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Just about anyone who has put together an event over the past decade or so knows the frustration of sending out invites and hearing nothing back but the sound of crickets. Somehow the art of the prompt and accurate RSVP seems to have fallen by the wayside in the ever-quickening pace of our busy, distraction-filled lives.

But the RSVP is a crucial part of the event-planning process. Without it, it’s nearly impossible to know how much food and drink to buy, not to mention how many seats, place settings, goody bags, etc. are needed. It’s better to respond and change your response later if needed than to leave a big question mark hanging over the host’s head. Even a “no” is preferable to an “I don’t know”. So, as a guest, be kind, respond!

For hosts, the online invitation site PurpleTrail.com offers a few helpful hints for garnering more RSVPs for your next event:

  • Use online invitations. It is MUCH easier to keep track of invitations responses and to send out a ‘request for response’ message when using online invitations. You can send reminders to your guests via email and via text messages.
  • Create a need for engagement. With tools like consensus building for time or place it’s easy to request feedback from your invitees. People are more apt to respond if they have something they can contribute. For example, ask them to respond what they are bringing or with their idea for the theme.  This way you can keep a running conversation for all the invitees to see and contribute to.
  • Send reminders. Sometimes people just need a gentle prod—we’re all guilty of sending last minute RSVP responses. Send out a “request for a response” to those who’ve yet to view or respond.
  • Follow up for future events. If you are someone who plans lots of events, set the standard for how well you handle pre and post party planning and wrap up. Send thank-yous with pictures and video of the event. People will feel connected to your events and be more likely to respond to future events because they already feel involved.