You want people to register to your events, right? Sometimes it don’t goes as planned and you are struggling to get them in. In this post I am going to show you a quick “trick” to boost event registration and get a lot more people registering to more of your events with hardly any effort from you.
It goes without saying that registration for your event sound be online. If that is not obvious to you, you have some serious reading to do. You can start here. For the other 99% of us, here are the key features your event registration should be doing for you. (If you cannot check all six of these, start looking for a new software, and fast!):
- Simplified registration. (Less time = more completed applications)
- Easy payment options (5 Reasons Why Online Event Payments Are Worth It)
- Attendee account or dashboard page.
- Intuitive application flow.
- Great communication tools and automated emails. (Free eBook all about this, here.)
- The system embeds into your website.
Boost Event Registration: Allow Registration for Multiple Events at Once!
Despite these great features that many event registration software’s offer (both the big expensive guys and the smaller, more affordable options), there is one feature that seems to be very effective for event organizers that isn’t a standard setup in many popular event registration options: the ability to register to multiple events at once. Sounds strange, no? Let me dig into why this is so and how allowing people to register to multiple events is going to get you major benefits!
Normally the applications that are out there for events (like Cvent, for example) are structured so that you have one event per project. This basically means that they center on the event and not the people that are registering for the event. This might make sense for a very limited number of events, but most of the time, you are registering people to an event and it is the people or the companies that are paying you to attend the event. So it is sort of strange that “the event” is the focal point of the system rather than the attendees.
Let’s look at the differences between an event based event management system vs a attendee based event management system, shall we?
What is an Event Based System?
An event based system means that the event itself is at the center of the registration process. The direct result of this is that you, the event planner, setup the event, the date, prices, fields and questions you want, but every time you have a new event you need to do the whole process again. Worse yet, every time someone wants to register for your event they need to input all of their information again and again since the logic is that a new event means a new need for information or different questions. So with an event based system, you can’t connect the new event with a previous one.
Why is it done like that, and more so, why is this the dominant method in the online event registration business? The main reason is because event registration software works today the same way it did in the past. Sound strange? It’s actually not. There are a lot of things in the computer industry that just got “stuck” due to historical reasons. The most obvious is the keyboard. Have you ever thought that the keyboard layout is a little strange and arbitrary? It is very strange but it is not arbitrary. The keyboard we use today is the same one used by the mechanical typing machines from the 1980’s. If you have seen on of these you know that the keys are in a “letter fan” and as you push the letters down the key is pushed from the fan into the page. The reason the keys were aligned the way they were is to allow “small” letters (like i, j y etc…) to be close to “large” letters (like a, b, h etc…). That way the letter fan can be smaller and the letters will not hit one another when you are typing fast. Obviously this is no longer needed since all keyboards in use today are digital and the size of the letters is irrelevant. There have been a number of attempts to change the keyboard layout but none of them actually succeeded. Why, you ask? The main reason here is that people are not willing to give up their hard earned fast typing abilities only to change to something that will eventually give them the same result.
*Update!* It looks like the New York Times read my post and decided to include the history of the keyboard in their June 23, 2016 Daily Briefing!
But back to event management software. I hope that by now you understand that something can be a certain way only due to historical precedent. So what are the historical reasons that inform how event management software works today? After all, there is no “letter fan” here, right? The reason is processing power. When the first event management systems came out they needed to deal with the processing ability that was maybe 10% of what your phone has today. This meant that if for event A I need to only ask for “first name”, “last name” and “address” whereas in event B I also need travel information and medical information, the systems at the time did not have the processing power to allow a system that could account for these two differences. Add to that a few hundred or thousand more variations like that and you need some major processing power to allow it (one that is possible today).
The solution was to create a different database for each event based on the specific event needs (at the time most of the systems were custom made…we have come a long way :). That way you had questions you asked for event A and questions you asked for event B. Easy, simple and did not demand much processing power. How would you invite people to the event? You would send them out a link and tell them to register. Each link was to a different database or system (as it is essentially today) and no complex processing was demanded. These are problems that simply do not exist anymore. The amount of processing power needed in order to show different questions to different people based on their selections is considered very small today.
Despite the above, there are situations where the “event based” event management systems are actually a great solution. This happens when you have multiple events without a returning audience. This means that you run a few different events every year and the audience for Event A is very different than the audience for Event B. Showing an attendee of Event A the option to register to Event B is simply wrong since they are not the target audience. What are examples of such events? Children’s birthday parties (the friends of your older kid are not the same as your younger one), events that happen only once a year and are the only event for the company. That’s about it.
Cons of Event Based Event Management Model
Some events only demand the name of the applicant which is pretty easy and not time consuming for you to build or for the user to complete. However more complex events demand more information like birth date, address, email, contact information and sometimes even arrival information, hotel or lodging info, documents that need signing, etc. So every time someone that is a returning visitor to your event or organization wants to attend another one of your events, they are required to fill out all of their information again. Worse yet, they often need to enter their credit card information for every new event or their balance (if they want to register or have registered for other events) is separate. It can be confusing for them to understand what they owe you since they aren’t clear on what their total balance due is, and what the due dates for each balance might be. Annoying, right?!
