You’re not alone if you’re an event planner who’s had the recurring nightmare that when the big day comes, only a handful of attendees show up. If that sounds familiar, rest easy. We have some tips to help you consistently pack the house.
Take a closer look at your registration form because it can make or break your event.
As you design your uncluttered form, be sure your company and event logos are prominent. Including event specifics such as URL, date and location are a given, make sure your audience instantly associates the event logo with your company. That makes them more likely to open your branded emails and other event-related messages.
With the actual registration form, resist the temptation to try to collect as much information as possible. Just gather the information most relevant to your event. Remember, the longer it takes someone to fill out the form, the higher the likelihood they won’t complete it.
Here’s the essential information you need to know beyond name and email address:
• Demographics. Where attendees come from, their age group and the male/female ratio. Why? So your opening remarks, presentations and marketing tactics align with your audience.
• Sessions they will attend. Why? So you can plan the space accordingly.
• How they heard about the event. Why? So you can determine which of your marketing channels was most effective.
• Their preferred payment method. Why? Knowing this in advance lets you manage the payment process better, especially on-site credit card and cash transactions.
Depending on your audience and the type of event you’re hosting, you may want to include any or all of these, as well:
• Meal preferences, including food allergies.
• Special sizes for clothing.
• Emergency contact.
• The attendee’s business, in case you want to offer a group discount or seat colleagues together.
• Any special needs that should be accommodated.
Do not include open-ended questions. Form each question so the response is yes/no or comes with a drop-down list of options.
Before going live with the registration form, do a trial run so you know what the process is like and how long it takes, and can identify and address potential hiccups. Once you know, you can market the process by including a statement such as “it takes less than five minutes to register” at the top of the form.
Spread the word
As seats start to fill up, you want attendees to share your information with colleagues and friends via email and social media. Here’s how:
• Share registrations publicly. Make the attendee list public or let registrants post their attendance on Facebook. This lets others see how the event is shaping up, encourages them to set up networking meetings in advance, and motivates other potential attendees.
• Create event-specific newsletters. These can generate a sense of urgency and excitement by highlighting the rising number of attendees, featuring Q&As with speakers and spotlighting sessions. This content should be fresh, geared toward reader interests and include a social sharing bar so attendees can post it on their social networks.
• Begin dialogue on Facebook. Create an event-specific page and begin conversations with attendees by using polls or asking provocative questions. You will learn more about attendees’ specific interests while creating a forum where they can get to know each other before they meet in person.