It’s a game of hurry-up-and-wait when it comes to event registrations. Anyone managing an event where attendance is not mandatory knows the last-minute terror of meeting their numbers, as more and more attendees wait until the eleventh hour to register. Cutoff dates are pushed beyond the breaking point, and the specter of attrition looms over more events than ever before.
The time-crunched attendee
Most attendees look at meetings and events as an opportunity to network and get fresh ideas to improve their performance or business. Unfortunately, it can be a Catch-22. If the all-too-frequent business emergency or “must close” new client pops up, they feel compelled to react to those rather than proactively expand their horizons.
What’s more, many attendees suffer from I.A.I.S. — “I Am Irreplaceable Syndrome.” With fewer people handling multiple roles in a company, they’re not necessarily wrong. What seems like just one person out for a day or two is now equivalent to two or three people being out, handicapping a department or an entire small business.
With these kind of pressures, it’s no wonder people wait until they are absolutely certain nothing will explode, implode or otherwise be seriously damaged by their absence — no matter how enticing the event is for their growth.
Fortunately, event managers are getting creative and front-loading event attendance. Here are some of the most successful:
- Appeal to attendees’ pocketbook: Planners are taking a cue from retailers, and offering pre-registration deals at the standard rate, with inflated late-registration pricing. This helps cover any shortfall, much like Bed Bath and Beyond’s 20 percent-off coupons that flood the market and are widely used, even though it’s easy to verify that their prices are 20 percent higher without the discount on identical products elsewhere.
- Sell in bulk: Some events are structured so companies can buy blocks of tickets, either for tables or multiple attendees. This ensures a certain head count and benefits companies that are interested in a larger presence.
- Broaden your appeal: Expand your content to appeal a wider attendee base.
- Send “urgency” messages: There is a fine line between too little and too much pre-event marketing communications, but the more that urgency messages are built in, the more likely it is for potential attendees to become committed attendees. Urgency messages include “Early registration rates end in 48 hours!” or “Hurry! Space is filling up fast!” or “Space is limited” or “The first 50 people to register are eligible to (have a private meeting with the Name Keynote Presenter, or win a fabulous prize, etc).
- Communicate openly: Depending on the audience, something along the lines of this item on the ANIME Midwest event site page can go a long way toward generating earlier registrations:
When should I pre-register?
The sooner you register, the lower the admission price you pay. Many people register as early as possible to save as much as they can, but some also wait until they’re certain they can attend the convention. We recommend registering as early as you can, because your early registration helps us plan a bigger and better weekend.
What methods have you used to increase your pre-event registrations? Please share your ideas in the comment section below.