|Sent on:||Friday, March 8, 2013 9:48 PM|
Please see below for the complete text of the two emails that I sent to the Butterflies who RSVP'd "yes" to the dinner at JJ's restaurant tonight. I believe that the message was quite clear about the importance of either showing up, or communicating the change to me ahead of time. Please note that I also sent my cell number again, just in case anyone had trouble finding the venue or needed to change their RSVP and could not get online.
We had 16 people show up, out of a total of 28 who received the messages below and did not change their RSVP to "no" and/or contact me to let me know of the change. It was a tremendous embarrassment for me personally and for the group, and a tremendous show of disrespect for an innocent restaurant who were kind enough to extend a reservation for our group; out of the 60 seats in their restaurant, we claimed and then did not pay for 12 of them. The restaurant manager confirmed to me that they were fully-booked by reservation and had no chance for walk-up clientele to take the empty seats.
I feel disgusted and horrified at such rudeness, especially considering that I took the time to create and send out personal messages in addition to the automated ones which some people receive, and some people have turned off. I felt so embarrassed, sitting there next to a completely empty table set for 10 in the middle of the restaurant, when our other two tables weren't even full either.
I know from experience that most meetup events (not just in our group) have a 50% attendance rate, and while it sounds crazy that so many mothers (and others) apparently failed so abjectly in teaching manners to their offspring so many years ago, I accept the reality of the situation and that is why I sent out these very clearly worded emails to prevent this from happening. I am an experienced organizer: I have personally organized well over 300 individual Meetup events across my two groups, as well as countless other events not related to Meetup. I also teach preschool, so I'm pretty good at phrasing things so just about anyone, even a three-year-old, can understand the message. If anyone feels that the messages below were not clear, or could have been phrased differently to reach the people who failed to show up tonight, I welcome your suggestions; just click "reply" and it will come directly to me, not to the entire group.
As a result of tonight's spectacular failure, I will no longer offer spots for reserved events without requiring pre-payment through the Meetup site. This is a dramatic shift in my policy, but it is not open for discussion or negotiation. It is done. Even if the venue does not require my credit card number for security, I will still insist on pre-payment. The reputation of this group is important to me (see explanation below), and I am not willing to have our group rejected by restaurants because of stunts like the one tonight. I know that some people will not like this policy, and may even leave the group because of it, and that is completely OK with me. I also organize events that do not require reservations or pre-payment, and that will continue as before. The only change is that the events I post requiring a reservation will now also require pre-payment.
Pre-payment has resulted in overwhelming success in guaranteeing attendance, and since it's worked so well for this group in the past, that is why it will now be extended to all reservation-type events. If new members do not feel comfortable paying me before meeting me, I completely understand (though PayPal is a secure and guaranteed payment service, and honestly - if I haven't disappeared with the pre-payments for all the PICA dinners and other pre-paid events I've organized over the past five years, you can probably guess I'm not the type to abscond with my members' money). It is totally fine to come to a couple of non-reserved events to meet me and get to know me, before feeling comfortable pre-paying me for an event.
Anyway, as I promised I would do in the message below, I have marked the no-shows, and if you click on the event page (link below), you can see who they are and send them a message if you feel their actions have had an adverse effect on our group. I believe that it should not have been too much to ask that our members behave respectfully. I am truly shocked that so many people simply blew off this event, which I spent a considerable amount of time and energy planning and organizing. Maybe they would have shown more courtesy if they knew how much time and energy I put into each event I post on the calendar (several hours of my time for just this one event, for example, not to mention the Meetup fees that I pay for out of my own pocket), but somehow I doubt it. Rude people are generally rude because they don't bother to think about other people at all.
I do hope my next message to you all will be a happier one,
Danielle B. (no happy face tonight, that's for damn sure)
(sent Sat. March 2nd)
Hello JJ's Butterflies,
Please take a moment to think about your RSVP for next Friday's dinner event. If you will not be able to make it, please change your RSVP to "no" using this link:
Although I do not have any strict rules about no-shows in this group, and I do not have to guarantee this reservation with my own credit card so I am not collecting pre-payment, it is nonetheless important that our group shows respect to this venue by showing up in numbers matching the number of reservations.
The restaurant has capacity to seat all of us who have RSVP'd "yes" at this time and we have a reservation for everyone, but as they always fill to capacity on Fridays, it is the bare minimum of courtesy to allow them to fill up seats that would otherwise be empty due to changes in your plans. Many meetup events have approximately a 50% attendance rate, and it would be gravely unjust to the restaurant if it happened that way.
Considering that this is our first time visiting this restaurant, I will keep very close track of who shows up, and of who takes the time to notify me well in advance of the event that they will not be able to attend so I can pass the change along to the restaurant; any no-shows who do not contact me will be marked in my file and may have future RSVPs for this type of event cancelled by me. I pay to organize this group, and I take our group's reputation very seriously as I have put a lot of my own time, energy and money into creating and maintaining the group and its reputation; if you disagree with this policy, then you are free to start your own meetup group with your own rules and reputation.
It only takes a few seconds to show this respect to me, to the group, and to the venue, and it is not too much to ask that our members behave respectfully. If you are in a bind and cannot contact me prior to the event, it is essential to contact me as soon as possible after the event to let me know what happened. My cell number is [masked], in case you have trouble finding the venue or need to contact me for any other reason.
If you have any questions at this time, feel free to click "reply," and your message will come directly to me (not to the entire list).
Thanks, and I look forward to seeing you on Friday to try out a new Social Butterflies experience!
Danielle B. :)
(sent early AM Thurs March 7th)
Hello again JJ's Butterflies,
If you're receiving this message, then you are confirmed for tomorrow evening's dinner. If you won't be joining us, this is your last chance to update your RSVP - just click on this link:
Otherwise, I look forward to seeing you there tomorrow!
Danielle B. :)
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.