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Can registration be less painful than a visit to the dentist?

It amazes us how little attention is paid to how a participant registers for a conference. Maybe it’s because the assumption is they’ve already committed to joining, so it doesn’t warrant attention. Or perhaps it’s viewed as a simple, easy-to-handle part of the overall event.

That’s a mistake. The registration process is a key touchpoint in the process that could negatively impact an event’s perception at its worst, and at the very least make life a lot harder than it needs to be - for organiser and participant alike!

First things first though – it’s important to appreciate that the registration process is a collection of touchpoints, and it begins the moment someone decides to sign up. Which is usually well before event day arrives. However, when asked, most think of registration as the long line to check in on event day. Reality is, that’s the END of the process. And a lot can go wrong beforehand.

First up - how do people register? Sounds obvious but in the rush to get a programme cobbled together and promoted, sometimes the simple “register now” prompt is forgotten. Beyond the obvious call-to-action mention in every communication, it’s important to consider:

  • Data requirements - name, company, job title, contact information etc

  • Payment gateways - if applicable, how will people pay to join?

  • Confirmation responses - and after they fill in the form, how will they know the submission was a success and they are in fact registered?

  • Receipts/tickets - is there an actual ticket they need to present on the day? If not, how will you know they are entitled to enter?

Granted, this is where things can get complex. But there are so many affordable (sometimes free!) tech solutions that there’s really no excuse for a sloppy registration system.

As for event day, be sure to have a plan! It’s not something you turn up on the day to sort, and this isn’t something an app can manage for you. You need to look at everything from the perspective of a participant:

  • What are the check-in requirements: do I need a receipt, barcode, business card?

  • Where do I check in? Is it easily identifiable? Is there a clear entry and exit point with the check-in queue?

  • What happens when I check in - am I handed a name badge, handouts, goodie bag, important instructions?

  • What’s the process if there’s a problem with my registration? (Yes, there will always be at least one or two!)

Check-in is a team effort and team members should have assigned responsibilities. At the very least someone needs to be responsible for checking that the person standing in front of them is entitled access. Thereafter it all depends on the size of your event and the complexity of getting someone through the process as quickly as possible.


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