Online event registration can help you increase sales, lower costs, increase engagement and deliver a better experience for your audience.
Define Online Event Registration
Online event registration is the process by which an event planner uses systems like an event website to organize an experience for one or more attendees. The online event registration process can be as simple as an email, or a more advanced event registration system like Event Smart that can give attendees multiple ticket options, collect detailed information using registration forms, process payments, scan and validate registrations or tickets, communicate with attendees automatically, and track attendance.
Always open – Compared to a manual event registration process, online event registration is always open, so your event registration process can always accept new registrants even after business hours (except when you close it on purpose). Your audience can register for your event whenever it is convenient for them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Event Smart distribution of U.S. event registration ticket sales by hour.
If you are only accepting registrations during business hours, by taking phone calls or emails, that means you are forcing 30% of your audience to do business with you when it is not as convenient for them. If you are lucky to capture 100% of the attendees that would register outside of business hours, then that means you still have to do all the work for all the attendees during business hours. Whereas, with online event registration you could automate and spread that work load over 24 hours.
Managing Behavior with Incentives – Most people procrastinate registering or buying tickets until the last minute. Even if you offer an early bird ticket or discount, attendees still often wait until the discount expires and/or the tickets sell out.
Given human nature, online event registration has some advantages over offline event registration:
Incentivize action. You can incentivize your attendees to register sooner by having a limited number of early bird tickets. Notice in the graph below that 5% of attendees buy their tickets earlier than 28 days before the tickets will no longer be on sale. That may be due to event organizers opening their registration 28 days in advance or just that people don’t want to buy too early. Promotion and discount codes, along with early-bird tickets are an effective way to incentivize your audience to take action now.
Sell to the last minute. Your attendees can buy their tickets or register within minutes of the deadline. With offline registration, your audience has to send in their paper work and payment further in advance or bring it to the door on the day of the event. Notice in the graph below that 9% of audiences buy their ticket on the last day that the ticket will be offered for sale.
Less risk of over/under selling – With online event registration, you and your audience have real-time updates to available seats/tickets. Your audience has to get their tickets online while they are available or they cannot attend. You don’t have a potential problem of dozens of people arriving at your event with their checkbook and paperwork, expecting to attend when you were not expecting them. Making sure the right people have access to your events can help alleviate stress for your staff and ensure your audience has the best experience.
Event registration helps protect your attendees, staff, and the whole experience of your event. pic.twitter.com/szc5yRbN32
— Event Smart (@EventSmart) October 20, 2015
Easier to promote – Because your even registration is online (digital), it can be promoted more efficiently and with lower cost. You can share your online event registration website on social networks, emails, newsletters, text/sms messages, etc. which is so much easier than trying to promote your event offline in traditional marketing.
Easier to share – Events are inherently social, and if you know your friends are going to go to an event you are more likely to go as well. Facebook relationships and email contacts most closely match your real friends, so it makes sense that sharing with those friends is effective. Authentic social media interactions are very effective, especially when your attendees share that they registered or bought tickets.
The Millennial consumer is not influenced by advertising, but social recommendations by trusted associates are more important than ever.
Brand recognition – Compared to a random 800 number or mailing address, online event registration allows you the opportunity to immediately introduce your brand to your audience. If you just compare these symbols, which gives you more information and which do you trust more?
- 123 Main Street New York, NY 10001
The company logo offers an identity and any associated meanings, where as phone numbers and addresses are essentially anonymous.
Easy payment – It’s convenient and efficient to let your audience buy tickets online. Audiences can pay via credit card or paypal, and you get your money fast.
Intuit estimates that each business that does not accept plastic misses out on approximately $7,000 in sales annually, equating to approximately more than $100 billion in collective lost revenue. This missed opportunity represents a combination of new sales and sales that go to other businesses that accept credit cards.
