Pre-Registration: How Associations Turn Data into Dollars

By Victoria Hurley-Schubert
CMA Staff Writer

Registration for conferences and events is a necessary process, and should be easy and painless for all involved. It is also an opportunity to package items together for maximum value for attendees and boosting advance registration for “extras” like additional learning or networking opportunities.

When a potential attendee gets a registration form in the mail or via email, it should contain all the information necessary for them to decide their level of participation at the event, including event costs, breakout sessions and extracurricular activities supported by the organizer.

Forms should have spaces for attendees to sign up for each piece of the event if there are portions that are self-selected by registrants. If all this data is included in the registration form, it gives attendees a clear picture of their conference experience and the knowledge to plan the rest of their time accordingly. In turn, the organizer gains great insight into how an event is going to run and what to anticipate. For example, if one of multiple breakout sessions is extraordinarily popular, event organizers are able to move it to a larger room and accommodate everyone in advance instead of struggling to find extra seats the day of, or worse, turning people away.

Forms and sections should be as minimal as possible, no one likes filling out a lengthy form. If information needs to be repeated, such as a mailing address and billing address, check box for “same as mailing address” should be provided. Saving steps saves registrants’ time and frustration, and leads to a better customer experience.

Include a phone number on the form that people can call and ask questions. For registrants, it is comforting to know there is someone to call if you have questions and even better when registrant don’t have to hunt down a number themselves and figure out an extension. Being accessible is just good customer service as well and sets the tone for the whole event; would you want someone to tell another potential attendee, “I couldn’t figure out the form and couldn’t find a number to call for help, so I gave up?”

Bold information you want attendees to notice, such as a full conference package, to draw their eye to there instead of wandering the page. When doing this, make sure to point out the value to attendees and clearly explain what’s included.

Sponsorship information is also important to include on a registration form. Clearly spell out the features and benefits of a sponsorship—ticket packages, promotional opportunities and marketing benefits—for everyone to see. You might be surprised when some potential attendees see sponsor packages and what’s included, they will bump up their registration because they understand the value of doing so.

Sponsor packages are also a great way to upsell. If you notice a large group coming from one company, you can always point out sponsor opportunities to them by using the form as an education tool.

As soon as you begin marketing your event, urge potential attendees to start registering and offer early registration benefits, such as a bonus add-on or discount off the price, if possible.

Registration is an introduction to your conference for attendees, so details do matter and keep in mind, the simpler, the better.

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