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Meetings Meeting Planner Guide Event Registration

Event Registration

No matter the size of the event, it’s your job to register all attendees. While in some cases, this might just mean taking down names and creating badges, other times, you might have to facilitate much more complicated efforts. Things like lead retrieval and integration with various technologies. You may also have to create tickets or alternative mechanisms to indicate what specific sessions, events or tours each person plans to attend.

Another duty could include tracking attendees' actual participation in sessions, especially for continuing education credits. While registration needs to be the simplest of tasks to your attendees, it can be one of the most complex pieces of meeting planning.

While registration needs to be the simplest of tasks to your attendees, it can be one of the most complex pieces of meeting planning.
  • One of the worst things you can do is to spell an attendee's name wrong on the badge and another is to overcharge a credit card. Have the data processing checked by a different individual before a confirmation is sent.
  • Send confirmation of receipt of registration information and monies within 24 to 48 hours if possible, but no later than 10 working days. Send electronically to save costs, if possible.
  • Encourage registrants to attach business cards, rather than hand-written information, for legibility.
  • Allow companies to register multiple attendees via a simple list, rather than insist they complete individual registrations for everyone.
  • Encourage whoever is doing data entry to call the registrant if there is any question about his information. Require the registrant to be contacted for approval if a higher registration fee needs to be charged.
  • Create a "Problem" file for registrations that are pending a reply from the attendee for processing. Keep the file in a common area so all data entry people can access it.
  • Basics
    • Decide upon your organization's registration philosophy, policies and procedures.
    • Keep it as simple as possible. Look at the registration method(s), instructions, policies and procedures from your attendees' perspective, not your own. Speak their language.
    • Decide, based upon your attendees' technology usage and the event's needs, where available technologies will enhance the registration process without over-complicating it. Make sure your choices are tested and work perfectly before adopting them.
    • Determine the size and scope of your event. Ask yourself what potential complexities there are with registration. What are attendees registering for? The event by itself or specific parts of the event? Do they pay for each registered item in an à la carte mode, or are some items included?
    • Decide whether to process registrations in-house or outsource the function. Consider the following:
      • Attendee needs and expectations.
      • Size and scope of the event.
      • Event needs and complexities.
      • Existing in-house capabilities (accounting and financial processing, technological, staffing, online capabilities, database management, etc.).
      • Internal costs versus outsourcing costs.
      • Do you have plans to verify actual attendance?
  • Pre-Registration Considerations
    • Work with your finance department to set policies for things like:
      • Lost-badge replacement.
      • Name substitutions.
      • Credit card payments.
      • International currency transactions.
      • Cancellations and refunds, whether to make exceptions, and who has authority to make the exceptions.
    • Again, ask yourself: What are the needs of your attendees? What information is important enough to go on the front of the badge, and what is most important to be in larger type? What information can go on the back of the badge?
    • What do you want to track? Do you need to know session attendance in advance?
    • Should attendees have the option for their names not to be published on any registration lists?
    • Do you want or need to give the attendee a means on the registration form to inform you of any special needs, like physical disabilities or dietary restrictions?
    • Should you mail badges in advance to avoid on-site lines?
    • What are your online capabilities, or the capabilities of your contractor? How can your organization encourage or require online registration to minimize staffing needs and keep costs down?
    • Do you need a hard copy of the registration form? What information needs to be on the form? What information will you need for membership, finance and event logistics tracking, and future marketing efforts?
    • Is it important to you that attendees register early for the event for either logistical reasons or cash flow? If so, what will you do to encourage this? Will you offer an early bird discount? Will you offer an advance-only, multiple or group discount?
    • Determine your deadlines for advance registration – for when you can no longer process registrations before the event and when you must advise your meeting attendees to register on site.