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by Brian Westfall,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: September 8, 2016

Organizing events is no simple feat—it takes several processes working in tandem for things to go smoothly. These processes include:

  • Planning the event
  • Marketing the event to potential attendees
  • Handling registrations
  • Collecting payment
  • Addressing feedback
  • Following up with attendees

The overall success of an event depends on the number of registrations it receives. The more attendees, the more opportunities to gain paying customers, which is typically the goal. This is where event registration software can help: These solutions automate the registration process by allowing users to perform actions such as self-registering through a cloud-based interface and checking in through kiosks or bar-code scanners.

This guide can help potential buyers find the best registration system for their needs. Here’s what we’ll cover:

What Is Registration Software?
Common Functionality of Registration Software
Key Considerations for Buyers
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Market Trends to Understand

What Is Registration Software? 

Registration software enables organizations to automate the process of event registration and streamline the process of payment collection. Among other things, the software helps with membership management, ticketing, on-site or online registrations, self check-in and badge management.

Registration solutions can also be used to administer polls and surveys to keep audiences engaged and gather attendee feedback to improve future events.

Common Functionality of Registration Software

Most event registration software comes with some or all of the following capabilities:

Attendee management Provides an enhanced attendee experience by enabling customized registrations, handling guest lists, managing seating arrangements and engaging audiences with polls and Q&As. Certain solutions allow users to facilitate travel and lodging arrangements for attendees.
Registration management Enables users to check in attendees for events, conferences or seminars through online, mobile or offline channels. Certain solutions allow users to book rooms, venues or tables for attendees, as well as register them for classes.
Calendar management Allows customers to register themselves for appointments or meetings by viewing the online event calendar. This feature may also include integrations with third-party calendar management applications used by participants (e.g., iCal or Google Calendar).
Ticketing Allows users to sell event tickets and enables registration for conferences through online or offline channels. Also allows users to customize ticket prices, types and quantities.
Analytics and reporting Enables the generation of customizable reports, allowing users to measure event ROI on several metrics such as membership type, budget utilization, audience engagement, marketing success, attendee-to-lead conversion or no-show percentage.
Event marketing Allows business owners to market their events by offering features such as customizable forms, email marketing, push messaging campaigns, promo codes and event sharing on social media.
On-site management Enables users to manage venue-based activities, including on-the-spot attendee registrations, creating and printing name badges for attendees, checking in attendees by scanning barcodes and integration with self-service kiosks for easy check-in.
Payment processing Allows users to collect attendee payments for registrations by integrating with a payment gateway. This functionality allows users to create dynamic pricing options, adjust discounts and include surge pricing features for collecting payments. Certain solutions also allow users to automate the process of payment collection and refund balance.

Key Considerations for Buyers

Here are a few other things to keep in mind as you evaluate registration software products:

Know the complexity of your registration processes. Smaller events with fewer attendees usually only require a simple registration process. However, as the number of attendees increases, so too does the demand for specialized features, such as differential pricing, discount coupons, list management for running marketing campaigns and QR or barcode scanners for on-site check-ins.

Make sure the software offers a mobile interface. As more people use their mobile devices to access information on-the-go, event planners should seek a solution that allows attendees to easily register or check-in, regardless of location. A mobile interface can help improve the user experience and reduce the work of registration coordinators by saving them the time of checking in every attendee manually.

Software should support necessary integrations. When comparing registration management solutions, know which other tools your system will need to communicate with. Consider vendors that offer integrations with customer relationship management (CRM) software for contact and lead management, social media marketing, electronic payment gateways for online payment collection and email and contact management software for push marketing campaigns.

Consider a customizable solution. The registration process should be flexible enough to enable users to register regardless of location. For an event happening in the U.K., for example, a dropdown with just U.S. zip codes or U.S. currency options won’t work. Customization can also enable users to apply certain pricing options to group bookings, such as early bird rates, discount codes and flash sales.

What Type of Buyer Are You?

The size of your business will likely influence your needs, and thereby which software is the right fit for you. Consider the following buyer types:

Small and midsize businesses. These businesses typically operate as establishments with up to 100 employees and specialize in a certain industry. Small business should consider a best-of-breed system that specializes in a certain area aligned with their specific needs.

For example, companies that hold small scale concerts and sporting events may primarily use ticketing and seat reservation functionality, and may benefit especially from online registration software. This may not be required for companies holding events such as workshops or conferences, which may focus more on attendee management features such as audience engagement or managing travel arrangements and logistics for the event.

Large enterprises. Companies that specialize in large events often host on-site events that are connected to simultaneous online events. These businesses should look for features that connect both online and offline event registration, such as QR or barcode ticket scanning and automatic badge printing. They may want to consider a registration management solution with a modular suite that provides the ability to pick and choose modules according to their needs.

Market Trends to Understand

Big data analytics. Event organizers should go beyond collecting attendee and registration information to provide a truly customized customer experience. A wealth of data on customers preferences can be collected by tracking customers’ online activities, such as their social media data and online shopping habits. Big data analytics allows businesses to study this data, so they can serve up customized content to users.


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