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The Quest for an Event Registration System

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By Gayathri Kher |October 20, 2015

The search is onI thought I had been assigned a simple task – To find an event registration system for a client that has an annual conference. The main goal of this group is to improve end user experience while still being able to incorporate their business requirements. Seemed like a day’s effort to me …. to research potential vendors, document the information, and provide feedback to the client. Little did I know!

Event Overview

The group has an annual conference which is held in Washington, DC every year with close to 350 attendees, including sponsors and speakers.

Business Requirements

Must be able to handle

  • The group has four pricing schedules driven by date of registration – Early Early Bird, Early Bird, Regular, and Late Registration.
  • Association Members get a discounted registration rate.
  • Group Registration – If 3 or more attendees from the same company are registering at the same time, a 10% discount is available.
  • Allow for discount codes
  • Badge Printing
  • Reporting
  • Responsive microsite for the event with ability for staff to edit without vendor assistance.
  • Ability to handle cancellations, refunds etc within the system.

Nice to include

  • Ability to provide special pricing for certain membership types and individual roles. For eg: government, speaker, board member etc.
  • Mobile App

List of Vendors

I made a list of vendors based on my knowledge from working with associations for the past decade, used Google and ASAE Collaborate as resources to add a few other names to my list. Time to do my research, make my calls, and get this moving forward. In the hour that followed my task became a mission and then a quest. I have included a summary of the responses that I received.

Hmmmm we would love to help you… but

  1. Your event is much smaller that we normally deal with.
  2. If you are willing to pay our minimum fee, we will try to accommodate you.
  3. We are more of a CRM and it typically takes up to 3 months to get you up and running with the customer database and event site.
  4. We let our support team handle all edits to the event website, so your staff will have to put in a ticket.
  5. Your must have requirements are not typical to our clients, we can do work arounds to try and meet these needs.

Still waiting to hear back from a few leading event registration vendors but I have a feeling items 1. and 2. above will be included in their responses. Are we asking for too much? Having worked with associations through all my career, none of the requirements seem out of the ordinary. Or are vendors just not responding effectively to market demands? As a proponent of small staff association needs, I feel that till I complete this quest — sleep with be secondary!

Solutions to Consider or Revisit

  • Are you currently using a CRM or AMS? If yes, is there an event registration component? Is there a reason you are not leveraging that component? Maybe the features did not meet your needs when you last considered using that component. Try it out again with an open mind.
  • Does your website have plug and play modules? Is there a free or paid module that you could add that would work well for you? This particular client uses WordPress to drive their website. So I am looking into the EventEspresso plugin further to see if it meets their needs. Early research tells me we might have a winner especially since the client has single sign-on set up so we know if the user is a member or not, what membership type they belong to and their roles. Another possible win by leveraging the power of integration.
Gayathri Kher
The Quest for an Event Registration System

Gayathri is co-founder and President of fusionSpan, a technology consulting firm focused on serving the comprehensive needs of small staff Non-Profit associations. She has extensive experience in evaluating current IT infrastructure for small-staff associations and assisting them in implementing solutions that are scalable based on future needs. Prior to co-founding fusionSpan, Gayathri headed up the Information Technology department at the National Genealogical Society and also worked at the Association of American Geographers.

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