What exactly does RSVP mean

The term RSVP comes from the French expression “répondez s’il vous plaît,” which essentially means “please respond.”

The term RSVP comes from the French expression “répondez s’il vous plaît,” which essentially means “please respond.”

by Sandy Rogers — 

When you receive an invitation to a party, wedding, workshop, networking or social event either through Facebook, Meetup, LinkedIn, email, verbally or even through regular mail, and the host has asked for an RSVP, do you know the correct and appropriate way to respond?

The term RSVP comes from the French expression “répondez s’il vous plaît,” which essentially means “please respond.” If RSVP is written on an invitation, it means the invited guest must tell the host if he or she will or will not attend. It does not mean to respond only if you are coming to the event. The host needs a definite head count for the planned event and does not want to have to guess who is coming or not. So the next time you receive an invitation to an event with an RSVP, please be polite and respond with a “yes” or “no.”

If you are unsure whether or not you will be able to make the event, do not respond “yes” — it is better to respond “no.” If you feel the need to respond “maybe,” be respectful and courteous by contacting the host the moment you can make a decision.

It is very difficult for the host of an event to plan for food, beverages, materials, etc., without an accurate head count. For those of us who produce seminars and workshops, the phrase we often use is, “How many cheeks in the seats do we have?” Food and beverages may need to be ordered in advance. Materials may need to be designed and sent to a printer. The size of a room may need to change. The host may be required to guarantee and even pay for a certain number of meals.

If you do not RSVP but attend anyway, there may not be enough food or materials for everyone. If you respond “yes” and then do not attend, there may be too much food or materials that have been paid for. And this list could go on. Whether or not you show up, the host is still obligated to pay the monetary amount in the contract.

So, in the interest of bringing back old-fashioned etiquette, respect and courtesy, when you receive an invitation to attend something, please respond in a timely manner. Also, if you receive an invitation to an event that has a fee associated with it, be aware that the host will incur numerous expenses to produce the event. A host may offer a discount if you pay in advance to help get an idea of how many people will attend. Sometimes an event can cost the host a fairly large sum of money up-front, with hotels often requiring a 50-percent, nonrefundable deposit.

If you want to attend an event but your budget will not allow the whole cost, contact the host to see if you can arrange a payment plan. Events often get cancelled due to lack of early registrations and advance payments.

Just as important is that even if an event is free, the host still has to plan for seating, materials, etc. and may be paying a fee to use a facility. Please do not think it does not matter if you do not respond because an event is free. Be courteous and professional, and always RSVP.

Sandy Rogers is a certified networker professional, who is also known as the “referral queen.” She is a Connections ambassador, a Marketing 101 mentor, and provides business and event promotions to a variety of businesses. AskSandyRogers.com, Sandy@AskSandyRogers.com or 480-946-6002.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 32, Number 4, August/September 2013.

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