Event Registration: The Ultimate Guide
Event registration – our guide.
If you’re running an event, getting people registered and through the door is critical to it’s success – and that, in a nutshell, is event registration.
No matter what your event is, your objective is likely to remain the same. Bring your target audience together at a set location on set dates.
They could be a triathlon enthusiast attending your cycling consumer event, a leading decision maker at a torque wrench company attending your manufacturing trade show, or an SEO expert getting ready to speak at your marketing conference. You want them at your event (and hopefully they want to be there), to build relationships, make deals and share ideas and knowledge.
We know there is so much to plan when putting on an event, from signing up your sponsors and exhibitors to choosing all of your suppliers.
You’re likely to have suppliers from furniture hire and stand building to electrics and AV. This page has been created to help you with one of those supplier areas… event registration.
We’ve put together the following guide (something we’ll continually update), which should hopefully answer any questions you have about event registration (and if it doesn’t, you can always get in touch).
Our Ultimate Guide to Event Registration covers:
- Event Registration Form
• Accuracy & Validation
• Demographics, Segmentation and Tracking
• Increasing Registration Quantity and Quality
- Onsite Registration
• Traditional Badge Types
- Event Registration Software
Event Registration: The Ultimate Guide – An Introduction
The event industry, made up of events of all shapes and sizes, was worth around £42 billion to the UK economy prior to the pandemic, and after a couple of years, thankfully events are well and truly back. Our ‘Ultimate Guide to Event Registration’ focuses primarily on the trade exhibition, consumer event and conference market and discusses the options available for event organisers and the things to consider when selecting a registration partner.
Who is this guide for?
This guide has been created for event organisers of all shapes and sizes whether you run a one-day conference of 100 delegates or a trade and consumer show with 40,000+ visitors. We hope this guide will open your eyes to the advanced solutions available for event marketing teams to utilise throughout registration and explains how these tools can be used to streamline processes in order to firstly; improve the visitor journey and secondly; improve the quality of the data you gather from your audience. Whether you are new to the industry or are a seasoned professional; this guide is full of useful information, hints and tips for improving your registration process.
What’s in this guide?
For ease, our guide is broken down into sections covering Event Registration Forms, Onsite Registration, Reporting, and Additional Services and the guide will follow the visitor journey throughout each stage. We’ve structured the guide by asking a number of questions you may have. In doing this, it will not only allow for improved understanding of registration, but it will allow for organisers to analyse their own process to improve the visitor journey and the quality of data they hold, hopefully helping to make your next event the best one yet.
So let’s begin pre-event, with the event registration form…
The Event Registration Form
Pre-registration allows your visitors to submit their details to register to attend your event. Your registration form can have a huge impact on the visitor journey throughout registration and can dramatically affect the quality of data that you receive on each individual.
Well thought out forms allow for high quality data which can improve your marketing campaigns effectiveness, improving registration to attendee conversion rates.
When designing your registration form, the layout and questions you ask should be an exercise you plan out carefully.
Consider the following questions:
- ‘What am I going to use the data I am collecting for?’
- ‘How is this data going to improve my current and future marketing campaigns’?
If the data you collect is filed away and not used within your marketing campaigns then it’s time to rethink your registration form. Capture the data you need, anything extra is a unnecessary and can put your attendees off registering.
What features should your registration form include?
Without doubt, it needs to be modern, responsive and fit your branding to allow for a seamless registration experience for your visitors. There are plenty of must have and optional extras when it comes to forms, but the key requirement is that you get out of it what you need. Clean data for you, confirmation emails for your visitors and the correct categories for your speakers and exhibitors.
Accuracy & Validation
How can I improve the accuracy of my data collected through our registration form?
Having mandatory fields on sections of your registration form will ensure that individuals complete all of your essential fields.
This could be important information that is required for their name badges, their email address for their tickets or can be used to check for duplicate registrations.
Built-in Data Validation
Ensuring your registration form features a number of data validation checks will improve data accuracy.
This can be checking a required field is completed to more advanced validation like:
– checking case is used correctly
– telephone numbers are converted to the correct format based upon the country selected,
– email addresses are formatted correctly and are real (for example, the server actually exists and new email domain types such as .events, .london etc are valid). This ensures the visitor will receive their confirmation and helps to reduce unwanted registrations and spam.
