Event registration is the process of collecting information from attendees. If you are planning a corporate event or company party, registration will be a useful resource in the planning process.
Registration comes in many forms; from a simple yes/no headcount to a complex, responsive system. What works best for you depends on the data set you hope to collect from your attendees. Digital event registration is more than just the day of, it also includes the RSVP process.
We have provided event registration services for 35 years, way back when paper invites included an RSVP to snail mail back! Now our event registrations are digital and more sophisticated than ever. We are going to share with you everything you need to know about event registration starting with the basics.
The Basics Build the Foundation
Before you create your invites or event flyers, you need to think about your registration. Not only do you need to provide the information on the event flyers or invitations, but you also need to anticipate the questions your attendees will ask – and answer them before they do!
- Do I need to register for this event?
- Where do I register?
- When do I need to register by?
These are basic questions that should be answered in your event invitation or flyers, including if registration is required and where they need to go to do so. Keep it simple and clear. “Registration Required: Visit X to register by DATE”
PRO TIP: We suggest also including a webpage (also known as a landing page) for attendees to learn more about the event itself. Answer all the “Ws” WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY on this landing page. That will help your attendees understand if they can attend.
Now you need to understand what you need from the attendees.
Basic Data to Require*
- First & Last Name
- Email Address
- Yes/No on Attending
- Total Headcount
Some of the most basic information gathered are who (first, last name), a simple, yes/no to attending and a headcount (total attending). This allows you to plan for the correct number of people attending and also allows you to cross reference those who have registered with those you have not heard from, making your communication more effective.
You will also want to include the attendees email address to send a confirmation of their registration as the basic data set. This ALSO allows you to confirm if you have different John Smiths or if they are duplicates to keep your data set clean. Some clients take it a step further in the vetting process to ensure that only their staff or invited persons are registering by requesting an employee ID number of special code that is included on the event invite.
What your data set includes after these basics are taken care of will depend on your event and how detailed you want your information to be. For example, some companies want to separate head count by children (often ages 12 and under) vs adults for catering purposes. Others exclude data. For example, they do not want to include infants and children under 3 in their total headcount. Whatever your preferred method, be sure it is CLEAR in the instructions.
SEEING DOUBLE?: Did you know that over 33,000 people are named John Smith! Chances are you will run into two people who share a name. Keep your data clean with an additional unique factor like an email. Cite: Slate.com
Now that you have a foundation, you’ll need to build up from there. This is particularly important for catering orders and complex events like international sales meetings, nationwide conferences, or other large events with multiple breakout rooms and sessions. However, they can also be useful for making your company picnic extra special (while reducing waste or not having enough due to invalid estimates).
Food & Beverage Considerations
We briefly went over registration considerations for food and beverage services, but here we will go into more detail. You can use your RSVP to gather information about meal selection, food allergies or preferences, and even use headcounts for catering orders and seating preferences. You can also use it to personalize the event to the majority of attendees; for example if you are stuck between what sort of food truck to include you can add a field on your registration for guests to vote on. See our infographic on catering for business meetings and our full guide on catering and dietary restrictions for additional support in building your data sets.
F&B Data Sets
- Entree or Plate Selection
- Noting Allergies
- Selecting Preferences (i.ee Vegan or Vegetarian)
- Headcount by Age
- Seating Arrangements
- Voting on Catering Elements
Complex Data Sets
Different types of events may require different data sets. For example an international sales meeting may require travel arrangements from a variety of attendees in different locations. We can help make that process easier by including data sets that identify who needs assistance, from where, and in what capacity (i.e. airfare, towncar, or hotel arrangements). That data can be used by planners to then coordinate and arrange all accommodations and manage the travel logistics. It also gives them insights into things like parking arrangements for shuttles, rentals or for those self driving. (See more tips on planning sales meetings and conferences).
For internal events like all-hands meetings or conferences where security is a concern, legal names can be designated differently than preferred names (along with employee IDs) to ensure all attendees can be screened by security prior to the event. This keeps your proprietary data safe and secure while you present at the event.
It can also enhance experiences by offering personalization. Giving attendees a choice between their preferred sessions or excursions takes the guesswork out of planning an engaging event.
