If you made it to this article, you probably know that RegPack offers online course registration software (and if you don’t you should!). You probably also know that it costs money. And anytime that something costs money, most of us think “Could I get by without it?”
The answer is: maybe.
The truth is, there are other options for online course registration, and some of them are even free. Of course, in the Software as a Service world, free means limited. Depending on your needs, a free event registration tool might be all that you need. You may also be able to save yourself valuable time and effort by choosing to go ahead and pay for a more advanced service.
This article will introduce you to some great, free online course registration tools and talk about what they can do and what they can’t do. It will also discuss some paid services and the tools and resources that they provide. After that, you can decide whether they meet your needs or whether you require something with a bit more power behind it.
Evite is such a big name in the industry that you might not have known it was a brand name. However, Evite calls itself an “invitation service,” not a registration service. And there’s good reason for that.
Evite lets you choose from loads of templates to create invitations for any event that you can send via the postal service, email, or text message. You can also personalize the cards with all kinds of add-ons like uploadable images and customizable fonts and color schemes. Unfortunately, that’spay where it ends.
This services doesn’t do things like allow your invitees to register for events, pay you for expenses, &c.
It does have a “premium” service that costs a bit extra but unfortunately it doesn’t add much actual utility – it just gets rid of ads and gives you more customization options.
In the end, this service is a great and fun way to make people aware of your event or remind them of it, but it doesn’t help for things that are included in other registration tools. Unless you don’t care how many people are actually coming – in which case you probably don’t need any registration software at all – you would probably be better off using Evite in addition to rather than instead of other registration software.
Eventbrite is another service that you’ve probably heard of before, even if you haven’t used it yourself. It has a lot more tools and offers a lot more tools than Evite, even if it isn’t as much fun to use.
Eventbrite is able to offer more advanced service because they allow you to sell tickets to your event and take a portion of each ticket sale. That’s a really great feature because you aren’t charged up-front so if you have a lower registration than anticipated you don’t lose money. It also means that when you sign up for an account you can make your event and leave your account active without getting charged for membership when you aren’t using it.
This payment structure also means that you can charge for your tickets to offset the price of your event (or make some money on it). This is a valuable tool that a lot of other “free” services don’t offer. Eventbrite will also register your event on their site and on partner sites. That means that people can find your event without being invited.
The place where Eventbrite gives other services – even paid services – a run for their money, is where you get into the different available tiers of membership.
For a higher percentage of each ticket price, you can get access to analytical software, the ability to sell tickets on your own website as well as Eventbrite, and other perks. The highest tier even gives you access to branded webpages, support staff, and rental equipment. Of course, by the time you get to those kinds of things, you’re probably paying more than a percentage of ticket sales will get you. Unless you’re prepared to charge a pretty high price per ticket.
So could you use Eventbrite instead of a paid registration service? If you’re ready to charge for tickets, Eventbrite does give you access to services that paid services offer, like analytics, customizable forms, and tickets on your own site. If you don’t want to charge for your ticket, however, the utility gets a lot more limited.
Filemaker Pro helps to create a database for applicants, including registration, billing and more. It handles the data management functions for a business.
If you are looking for just data entry, Filemaker Pro is great! It does not offer the ability to customize the registration and data collection process.
Filemaker is also not specific for online registration, so it can be difficult to set up a system that works for your business.
SurveyMonkey, like Evite, isn’t designed as a registration service but you could use it as one – if you’re frugal enough and clever enough.
This program is meant for surveys. Surveys, however, are very versatile. Most of the things that you would need to collect from someone over the course of an online course registration, you can collect from them through well a comprehensive and well-worded survey.
There are a few problems with this, however. Because surveys aren’t supposed to be used for registration, rooting through the results that you get for the information you need can be very tedious. Asking the right questions can be tedious too. So can answering them. More advanced registration software have systems that make it easier to customize surveys automatically based on the responses of your registrants.
With SurveyMonkey, there is also the problem of collecting payment – namely that you cant. At least, not with the free version. The two ways around this are to pay for a monthly subscription that does let you accept payments, or to be clever and have one of the questions on your survey be billing information. Of course, then you have the additional step of billing them, which could definitely be streamlined. Even paid versions of SurveyMonkey don’t offer the advanced survey options that paid registration software offers.
Wufoo allows you to build and share online forms, create forms, collect data and payments, and automate your application workflows.
Wufoo is great for simple forms and processes. It lacks in it’s ability to customize your process, embed on your website and create a unique user flow for every applicant.
Google Forms is a pretty user-friendly form-design platform that you can use to create questionnaires. That’s really about it. You can’t use it to contact people, it’s not very easy to make charts and reports out of, you can’t accept payment through it. Of course, you can use a question in your questionnaire to collect things like contact info and arrange payments, but it’s pretty far from an all-inclusive tool like paid registration platforms.
