I am asked frequently enough by clients or just people in the event professionals world, whether the benefit of group registration is worth it when it comes to choosing the best event attendee registration software.
Is it really that hard for a company sending a group of attendees to a conference to register themselves individually? Is it worth it to add group registration to the long list of must haves for a conference registration software or general event software? My answer is always, yes it’s totally worth it! But.. (there is always a “but”…) it needs to be done right otherwise it will hurt the event registration results rather than help them and it needs to be utilized for the right kinds of events.
When done right, allowing group registration will get you 26% more paying attendees! That is a lot. Think how hard you work to push your numbers up by 5% or 10%? You get 26% without much work. Magic!
Where did we get this number? In 2015, Regpack registered 2.9 million attendees for more than 4,000 organizations. We used the data in order to understand what works and what doesn’t based on the different configurations our clients had for their registration purposes.
The click through data, payment speed and percentages, process structure and a lot more were entered into a “graph database” (a fancy word for a database that can highlight connections between actions) and our data scientist (and myself too since I love working with data), started crunching the numbers. The result was a lot of insights about what should be done for different industries and registration methods. Now we are sharing it with you so you can use our knowledge for your advantage.
After this long intro, let’s get down to business.
Let’s start with the basics: the purpose of the best event registration software is to:
- Automate your process.
- Make the process for your attendees to register easy, simple, and straightforward.
- Meet the needs and expectations of your attendees.
Now that we have these guidelines we can work with them to see which events group registration is good for. Let’s start by looking into which events should seek out this ability and then go into the ins and outs of how it should be done correctly.
Which events should NOT allow group registration?
Not every event will benefit from group registration. For example, if you have an event where most of the attendees are individuals, you will not really benefit from group registration since it will just confuse them. Shows, trade show and festivals are the obvious examples. Normally you are not registering companies to these events (who might bring in more than one team member) and unless this is an event targeted to families, people will not be registering other people to the event.
As a general rule, if 25-30% of the attendees are registering another person to the event it is worth having group registration, if it is less, the additional step of adding a member is not worth it and might confuse the attendees registering.
Which events SHOULD have group registration?
Conferences, seminars, delegate events and professional trade shows are the most obvious examples.
Group registration saves attendees time and makes the process easy, simple and straightforward.
Where have I heard those words before (hint: the guidelines for an event registration system above…)? The ability to lump a group of people together as ‘one’ and complete much of the registration only one time, not only makes things easier on your end, it makes the person responsible for registering the group much happier! Happier attendees mean the process will be completed quicker and payments will roll in faster!
Group registration as a software feature sounds like a no-brainer at this point, right? Which probably means that most event software offers this functionality, right? WRONG! Many software choices don’t allow group registration, which boggles my mind! How can this be? A great tool that makes your process quicker and something that users appreciate? The truth is that group registration is a great idea if done right!. When done incorrectly it can be a disaster!
Below is an overview of how group registration works and what it should allow you and your attendees to accomplish when using your software, including the benefits to these features.
How to make group registration smart?
Any great registration process will use what I call “conditional logic” (learn more about it here) to make the process unique for each user moving through the application. Simply put, conditional logic will present questions and forms only when a user answers specific questions in a certain way. For example, a user doesn’t need to be prompted to sign up for events on Sunday if they have indicated they will be attending Friday and Saturday only. The main benefit of this feature is to make sure everyone fills out only what they need, and nothing more. For many, this will shorten the process but even if the process is as long as it can be, all questions and forms are relevant to that person. This functionality cuts down on confusion on the user’s end and will cut down on your service calls as well!
On the group registration front, conditional logic extends to the group. Fill out the information that is the same across all registrants once (company name, contact info, address, payment info, etc) and only give individual information (name, email) when prompted instead of doing the same process for each member of a group over and over.
Any great system with group registration will make adding and deleting registrants in the group easy. A company sending multiple people to a conference for instance, can easily add and pay for an added participant without having to go through the entire registration process from scratch, and a person who might drop out at the last minute, can easily be deleted and refunded through the system, without affecting others in his group.
