Last Updated: February 17, 2016.
Professional event planners have a unique position of power that they have never before had. Today, as businesses value innovation more and more, and as event attendees value experiences over things, organizers have the ability to both drive innovation for companies, while delighting event attendees hungry for new and exciting event experiences.
Event technology is the one tool that can help event organizers to drive business innovation while wowing attendees, and event registration software is a key component of event technology.
Choosing the right registration platform has become a critical component to planning any event, and this article will help readers do just that.
A powerful all in one event registration platform will allow event organizers to build better events, while liberating them from hard-to-use platforms of the past.
Whether you’re investigating registration options on behalf of an association, professional networking event, tradeshow, or something else, there are a number of factors you must consider when choosing an event registration platform for you events.
Before diving into a detailed answer to “what is the best event registration software,” the simple answer is: there is no one size fits all answer. The best platform is the one that fits with your overall event goals and operations, provides you with the greatest flexibility to register event goers, while giving you tools to actually increase registrations in addition to managing them.
Event Registration Software Benefits
Modern event registration systems have evolved far beyond being able to just collect attendee information, and providing a ticket to be collected at check-in.
Increase Registrations Or Ticket Sales
Today, event organizers can actually increase event registrations or ticket sales (depending on the kind of event you’re organizing) with powerful marketing features.
Using social media integrations, some systems can actually encourage those who have just registered to your event, to recommend it to their friends.
Other platforms are able to provide a double-sided referral incentive to event registrants so that they receive a discount for every new person whom they share a special promotional link with.
[Above] An example of a double-sided event registration program
This referral system works similarly to systems used by Uber, Dropbox, Airbnb, and Netflix by rewarding both the referrer and the new user (in this case, a ticket buyer) with discounts.. This innovative technology has made its way to the event planning community.
Another way event registration platforms can be used to increase the overall number of registrations is by collecting valuable data for organizers to use. For example, some platforms can show information about how registrants were referred to your event website, which might be able to inform better marketing activities in the future.
Using an all in one event management platform, with event registration built in will help to save you time.
Rather than managing relationships with many different vendors, you’ll be able to focus on the important parts of planning an event, like improving attendee experience.
Organizers who choose separate platforms to manage registration, the event website, attendee networking, email marketing, and social media, might find themselves being inefficient.
In addition to improved ease-of-use associated with an all-in-one platform, it’s also true that event organizers who use multiple solutions will end up wasting time making small changes across channels.
If, for example, an organizer using multiple tools wants to edit their event agenda, they would have to manually update the agenda on every channel where the agenda is placed. Common channels might include the event website, event blog, and the event mobile app.
Rather than having to manually update the same agenda 3 times, all-in-one users can make the same change one time and have the agenda instantly update everywhere it is placed.
All-in-one event software that supports event registration empowers event organizers to work smarter, which helps them to focus on improving their event instead of making small technical changes that waste time.
Better Understand Your Events
True understanding comes from being able to analyze data. Using an all-in-one event management platform with event registration built-in, means all of your event critical data is in one place, making it simple to see valuable insights that can help you to better understand your events.
All-in-one platforms now have the ability to show things like the connection between ticket type purchased and attendee satisfaction, or what marketing channel generated the most event revenue.
The problem with stand-alone platforms is that some are not specifically designed for event organizers.
Social media monitoring platforms were not built with the event organizer in mind for example. They show data about social engagement, but they can’t show users how a post on Twitter directly resulted in a ticket sale or new event registrant.
All-in-one event planning platforms focus on the data that is relevant to event organizers, and ignore the data that doesn’t matter, making it easier for event planners to understand how they can quickly improve their events.
To learn more about Bizzabo's event management platform, with event registration, click the button below!
Event Registration Software Terms Glossary
As you search for the best event registration software, you’re going to run into many industry specific terms that have different definitions depending on what vendor you’re talking to.
This guide to event registration terms will help you understand exactly what these terms mean, so that you can see how features compare from one vendor to another.
Event Registration Set-up: The method through which organizers build an event registration process for attendees. This involves creating ticket types, allocating processing fees, building a registration form, and designing the confirmation email that registrants receive afterward.
Tip: Be sure to create a dummy event registration flow, and try it yourself to see the experience attendees will have.
Branded Event Registration Experience: Rather than embedding a ticketing widget into your event website that doesn’t fit with your event look and feel, some platforms allow organizers to fully customize the registration experience with custom colors, fonts and formatting.
[Above] An example of what Bizzabo's ticketing widget looks like.
Tip: Check to see exactly how customizable the registration process is. Some platforms may still end up redirecting those who sign up to a third-party website with different branding.
Custom Form Options: If you’re organizing a medium to large size event, you’ll likely want to ask attendees a unique set of questions that will be different from traditional registration questions. Maybe you want to know about dietary restrictions attendees have, or how they discovered your event in the first place. Some platforms allow organizers to build a completely custom registration form.
Embeddable Ticketing Widgets: While many in the event technology space offer users the ability to create an event website, some organizers prefer to build their own using platforms like Wordpress, or Wix. In order to sell tickets on these third party websites, you’ll want to choose a registration platform that offers an embeddable ticketing widget that can be inserted into an website.
Tip: Review the ticket widget embedding process. If you need to insert an iFrame, which is a piece of HTML code, be sure you’re comfortable doing it, or that your Customer Success Representative can help you do it. Otherwise, having an embeddable ticketing widget will be useless if you can’t actually figure out how to embed it into your website.