Positive cash flow – Online event registration gives you the opportunity to generate positive cash flow. You can collect money from registrations and ticket sales before you incur the expenses of organizing your event. You can also get a more accurate count of people who will actually attend, so you eliminate waste. Whereas with offline event registration, your audience can unexpectedly attend which causes frustration for everyone, or they can register without paying and you’re stuck paying the bill until they show up.
Discounting – If you have different target audiences for the same event, you can offer each of them different prices. You can have separate prices for members, non-members, VIPs, vendors, staff, volunteers, etc.
Price optimization – It is easier to change prices with online event registration. It’s easier to update prices on an event website than it is to change flyers and brochures. If you find that your event is selling out too quickly or too slowly, you can easily change the price.
Multiple event registration – With multiple event registration you can give your audience the ability to register for multiple, but separate, events at the same time. For example, if you offer both Yoga Fitness and Yoga Instructor classes, your audience could register for both classes at the same time. Offline event registration generally requires more redundant paperwork, multiple payments, etc. The easier it is for your audience to register for events, the fewer people will abandon your event registration process.
Low cost marketing – You can avoid the cost of printing static flyers and brochures with online event registration. Or even worse, you can avoid re-printing those flyers and brochures when you find a critical typo in the flyer or the details (speakers, pricing, dates, locations, etc.) of your event change.
Exposure to distant markets – Online event registration affords you the ability to attract the attention of distant attendees who may be traveling to your area.
Device ready – Modern online event registration and ticketing systems are designed to be accessed from a variety of devices (phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, etc.). Both the event organizer and the attendee can access the online registration at their convenience. Paper registrations can be very customized and a nice experience, but paper registrations are only accessible in person and only if you can get in contact with that person.
Google also favors event websites that are ready for mobile devices, giving you an advantage with a more mobile-friendly event website.
Easy to setup – Online event registration is usually very easy and quick to setup. An online event registration website and registration form can be setup in less than an hour which means you can start collecting registrations or selling tickets faster.
Pay as you go, subscriptions and trial periods – A lot of modern online event registration software structure their fees in several ways that lowers your cost to sell tickets:
- Pay as you go – you only incur expenses as you generate revenue, but you are charged a fee with each registration.
- Subscriptions – you pay a flat monthly fee and can generate unlimited revenue without being charged for each registration or ticket you sell. Subscriptions generally have a trial period where you can use the service for free to evaluate the system and start selling tickets before you incur any expenses.
Lower labor costs – Online event registration allows you to do more with less. Online event registration programmatically automates manual tasks so that you don’t have to do them at all, meaning you can hire less staff and make your events more efficient.
Lower printing and mailing costs, etc. – Online event registration can help you avoid printing all those flyers, postcards, agendas, etc.
Online event registration makes you more accessible to your audience and more productive.
Decreasing marginal cost – The more events and attendees you have, the cheaper it actually gets to organize those events. At least, that’s how it works with Event Smart. Online event registration can programmatically solve so many problems that you would have to handle manually with offline event registration.
Automated communication – Online event registration introduces ease of communication and networking with your attendees. For instance, your audience will need to receive communication that their registration was or was not successful, that their payment was or was not successful, or that their registration was denied, that the event has been cancelled, rescheduled, etc. Online event registration can handle those situations and communicate with your attendees automatically. You also have their contact information so you can let them know about future events.
Save time – Let the tasks that can be automated be automated. There is no reason you have to process every transaction manually, or email receipts manually, or re-type the event registration data. Let online event registration do the repetitive work so you can focus on having deeper experiences with your audience. You can also re-use the events and event settings when publishing and organizing your next event.
A Better Experience
Pre-screened attendees – It is easier to design the best experience if you know who is attending your event. And the more similar the audience, the easier it will be to execute a similar experience for everyone. With customized registration forms, or requiring attendees to be pre-approved before they can make a payment, you can make sure that attendees will be an asset to the event, not a distraction.