A great event software should also allow your group registrants to log in individually in order to edit information or change information. While the ability for 1 person to go in and register for the group is awesome, each individual should also be able to enter the registration process and contribute. The purpose of all of these options and functionality is to make the registration process as flexible as possible, and allow registrants to quickly complete registration. The speed increases when the ability to access the system is easy, when the amount of forms is optimal and when the process is uniquely streamlined for every attendee. Especially when a group is registering, you need the process to be quick and easy to complete.
And now to the what everyone cares about: payments! You need to optimize the payment options you are offering to the attendees you expect to have. For example, if you are doing an event you expect multiple employees from the same company to attend and normally the company will be paying: allow them to pay for everyone in bulk. If your event is the type where they would register but not necessarily know if the person is coming or not then allow to pay for each individual separately. If you can add into that auto billing you will be able to make sure you take a deposit, a registration fee or a down payment and the system will charge them the rest in due time or even in installments. More on payment options below…
Free tips on how group registration should be done!
Since we have been doing group registrations for years at Regpack, I can give you a few tips on the features that will make this process simple and easy:
- Separate general information from individual information. People get really frustrated when they need to select specific abilities for an individual and they cannot. An example for that can be sessions they want to attend, medical information (if needed), contact information and so forth.
- Auto create the first attendee: Make sure that after the general registration information is entered (company information, for example) that the system automatically and seamlessly creates the first individual that will be attending. This means that once you issue the company information form, the next form presented to them is the “Add an Attendee” form.
- Ask them to “Add another Attendee”. Make sure that once you complete the process for the first individual the system will automatically ask them if they want to add another attendee. This will allow them to go through the process in a linear fashion without the extra mental processing to understand how to add a member (I know, it is just clicking a button but people do not want to think when they are doing registration.) Once the process of adding the members is complete, make sure that the dashboard presenting all the attendees, total order and so forth is VERY simple and easy to understand.
- Big clear BUTTONS: Have a big “Add an Attendee” button on the dashboard that will allow them to add attendees if needed. For each attendee make sure that you give them information about if they have completed the process for them or not and present the most important information for that attendee right on the dashboard.
- Flexible email communication. Make sure that the system can send out emails to each attendee and also to the person that did the registration for all the other attendees. This kind of communication makes a huge difference for your work flow and customer experience.
- Allow login. Finally, you should allow people to complete the parts of the registration process they can complete right away and then come back and complete anything that is missing by logging in. When they return make sure the system sends them ONLY to the forms that are incomplete and that it flows seamlessly between the incomplete sections for each attendee so that the person registering all the other people can go through it VERY quickly.
Remember, the fact that people want to attend your event does not mean they enjoy registering for it.
Group vs Individual Payments
The biggest and most important pro of group registration is the ability to pay all at once. Often times with group registration you have to enter card details several times, once per attendee or send a check for each individual participant and make sure the money is attributed to their name and registration. If you get a refund for cancelling or if there’s a payment problem, the company will often send the refund in the name of the individual, but really it was the company who paid for the fees. The headaches are truly endless.
According to the data that we have seen in Regpack, when an event should be group registration and it is the organizers will see a a 26% raise in the number of payments that come through. They also get a 12% raise in the number of attendees. These are BIG numbers and will make a big change to your event!
With group registration, the admin managing the group can pay the entire balance of every person attributed to that group at once. Issues like a person dropping out or adding another attendee go away. Easily allow funds from a drop out to carry over to the overall balance or to another attendee going in their place. Offering auto billing is also a great way to simplify group registration. With a group, the fees are even higher than an individual, so allowing a company to choose an auto billing plan that will split the charges over time makes the most sense for them financially, means you still get paid on time, while also making the payment process hassle free for the group. Read more here about why auto billing actually get you paid faster!
Conclusion: Finding the Best Event Registration Software
Group registration is all about flexibility and speed for the attendees! I hope this article has convinced you that the best event registration software without group registration, falls short in providing everything you need to run a killer event!
Learn more about how Regpack’s best event registration software does group registration with a free demo!