Online event registration is an increasingly popular feature. It offers a high level of convenience to both users and site owners. And this kind of functionality is available to almost anyone with a website.
If you’re a web designer, you’ve probably seen an increase in client requests for event registration capabilities in recent years. Organizations were already abandoning traditional methods – and a global pandemic only accelerated the trend.
And there are plenty of options to implement. From niche WordPress plugins to third-party event services, a large number of providers have filled this space. There is something for every need and budget.
Still, not every method will suit your needs. That’s why it’s important to map the entire process – from user registration, and data handling, to what happens after the event.
So, before you start registering events online, read our tips to choose the right tool.
Nature and Frequency of Events
One thing you will find when working with clients is that no two are alike. This is especially true when talking about events. Each organization has unique preferences and policies.
Therefore, you will want to ask plenty of questions. Find out what events look like for them. For example, try to determine:
- the number of events held per year;
- Type of events (virtual or in person);
- How many attendees are expected for each event;
- Where events take place (physical venues or online meeting platforms);
- What costs will registrants pay;
The type and frequency of events play a vital role. Consider a client that hosts one annual conference. Their needs may be quite different from someone who runs monthly meetings.
Clients with multiple events could benefit from a registration system linked to a calendar. This would allow users to browse events in chronological order. And displaying upcoming events can be an easy-to-implement central part of the site’s home page.
In-person and virtual events also tend to have some key differences. If you use a remote meeting like Zoom it means distributing a link to registrants. But wouldn’t it be nice to use a registration system that connects directly to the platform? That would add a layer of convenience to users and site administrators.
In-person events should include as much information as possible about the venue. The facility’s address, phone number, and website URL come to mind. Bonus points for systems that include a map and link to driving directions or other modes of transportation.
Consider Collecting User Data
It’s a safe bet that most event registration systems will collect basic contact information (name, email address). And data such as postal addresses and phone numbers will be required to be compatible with online payment gateways.
But data needs can go far beyond those basics. Depending on the organisation, any of the following may be required:
- Membership Identification;
- Food choices;
- Accessibility requirements;
- T-shirt size;
- Name of company/organisation;
- Conference session options;
- Sign up to receive emails or print materials;
- Upload photos or other documents;
And those examples only scratch the surface of what’s possible. There are no hard limits on the types of data that can be collected.
Therefore, you will want to make sure that the event registration app can meet these requirements. Some tools provide a selection of form fields that can be customized. The ability to set required fields is also convenient.
How you access the data collected is also important. Ideally, there will be a web-based UI for viewing registrations. Options to export and share that data in a variety of formats add even more flexibility.
Finally, consider how registration data might connect to the services you already use. The email subscription option mentioned above, for example, could connect to a provider such as Mailchimp. This bit of automation will make maintenance much easier.
Communication before and after the Event
Staying in touch with registrants before and after an event is vital. It’s a way to provide the latest information, as well as helpful reminders. In addition, it encourages user feedback during the process.
Again, any functionality that connects to your existing communication tools can simplify this task. At the very least, it’s enough choice to target specific event registrants.
It is also worth noting that communication goes beyond sending an email. Your website can also act as an important hub. It can host event information and allow registrants to make changes to their bookings.
Not all event apps are suitable for this type of use. However, you could use a shopping cart or membership plugin to fill in the gaps.
That’s one benefit of using WordPress or a similar content management system (CMS). It is easy to add related functionality that enhances event registration. Users are empowered to do more, and site owners have more options to manage events and registrants.
Choose the Right Online Event Registration Platform
When event registrations are accepted online, the goal is to implement a process that is easy and intuitive for users. On the flip side, it also has to conform to the needs of the clients. It should provide flexibility in collecting data and administering registrations.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to achieving this is choosing the right platform. With so many options, it can be difficult to narrow them down.
It all starts with understanding the project’s needs, however. Once you know the nature and frequency of events, along with the data and communication requirements, you’ll have a clearer picture of how things should work. From there, you’ll be able to decide which platform makes the most sense.
And the experience you will gain is invaluable. It will be of great help when working on such projects in the future.