Furthermore, every time you have an event you want to market to your user base you have to ask them to go in and register for each event each time. For some this might not sound like a big issue, but for others the ability to market ONE LINK and ONE REGISTRATION PROCESS for multiple events can be huge and incredibly helpful in filling and closing events aka making more money, and faster.
Finally, the biggest con of the event based model is that you do not get to learn anything about your audience. Since the events are separate from one another you have no way to see who your better clients are (that come to multiple events and therefore spend more with you). You have no way of knowing that there is a cross connection between the attendees of one event and another event. You have no way of learning how to market better and cheaper to your best audience and affect your bottom line. You are basically blind, and have no real data about your clients in a holistic way. All this in an age that you can give people suggestions to products based on the purchase history of their second and third level friends on Facebook. Does it make sense? Absolutely not. Does the layout of the keyboard make sense today? Absolutely not. But unlike the keyboard, there is no hard earned knowledge (speed typing) to be lost by moving to a different method, only knowledge and efficiency to gain.
What is an Attendee Based System?
The opposite of the event based system is the “attendee based system”. The idea is that you are now focusing on your attendees, companies registering and the actual people that will be coming to your event (and paying you…). Now you are interested in the people that make up the event and not just the event itself. Makes a lot more sense, right?
Let’s look at when this model is better than the event based model. The most obvious assumption that needs to be satisfied is that you have multiple events annually and that the events are business oriented. This means that we are not talking about children’s birthday parties or something similar. If that is the event you are looking to manage the event based method is the correct one for you and I also suggest looking for one of the free options out there like Evite and Eventbrite, since your needs are very basic. If the above does not apply to you, then you most likely would be better off with an attendee based system.
A lot of organizations have many events happening all the time and they also know about their events at least 3-4 months in advance, sometimes even a year ahead of time. An attendee based model will allow you to invite people to register to Event A and at the same time to market Event B to them simultaneously. And with no extra effort on your part. Most business people are VERY organized and will know their schedule months in advance. If you present them the option to register for an event they know they want to come to already (or have found out about it now that you show it to them) they will register and put down the registration fee for it (if there is one). That way you have accepted attendance to Event A and marketed Event B and secured attendees to it. One small change, such a big difference!
With the “attendee based model” the attendee will enter basic information only once and then the system will ask for additional information needed (and only when needed) based on the events they register to. For example, if you have a Gala party that you are organizing for your best clients, you will most likely just need their name and email, whereas if you are organizing an educational conference you might also need session applications and travel information. This will get automatically triggered based on the events they decide to register for. You might be asking yourself “how will I make sure that only my best clients see the Gala options with the attendee based model?”. Great question! The answer is conditional logic. This is basically what allows the system to present different questions for different events. The same applies to event options: the system will present different event options to different attendees based on the rules you set. Easy, simple and efficient!
How to do attendee based events the right way!
There are a few things that need to happen in order to allow attendee based event registration to work like a charm (it will work really well anyway, but you want it to be like magic, right?). The first thing that you need to make sure of is that you are asking for minimal information up front. Then right after you do that, present the event options you offer all on one page! This is the secret, having all events on one page! That way they can just click that they are coming to multiple events quickly and easily. Even if one or some of those events are happening only in a few months or at the end of the year, people will register since they plan ahead (most do…). Then, the system will present the additional questions that are needed for each event. The attendee will fly through the process and complete registration for multiple events in a short amount of time.
The process should end with the user reaching a payment page where they can pay for all the events at once or only for the ones they want now and allow the system to auto charge them for the other events when the time it right. It should also show them a breakdown of what is owed for each event, and if relevant, the due date for each of those payments if they aren’t interested or able to pay in full at that moment. A payment system within your software that might allow for automatic payments and payment plans would also serve you well in this scenario! Regpack has a new auto bill feature as well, that makes this even easier and more personalized. You can create due dates for certain time periods before the event, like 2 months before event or on a specific date, as well as different payment plan amounts like 25% of balance or $250.
The process ends with you pulling up statistical information about your client base and understanding the connections between events and attendees, something you would not be able to even dream about doing with an event based model system.
This kind of software becomes a great jumping off point when you introduce new events to your calendar. When a new event comes up, an email can go out or if they are logged in, the user can simply see that the new event is available and open for registration, click it and make a payment with the saved credit card for the event. In a few clicks they are registered, easy as that!
Organization’s using this type of setup for their event software are seeing amazing results!
Events close a lot sooner and cash flow improves immensely since the software is intuitive, easy to use and encourages payments on time, and even early! Some software also includes a function that allows you to control when an event is available with availability date and expiration date feature, so registrants don’t become confused with what events are available vs. full or no longer accepting registration.
From a marketing standpoint, it simply does not make sense to market each event individually. From a client standpoint, it is easier to just select what they want to go to and then pay everything together without the hassle of several registration processes to complete.
Conclusion: Boost event registration and get more people registering for your events!
Obviously there are times that an organization with a very complex event demands its own project, but for the events that happen year round, for example:
– Weekend retreats
– Special gatherings
The ability to have all of those events in one place and allowing the user to see everything together is a lot better for everyone involved!
If you’re searching for an event software, consider this functionality when choosing.
If you are building a system from scratch, consider how your events throughout the season or year operates and how marketing multiple events together in one registration unit might improve your attendance and cash flow!