you handled the situation in the comments section below!