Making sure UK postcodes are validated using a postcode look-up function and non-UK country addresses are collected in the format appropriate to that country ensures data received is accurate and can be used for any posting necessary and also for location marketing.
Demographics, Segmentation and Tracking
I have different ticket types and different options available for different visitor types? How can I streamline the process?
Alternative user journey depending on user responses
Configuring your registration form to allow for alternative user journey flows will allow for you to receive high quality, tailored data while creating a seamless visitor registration experience. This data will be highly valuable to marketeers allowing segmentation to be used at its best within your email marketing tool along with high quality year on year tracking to really get to know your audience and industry trends.
Multiple registration forms can also be used for different visitor types to allow press, VIPs and speakers to register through a different form to visitors.
How can I improve our marketing campaigns using my pre-registration data?
Demographics and Segments
Demographic questions have always formed part of the registration process. Can you honestly say you use all the responses given and have you really thought about the questions you ask? It’s important to get the data you need, but that’s all you need. Don’t ask anything if it is of no value to you (or your exhibitors). Once you have the necessary demographics, you can use segmentation to tailor your marketing campaigns based upon individual interests. By tracking the data you collect year on year you can provide valuable insight into your audience and into industry trends.
Tracking, Tracking, Tracking…
Tracking where your registrations come from will give you a huge insight into which of your marketing campaigns are working and have the greatest impact on your audience. Have unique tracking codes for registration form links within your marketing campaigns will allow you to drill down into your data and tailor your campaigns to your audience.
Advanced Tracking – Co-Branded Exhibitor Registration Pages
Co-branded exhibitor registration pages allow for your exhibitors to have a unique registration page with their branding and information displayed. This allows your exhibitors to send out a unique trackable registration form to their customer base allowing you to enhance your marketing exposure by utilising your exhibitor networks.
Increasing Registration Quantity and Quality
I need to vet my registrations as I am running a specialist event, can I action this through the registration process?
Registration Vetting – Approve or Deny
Having an approve and deny process is a great way to vet visitors to your event, whether because of enforced limits on capacity, or a requirment for a specialised audience. This allows you as the organiser to check a new registration against a certain criteria before approving the registration. You could also include a payment option for attendees who don’t meet a certain criteria.
Registrations could be automatically approved depending on responses to certain demographics or can be manually approved by an organiser receiving an email detailing the attendee’s details. Having a customisable email reply triggered based upon the visitor either being approved or denied while allowing for visitor types to be changed by your team before the response is sent will ensure your audience is tailored specifically to the event. This is not only likely to improve your registration to attendee conversions but is a huge selling point to exhibitors as the audience attending is cherry picked full of industry specialists.
Can I make the registration process quicker and simpler for returning visitors?
Pre-Pop Registration Pages
To help streamline the visitor journey, previous visitors can be sent a link to a pre-populated registration form with all their details already filled in as soon as registration opens. This allows your visitors to easily and quickly check their details are correct and then submit their registration within seconds – depending on demographics, this can even be one-click.
Is there any way of visitors registering using their social media accounts?
There are social media widget solutions available that allow individuals to register to your event using their social media profile and then share the details with their network. These widgets can be built directly into your registration form allowing for a quick registration process again maximising your event exposure across your visitor’s social media networks.
Can my visitor add a colleague or add the date to their calendar through the registration process?
Additional Form Functionality Features
As part of completing your registration as a visitor, you may find the need to edit your booking, alter the seminar sessions you wish to attend, add a colleague to your booking or add the event to your outlook diary. Being able to do this simply and quickly without having to register an account for each event is highly desirable and being able to access this via your confirmation email is an efficient way to do so.
I have bookable seminar sessions, can this form part of the registration process?
Whether a small conference or a large trade show it is likely your event will have speakers in dedicated seminar rooms. A seminar booking tool, or a ‘session planner’ can be used to book seminars, workshops, or anything which is in a certain place during a certain time at your event. Having a dedicated seminar booking form can be advantageous to assess the popularity of sessions prior to the event.
A session planner should be simple to use and clearly display the sessions available, offering visitors all of the information at a glance and making the booking process extremely simple. A smart system showing that clashing sessions cannot be booked benefits the user experience.
