On-site event registration
managed in a number of ways, ranging from self-registration to
hiring full-service registration companies. How you manage the task
depends on the number of registrations you will be handling on
site, the capabilities of your management system, the complexity of
the event, and your budget.
Keep in mind that the more services required, the more on-site
registration will cost. Typically, the least expensive path is for
the sponsoring organization to handle its own registration. The
cost of contracted services will depend upon your needs, which can
range from staffing to attendance tracking.
If you have a database application that you use in-house
for managing your registration, you might be able to take it on
site to manage any changes or additions for registrants. This is
the least expensive and simplest option, as the only components you
will need are computers, a registration area and additional
registration staff, if required.
When considering this route, determine whether anyone else at
your organization will need the database while you are at the
meeting. In many organizations, it is possible to take a copy of
the database just before you leave for the conference or meeting,
tell everyone not to make any changes until you return, and then
restore the database. The one hitch is that no one else can use the
system while you are on site. If your organization is small enough,
that might not be an issue. Check with the provider of the
database. Many have utilities that allow you to check out
information pertaining to the meeting while leaving the main
database behind. (During the meeting, you can update the on-site
database and, when you return, update the information in the
If your on-site registration is complicated, whether due
to multiple sessions, extra costs for functions or detailed
demographics, consider contracted services. The cost will depend on
your needs, which can range from staffing to attendance tracking as
well as the number of attendees. Determine when they will begin
handling your registration. For example, if your firm has its own
database, you might want to handle the preregistration, then
transfer the information to the registration service; this will
help trim costs.
In your contract with the provider, make sure you get the data
back in a format you can import into your database. Check with the
developer of your database to see if the firm has any standard
import/export utilities that will provide a set format for the
data. Also, make sure the data remains the property of your
organization; stipulate that the contracted company provides you
with the data in the format of your choice and removes the data
from its own computers.
Why not use kiosks for registration? Participants register
themselves by entering a code or registration number to confirm
they are in attendance. This option is probably best for events
with smaller numbers of attendees; for larger groups, it can work
as a complement to a staffed registration area.
If you opt to go with kiosks, you’ll probably want to
configure the browsers so they will show only the check-in forms
and prevent anyone from typing in a URL address. This way, they
will not be tempted to check e-mail and hold up the lines of others
waiting to register.
If attendees must pay to attend the event and have not prepaid,
consider providing swipe-card technology that will let registrants
sign in and provide payment in one efficient step.