Personalized preparations – When you can collect information from attendees into a digital format, it’s easier to prepare a customized experience for each attendee. You can plan meals, name tags, sessions, custom tickets, badges, etc with that electronic data without having to transcribe it from paper to a spreadsheet.
— Event Smart (@EventSmart) October 22, 2015
Collect contact information to invite audiences to events over time – Building a lasting relationship with your audience and earning their trust can help make your events even more successful over time. And over time, you can build a profile of your attendees and their registration history so you know them better.
Building social networks, and social connections – Relationships can begin with and be strengthened by online interactions. With an online event registration website your audience can interact with each other in a variety of ways. They can communicate via comments, social media, exchanging email addresses, etc. Building and facilitating a social network is nearly impossible to do offline.
Feedback – In addition to audiences and attendees interacting with each other, online event registration increases your ability to interact with your attendees. You can also engage in asking questions via comments on your event website, ask people to take surveys and polls, suggest new ideas, and contact your staff.
Convenience for when attendees want to be involved – If you provide opportunities for your audience to get involved, they will already be familiar with interacting with you electronically because you introduced them to your event website during your online event registration process.
Easier for people to contact you – Everyone multitasks with their electronic devices, even while at an event. Building a website for your events and using online event registration can make you more available to be contacted both before, during, and after an event when attendees cannot make a phone call or visit you personally.
Reach different audiences simultaneously – Online event registration, or even better to build an event website, allows you to engage different audiences simultaneously. You can reach out to attendees, organize volunteers, manage sponsors and vendors, etc. You can create event pages, blog posts, social media messages, etc. all intended for your various audiences, or all at the same time.
Integration with Other Systems – Interoperability
Online event registration makes it easier to connect with many of the other services you use to make your events productive and profitable. For example, with Event Smart you can use third party integrations to connect with:
- Payment gateways such as PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, etc.
- Email service providers such as MailChimp
- Social Media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, etc.
- Accounting via your payment gateways (see above), or a marketing program like Infusionsoft
The more connected the data, the better it can be used and the more valuable the data becomes.
— Event Smart (@EventSmart) October 27, 2015
Added Revenue Opportunities
A online event registration website gives you additional places where you can sell exposure to advertisers and sponsors. You will have far more space (digital real estate) on an event website than you will with a paper registration system. An online event registration website also allows opportunities for your sponsors and advertisers to interact with your audiences (if you let them).
Better Security and Support
More resources for your staff to help customers – Paper lists are not updated in real-time. It’s difficult to have a registration history for each attendee on paper. It’s almost impossible to have record of the internal communication about an attendee on a paper list, etc.
Online event registration gives you digital resources that more than one person can use to help your attendees.
Protect the experience – You probably don’t organize events for dignitaries, executives or officials very often, so this doesn’t just mean providing body guards, security guards, or bouncers.
Providing security for your events means you take precautions to protect the experience that everyone has at your event. You need to ensure that:
- Those who are entitled to attend can attend.
- Those who are not entitled to attend are excluded.
- You protect your event from being derailed by unexpected guests, inappropriate actions and conduct of staff and participants.
- Both staff and participants follow the processes, rules and guidelines that are established. This will ensure that people don’t get frustrated with delays, favoritism, and have unmet expectations.
Online event registration helps protect your attendees, staff, and the whole experience of your event.
Event registration helps protect your attendees, staff, and the whole experience of your event. pic.twitter.com/szc5yRbN32
— Event Smart (@EventSmart) October 20, 2015
Online event registration gives you the ability to track and report on almost anything that happens. Your event website allows you to coordinate among staff and generate real-time reports so you are always updated with the correct information.
- Reports are updated in real-time so that the information is never outdated.
- You can track the source of registrations and ticket sales to individual websites, referring companies, promotion codes used, etc.
- Measure the return of your advertising and marketing expenses.
If you’re using a paper event registration system, it’s a lot harder or almost impossible to increase your sales, lower your expenses, and execute a better experience like you can with an online event registration system or website.