If your seminar rooms have a limited capacity then a limits system should be utilised so that sessions can be capped at a certain number. This will then feed into the entry system at the event (such as scanning visitors into seminar sessions onsite) to ensure only those who should be in the room, are.
Charging for seminars could also be an option with each session being added to the shopping cart.
Here is an example of a session planner.
We charge our delegates to attend our conference, can we do this?
Having a payment gateway linked to your registration form is necessary when taking payments for your conference or event. Having the option to use either your own payment gateway or your registration providers will allow you to handle financial transactions with ease throughout the registration process. There are a number of providers such as Stripe, PayPal, WorldPay, SagePay and more.
Having the option to pay by invoice could also be available for your visitors as with some certain sectors/organisations access to credit cards can be difficult and PO’s will need to be raised in order to attend your conference.
Price List Items
There are a number of options that event and conference organisers may want to include, such as entry tickets or seminar bookings. Some items may need an ‘early bird’, or even a ‘super early bird’ price which changes to a ‘standard’ price once a date is reached. There are all sorts of other items that could be added, such as VIP packages or lunches.
Allowing your attendees to enter discount codes is an expected option, and should be able to provide a variety of discount types. These can include offering a percentage off, setting the item to a specific price or giving a number of tickets for free (such as a 4 for 3 offer).
Being able to track which of your delegates have paid and have outstanding invoices and being able to reconcile these payments at the end of the registration process is essential.
There are many different onsite registration options available depending upon the requirements of your event.
The following section covers the basics to give you an insight into the badging, hardware and staffing options available so you can see what a standard event would consist of. Within the service you receive from your supplier, they should be able to advise on all of this for your specific event.
Traditional Badge Types
What sort of badge types are available, and what would work for my event?
PDF (Print at Home) Badges
Print at home PDF Badges are becoming ever more popular with event organisers, allowing visitors to print their badges before the event and bypass the queues onsite as they arrive at the venue. Off the back of registering, an automated email is sent out to the visitor with their PDF badge attached ready for printing with all their details along with a barcode/QR code. This barcode/QR code allows for the front of house scanning team to scan the visitor into the venue, which gathers vital attendance details, and also allows exhibitors opting for a lead recording service to receive these details when they scan a lead.
This PDF badge is folded and placed into a badge holder onsite which is then connected to a lanyard. PDF Badges can have different colours on them for different visitor types which is automatically displayed on the badges based upon conditional logic as part of the registration process.
Reminder emails can be sent on the final run up days to the event to remind visitors to bring their badge (and to attend the event!), reducing the number of individuals who forget to bring it with them on the day. PDF badges couple with onsite badging options for walk ins and also forgotten badges and reduces queues on site as many visitors arriving can walk straight through to front of house scanning.
Some organisers opt for pre-printed postal badges meaning each visitor has their badge posted to them prior to the event which can be peeled off the bottom of a letter. This method usually sees greater number of attendees bringing badges as it requires limited effort and offers a great personal touch to your visitors.
Understandably this method is more expensive than other badging options due to the cost of postage and is usually used for smaller paid for conferences.
For smaller events, conferences and awards shows, pre-printed badges can be an option meaning visitors arriving can collect their badge from a member of staff without having to remember a confirmation email or PDF Badge. Using pre-printed badges works well for events up to around 250 delegates and will reduce the number of terminals and staff required onsite to print badges, thus reducing the cost.
What sort of badge stock will I need? And what badge holders are available?
Onsite Badge Stock
There are multiple types of onsite badge stock available allowing for both single and double-sided printing options. These include double sided self-adhesive badges that can be connected straight to a lanyard without the need for a badge holder or single sided stock that requires a badge holder to connect up to a lanyard. Having your logo and event details pre-printed in colour prior to the event is standard practice with over printing in black onsite with the visitor details and barcode to keep costs down for event organisers. Colour printing can be achieved onsite using laser printers although the speed of printing reduces and the cost of printing increases meaning colour printing, if necessary, is often better completed prior to the event.
Plastic Card ID Badges
Plastic credit card style badges can be used and can be printed with a picture on them to be used as exhibitor or ID badges for visitors/exhibitors. This can work extremely well for high profile events and even for exhibitor badging to stop exhibitors handing out free passes at paid for events.
