A successful meeting, conference or special event all rely on one major component — registration. That’s because almost every aspect of an event is determined by the number of attendees, including:
- Hotel guest rooms
- Food and beverage for all functions and breaks
- Meeting space for general session, breakouts and other functions
- Registration hand-out material
- Printed programs or pre-loaded USB drives with programs
- Name badges/badge stock holders
- Tote bags/registration giveaway items
- Ground transportation (if the organization is providing it)
- Off-premise activities (tickets for sporting events, concerts, museum tours, plays, special events, spousal tours, etc.)
- Banquet sites for themed functions
- Rental equipment/décor
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Registration even affects aspects of contract agreements, such as attrition and space rental charges, transportation rental and temporary staffing, so this is one area of planning that requires strict attention to detail. Specifically, you need to produce accurate numbers.
Although some organizations may prefer to handle registration manually, there are many affordable Web-based programs that not only can be used to send electronic invitations and collect payments, they also can re-purpose attendee information to create rooming lists and name badges, print agendas, manage travel arrangements and track attendee data. Some even allow planners to sell sponsor ads and conduct surveys.
Regardless of the means of registration your organization uses, the efficiency of this process is crucial to the success of any event, and the bottom line will be affected either positively or negatively depending on how this process is handled.
Editor’s note: Corbin Ball Associates has some great Excel and Word templates you can download to track historical hotel room pick-up and registration numbers, calculate attrition and room sets. You can download the Event Industry Council’s APEX accepted practices for Housing and Registration here. And for planner-based comparisons of some of the online software systems available, check out Eventsible’s chart.