Updated: Apr 1
When you first start planning your event, you can often get carried away with the business of venues and catering without necessarily considering how your delegates will be signing up to book their places. But in a world with so much choice when it comes to ticketing and registration providers, working out exactly what you need may not be an easy decision. In the end, the choice between a simple ticketing tool or a full event registration system will depend on the data you want to generate and how you plan to use it. Here are a few points to consider before you make your selection.
Who is attending?
Some events cater to relatively small demographics in which you may already know most of the people who are likely to attend. In these cases, the chances are you have some information about them, so you may find that you don’t need anything more complicated than a simple ticketing system.
However, for the majority of events it is unlikely this will be the case – if you have delegates travelling long distances or who are not known to you, or even if there will be more than you are happy to keep track of yourself, a full event registration platform is likely to be better. It will allow you to capture more information so you can plan for a more demanding set of attendees.
How complex is the event?
Many events are simple but effective affairs – short and sweet but with a clear message, such as a half-day workshop or a guest lecture. If the only thing you need to know is how many chairs you should put out, you can find that out with a ticketing system.
Others will take far more planning. For example, if you’re providing meals you’ll need to know about preferences and dietary requirements, while larger events with parallel sessions are likely to demand much more data so you can organise rooms according to which will be the most popular.
Event registration software can be extremely useful in this respect. Not only can you ask for more detailed information without asking delegates to buy multiple tickets or communicate their preferences separately, but by using a platform that can integrate with other systems like table planning software or contact management systems you can massively reduce the administrative burden that goes into planning the event.
Is it an isolated event?
It may be that you envision a one-off meeting or seminar that will provide useful insight, but won’t have a long-lasting legacy. In this instance a ticketing system would certainly do the job. But to really make the most of your event you need to consider how it will work as part of your long-term business development and marketing strategy. To use this event to engage an audience before, during and even after the event, there are plenty of tools to play with – email marketing and social media among them – but all of them will require you to have contact details and a means of communicating with your past and future delegates. A complete event registration system is the best way to achieve this, especially if it automatically transfers data to contact management systems and allows participants to share the event via their own social networks.
Similarly, if you hope your event will provide some deeper insight into a specific topic area that will really engage delegates, you might consider running more than one event and creating a series. Registration tools will enable attendees to sign up to multiple events as well as giving you freedom to offer a range of discounts.
Am I measuring return on investment (ROI?)
In short, the answer to this should be “yes”. If you’re going to the effort and expense of arranging and paying for an event, you need to be sure it will be worth your while. Whether you measure that in terms of increased traffic to your website, social media shares or even sales and enquiries, you’ll need accurate and comprehensive data to do so. An online delegate registration tool will allow you to capture higher volumes of more detailed information to generate reports that offer a real insight into delegate behaviour. In turn, this will allow you to focus more on what has worked and what you can improve for future events, creating a more effective strategy for the future.