In addition, by including data sets for departments, regions or job roles you can easily assign teams or breakout sessions by the group type.
Other data sets –
- Selection of Excursions
- Preferred Session Selection
- Team, Department or Job Roles
- Breakout Sessions
- Travel Arrangement Preferences
- Legal Names
- T-shirts Sizes
Accessibility & Advanced Preferences
Lastly, your data set can be used to ensure DEI goals are being met at your event. From ensuring accessibility needs are being met to preferred pronouns are being printed on awards or in announcements. A simple way to do this is just adding the data set to your registration.
Inclusive Data Sets
- Preferred Pronouns
- Preferred Names
- Accommodations (i.e. wheelchair accessible)
- Language Accommodations (i.e. translators or interpreters)
- Other: an option for people to fill in their unique needs
Data that Doesn’t Overwhelm
If you are thinking this is a lot of data and it doesn’t all apply to all of your guests, you are absolutely right. Every RSVP we do is custom to the specific needs of that event. That being said, you never want to overwhelm your guests with too many questions. We suggest starting with the base data set and either one of two options 1) include a “Next” to get to the next set so guests are fed questions in a limited number or 2) make them responsive and keep the basics simple. When we do registration forms, we like to keep it simple to start and add complex for only those that need it. This makes the registration process so much easier for the majority of attendees.
A sample form may include:
- First & Last Name
- Email Address
- Attending (Y/N)
- Headcount (if applicable, if no plus one is included, this can be assumed and assigned by the Y/N field)
If you require names of each guest, this field can be made to populate based on the total headcount provided. This way the form remains simple and only adds fields that are necessary.
If you are offering catering services and want to include this data set, it may look like this:
- Option A
- Option B
- Option C
Then you may include several filter questions with a simple yes/no response – or you can opt with a “check all that apply).
- Do you have any food allergies? (Y/N)
If Yes is selected, an additional field is revealed that allows them to select from a common list and we also recommend an empty “write in” field for outliers such as “Other”
Similarly, you may do this for just about any other data set. For example, if you have travel arrangements included in your event, you may want to include this data set in your RSVP.
- Do you need travel support? (Y/N)
Depending on the answer, the user will see the next data set revealing additional questions like:
- “Select all that apply: Air, Car, Shuttle, Hotel” etc
In addition, you want to have them include their preferred departure date and time as well as their location. This will simplify the process for planning the arrangements. Remember, flights require legal names and additional sensitive information, so be sure to require that on a secure form if you are managing their itinerary. Otherwise, send them the checkout links to complete the process from their end directly.
PRO TIP: For complex forms, be sure to make them responsive to simple questions to follow up on more information without the back and forth of an email.
Additional data sets like preferences on exclusions or even T-shirt sizes all work in a similar manner. It is important to discuss your event goals and needs ahead of time with those managing your RSVP data so they can put the proper codes in place to gather data effectively. Think, too, on how you want to sort that information.
It is almost always better to assign specific groups rather than allow individuals to write in themselves. Even something as universal as their department may result in mixed data sets that need to be corrected before they can be used. Use of abbreviations vs proper terms and/or misspellings can make for a very dirty data set. To keep your data clean and sortable, provide the exact groups you want to use (i..e HR vs Human Resources) in order to keep your data universally correct.
Think too, on how you want that data to relate to other data sets. For example, are you going to want a list of all those who are attending from Region A sortable by their individual departments? Then be sure to include BOTH the Region and individual departments in the forms.
The Day Of & Post Event Data
We gather these data sets so that the day of check-in is a smooth and easy process. At the day-of event registration booths we use tablets/ipads that have access to the data sets in order to check in each guest and confirm their attendance. You then can use that data to form a list of all those who attended and sort by a sub data set (such as Region A) to send them a survey, certification, or other notice (thank you, recap, photos etc).
The data is invaluable during the planning process, but still can be very useful after the fact. Use the edited numbers to understand percentages for the next year’s event or to evaluate success of marketing efforts. In today’s world data is just too valuable not to get the most from it. So go ahead and send out those post event notices, gather surveys and improve your corporate event’s ROI in the future.
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