If you organize an event and charge people money for it, please do everyone a favour and collect money in advance. It will decrease your risk as an organizer, encourage only people who will actually show up to register, and make it cheaper for those who show up.
As an organizer of a networking event, one thing I’ve worried about is budgeting the event properly. Because I run a small, casual, and at cost event, the total amount of money involved in manageable, but my margins are also razor thin.
When I first started the event, I had registration in advance and only charged at the door. I set the price at cost plus about ten percent, to move some of my risk of no-shows onto attendees. When ordering food and drinks, I estimated about two-thirds of people who signed up would show up. A bit more than one third skipped out, so although my estimate was off, I had just enough margin from those who did show up to break even.
This illustrates the problem with not charging in advance: no matter what happens, the people who actually are at the event lose. If too few people show up, the money comes out of the event organizer’s pocket. If too many show up, there is not enough food. And no matter what happens, the people who actually show up are paying extra to cover those who don’t.
So I started collecting money in advance for my events using Doorkeeper. I kept the option for people to pay at the door, and made it about twice my cost, whereas I set the prepaid price at cost. This strategy had one unanticipated side effect: people who prepaid didn’t show up. On average, about four out of five who prepaid showed up. This meant those who actually came got a bit of better deal, at the expense of those who skipped out.
Please give your attendees a chance to prepay, and move the risk of no shows from yourself to them. If you want to maximize the number of potential attendees, let people pay at the door as well, and make sure they bear the cost of no-shows. By letting people prepay, you will create a better event for everyone.