The New World of Event Registration

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The world of event registration is an ever-changing creature, and keeping up with the times has become increasingly difficult. There are so many things to consider these days when it comes to event registration. 

As a seasoned registration manager working in both the corporate and association sectors, here are some thoughts to consider when getting ready to set up event registration.

Event registration is the first impression of an event and it’s vital to make a lasting impact.

Aside from the event website, this is the first time engaging with event attendees. There may be more registration abandonments if the registration form is clumsy or offers a poor user experience. In fact, according to this article, 27% of attendees will abandon the registration process if the form is too complex or the site is slow.

Don’t underestimate the value of virtual registration fees. 

What is it going to cost to put on your event? Is revenue from registration part of your event operating budget?  Break down the cost for you to host the event before finalizing your pricing structure.

While it can be costly to host an in-person event, the cost of putting on a virtual event comes with a hefty price tag as well. For example, when running virtual meetings on Zoom, we consider any concurrent sessions to purchase the correct amount of meeting licenses. Each concurrent session requires a separate license – and those costs add up quickly. A session monitor for each room helps so much in terms of staying on time and drumming up questions. If using session monitors, staffing costs also need to be considered. 

It’s also critical to consider the exhibitor/sponsor perspective. They’re bound to receive just as many benefits in a virtual offering without on-site expenses, such as flights, hotel stays, and dining out with customers or prospects. 

Build flexibility into cancellation and substitution policies.

The world is a very uncertain place right now, and leading into the next year, flexibility will be a huge lifesaver when it comes to registration policies. Be proactive and clearly define cancellation policies and fee structure for receiving refunds.

For example, some clients offer a graduated refund policy. Until a specific date, registrants may claim a full refund (minus any processing fees). Then the refund amount decreases to 50% and eventually 25% until a refund is made unavailable.  A definitive cutoff date should be communicated, but there may be exigent circumstances where attendees need more time.  This is where you can be flexible and extend the date if necessary. 

Consider necessary registration types and the platform’s capabilities to pivot.

These days, the chance of adding a virtual component to an in-person event is relatively high. When we build out registration systems, we ensure they can incorporate a virtual option before taking it live.
 
We also consider if the system allows registrants to modify their registration and change from in-person to virtual. If this is not an option, there may be additional costs associated with manually modifying attendee profiles. 

Now, it’s also crucial for a registration platform to host virtual events. This is an important consideration because there are many advantages to using the same platform to host your virtual attendees. And built-in integration with the registration platform yields substantial cost savings. The event mobile app will often include a virtual component – a massive win for engaging participants from afar.

Communicate, communicate, communicate about COVID policies and health & safety practices to everyone coming onsite. 

We make it a point to consult with legal counsel before communicating any health and safety protocols to attendees to mitigate any miscommunication. 

Once protocols are confirmed, any attendee information regarding negative COVID tests or vaccinations is included in attendee communications, i.e., the know before you go email or a FAQ page on the website. 

Unless the client has an attorney on staff, we employ a leader on the team to disseminate sensitive information regarding safety measures.  

Consider on-site COVID testing and temperature checks.

I recently returned from an on-site event in San Antonio for a large franchise’s national and annual conference. The client required proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. If you could not provide either of those, rapid testing was available on-site at no cost to the attendee, and they could not check in until being fully vetted.

A second checkpoint was also incorporated into the daily entrance at the convention center, and daily temperature checks were self-administered by a walk-up kiosk. Attendees briefly pulled down their masks and aligned their eyes with the monitor prompts. Upon completion, a sticker printed out with their face and temperature shown: No sticker, no entrance.

As event registration evolves, Meeting Expectations can help you design and produce your next in-person, virtual or hybrid event. Contact us to learn more. 

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