Registering Online? Here’s What to Look For

By Heather Baldwin

When attendees go to register for your next national sales meeting, will they be picking up pens or picking up keyboards? If you said keyboards, you’re among a growing number of companies that are ditching paper-based registration systems and putting their registration information on the Web. Corbin Ball, a certified meeting planner and founder of Corbin Ball Associates, says online registration programs aren’t just about saving money. “There has been an explosion of useful features that are saving time, vastly increasing efficiency, building attendance, integrating many components of the meeting planning process and establishing one-to-one marketing tools, as well as saving money,” he says. Ball says companies considering online registration for their next meeting should look for the following features in their vendor.

Immediate confirmation. Registrants should receive an immediate, automated confirmation via email that includes details on pricing, events they’ve signed up for and how to make changes.

One-stop shopping. Some registration companies include the ability to reserve hotel and air travel on the same form so attendees can take care of all meeting-related details in one visit.

Online concierge. This service provides links to venue maps and other venue details to boost attendee interest and convenience.

Automated communication. Online registration systems “often provide an integrated event marketing email system that will automate email functions and allow the planner to easily set up a full email promotion and marketing campaign,” says Ball. “Other features include automatic generation of email and/or printed confirmation letters/receipts; blast emails of updates, schedule changes, and announcements to those who have registered, and automatic reminders.”

When properly used, says Ball, the email automation tools provided with many registration systems can increase attendance and reduce no-shows – therefore boosting meeting revenue, he says. “Email campaigns, especially those with built-in personalization and reminders, are often much more effective than standard mail or un-personalized email.” And if that’s not enough to convince you, think about how much time you’ll be able to spend on the golf course when you no longer have to compile all those paper forms.