Simple Payment Processing: There are a number of different payment processing options event organizers have at their disposal. From using older solutions such as PayPal or Authorize.net to newer advanced solutions such as Stripe.
Revenue Monitoring: This key feature allows organizers to monitor event ticket sales, or event registrations, giving them a feel for the overall health of an event. Some revenue monitoring systems work in real time, while others can only provide reports on an hourly, weekly, or monthly basis.
[Above] Simple reporting tools for event planners
Tip: Try to opt for an event registration platform that offers real-time revenue monitoring. That way, you’ll be able to see how your event is performing right away, allowing you to take faster decisions to increase ticket sales or registrations.
Apply To Attend & Waiting List: For private events, conferences with a “call for papers,” or startup gathering with a tech competition, apply to attend and waiting list features will be helpful.
This allows organizers to require those interested in participating in an event to submit a request form. Then, organizers can review the attendee, speak or competitor’s credentials and decide if they should be allowed to attend.
Tip: Make sure your event registration system has some way for you to manage contacts. If you simply get a CSV file of names and emails of people who applied to attend, you’ll be forced to spend valuable time sifting through spreadsheets. Instead, opt for an event registration tool that provides users with a way to manage registration data, so that reaching out to contacts is much easier.
Viral Event Registration Features: For any event organizer interested in event registration features, increase event attendance should be a focus. Viral registration features allows organizers to turn event attendees, into advocates by making it easy for them to share your event with friends or colleagues via email, or on social media.
Tip: Today, many different registration platforms say they have features that can increase ticket sales. To confirm that this is actually the case, ask to read a case study about how one client increased ticket sales and then ask to speak to that client. That way, you can be sure that these features will most likely work for your event as well.
On-Site Check In: The best event management software platforms can handle on-site check-in, or can integrate with another platform that specializes in check-in processes.
Features like QR code scanning, badge printing, or simple check-box attendee check-in are all examples of on-site check-in features.
Tip: Check to make sure that the on-site check-in features can handle the number of people you’re expecting to attend your event. It’s one thing to build a system that works for a few hundred people, it’s another to create a product that works with thousands.
Attendee Data Management: Some might also call this a CRM or Customer Relationship Management platform, but essentially, being able to manage the data associated with those going to your event will make your event much better. As an organizer with an attendee data management system, you’ll be able to see what attendee interests are, what industries they comprise, what type of ticket they purchase, in addition to any other information you asked attendees to fill out in your registrations form.
This data can be used when communicating to current attendees, or to help you better target prospective ones.
Tip: The event registration platform you choose should have the ability to manage attendee data in some way that is easy to access and to understand. Opting for a solution that can’t manage this data will end up costing a lot in the long run.
5 Things to Consider When Selecting a Platform
Easy Of Use: Event technology is supposed to make it easier to plan and manage events. If the platform you’re considering isn’t easy to use because the interface is outdated, or because the system crashes, then it doesn’t matter how inexpensive it is, or how cool it might seem, steer clear.
Quality Of Features Over Quantity Of Features: The worst way to select registration software, is to choose the one with the most features. What good is a platform with a large list of features that aren’t functional for you? Focus on finding a platform that has the tools you need to create a successful event, and make sure that those features are well-made.
Experience For You And For Attendees: It’s never a good idea to choose software based solely on features. Event organizers must consider what experiences the platform will provide them and their attendees. Event registration software that is difficult to navigate, slow, or unreliable for either party will result in a disastrous event. Instead, select a platform with a proven record of ease-of-you and reliability.
Look And Feel: Form and function go hand-and-hand. Event technology should be beautiful to look at (both for the attendee and the event organizer). A platform that is easy on the eyes will mean event organizers will find it more pleasant to use. Event attendees who interact with a well-designed product will also associate the event they are attending with quality and beauty. Be sure to select event registration software that was created with design in mind.
[Above] An example of a well-designed event management platform
Responsiveness: Consider choosing a platform that has a highly responsive team behind it. That indicates that the platform you’re considering takes pride in their product and that they will be there should you need support. You can test responsiveness by sending the company a Twitter message or seeing if they have a live chat function on their website. Then, time how long it takes for you to get a reply.
4 Common Mistakes to Avoid
Being Afraid Of New Technologies: If event planners are going to catch up with other industries that have already adopted new technologies and with their competitors, they must not be afraid of event tech. Be open to least trying event registration platforms for yourself, and only after trying a few, then decide if new registration technologies are for you.
Underestimating Implications: Event registration has an impact on other critical event planning initiatives like email marketing, or contact management. So be sure you select a platform that will work well with other platforms, or that is an all-in-one event planning platform.
Under Utilizing The Platform: Whatever platform you decide on, be sure to get your money’s worth. Become an registration platform expert, learn the platform’s full capabilities. Since event registration and ticketing is a considerable revenue generator for most organizers, it’s a good idea to learn how to maximize the platform you select.
Choosing Based On Price: Event planning expert, Keith Johnston says “Going cheap and cutting corners will bite you.” when it comes to selecting an event registration platform. While it’s ok for price to be a factor, be sure to avoid making price the deciding factor. Saving a few hundred dollars sounds great, but it should not come at the cost of quality.
Conclusion: How To Select The Right Platform
Since revenue generated from event registrations or ticket sales plays such a key role in the overall success of an event, choosing the right platform is equally important. Organizers should try to select a platform that offers fast registration setup, is easy to use, offers a seamless experience for event attendees, and provides you with real-time revenue monitoring. Other factors for organizers to remember include the quality of customer support and ease of use.