Badge holders are usually required for some onsite badge types and also to house PDF tickets. There are plain or coloured badge holder options available as some organisers like to use different coloured badge holders to denote a certain visitor type.
Lanyards are required to connect to badge holders and onsite badge stock for visitors to hang around their neck. Lanyards can be used to denote visitor types for exhibitors to easily identify potential customer types or printed lanyards can be used if you have a sponsor for your event.
Badges are best displayed on a visitor to allow for quick front of house scanning and for identification purposes for exhibitors, especially those exhibitors opting for lead recording services as it allows for quick and easy scanning of the visitor’s badges.
Anything else to consider?
Badging exhibitors can be achieved the same way as badging your visitors. Exhibitors can have a dedicated registration from to submit their details and they can be supplied with PDF tickets prior to the event or you can have a dedicated exhibitor collection desk on build up day and throughout the event for exhibitors to collect their badges.
A limit system can be included on the exhibitor registration form to ensure only an allocated number of exhibitors receive a badge. In this scenario, badge swap system can also be introduced whereby exhibitors who are leaving the event may swap badges for those taking their place.
Barcode / QR Codes
It’s worth mentioning here that having barcodes and / or QR codes printed on each badge that are unique to each individual is needed to allow for accurate onsite attendee reporting and to allow for exhibitors to utilise lead recording services. The barcodes link directly to the details provided by the individual at registration allowing for quick scanning of attendees onsite meaning their contact details can be handed over quickly and efficiently.
The onsite hardware required at your event will depend entirely on your badging options and also the number of attendees expected per day of your event. An event that, for example, has pre-printed badges will obviously require less onsite badge printing terminals compared to a conference opting to print badges onsite.
There are different types of badging and registration terminals available for use onsite at your event. These fall into the following categories:
- Self-service onsite registration
- Staffed onsite registration
- Query terminals
- Badge collection terminals (Staffed and Self-Collect)
- Exhibitor registration terminals
Self-Service Onsite Registrations
Visitors who arrive at your event without pre-registering will need to submit their details to you and collect their badge. This can at either a staffed terminal or at a self-serve registration terminal onsite. Upon submitting their details, a badge will be printed for the visitor to collect and attach to a lanyard.
Revenue Generation Opportunity – Why not have a sponsor advertise on your Onsite Registration form to generate revenue from your onsite registration?
Staff Query and Customer Service Terminals
In an instance where a visitor forgets their PDF badge and also the confirmation email, they can then visit a staff query terminal allowing a secure retrieval of their registration details for a badge to be printed. A staff query desk also assists with any customer service enquiries, onsite payments where required, and the option to vet visitors arriving and registering onsite.
Badge Collection Terminals
Badge collection terminals are used when PDF badges haven’t been used and visitors are sent a confirmation email to collect their badge onsite when they arrive. Within their confirmation email they will have a barcode that can be scanned at the badge collection terminal, or they can opt to submit their reference number, allowing for their badge to be printed.
Exhibitor Badge Collection Terminals
Exhibitors who have registered for your event can access their exhibitor badges onsite at dedicated exhibitor badging terminals set-up on build up day and throughout the event. This means exhibitors and visitors collect badges separately meaning there is no confusion with badge types onsite.
Front of House Scanning
As all badges will be barcoded, attendees will be scanned into the event allowing for critical attendee data to be recorded for analysis post event (covered in the reporting section later in this guide). Depending on the scanner type this data can either be uploaded throughout the day or, if available, real-time front of house scanning can be used to track attendees entering your event in real time.
If your event has seminar sessions individuals can be scanned into each session providing you with the details of each visitor who attended the session. There are other options available such as pre-loading scanners with the approved list of attendees for each session with the ability to override with new guests when required.
Having the option to use staff supplied by your registration provider can free up your own internal teams’ resources; allowing them to meet and greet your visitors and have those meaningful conversations and build relationships. Furthermore, having a manager onsite to oversee the registration area, manage the onsite staff, liaise with security and yourself as the organiser can be invaluable in managing the registration process as vast amounts of visitors arrive.
Here are a few staffing options your registration company should be able to provide.
