Why is it so difficult to register for an association conference? The process is often cumbersome and frustrating—leaving potential attendees with a bad first impression of your event. To find a solution, I sat down with Rodney Stiegman, Director of Technology Services at SmithBucklin. He’s a software development expert who’s been helping associations select, build, and integrate software with their CRMS for almost two decades.
“Event registration systems should provide a great experience for the attendee and enhance the ability for associations to generate incremental revenue,” said Stiegman. “The best approach is to identify and implement an event software application that seamlessly integrates with your organization’s CRM/AMS systems.
”It was fabulous to speak to another tech guru who is committed to transforming the event registration experience. Stiegman and I aligned on the fact that registering for an association conference is far more complicated than simply selling a person a ticket. Different stakeholders want different information, intricate business rules impact the registration process, and the decision to invest or not invest in integrations and features can make or break the user-experience.
If you are wondering how to select event registration software that aligns with your organization’s goals, and implement the system in a way that supports marketing and provides a fantastic user-experience, read on.
3 tips to create a great event registration experience for your attendees
1. Select a best in class event registration system
To select the best registration system for your association, evaluate these four core areas:
What are the costs of customizing the integration?
What modules require an upgrade?
What are the fees per registrant?
Are there hidden fees such as email marketing, credit card gateway, domain hosting?
What is the process to track conversions?
Can you make modifications to the back-end once registration has been launched?
What modules will you have access to?
How will the system support marketing in upselling registrants?
Can you email registrants and prospective attendees and track the results?
Does the system address your business rules?
Is there an API?
How intensive will the integration be with your CRM and marketing tools?
How easy is it to access the data?
How scalable is the registration system?
Does the event registration software company train you on how to set up the software?
Does the event registration software company configure the software for you based on your requirements?
Do you have control to make modifications?
How quickly can you get up and running with the new software?
2. Create the conditions for a sale to occur
Registration should quickly and easily process a sale. If there are any unnecessary steps, remove them. You don’t want customers to doubt their decisions and abandoning their carts.
If you keep hearing yourself making excuses for your registration process or system, it’s time to sit down with in-house IT or a partner to have a discussion. Use this guide to start the process of identifying the challenges that are standing in the way of progress:
If I had it my way, registration would take _______________ less minutes.
If IT could just help _______________, our attendees would have a better experience.
If I could customize the process for _______________ audience, our organization would save a ton of time and energy.
If money weren’t an issue, I would _______________.
3. Stay up to date on the latest trends in registration
Registration is changing in many ways, and staying the same in others.
Automated Integrations Integrations are becoming more automated. You don’t have to be a software developer to connect your registration system with your marketing automation system. Some systems now have out of the box integrations that can be mapped in 30 seconds.
Kiosk Registration How critical is the onsite check-in experience? Well, it is the first touchpoint at the show. It has to be perfect. Kiosk check-ins are paving the way, reducing the time to wait in line and check in from 20-minutes to 1-minute. Supplement this experience with an event host, and you’ll be off to the races!
Third-party Bots The percentage of attendees who download event apps has grown to more than 60% in 2019. And event apps can now allow for third-party bots to answer questions, and allow the association to review common questions and react in real-time to improve the onsite experience before it’s too late.
Satellite Registration Satellite registration in hotels is convenient. Event apps can keep the attendee informed until they visit the material check-in booth onsite.
Facial Recognition Facial recognition is still super expensive and clunky to incorporate into registration. But, it gets people talking and with time, and as the technology and process improves, so to will its impact on registration.
Digital Badging through Mobile Apps Instead of physical drink tickets and stamping passports, digitizing it cuts down on paper printing and clutter, providing a fantastic attendee experience. Budget ahead for this cost at $3-$4 a head.
Name Badges Yep. You read it right. Nothing new here to report. Badges are here to stay as far as we can tell, because personalization and interaction is still important.
We’re here to chat
We have ideas AND we have solutions. Contact us below to take the first step in transforming your event experience. Thanks for reading and looking forward to connecting.
P.S. My blog posts are designed to inspire a cross-departmental approach to event planning, demonstrating the inherent value of meeting planners working in tandem with marketing teams during all stages of the event planning process to build better association events.
P.P.S.Please comment below, to let me know if I’m on track to delivering on this goal and share a tip that me and the Otter Talk community may learn from. Thanks!