You’ve been planning your conference and individual events for months. You’ve sourced your venues, you’ve lined up your speakers, and you have sponsors that will cover some of the costs. Now you need to figure out one of the biggest headaches of your event, the first point where the rubber meets the road; online RVSP management.
Fortunately mostly gone are the days of straight paper registration and snail mailing in a form and a cheque (are they?); carpal tunnel overrules paper cuts these days! However there are nuances of paper registration that online event registration sometimes has issues with.
Like any decent event registration form, here are a variety of questions to help you determine how robust a registration you may need for your upcoming conference or event is:
Memberships are the single most complex part of registration. Done correctly your registration page is in synch with your membership database so when a potential attendee comes to register they are presented with the right pricing based on their membership level, or lack thereof. For open systems it is relatively easy for platforms to read membership databases, be they any open association event management systems.
In more complicated systems, when a non-member is attempting to buy a ticket, they could be prompted to purchase a membership as well as show them the both the value of that membership as well as the immediate saving.
Early Bird Registration
A successful event is defined by having a packed house, what better way to get a packed house then through incentivising early ticket sales through discounts. Many of our clients offer multiple early bird tickets – the earlier you buy, the greater discounts you’ll receive.
A variation on early bird tickets where you’d lose a certain price if you don’t buy on time, is limiting the availability of tickets.
For example sponsor levels can be limited as to motivate your sponsors to commit early or lose the opportunity. Sessions are made to be special when only a select population can attend. Again, like early bird tickets, your potential attendees are motivated to commit early, lest they lose the opportunity.
When your event has special giveaways, T-shirts, or other physically limited product, quantities are a critical component for multiple reasons. Unlike seating or space where you can (more) easily add a room, chairs, printing shirts, swag bags, or other merchandise giveaways take time to make, ship, and receive, for this reason quantities are occasionally coordinated with limits (above) or custom questions (below).
Limits means that you can incentivise your offering though limited quantities. While your registrants can come back and update their registration, they may not be able to get their coveted prize. Custom questions allow your registrants to select the right size, shape, and or color of their desired item. Nobody will promote your brand when you give them an oversized shirt for the wrong gender!
Another great way of getting more people to attend your event is through group registration. More often than not people attend conferences in groups. People that attend in groups, tend to buy in groups, so why not allow them to use group registration, and make their group registration easy. That way one person can register multiple people at once.
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The quandary with group registration is that both the registrar and registrant need to receive confirmation. The registrar needs confirmation for all registrants, whereas the registrant will only care about their own registration.
Another issue that faces group registration is group discounts. Many organizations and associations know that the cost of attending a conference is high, so if a company is already paying for hotel, a reduced cost on a ticket may motivate them to send additional colleagues. Again this sort of discount would be specific for group discounts.
Speaking of discounts, many associations promote their conferences through a variety of different marketing channels; each of those channels can have their own discount code so the conference registrar can determine where the best marketing channels are for next year.
Some organisations I’ve talked with use dozens of discount codes tied to marketing channels, sponsors giveaways, or other special offerings. Those discount codes can be either available for a limited time or limited use.
Another nuance in registration is hidden price tiers or coupon codes. This are cases when you want to offer a price to a very limited number of people and don’t want it public. Many of the groups I’ve spoken with use coupon codes to grant specific tickets available to specific sponsors. For example with the purchase a specific sponsorship package, the sponsor receives their limited use coupon code that they can give to their clients. These coupon codes can be either paid (typically a heavily discounted price tier) or free.
The last complexity on conference registration has to do with surveying your attendees. This is done through custom questions, and custom questions can be tied to all, some, or only one specific price tier (including hidden price tiers or coupon codes), as well as to specific discount codes. This is the part that really binds up many conference and event planners and ties them to their platform. Since, it is so complex they learn how to do it one way once, they stick with it.
To increase the flexibility of custom questions, multiple types of allowed responses should be allowed. The most common survey questions are star or scale ratings, single pick lists, multi-pick lists, or free form comment fields. Then we also make tying these questions to specific price tiers as easy as clicking or checking a box.
Last but definitely not least are refunds. When a registrant decides that they don’t want their ticket, bought the wrong ticket, or forgot their discount code. They want their refund, they want it now, and they want it correct. For these reasons refunds come in multiple flavors;
- full refunds,
- partial refunds, and
- With or without a service fee added or subtracted from the ticket price.
Not all Conferences or events need all or even some of these degrees of sophistication, however it is best to sketch out in advance how complicate, or simple you want your registration system so that when you open your registration you can sit back, relax, and deal with the rest of the hot button issues knowing that registration is all set.