Having an onsite manager with years’ of experience of managing onsite event registration services at both large-scale exhibitions (trade and consumer) and smaller complex conferences can streamline processes and reduce queues. Specialist onsite managers are all fully trained and are experts in event registration, software, hardware and customer service. Arriving during build-up they will ensure the registration area is set-up and prepared, staff are trained and prepped ready for the event and they will offer support to exhibitors who take up lead capture services.
Front of House Scanning
Large trade show and consumer events are best to opt for front of house staffing as part of the onsite registration package to manage registrations, queues and customer service queries. Front of house teams are trained by the onsite manager prior to the event to ensure they understand the event, the processes and the onsite set-up. All front of house staff offer a professional experience to visitors with exceptional levels of customer service to ensure the visitor registration journey is seamless.
Smaller conferences or events can opt to provide their own front of house staff which is most often their own internal employees. Again, the onsite manager will oversee the registration area and will train your team members on their roles and what will be required from them throughout the event.
Seminar Session Scanning
As mentioned previously, seminar sessions can be configured with an attendance scanner which couples with an online seminar planning tool. Seminar scanners can be preloaded with attendees who have registered for the session to restrict access, with override functions, so that individuals can gain access to sessions where there are spare seats. Scanners can also be set-up to free scan individuals into a seminar room based upon a set capacity. Both scanning options will provide the organiser with all attendance data post session for review.
Event Registration Software
Having access to event registration software for a reporting solution pre-show, onsite and post event is essential for your marketing and event team to analyse data so you know what is going well and what is not going so well. Being able to use this data to alter your marketing campaigns based on the results you are seeing can improve the number of registrations you achieve and also your registration to attendee conversions.
The following points detail some great examples of how reporting can empower your event marketing teams and the tools and solutions that are available.
Identifying Registration Source
Registrations can be tracked across events by using unique URLs for each email marketing, or social media campaign etc. By changing the end of the URL for each campaign means that any visitor registering by clicking the link will associate that registration with the campaign. This data can then be analysed to see the effectiveness of each campaign and which had the greatest effect on registrations.
Branded Affiliate Links – Co-branded Exhibitor Pages
As mentioned above co-branded exhibitor registration pages allow for your exhibitors to have a unique registration page with their branding and information displayed. This allows your exhibitors to send out a unique trackable registration form to their customer base allowing you enhance your marketing exposure by utilising your exhibitor networks. This will allow you as the organiser to see which exhibitors have the most impact on your registrations and also allows you to maximise your event exposure by utilising your exhibitor’s customer base.
Engagement Reporting and Abandoned Registrations
Incomplete registrations can be viewed by using the drop off / abandon rate reports. This will allow you to see how many individuals didn’t complete the full registration process for you to send a follow up email / contact to see if they are still planning to attend and to prompt them to complete their registration.
Custom Reporting Solutions
Having a custom reporting solution allowing you to build reports on an ad hock basis can really improve the cusses of your registration process and can also save huge amounts of time for members within your events team. Being able to build a report that shows registrations landing on a week by week basis with time line events of each marketing campaign can show instantly the impact on registrations and where your team are against KPI’s. Being able to track other important KPI’s on dashboard tailored with what is relevant to your event and team means you no longer need to export your data and build reports yourself freeing up your team to focus on maximising registrations.
Onsite reporting allows for organisers to see attendance figures throughout the event as they unfold. Being able to see this information and then act upon it can help increase your registration to attendee conversion ratios and also gives you an insight into how your flow of visitors arrive onsite, which can help when planning your registration area for next years event.
Below are a few examples of how onsite reporting could help you at your events.
Real-Time Attendance Reporting
Being able to report on your attendance in real-time has many advantages. As the front of house team scan your visitors through the doors, being able to see who these people are from the organisers office means you can see and broadcast information throughout the event. Furthermore to this it allows you to report to see if certain individuals have arrived and reach out to them to welcome them to the event.
Another great example is being able to report who has registered but not yet attended to send updates of what is happening throughout the event to prompt them to attend either later that day or the following day. This can help improve your attendee numbers and engage with your audience while they are at your event.
Visitor Flow Reporting
Being able to report upon visitor flows across your event allow for better planning of your registration area. Using this data your registration partner will be able to analyse the figures to see how many terminals, what types of terminals and the number of staff members required to fulfil your event registration effectively.
