Last week I had the opportunity to attend two conferences. After each one, I saw a sea of unclaimed name tags. Name tags for the people who did not show up.

I know, things happen. People get sick, crises need to be managed, cars break down, but I’ll bet for most absentees, the dog ate their homework. In other words, some other priority got in their way.

In one of the meetings, the organizers had a limit of 50 attendees. A day before the event, about 10 people were on the waiting list. What to do? Play the probability game, admit the 10 on the waiting list, anticipating that some that registered would not show up—or turn the 10 away? Lunch and amenities had been planned for 50 people plus or minus zero.

The organizers decided to admit the people on the waiting list. On the day of the event, guess what? Fewer than 50 people showed up! What’s going on here?

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but to me, it is a matter of integrity—give your word, keep your word. If something serious comes up, let your hosts know, don’t just fail to show up. Suppose those organizations published their “no show” list. How would we feel about the people on the list?

Coming back to the USA in the late 90’s, after five years in Europe, I was appalled to see how many of my fellow Americans had low attendance integrity. People would sign-up for meetings, even accept a phone or personal invitation—and then not show up. Someone once told me, apparently in defense of Virginians, “They are probably too polite to say no.” (Incidentally, the Europeans I knew were much more reliable.)

In sales, we have a saying that the second best answer from a sales prospect is “No.” At least then, you have a clear answer.

So,here’s my plea to fellow professionals “If you sign-up, show up.” It’s a matter of integrity.