Monday, 7 December 2009

How to Plan and Promote Your Small Event

So you have got a good idea for an event. That’s great but how do you make it happen, and most importantly a success? Amazingly the same rules apply if you are organising an international conference for 2000 attendees, or a charity bake sale in the local church hall. The keywords you have to remember are Plan, Promote and Communicate. I will now take you through the best way to organise and promote your small event while trying to keep the budget down and attendance numbers high.


This may seem rather obvious but one of the key ingredients to a successful event is good planning. Leaving things to the last minute will always result in complications and puts all your hard work in potential jeopardy. Make sure you start organising your event in adequate time, after all you will want to let your attendees know about it as soon as possible so they can add it in to their diaries.

Once you know the logistics of the event i.e. venue, theme, capacities and guest list you need to start thinking about compiling all the information for your attendees. A great way to do this is to use an event registration website from EventElephant. This website will allow you to add all the vital information about the event such as the where’s and when’s, and crucially it will also allow people to RSVP/ buy tickets. To view an example of an event registration website click here.

You now have a launch base for the event, the next thing you need to do is promote, promote, promote.

Demanding attention will get your event noticed, and will make more people want to attend. The only way to do this is through efficient promotion. Event promotion doesn’t have to cost the world and can often be done for free by using tools that I will go through now.

Now that you have your event registration website, there are many inherent tools available within the system that will get your event off the ground. The basic first step is invitations. Choosing a method in which to invite your attendees will completely depend on the type of event you are organising. Use the email invitation functionality within the system to instantly share your event with your contacts list. This is the cheapest and easiest way to direct your attendees towards your registration website but if you decide that good old fashioned paper invitations is the way to go try using one of these MyGatsby, MyExpression or BallisticBlue.

Another great tool to use is social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. Adding your event to these sites will give your event much greater visibility. It couldn’t be simpler to do and can instantly be performed from your event registration website by clicking the ‘Share This’ button. This will then send a link to all your social networking pages in one go, making the event visible to your whole networking group. This is a great tool to use if you don’t have the contact details for all of the people you would like to invite.

Event promotion doesn’t stop after the invitations have been sent out; in fact this is where it really starts. Invitations allow people to say whether they are going to be attending or not, so your job now is to get the people who accepted excited about the event. This should be an ongoing process and should last right up until the day of the event.

You can communicate with your attendees through many channels. Make sure you add any updates to your event registration website, this will let all attendees know any new information and will keep them fully up to date. You should also be talking about your event on social networking websites, this allows people to talk back to you and in turn will build more ‘buzz’ for the event. For more information on this read my blog ‘Using Twitter Hashtags to Promote Your Event’.

This two way communication can now stretch into a multi way communication as your event attendee’s talk between themselves about the event. In doing this the event starts promoting itself as more people will hear about it, and in turn may also encourage them to sign up themselves. Make sure you keep an eye on all of these communication activities though as you will want to respond to any queries people may have about the event. A good way to do this is to use tools such as TweetDeck or Google Alerts.

These are great first steps to get you on your way to planning and promoting your new event.

Please feel to comment if you have any further suggestions.

Friday, 4 December 2009

EventElephant Christmas Offer!

It is nearly Christmas and EventElephant are getting in the mood by offering all of our Organisers a very special Christmas treat.

Are you organising the office/association/club Christmas Bash? Do you want a free website ready in minutes that colleagues can sign up on so you know who’s coming and who’s being a Christmas Humbug?

If yes, you’re in luck as from today all free to attend Christmas parties will incur no charges from EventElephant! Yes that’s right, if you add your Christmas party to EventElephant before 8PM (GMT) Monday 14th December we will happily waiver any of the ticket fees, meaning you can enjoy all of the EventElephant tools for free.

To redeem this offer simply add code EE0002/CH09 when creating your event. Be quick though, this offer will only last until 14th December.

Merry Christmas from all at EventElephant!

Make sure you follow EventElephant on Twitter for any future offers.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Winter Release- Lots of New Tools, Lots of Upgrades

Once again next week sees the launch of a new bunch of updates to the EventElephant system.

