How to Prepare for an Over or Under-Crowded Event

Of all the factors you’ll plan and prepare for, managing the number of people in attendance for your event is one of the most critical. Safety, entertainment, and public perception are all factors contributing to your event’s success and are all connected to your crowd management techniques.

Whether too many or too few are in attendance, you’ll need to have a well-communicated plan in place to successfully manage your event. 

Preparing for Overcrowding

Too many people at an event can not only tax your staff and venue, but can also quickly become a safety risk if you’re not careful.

Everybody wants to see a full house, but it’s important to keep some control on the numbers you’re expecting, as well as receiving, for your event. 


Tip #1: Set capacity on attendance

If you cap the number of tickets available, you not only ensure you won’t encounter overcrowding, but you can advertise your event as limited capacity.

This kind of language can influence ticket sales and create a groundswell of enthusiasm about your event. Ticket registration systems can track ticket sales, so you always have a relative number to expect. 


Tip #2: Create an overflow area 

If you believe your event may sell more day-of or at the door tickets, you should consider creating an overflow area in or next to your event space. You can initially fill or block some areas with plants, decorations, or even faux walls.

Then, when more people show, you can push back the fillers to allow more room. Make sure your staff have been prepped for these moves, as they should seamlessly flow with the event. 


Tip #3: Post clear signage, directions for walkways

Crowd movement is always important to consider.

No matter the size, effectively showing your crowd where to go is necessary to avoid back-ups and clogs. Start by creating an organized entry system with clearly-marked waiting lines. Velvet ropes, signs, arrows and illuminated exit and bathroom signs are excellent methods for creating a traffic pattern, once inside the venue.

Consider posting a few staff members at the entrances and exits to act as ushers and to answer quick questions as well. Personal interaction often helps to keep a handle on larger crowds. 


Tip #4: Organize a parking plan

  • Utilize your staff to assist attendees with parking and leaving the event. 
  • If you have an existing parking lot, clearly mark lanes for entering and exiting the lot. 
  • Make sure lanes and exits stay open throughout the event. 
  • If you are using grass or unpaved area, use cones and lighted markers to reveal drivers where to go. 
  • Exiting is often more chaotic, so make sure your staff is trained in traffic direction. 
  • Just like traffic flow inside the event, traffic flow outside your event is equally critical for safe and smooth operations. 


Preparing for Under-Crowding

For some, this may seem like a much smaller problem to overcome.

Do fewer people mean less work?

Not really. In fact, you’ll probably be hustling harder to make the crowd appear larger than it really is, which is a feat unto itself. 


Tip #1: Manage ticket sales

As mentioned before, use a ticket registration system to help you keep a reasonable estimate on attendance.

Knowing a ballpark figure for attendance can help you decide on how to decorate and organize the event space. Ticket sales may be lower than expected, but you can still organize your event space to give the perception of greater attendance numbers

Tip #2: Organize your space strategically

Just like using plants and decorations helps with overcrowding, it can also help with smaller crowds, too. By filling the space with more visuals, your crowd won’t notice the openness of the space. You can even consider offering various hand-outs, gifts, or even activities to keep attendees occupied.  

Also, as the event moves along, the staff can fill in areas to bring the crowd closer together to appear more packed.

Crowd appearance not only affects the performers and talent, but also the crowd itself. Bringing a crowd closer together serves to build energy and preserve the positive mindset of the people in attendance. 


Tip #3: Email and social media marketing

If you see ticket sales are low, consider an extra marketing and advertising blast through email or social media.

Leading up to your event, make sure your potential audience hasn’t forgotten about you. By integrating social media, email, and other plugins into your event, you’ll maximize your engagements. 


Tip #4: Make your entertainment stand out

One sure-fire method for keeping a smaller crowd involved with your event is to give them lots of entertainment. Make sure you have plenty of sound, lights, and some engaging talent to feel out of the crowd.

Sometimes, a smaller crowd is more likely to engage with the talent or speakers, as the event becomes a more intimate gathering.

Choose talent, which is comfortable performing, to crowds of all sizes. Also, look for talent which already has an established fan base, as they are more likely to have the experience needed to handle the situation. 

Crowd management for the win!

No matter the size, your event should be approached professionally. Managing ticket sales, attendee traffic patterns, and overall crowd expectations are critical for staying on top of your game.

Organize your events carefully with the right tools for maximum success. 

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