Whether you’re new to registration or are unsatisfied with your current event registration platform, there’s one common denominator: It’s tricky to pick the right one.
As those of us who have gone through this process before know all too well, picking the right platform makes life easy, reduces stress levels, and takes a big part of planning off your plate. On the other hand, if you’ve been stuck using the wrong platform, you could be faced with poor customer support, lack of flexibility, a platform that’s too difficult for registrants to sign up with, or software that’s incredibly confusing for your team to figure out. Perhaps you believe there is a better option, but you’re not sure what it is.
While our list below should help you better understand what you’re looking for in an event registration platform, there is one key theme that you should always have in the back of your mind: You don’t want to have to apologize for registration issues. That’s not why you’re hosting the event, it’s not something that you should need to worry about, and it’s a sign that the registration platform you chose isn’t as great as it’s cracked up to be.
Here are the 7 must-have features in your event registration platform.
Feature #1: Easy Registration
The key to hosting a successful event is making it as easy as possible to register. Your alumni and constituents are busy people who likely won’t bother to jump over hurdles. So, if there are any issues between their intent to register and their ability to submit their registration, you’ll end up with two scenarios.
The first is that they’ll just not register and not attend. The second is that they’ll have to find your contact information, call you, and have you do the registration for them.
Either way, if your goal is to automate part of the registration process and make it easier for people to RSVP, it would be a failure.
Easy registration doesn’t just mean that it works, it also means that it’s possible to collect the right information. Things like conditional fields, auto-filling of form fields, mobile responsive layouts, the ability to collect information per attendee, and the ability to register for an activity at a multi-day event without a confusing interface are all key to a simple and straightforward registration process.
Though the above list of requirements may seem overly technical or more complex than you need, the truth is that a registration platform with these types of options is more likely to be able to handle whatever you need to throw at it.
Feature #2: Service and Support
Excellent customer service is one of the most difficult features to offer, but it’s also one of the most valuable to find. When you do eventually run into an issue with your registration platform, you’re going to want to be able to contact support easily. There shouldn’t be some ten-step questionnaire before you get connected to the right person, there shouldn’t be a long waiting line, and there definitely shouldn’t be a complicated process to navigate before you reach someone who can actually help.
If you’re really researching your options, it can be easy to forget that customer support is a core feature to be on the lookout for. We get so focused on the new things they’ve built or how they’ve redesigned their tools, but we quickly forget that customer support is crucial. Whether it’s during the onboarding stage when you’re getting things setup, the registration stage when people are trying to sign up, or the tracking stage when you’re trying to understand who has registered for what, at some point, there’s a very good chance you’re going to need an answer to some question. In today’s day and age, features can be created or copied quite easily; however, support can be one of the biggest differentiation
between vendors. When that time comes, you won’t want to be waiting for hours or struggle to get the right person to assist you with your needs.
Feature #3: Custom Branding
When people register for your event, they’re doing it because they know you. They aren’t doing it because they know Registration Platform X. Which raises the question: Why doesn’t every registration platform offer custom branding options?
What you should demand from your next platform is the ability to have your branding on the registration form (colors, logos, and fonts), or even the ability to embed the entire form on your website. Without detailed control over the style and feel of your website, you may end up losing registrants from confusion and not being clear if they’re registering for the right event.
Feature #4: Flexibility
No two events are the same, which is why you need to be looking for a platform that lets you host the event you want. You don’t want to be forced into a box that constrains your creativity or your freedom to make quick, on-the-spot changes.
Specifically, you should be looking for the option to comp or waive fees, duplicate past events quickly, and enable multiple levels of registration with different levels of pricing.
For example, there may be guests who have paid membership dues that exempt them from event fees, guests who aren’t fully-fledged members that need to pay more money, and people who are brought as “plus ones” who need to fall into different categories. These categories could be obvious at the beginning, but the truth is that categorizing them on-the-ground requires a flexible platform.
These types of custom, advanced features can really come in handy when you’re in the middle of getting the event planned.
Feature #5: Analytics and Measurability
In all likelihood, your event is going to be a failure if you aren’t able to figure out how many people are coming and which part of the event they’ve registered for. If you don’t have insight into who is planning on participating in different parts of your event you’re going to be in for a very stressful event. You’ll be faced with unexpected lines, frustrated attendees, and a team that is overwhelmed with the unexpected demand.
Additionally, your analytics need go beyond just simple RSVPs. You need to be able to track the conversion rate for registrants, track incomplete registrations, and see at which point people dropped off your registration process. This is important for follow-up, but it’s equally important for making on-the-fly changes to your registration process to make it easier for future registrants to get through the flow successfully.
Feature #6: Notifications
Whether it’s via email or text messages, at some point you’re going to want to communicate with your attendees. Your alumni and constituents aren’t solely focused on your upcoming event, so there’s a very good chance that they’re going to need reminders and updates about what is happening.
It might be an update about the logistics of the event, new sub-events that you’ve decided to host, or contingency plans for weather-related delays.
Whatever it is, you’re going to want to be able send it to the precise group of people that need the information.
Feature #7: Flexible Pricing
You should have complete control over what you’re charging people. While it’s easy to just say the event is $40 per person, the truth is that most events want to give discounts to senior citizens, children, students, alumni, society members, or any combination of those groups.
These different levels of pricing can quickly become complicated, so you need to find a registration platform that can manage the complexity with ease.
There are numerous registration platform options that are available to you. Even though the competition is fierce, it can still be difficult to figure out what features each platform offers.
However, you also need to be able to look beyond features to truly understand what experience each platform offers. That is why it is so important to talk with existing customers. Companies all try to spin their products to make them look amazing, but only people who are using the registration platform on a daily basis are faced with the truth of whether or not it’s worth the price tag.
As soon as you start considering a new vendor, take the time to talk with existing customers of the platform. This will help you truly understand which vendors not only have the features you need, but who also take care of their customers. To get a great experience for your event staff and your registrants, you should talk to the vendor’s clients to understand how they do business.