Exhibitor Lead Scanning Reporting
When opting for a stand package, you will have access to how many leads your exhibitors are scanning throughout the event. This is great data for your sales team out to rebook exhibitors on the day for the following year as they can see how successful the event has been. On the contrary, exhibitors not performing so well can be talked with to see if they require any help or whether they are not maximising the opportunities that are walking by.
In addition to the pre-show and during reports, your reporting dashboard should be powerful, robust and sophisticated with advanced filtering options to display your data clearly with clean graphical representation, wherever you are. The need to wait for reports in a spreadsheet post-event should now be long gone with access to data in an online dashboard.
Storing your data in a secure system is obviously of great importance, and there should be steps taken to ensure that you use a GDPR compliant system. Storing your data with the registration provider can offer extra benefits, including being able to access year-on-year reports and compare all shows within a portfolio. This extra data allows for enhanced marketing opportunities, especially if the database can link up with your email marketing provider.
There are tonnes of extra features you could combine with event registration, from tools to increase registrations to lead capture solutions so your exhibitors get a better return on investment. Here are a few to consider.
Exhibitor Lead Capture
An option that most event organisers now offer to is Exhibitor Lead Capture allowing exhibiting personnel to purchase a handheld scanner or mobile app for them to scan visitors badges to instantly record their contact details. These details can be supplemented by qualifying questions that can be configured by the exhibitor pre-event and, if opting for an app, even further functionality features.
There are a two ways in which organisers can offer the Lead Recording Service from us which a stand package or a package managed and delivered by your registration provider. Both options are discussed below.
Registration Partner Managed Lead Recording Service
Here’s how it could work
1. Your exhibitors purchase the lead recording devices directly from us
2. Upon purchase your exhibitors receive access to their exhibitor’s portal
3. Within the portal, exhibitors can set-up qualifying questions, export data and manage their devices.
4. Data can be exported after the event (handheld device) or throughout the event as soon as the lead has been scanned using the app.
5. Any customer support queries are handled by in-house lead capture support team and there is a dedicated lead capture support phone number.
6. Staff onsite are trained on our app and will handle any questions or queries from exhibitors.
By opting for the stand package, you as the organiser provide an app or scanner for all exhibitors. The benefits of opting for a stand package is that it allows all exhibitors to access the solution as some of the smaller exhibitors may not have the budget to purchase a device. You as the organiser will be able to see how many leads exhibitors are scanning during the event and this data can be used in a variety of ways. One being to maximise your rebook opportunities from exhibitors scanning lots of leads. The other being to monitor exhibitors who are perhaps not scanning many leads and therefore may need a conversation to ensure they are ok. Seeing how many scans exhibitors are achieving can also show floor hot spots and can help with mapping out the best exhibiting areas at your event.
Two-Way Lead Recording
As part of our lead recording we offer two-way lead recording which means visitors are also sent a list of the exhibitors they have been scanned by. This is not only great for exhibitors allowing the visitors to follow up after the show, it also assists towards GDPR compliance as it makes visitors aware of who they have shared their details with.
Exhibitor Customer Services
Our Lead Recording Service is managed by our Lead Recording Services Team and offers a seamless automated journey for exhibitors If the exhibitor does difficulties we have a team to handle all email and telephone enquiries through our lead recording support line resolving any questions and assisting with set-up. Onsite, our Onsite Managers and LRD Co-Ordinators are trained on our lead recording device and offer support to exhibitors where required when setting up and using the app / devices.
API’s & Integrations
API’s pass data from software systems essentially creating an impartial meeting ground to hand over data. Your registration process can be streamlined by connecting all your systems together allowing for automated passing of data from your registration provider to your data management solutions, CRM and/or email marketing tool. This can free up substantial amounts of time for your events team while improving the accuracy of the data you hold on your visitors.
Using email as one of your event marketing solutions is important as it provides two very important services. Firstly, it can be used to market to your mailing list in order to get people to register for your event. Secondly, it can remind those who have already registered and keep them updated on the event as it gets closer, helping keep that percentage of registee to attendee high.
All email marketing software should offer the basics, such as an intuitive email builder, in-depth reporting features, data upload, testing and segmentation tools. Software that can do all of the above and link with other areas of event registration, such as with the registration forms and database can be hugely beneficial as it will reduce the time taken to carry out tasks and enhance marketing capabilities.