How To Select Event Registration Software (Without All The BS)
Paper registration forms and hand-scribbled RSVPs sent via fax are so 1990, don't you think?
Not surprisingly, the most commonly used event technology among forward-thinking event professionals is event registration software. In fact, 85% of Eventprofs are using event registration software for their events according to a research from Event Manager Blog.
Read on to get a honest view on how to select a vendor you can feel comfortable enough around to binge-watch Netflix with. (or scroll down to the conclusion if you're short on time)
Event registration software helps event planners capture valuable information about their different attendee groups & types, while allowing them to also create sophisticated conditional question logic, badges, hotel booking features, seating plans, session selection & much more. A modern event registration software is far more than just a simple form.
Okay, okay - registration software may not be the fanciest new thing like AI & VR. In truth, event registration software tools are kinda veterans, ya know. Still, the technology is often the centerpiece of a company's event tech stack. (Click To Tweet!)
New vendors have been flooding the market since 2006. Many companies in the space receive large funding and the market can be quite saturated.
If you don't have event registration software in place for your events and are using alternative solutions, you belong to a shrinking minority among your peers! Now might be the best time to shop for a solution.
With event registration software being such an important element in your tech stack, how can you make sure you're choosing the right vendor?
You probably have a list of required features, but before you go out scouring the internet for your new best friend, make sure you pay attention to some baseline selection criteria:
1) Event (Tech) Experience & Background
You hire a developer and tell him to build a registration platform. The developer will build a functionally working product, sure, but the user experience might not necessarily be the way that event professionals like to work or attendees would like to register. Too often, this is how event tech companies start. A little experience in the space, some technical know-how, but something somewhere just doesn't feel right. You've probably been there and have seen reg tools like that.
You need to select an event registration software partner that has a team of event tech veterans leading the product development, technology & overall leadership. (Click To Tweet!)
You need a company that has built events themselves and are deeply involved in the events community. You know, someone who simply gets it!
2) Company Culture & Size
Bigger doesn't always mean better. Would you rather have a dedicated, hard working small team with a flat hierarchy and the ability to drive decisions fast or are large company where processes are often slow, answers take too long and there is just no personal touch between you and the team?
The ultimate goal of every company should be to serve the needs of its customers. When different teams have the ability to do whatever it takes to solve your problem and make you happy, guess what, you're probably getting the results you want quicker.
The problem with large companies is that they often have a strong hierarchy with entrenched processes; they're missing the personal touch and feedback takes longer. Events are very time-sensitive and you need an agile company that can react positively and make decisions fast.
3) Event Technology Stack
Technology is evolving faster than ever. Technology that may be only a few years old is considered outdated today. Event websites needs to be responsive and dynamic. The way it looks, the way it feels, the way a user experiences software is crucial. The way it fits into the other tech tools you're using is even more important. Software written 5-10 years ago may not even be compatible with your other solutions. Make sure your chosen tech tools fit into your "tech stack" and play nicely with each other.
4) Event User Experience
Getting the registration experience right, both for admins and attendees, requires a keen sense of empathy for the end users. It requires taking off your tech shoes for a moment and really trying to get inside the minds of event professionals and event attendees.
Again, it comes down to the team behind the product. Do they understand what goes on in attendees' minds or how stressful event planning can be in the first place.
You can get your own sense of the registration experience from a user andattendee perspective by getting a personalized demo or starting a free trial.
5) Event User Experience
Support is pretty important. In fact, it's super important. 59% of event planners agreed that it's the most important factor when choosing an event technology supplier. You don't want to be left hanging in the preparation of your event.
All support is not equal. Can the support team member at the other end of your request give you only "technical" help (click here, go there)? Or are they able to give you consultative, strategic guidance on how to use their system to get where you want to go? Sure, sometimes you just want answers, but a majority of the time you also want to learn for yourself and get ideas, inspiration, and hear how other users get things done.
In a world where API's and integrations are so keen, you need a vendor who not only integrates and partners on a technical level, but also on a customer level. Think about the Event Tech Tribe, for example - a collection of independent best-in-craft event technology providers working collaboratively on technical integration, but also on a client & support level.
How often did you hear from a supplier: "Yes, we integrate with x"? How often did you end up pouring all your resources in making the integration work only to find out it's not quite what they said it was? That's exactly what you DON'T want.
You want to make sure that the partners an event tech vendor advertises are actually working hand-in-hand to make you successful.
Here's a video from our past UNITE Conference, where Amy Walter from Atlassian talks about how they use different best-in-craft event technologies to save her team time and create a beautifully branded event experience for their attendees:
7) Event Tech Pricing
Pay-Per-Registration or Pay-Per-Events pricing models are outdated. Why would you penalize someone if they run more events or have more registrations? It just doesn't make sense! Successful events should be a positive thing! Many, many planners run a wide variety of events, from free to smaller & medium-size events and they shouldn't pay more for extending their portfolio.
Pick a supplier that offers packages based on users. This way you can easily scale up without worrying about paying extra at the end of the year.
8) Ease of Use
Learning to use new event technology can be time-costly and occasionally overwhelming. This is even more of a problem if you don't know how much learning will be needed to use and implement your shiny new event registration software.
It's crucial that you get a demo and have a sales person actually run you through the event creation process. If it seems easy and intuitive enough for sales to go through, it probably is.
(This is the part where we would typically tell you how great Swoogo is, but we decided to cut the fluff and get on with the tips. We'd still love to give you a demo of our platform, though! Read on and click on the big Learn More button below! Our team is here to help.)
Online Event Registration is no longer the New Kid On The Block (is that still a thing?) anymore. Yet, it's still a must-have technology for event professionals and strategically important
85% of event planners are using online event registration for their events
Find a vendor that has a track record of running events, working in event tech and is well connected in the events community
Choose a vendor that uses modern technology, focuses on user experience and allows you to put your brand front-and-center
How consultative is your new vendor's support team? Is a big vendor always better?
Does your vendor have strategically important partnerships with other technologies, not only on the technology side of things, but also on client side?
How quickly can you learn the new event technology and how easy is it to implement?
Always get a demo or free trial first and make your own picture before making a rushed decision based on gut feeling