At EventElephant we’re committed to making the event organiser’s life as hassle-free as possible. That’s why we’re continually updating EventElephant. We release literally dozens of functionality enhancements every month. A nip here. A tuck there. If it makes EventElephant faster, easier, or more enjoyable to use, we’ll do it. Many of the updates we release are based on the feedback we receive from organisers themselves.

The great new functionality and tools are available for you to use from Monday 23rd November, and will make creating your registration pages and managing your event even easier! For a full list of the updates click here. Here are some of the highlights;

Email and Contact Functionality Upgrade

We now have new functionality for you to see the complete history log of all the emails you have sent to your attendees, all organised by date and time. Whether these are invitations, reminders, thank you emails or custom emails that you have built yourself.

Contact Management Feature Updates

As you know your attendees can enter their personal information when they register. If you need to edit this data, you can now do it at anytime in the ‘My Contacts’ tab. This means there will be no more duplicated contacts within your database, and you can instantly see a list of events that the contact registered for and which contact groups they belong to.

Change the Order of Your Speakers and Sessions

It is now possible to customise your ‘Speakers’ page even more with the ability to reorder the speakers. You can now place the speakers in the order that you wish them to be with great ease. On top of this you can now re-order your sessions. This is very handy if any of your session times change or are cancelled, as you no longer have to start your session programme from scratch.

Customisable Themes Now Even Easier To Use

If none of the ready made themes take your fancy for your event, you can always turn to the customisable theme where you can add your own colours and layouts. We have taken great steps to make this functionality now even easier to use. As well as the preview button we have also added in a template to show you which colour correspond to each area on your event website.

Customise Your Registration Page

If the registration page for your event website wasn’t customisable enough, we have now added extra functionality for you to re-order the customisable questions that appear on the page. This means that to send one of your customisable questions to the top of the page, it can be done with one click.

Refunds and Cancelations Upgrade

One of the most useful features within the system upgrade is that you now have the ability to not only cancel bookings, but also refund any of your attendees directly from the EventElephant system. This makes it a lot easier for you to manage all of your bookings and payments. The new bookings refund option can be found in the Bookings Management tab.

If you would like to know about future updates to the system please subscribe to the EventElephant Blog.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Using Twitter Hashtags to Promote Your Event

For those of you that use Twitter you will probably have seen the use of hashtags in tweets which precede certain subjects such as #ballonboy or #googlewave. These hashtags allow one constant stream of conversation to be grouped together and easily followed by Twitter users. Hashtags don’t only have to be used for news topics; they can also be a fantastic tool to promote your events.

It’s very simple to do, even for complete social networking novices. The first thing that you need to do is create your hashtag. The main rules with hashtags are to keep them short and memorable. For example, if you have an event called ‘London Publishing Conference’ then an example of a hashtag would be #LdnPubCon. You can call your hashtag
whatever you like although you should always check that nobody else is using it, (this can be done by using Twitter Search), and should make sense in a sentence. You don’t need to register the hashtag and it can be used straight away in all of your event tweets. An example of using your event hashtag within a tweet would be;

Here are some of the great benefits to using hashtags when promoting your event through social networking.

Makes an event easy to follow

In the build up to your event, you will probably have many attendees who would like to be kept up to date with any announcements about the event. Using a hashtag in your event tweets means you will instantly alert anybody following the trend to your announcement, meaning they will always be up to date.

Build a community for your event

It is not only you that can use the hashtag when talking about your event. If you encourage your attendees to do the same thing, people can instantly see who else is talking about the event and can hopefully start a buzz. Before you know it you could have a whole community talking to each other in the build up to your event.

Starting conversations

Once your community starts to grow you can then start having conversations about the event using the event hashtag. You could post a tweet such as ‘For all attending #globalmediaday who would you like to see present the keynote? People can then respond to your question and by including the hashtag in their reply means that everybody else will be able to see their answers as well.

This doesn’t have to be limited to before the event, as many companies are also using the hashtags during an event. This allows attendees to give their opinions about your event in real time. Some events even use a screen on the stage so people can tweet their opinions during a conference for the whole audience to see, all being tracked through the hashtag!

Get a bigger audience for your event

It goes without saying that the more people that use your hashtag when talking about your event, the more people will see it and become interested in it. This is why it can be a great marketing tool. If enough people are talking about your event you can become one of Twitters ‘Top Trends’ meaning your event will show up on the Twitter homepage as one of the hottest topics.

