Finding the right online conference registration software isn’t necessarily an easy task. What features should you look for? How do you evaluate a company and then compare them to others? What is the average price? The list goes on. Pretty much everyone would agree that going online if you aren’t already is the right choice. But finding a conference registration software that meets your needs, and the price you can afford, takes a little work.
There are 3 steps to finding the right software:
- Evaluate your own process.
- Do a demo!
Seems easy right, 3 steps? Not so bad. Below I’ll walk you through what goes into each step. I will also show you how to can arrive at a decision for the best online conference registration software.
Step 1: Evaluate your own process.
I think this is a great step 1 for pretty much anything related to tools for your business (or personal life!) Figure out what YOU need FROM a product, not what products can offer you. Make a list of what you need, what you’d love to have, and what you can live without. Basically, and especially if you’re on a budget, you need to prioritize what you really need so that you can narrow your search to online conference registration software that will at the bare minimum, give you what you need and filter out any that don’t fit the bill.
Plus this brainstorming is really good for you before you start listening to a bunch of, probably really convincing, sales pitches. You know your company best, so first sit and think about what you need or at least, what you think you need. Use this as a starting off point for your research.
Step 2: Research Online Conference Registration Software
Now you are ready to look at what’s out there. A great place to start is just good ‘ole Google. Plug in conference registration software and see what comes up. You can also go to some software search websites. Capterra is a favorite as they are really comprehensive, give a features list, pricing, usually a link to a company’s YouTube video overview (if they have one) plus they have a lot of quality reviews.
This process is a great time to match what you need out of a software and the reality of your budget. You can then adjust your list about what you need if you find that it isn’t in line with what you can afford to spend.
In my opinion, the very basic of *needs* are:
- Personalized flow. This means that you can set up your questions and forms in a way that customizes the process for every applicant. You want applicants to see the questions they need to answer. For example, if you ask a question about food allergies (do you have any) and the answer is yes, more questions will appear to get the information you require on food allergies and if they select no, the next question will appear, skipping over the additional food allergy questions. This personalized flow will make the process as quick as possible for everyone – which means more completed applications and more money in your pocket!
- Automated emails. The software you choose should automatically send out emails on your behalf when applicants complete certain actions, or to remind them to complete their application. A nice to have on this would be able to fully customize this and populate the emails with specific information related to that user, including name, sessions they are attending, balance due, etc.
- Online payments. The ideal would be to have the payment processor built in to your online conference registration software but if you need to collect payment, make sure there is some way to connect the registration and your payments. Having an online registration software but then asking for payment via check sent in the mail or collecting CC information over the phone, only to process each manually, is a major time suck and defeats the purpose of spending money on registration software (the goal of which is to AUTOMATE your process).
Some *nice to have* features include:
- The ability for the software to embed in your website.
- Group registration.
- Scheduled payments.
Step 3: Do a demo!
Once you’ve narrowed down again your list of needs and you’ve found some online conference registration options that fit the bill, it’s time to get in touch with them and DO A DEMO! I promise you, you will eliminate a few on your list just through this process.
If you go through a demo and you find:
- The learning curve to be too great
- If they don’t *actually* fulfill one or more of your list of must haves
- If their customer service on at this stage isn’t up to your standards,
Then, you get to realize all of this before you sign on the dotted line! A demo can give you so much great information. You really get a feel for how the company operates. You also know what product you are getting, along with what kind of support.
If a company…
- Takes too long to get back to you.
- If their interface is ugly/confusing/not user friendly.
- If they don’t seem to have a lot of knowledge about your company and what you do, they might not be a great fit.
Your gut is your best friend here. Doing the demo, listen to your gut – if it feels awesome, it probably is!
Conclusion: Finding the Right Online Conference Registration Software
Finding the best online conference registration software is no easy task! But it’s worth it! Going online and managing your registration will save you time and money! An automated software will allow your staff to work on your CONFERENCE and making it awesome, not on paperwork. Follow these 3 steps, identify your needs, do your research and do some demos!