Registration can make or break an event, and even the finest venue, speakers, and content will not neutralize dispassionate staff and unwelcoming, long lines. Here is how to improve the process.
Today, registration involves much more than just printing a badge. It is about collecting data to help create more successful shows in the future.
Designing registration platforms can be tedious and thankless, but it’s important to remember they are an essential early operational step to ensure goals and objectives are met.
Strategizing early in the process and exercising data discipline are key. “Registration doesn’t exist in a vacuum,” said Darcy Gabriele, event technology at BW Events.
Consider how the data will flow through the organization. “The first step to every registration build is to fully think through your integrated (data flow) stack,” said Gabriele. “Only collect data that will be used and measured for a predefined purpose. ”
Automation increases completion rates. “Pre-populate fields for returning attendees where possible by integrating with your customer relationship management,” said Hannah Pattison, DES, SEPC, freelance event planner and consultant.
Single sign-on is recommended. “This highlights your established company brand experience, makes the process more pleasant and faster for the attendee, and will give you richer data collection for reporting and more precise demand generations campaigns,” said Frederique Masson, global event consultant.
Pattison and Masson encourage planners to highlight and repeat dates, rates, and locations within the forms, or prospects could get distracted looking for this information on another microsite page and abandon the form. “I see seasoned colleagues make this mistake all the time,” said Masson.
Global data privacy must be a focus. “If any attendees will be invited from and may register for a public event from the EU, Canada, or California, ensure registration flow and forms comply with General Data Protection Regulations(GDPR) in the European Union, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the United States, and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) in Canada,” said Masson.
Create a Checklist
To convey the fundamental framework around registration build planning, Katie Sacco, CMM, CMP, event strategy consultant at Sacco Consulting, has created a helpful mnemonic device, “Take those COATS to the CAR.”
COATS consists of:
• Content Synchronization
• Consult with the teams curating the sessions, schedules, and user journey at your event. Collaborate on capturing the correct attendee data during the registration process.
• Set policies. For example, no changes can occur in a session room that doesn’t get a sign-off from the operations lead.
• Compile questions for the registration process that will help with final reporting. Work backward from your goals and objectives.
• Leverage event tech peers to test everything and ensure you factor in dynamic mobile and tablet views, Android and IoS, and multiple web browsers.
• An escalation and evacuation plan as well as iron-clad terms and conditions, code of conduct, and list of competitors and/or bad actors that should not gain access.
Once you have your COATS buttoned down for overall registration flow, your next steps are to ensure the registration questions include revving your CAR:
Language styles, ratings, values, naming conventions, coordinating scales, and organization methodology.
Compile essential questions requiring operational actions — examples include food allergies, accessibility needs, reception attendance, and community meet-ups.
Cross-reference your goals and objectives and ensure you report on questions asked in the flow.
Arrival Should be Welcoming
Engineer the space to accommodate maximum flow and design the process to be as welcoming yet efficient as possible. Consider adjusting your agenda to facilitate staggered arrivals. If lines are inevitable, leverage floating registration ambassadors to answer questions, help check people in, and guide attendees to the correct location. Add a DJ and pass out mini food and beverage items if budget or sponsorship permits.
“Having a super-fast badge printing system is critical,” said Masson. In addition, she recommends pairing badge collection with material pick-up. “Create a seamless process and avoid sending attendees to multiple stations unless you have intentional interactivity like a personalized water bottle or tee,” she says.
Post-Event Survey Metrics Important
If you have built your registration system for success from the start and have designed a welcoming, surprising, and delightful ambiance from first arrival, you are setting yourself up for better metrics, especially for your post-event survey.
Masson underscores how important it is to collect a statistically relevant sample size. “Aim for ten percent or more of your audience,” said Masson. “Similar to registration forms, keep all surveys short.”
Ten questions or less are ideal.
“Do not repeat any questions from the registration forms, or you will annoy attendees and skew your data,” she adds.
Incentives to complete surveys are helpful but not vital, she said. Repurposing her floating registration team to collect surveys has proved to be successful. She stations them in high-traffic areas with iPads and has them assertively approach attendees.
“Passive survey collection does not work,” she said, adding that she had success conducting surveys about halfway through each day, “Don’t wait until the end of the day as you want to procure attendee opinions from all vantage points.”
She also includes digital surveys in post-event emails but suggests measuring and comparing these two groups separately. “While you still want this data, attendees that respond to surveys 24 hours or more later do not have fresh details in their heads and often represent extreme ends of your scale and net promoter score.”