Tracking your Hashtag

For the easiest way to track who is using your hashtag within their tweets, use a desktop application like TweetDeck or Seesmic (both are free to use).

So now go forward and use your event hashtag. Remember, you can use your hashtag across all social media channels including your blog and email, this will allow all of your attendees to recognise the hashtag as part of your event branding.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Organise Your Christmas Party with EventElephant!

If it’s your job to organise the staff Christmas party, you might be wondering where to start. It can be a daunting task making sure your Christmas party is one to remember, but EventElephant really is Santa’s little helper!
A great Christmas party is all in the preparation and planning so we have put together some useful tips to make sure you organise a night to remember.

Tip 1
If you’re a first time party organiser, the first tip is don’t panic! Once you have found your location, chosen a theme and sorted out your outfit, there are plenty of easy to use tools that will help you to keep the stress levels down. Firstly you will need to tell people about the party so use the EventElephant step by step ‘wizard’ to create a unique website for your event. You can input all the information about the party as well as designing the website to fit your theme. The wizard is very intuitive so even the least IT literate person can create a great looking event website.

Tip 2
Next you need to get the message out. In one click you can use the EventElephant invitation system to email all of your colleagues and friends to let them know about the Christmas party. You could use the standard invitations that are ready built in the system, or why not customize it to fit in with your Christmas party theme to get everybody in the mood?

Tip 3
Now that everybody knows the who, what’s, where’s and when’s, I’m guessing you will want to know who is going to attend? Fear not, as soon as your colleagues visit your event website they can RSVP to the party, giving you a clear idea of how many Christmas puddings to order! Not only that, if bosses are asking staff to make a contribution to the Christmas Party, payments can also be taken on your new event website.

Tip 4
It’s free to sign up and start using EventElephant for your Christmas party. EventElephant can also take care of all your events including meetings, networking events, exhibitions and many more.

Give it a FREE TRY right now

Friday, 2 October 2009

EventElephant receive ‘Most Investable’ Award from Dragons Den

Last week, EventElephant were awarded the ‘Most Investable’ company award from the Live event panel at Trinity College, Dublin. The award is bestowed upon the company that best demonstrates its attractiveness to venture capital funding. EventElephant were invited to deliver their 4 minute pitch against nine other companies to a panel of the most prolific investors and entrepreneurs in Ireland.

The EventElephant pitch stood out as Eamon O’Brien, CEO, demonstrated a revolutionary product for the event sector, which makes it easy for event organisers to plan, organise and manage their events and their attendees online. With EventElephant organisers can self build a registration website for specific events, promote and market the event online, sign up bookings and collect online payments, as well as monitor event progress with reporting dashboards.

‘EventElephant has managed to develop and launch a product that is not only differentiated from similar technologies available in the market, but has also succeeded in enhancing the efficiency of event attendee management’ says Eamon O’Brien. ‘The ever increasing customer portfolio of EventElephant proves that this product is needed within the market, and I am glad that the Dragons got to see the value of that today’.

About connects entrepreneurs with investors. It is the first website in Ireland to leverage video in connecting entrepreneurs with investors. It launched on 26th June 2009 in partnership with Bank of Scotland (Ireland), Deloitte, Microsoft, The Irish Times and William Fry.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Square Meal set up and sell out their event in record time thanks to EventElephant

Earlier this year, UK events company Square Meal approached EventElephant to help them build a registration website for their upcoming ‘Altitude 360’ event in London. The event was to celebrate the launch of Altitude 360’s new event space including the brand new River Room, plus an exclusive first view of the newly expanded panoramic space with 360 views of the London skyline. Time was short as they needed to get invitations sent out straight away as well as start taking bookings for the event. This is where EventElephant stepped in.

Simon Anderson, Marketing Executive for Square Meal commented ‘I've used several other online attendee management systems in the past, but always been disappointed - EventElephant was an entirely different experience. We didn't have a great deal of time to market the event and needed to set up an online registration page immediately - to my relief, the EventElephant set-up process was extremely user-friendly, and the site was up and running in a matter of hours’.

Not only were Square Meal able to set up their event in a very short space of time, they managed to sell out their event in record time also. To do this they used the simple marketing tools available to all organiser within the system.

