Monday, August 26, 2013

The Anatomy of a Flake

Do you suffer from wishy-washy behavior? Are you commitment phobic? Are you an “it’s all about the journey, not the destination (I will explain this one further) ” kind of person? If you answered yes……..ummmmm……sorry, but you might be a Flake.

Bigstock photo by Madlen

A Flake is an unreliable person…….someone who agrees to do something, but never follows through. Flakey Folk or FF’s are the bane of anyone trying to plan an event. They are like kryptonite.

Alyssa Currie, a twenty-something university student and sorority recruiter (who also suggested I write about this topic) said it best: 

“If we didn’t have a ‘maybe’ culture….we would not require a ‘no refund’ clause”.

She is correct. We have become a maybe culture. Why the cultural shift?

It is our fault really; we have knowingly reduced attendee accountability.

In our quest to make it easier for our attendees/guests to say ‘YES’ to the event (online registration, Facebook event requests), we have made it much easier for attendees to cancel at the last minute. Money does not seem to be a deterrent…..there seem to be no effective consequences.

“Something came up”

“I completely forgot”.

Believe it or not, Flakey Folk have an archetype.

  •    Born with the Flakey Gene (F2nOgO): There are those born Flakey (many of whom required a C-section because they couldn’t even commit to a “birth” date)– they will always say yes and rarely attend any event.
  •   Along for the Ride:  These are the individuals who will check off “maybe attending” simply so that they can be a part of the pre-event excitement. They are all about the journey and not so much about the destination. 
  •  Late blooming Flakes: This group will become Flakes much later in life. Scientists are unsure if the cultural shift within this aging demographic is as a result of global warming or the higher mercury levels in fish. Perhaps they are simply sick and tired of always being the responsible ones.
  •  The Busy Beaver: This highly organized but over stimulated individual will be the first to respond to your invitation and pay the registration fee. They really want to attend, but once the initial registration process is over, they forget and move on to something else. Squirrel!

Thankfully…..Flakey Folk make up a very small percentage of attendees. The majority is an amazing group who are excited about the event and a stampede of wild buffalo will not keep them from attending (they will probably assume it is the event pre-show and take copious instagram pictures).

Here are a few tips that might assist in reducing your Flake Factor at your next event, but warning……. they are definitely no ‘panacea’ (my word of the day):

  •   Continue the registration conversation: The registration process doesn’t end when the credit card payment is received. You need to create a relationship/connection with your guests. One way to do this is to text, tweet or call your registered attendees to thank them for registering and give them your contact information for any follow-up questions they may have. This can be time consuming, but works well for small events. Text, tweet or call AGAIN about one week prior to the event to remind them of start time, location, etc. For both large and small events, include the calendar feature in your online registration system, which will automatically add the event to the attendee’s calendar.
  • Call your “Maybe’s”: Unfortunately you have no choice but to call to follow-up with those who have responded as “maybe attending”. If you are frustrated with the large number of Flakey Folk responses on Facebook who frequently use the “maybe attending” feature……perhaps you should refrain from using Facebook as an event RSVP system?
  •  RVSP Old School: There is something special about receiving an actual letter/invitation in the mail requesting your attendance at an event. Some say that if a guest has taken the time to respond in writing, they are more likely to attend. Furthermore, it is more difficult for the guest to back out at the last minute because you have removed the instant/online/click to say no feature.
  •  Charge them accordingly: Restaurants are becoming so frustrated with patrons who make reservations and then no show, that they have begun requesting credit card information when the reservations are made. If the patron does not show at the agreed upon time……..their card is charged.
  • Three strikes and you are out: Associations and Clubs who host monthly meetings tend to have higher than average no show rates. Would a “three strikes you are out” policy be helpful?

Let’s face it……we all have a little “Flake” inside who has reared its noncommittal head from time to time. We rarely stop and think about how it may affect others: namely the host or the planner. The cost is both financial and personal.

Thank you to Alyssa for the great topic suggestion!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very nice post. Well written too.