I’m a big believer in the idea that software should SOLVE problems you are experiencing, and looking for ‘solutions’ to problems, This is true when looking for a great online conference registration software. It’s not about the features an online conference registration system offers you, it’s about what you need as a conference planner from your software, and does this software give you what you need. In this post I’m talking about 7 problems your online conference registration software should solve!
Below I’m looking at 7 problems many conference organizers encounter, and how an online conference registration software can solve them. This practical advice will hopefully help guide any conference planner when choosing and evaluating an online conference registration system. Plus I find that when shopping for anything, it’s nice to see how a one line feature actually plays out in practice, so here ya go!
Problem #1: Your online conference registration software doesn’t offer a flexible contract.
If you want to first understand how software is priced, check out this software pricing structure comparison post.
Most conference planners are planning seasonally rather than all year, when it comes to needing the software and having access to the registration process. A huge advantage to many seasonal organizations and planners is an online conference registration software that allows you to pay only when you need it, aka a month to month contract vs an annual contract. This is huge for a conference budget and honestly, is way more logical. For conferences that run year round, this might not be a ‘problem’ but I find time and again with seasonal conference planners that don’t know that month to month contracts are an option when they are looking for online conference registration software and settle for an annual contract, which often times is a waste of money.
Another benefit to a month to month contract is the flexibility to leave if it isn’t working out without locking yourself into an annual commitment. Remember that many times software pricing will show only an annual price, but it may be possible to go month to month, just ask! It probably will tell you a lot about the flexibility, or lack thereof, when they tell you about their pricing.
Problem #2: Amazing Customer Service!?
I’m hoping that great customer service is a “solution” that all online conference registration software companies offer, but it deserves a section since this is so important. Your account manager from your software company is an extension of your team. Understand before you sign a contract what kind of support you’ll receive and if it’s what you need. When you have an issue come up, you need to be able to reach someone and get the issue resolved. Obviously any company will say they offer support – but get the details? Email? Phone? What are the hours?
Some will say that a great product doesn’t need support. HA!!! That’s cute. Even great products need support. Just look at Google. They offer support for AdWords (which is their main source of income) because people have questions or issues and they need to invest in support to their paying clients!
Problem #3: Complicated to Use!
There are some online conference registration software products on the market that are GREAT but also super complicated to use. AdWords, like I mentioned above, is a great example of a platform that is very good but very complex and not user friendly at all. Google doesn’t really have an incentive to make it more user friendly, but conference registration providers do! So avoid any solution that isn’t easy for you or your attendees to use, because there is most likely a better and more user friendly product out there for you!
Avoid any software that doesn’t make registering and managing registration easy for everyone!
Problem #4: Embedding In Your Conference Website
You most likely have worked hard to create a great conference website – with your branding and a certain “look and feel”. So when someone clicks ‘register’ on your site, why take them to another website to register? It breaks up the experience and isn’t as professional as a registration process that sits on your site. (Read more about embedding on your website here). When money is involved, attendees want to feel safe and secure. And data shows that 27% attendees will abandon your registration process when they are redirected to an external site. If that isn’t enough reason to choose an online conference registration software that stays on your site, I don’t know what is!
If you’re wondering where I got the 27% numbers, it comes from registering 1,236,743 applicants in 2014 alone and 2.9 million in 2015.
Problem #5: Reporting
Think about what kind of reporting YOU need specifically from your online conference registration software so you can evaluate properly your options. (You can also check out this post I wrote about common reporting questions conference planners have).
The goal of online conference registration software is to make YOUR life easier, by automating much of your registration process. Most online conference registration software options offer a limited amount of templates to use for reporting, which is fine if what they offer suits your needs, but isn’t if it doesn’t. And if it doesn’t for you, this is bad news! The whole point of reports is to be helpful, and they can’t be if you can’t get them how you need.
Problem #6: Group Registration
It’s definitely a problem if your online conference registration software does NOT allow group registration. You can read ALL about this in a separate post because it’s that important. You will net 26% more attendees if your software offers group registration. The basic idea of online registration is to make the process of registering for your conference EASY and FAST for attendees. Most conferences will have some attendees who register as a group – same company, same organization, etc that are coming together. Offering group registration is the #1 way to make the process for these people easy and fast! Unless you don’t have groups registering at all, or very often, it might not be a big deal if your software can’t handle this, but I suspect for many it’s necessary! (One of Regpack’s clients raved about group registration for their membership events, you can read about it here).
Problem #7: Invoicing
If your online conference registration software doesn’t allow you to send invoices, you might think about finding a new one. Seriously. Having a system that centralizes payments, forms and email communication is what makes paying for a software worthwhile. The point of software is automation and this includes automatic invoicing and payment reminders. I wrote recently on the blog all about payment confirmation emails. If you want to learn EVEN more about writing effective emails to attendees, I also wrote a whole eBook on payment email templates!
Not only does this make your life easier, it means you get paid quickly!
Online conference registration software is a problem solver!
Every conference is different, so finding an online conference registration software that is a true solution to your needs can be tough. Focus on finding a software that gives you the most flexibility with your process.