Unreliable meeting response counts and accepted/declined tracking

We regularly send out meeting invitations to large groups.

To help us with planning the meeting, we keep track of how many people have accepted or declined already. We do this by looking at the counter provided at the top of the meeting item.

Unfortunately, these numbers often seem to be way off when compared to the actual responses given.

Why does this happen and how can we make the meeting response tracking more reliable?

Meeting Response Tracking buttonAlthough it may not work as expected, it does work as designed.

The Meeting Tracking feature isn’t intended for large meetings and stops after around 500 responses. The actual number isn’t exact as it is resource based.

Since people can respond multiple times, as their availability could change, it can also be that their initial response isn’t updated anymore. This means that the individual responses on the Tracking tab becomes unreliable as well.

Attendee tracking for a large meeting stops after around 500 responses.
Attendee tracking for a large meeting stops after around 500 responses.

Note: You’ll find this limit confirmed in official documentation here;
Scheduling meetings with hundreds of attendees - Microsoft Support

Alternative 1: Don’t request responses but do request confirmation

Meeting Response Options buttonFor large meetings, it is usually recommended to disable “Request Responses” entirely. This still would allow people to add it to their calendars.

The benefit of this is that you won’t get flooded with responses either and there is no performance hit when Outlook tallies the responses when opening the meeting.

For step-by-step instructions to disable this see; Send meeting requests but don’t request responses.

If you still want people to confirm whether they are joining or not beforehand, you could make the request to register for the meeting and provide a link to for instance a Microsoft Forms Survey in the message body of the meeting.

This immediately gives you the opportunity to ask a few additional questions which could help with your planning. For instance, you could ask what their expectations of this meeting are or their lunch preferences (especially helpful for all day events!).

Alternative 2: Count manually (or via Excel)

Excel buttonWhen you’ve already received all your responses for this meeting and want to track them, you could move them all into a single folder and then copy/paste them into Excel.

This is obviously not a “pretty” solution, and Outlook could appear to hang during this operation (it usually is not; give it time!), but it does give you an opportunity to use Excel’s advanced filtering capabilities to get to a more reliable count.

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