The term RSVP comes from the French expression “repondez s’il vous plait”, meaning; “please respond”.

If RSVP is written on an invitation it means the invited guest is welcomed and should tell the host YES or NO they plan to attend the party or event. It means the host needs a definite head count for the planned event, which we will address later in this article.

ON-line events or in-person events include a tremendous amount of decision making and planning so YOU can have a great experience.

And this includes all the business events we are now invited to via a variety of social media sites.

With all that being said, I was inspired to become part of a solution and motivated to write this article. I realized just because I’ve planned events for a living does not mean others have or do, therefore perhaps they just don’t know what it takes. The biggest challenge to providing a fabulous event of any kind is to be prepared and that’s  where YOU the invitee can help by providing an RSVP to the invitation received.

One of the challenges that everyone who has ever managed events have, is how to motivate people to RSVP in a timely manner or to even RSVP at all.

In a recent conversation, I realized the person I was conversing with received an invitation for a Grand Opening that was happening in just a few days. I asked them if they were coming, since I had not received their RSVP. They said “oh yeah, I’ll be there.” When I asked why they had not RSVP’d they said, “I just assumed you knew that I would be there.”

In that instant I had an ‘Aha!’ moment. What struck me is that we have become a culture that no longer remembers or perhaps values what it means to RSVP.

When you receive an invitation to a party, a wedding, an event, a workshop, a networking social or any other offering either through Facebook,, Linkedln, email, verbally or even through the US Postal service mail, and the host has asked for an RSVP do you know the true and appropriate way to respond?

Here’s a guide to answer that question:

How Should I respond to this RSVP?

First of all, the short answer is you should always respond. Extending respect, kindness and courtesy for the host/planner who is working hard to create a wonderful experience for all involved is simply called for in this instance. (You will truly know the importance of this when you are on the check-writing end of an event and that’s another subject.)

Back to responding:

Respond YES (as soon as you receive the invitation) IF the event speaks to you and you wish to attend. Then immediately, notate your calendar including contact details/location etc. IF life changes, you can readily connect with the host and change your response or make other arrangements. And, you will score some way cool relationship building points in the process.

Respond NO if it’s just not for you or you’re NOT quite sure. If you’re not sure, note your calendar with all the details so as life changes you can connect with the host/planner and become a part of the event, changing your No to a Yes. More cool relationship points.

Respond Maybe has become popular on some of the social media sites, so let’s address it now.

My opinion is responding MAYBE is really a gentle NO, and only confuses the issue. Please remember the host/planner would like to see you there as they invited you.

If you simply are not sure, do them a favor and say NO until you can decide otherwise. Their feelings will not be hurt, and they will be glad you did not hint around and cause them to use the budget in a non-productive manner.

IF you’ re not sure you wish to attend or not sure if you are available, and just can’t do the NO stuff, here’s another way to make sure you maintain good communications. Perhaps you need more information, or you have another event/meeting that day that could interfere with on time arrival. NOTE your calendar of the event information AND make another note a couple days from the day you’re looking at invite– to REMIND yourself to decide. Once you know for sure, reconnect with the host and confirm a YES OR NO RSVP. (You may also want to make a pencil note on your calendar on the day of the event with all the details so you’ll have a ready reference.)

WHY such a hoopla about RSVP?

1. It is the right thing to do when invited to anything! Even those events that are not your cup of tea, someone thought of you. Yes it may be true you’re just on a list; however, you decided somewhere along the way to be involved with this person and their events otherwise you wouldn’t be on their list. (respect/good etiquette)

2. It helps the host/planner to make some very big decisions on how to ‘budget’ the event. (courtesy)

3. It helps the host/planner have a better picture of how many handouts, refreshments even chairs and room size to negotiate. Not your problem you might be asking, well that’s true. However, would you like to be the one investing all the time, money, and effort and not provide an excellent time? I’m betting not. (courtesy)

4. It helps to insure a proper space for the number of attendees. Not crowded and worse yet a big room echoing as only a few showed up. (kindness)

5. The host has planned their event based on the RSVP’s. They have most likely signed a contract to guarantee the space or even food and beverage and whether or not you show up the host is still obligated to pay for that guaranteed space and number of meals. The host guarantees the number based on the number of YES RSVP’s. And, if it is for a workshop or seminar, the host may have the expense of printing more handouts than will be used. This is not only a waste of paper, but also a waste of money and time. (respect/kindness/courtesy)

In the end, all the hoopla is in the interest of bringing back old fashioned, good etiquette, respect, kindness and courtesy, when you receive an invitation to attend something, please give the person who sent you the invitation the courtesy of responding. And, that includes responding NO if you are unable to attend. AND, if you have responded YES you will attend and something changes in your plans, give the courtesy of contacting the host directly to change your RSVP.

This brings me to the last point.

Please be aware of this when you are considering attending. If you know you want to attend but your budget won’t let you pay the whole fee, contact the host and see if you can make arrangements for a payment plan. Sometimes an event gets cancelled due to lack of early RSVP’s and advance payments. Your interest is what drives the invites, and most people are willing to work with you on this as the event is also near and dear to them.

And, just as important, even if it is a free event to attend, the host still has to plan for seating, materials, etc. and may be paying a fee to use a facility or conference line(s). Please don’t think it doesn’t matter if you don’t RSVP since it is free. It is always professional, kind, and courteous to RSVP.

A Special Note to Hosts.

So that your guests can RSVP in a professional, responsible, kind and courteous manner, be sure to include your contact information in the invitation along with the location. A habit that some hosts have begun doing in their social media and email invitations is to say that once someone has registered they will receive the location of the event. By not providing at least the city where the event will take place you have made it difficult for your invited guest to respond responsibly.

COURTESY IS CONTAGIOUS! Please share this with your colleagues and friends. I hope this helps everyone to understand the value and importance of responding to an RSVP request with either a YES or NO.

NOW is the perfect time to review any events you may have received an invitation to attend and give the courtesy of a response with a RSVP … YES or NO.

And, if you have to change your RSVP please contact the host as soon as possible. They rely on YOU to help everyone have a successful and positive event.

Merci / thank you! See you at the next event!

Sandy Rogers, CNP
Certified NetworkefiD Professional
‘The Referral Queen’
AskSandyRogers. com
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