Now, Google Forms is one of the Google Suite. That means that it can work fairly well with other Google Suite platforms like GMail, Google Pay, Google Sheets, &c. The only problem is that everyone who registers has to have these accounts for it to really work out.
Just to be clear, Google Forms is great. All of Google Suite is great. It’s just not really a solid replacement for registration software. Even if you are registering for an event that’s only available to people in your organization and everyone in your organization has a Google account, this just isn’t the best way to go.
Regpack is another paid registration program. It does require a membership fee, but it’s a monthly fee so you aren’t locked into any long-term contracts. Though, if you know that you’ll be using Regpack for a while, you can opt in for an annual membership to save some money over repeatedly renewing your monthly membership. There are also different tiers of pricing for different sizes of organizations so smaller organizations don’t pay big-organization prices even though all users get access to the same fetures.
With Regpack you get one all-access administrator, though you can also have limited access for assistant administrators. From Regpack you also get a project manager and dedicated software support. Like GoSignMeUp, you can do everything within the Regpack website or you can embed your Regpack content into your organization’s existing website.
Like Course Storm, Regpack also allows group registration so that multiple users can sign in through a single account. While sales aren’t required to pay for Regpack, it does have a lot of great tools for payment. It allows you to take payment, to schedule future payments, automate payments, and create reports based on your outstanding and incoming revenue. It even offers purchase protection.
One of Regpack’s best services is the cloud access that it gives users. Documents can be stored, created, and viewed in the cloud in a system similar to Google Drive. That includes forms with powerful tools including allowing you to filter users based on customizable datapoints.
Regpack is also an example of a registration service that is flexible enough to allow use for courses as well as other events and services offered by your organization.
GoSignMeUp is a paid service for online course registration. It’s also the first service that we’ll look at that really offers everything that you could need for your course registration process.
With GoSignMeUp, you create a website for your organization. You can also embed content on your own website. The tool is really versatile when it comes to courses in that it works with courses of just about any length and for just about any size.
If you’re setting up a one-session course for members of your organization and you’re expecting five people, GoSignMeUp can handle it. If you’re a university looking for a new registration platform, GoSignMeUp could probably handle that too.
The service incorporates all of those other necessary services like payment and communications, as well as reporting software, so everything that you need is right there. It can also handle a wide variety of payment methods including digital currencies and credit/debit cards. You can even go to GoSignMeUp for things like certificates of completion and other hard documents.
The only real downside of this service is that it’s extremely specialized. Most of the free content that we’ve discussed above and some of the other paid services that we’re going to discuss are pretty versatile. That means, that as long as you’re paying for them, you can use them as a registration tool for other events as well as courses. GoSignMeUp is really only such a powerful tool if all you need it to do is manage classes.
Course Storm is another paid registration service. To get off to a great start, Course Storm’s pricing model is similar to that of Eventbrite: rather than paying a membership fee, a transaction fee is taken out of credit card orders. That means that if you don’t need the services year-round you can still have access to them without paying for time that you aren’t using the service.
Now, on to Course Storm’s services. You know that Course Storm can handle credit card payments, because that’s how they collect their fees. Unfortunately, they only take credit cards, they don’t work with online payment methods like some of the other services that we’ve looked at.
There is a lot that Course Storm does offer, however. For one thing, you can limit hassle for your customers and clients because individual accounts can have multiple profiles. That means that if you’re making an event for children multiple siblings can all go through one account in the name of the parents. If you’re setting up an event at your coffee shop or art gallery, a whole group of friends can sign up using the same account. Course Storm is also very mobile compatible so that your registrants can sign up and see everything that they need to see while on the go.
Course Storm may not have all of the bells and whistles that GoSignMeUp has, but it’s also less specialized. That means that you can use it for courses, but you should be able to get some other utilities out of it as well. It gives you all of the tools you need without locking you in the shed.
Formstack is similar to Wufoo, they create online forms that include payments. It is a simple solutions, so if you need a way to really customize your registration process, or do things “outside of the box”, this won’t get it done.
Formstack is web based, which is great for easy access whenever you need it! You can sell tickets, follow up with attendees via email, and use pre-made templates for your next event or program.
So Do You Need Paid Registration Software?
If you have very basic course registration needs, any one of the free services mentioned above might be enough for your organization.
If you have anything more than basic course registration needs, you might be able to get by with a lot of patience, a lot of creativity, and some combination of any or all of the three services mentioned above – and even then you might end up paying for at least one of them to meet your needs. It might save you some money, but you’ll end up paying in time and effort.
In the end, if you need to do things like survey participants, manage payments, learn from analytics and more, you are going to have to end up paying for some kind of service and a dedicated course registration service is the only service that is going to offer all of the tools you are going to need.