Simon said ‘The system offers a wide range of layout, graphic and text options, so creating a bespoke site is incredibly simple. You certainly don't need to be a web genius to produce an eye-catching website, and the EventElephant team are always happy to help out over the phone.’

Square Meal are already planning their next event using EventElephant due to the massive success of ‘Altitude 360’. Simon added ‘The registration process for our event went very smoothly and we even surpassed our original target number of registrants. To any marketers frustrated with their current attendee management systems, I would certainly recommend EventElephant’.

Check out Square Meals growing database of venues both in London and throughout the UK

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Make Money with the EventElephant Partner Network

EventElephant are delighted to announce the launch of the EventElephant Partner Portal. Now not only can you SAVE money by organising and promoting your events through EventElephant, but you can also MAKE money!

You can use EventElephant to Make Money in the form of commission. When you apply to become a partner you will receive your unique Partner ID. For any event that carries your partner ID code you will receive a pre-agreed percentage of the fees that EventElephant receive.

That means for every event organiser that sets up an event using your code, you will receive a percentage of any money taken through ticket sales, simple!

EventElephant is the perfect referral product. It clearly transforms online registration and payment for event organisers. They use it to increase their event attendances, reduce their administrative costs and improve the attendee experience. It’s easy to use and entirely self service.

There are many tools within the Partner Portal that will help you to attract partners and promote EventElephant’s benefits and features. They include email templates, videos, HTML banners for your website, buttons for your blogs and a choice of sales collateral PDF’s.

As soon as one of your organisers creates an event using your Partner ID, a member of the EventElephant team will contact you to arrange payment of your commission.

To get started click here and sign up to become an EventElephant Partner today!

Monday, 7 September 2009

Central Hall Westminster and EventElephant team up to offer a powerful new event service

Central Hall Westminster one of London’s most famous event venues and EventElephant the leading online product for event organisers, team up to offer a powerful new event service.

Central Hall Westminster and EventElephant today announced that they have joined forces to offer a highly innovative new event partnership that opens up great new opportunities for all event organisers to transform the running of their events.

Together Central Hall Westminster and EventElephant will give event organisers the complete end to end event package - both from using self service online technology to being able to market to and register attendees, to also receiving superior ‘at show’ facilities and ‘on the ground’ support .Colin Pauley, Business Development Director at EventElephant, states that the combined expertise of both companies will deliver ‘success without stress for organisers – and will minimise costs, increase revenues and create great attendee experience, time and time again’.

About Central Hall Westminster
Central Hall Westminster is one of London’s most historic conference, exhibition and concert centres. Located adjacent to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, Central Hall Westminster offers event organisers versatile meeting room facilities, as well as spaces for syndicate rooms, offices and dinners. With a team of dedicated event Managers and the latest audio and visual facilities, Central Hall Westminster offers every option for every event in stunning surroundings.

About EventElephant
EventElephant is a self service online product that makes it easy for event organisers to plan, organise and manage their events and their attendees. With EventElephant organisers can self build a registration website for specific events, promote and market the event online, sign up bookings and collect online payments, as well as monitor event progress with reporting dashboards.

‘We are delighted to be working so closely with EventElephant. Lots of our clients are looking for ways of making the driving of attendees to their events more efficient and affordable – and with EventElephant we can now offer them that ability and service’.
Michael Sharp, Managing Director Central Hall Westminster

‘We are thrilled to be partnering with such a wonderful venue. Users of EventElephant are always on the lookout for prestigious and magical event settings and Central Hall certainly fits the bill .The link up is a true meeting of the historic past and the innovative future’.
Ron Downey, CEO EventElephant

Monday, 24 August 2009

Share your events with your social network

Along with the great new functionality that was launched last week for the EventElephant system, we have one more fantastic update that will make it even easier for you to sell out your events.

A new tool in the
EventElephant system lets you instantly share your event with your social network including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace and Bebo.

When you click on the relevant icon, an update about your event will be published on to your social networking page and with a link back to the event registration web page - meaning your whole personal network will be able to view and book directly on to your event. Make sure you check it out today!

Don’t forget that you can also follow EventElephant on Twitter by
clicking here or become an EventElephant fan on Facebook by clicking here.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Summer release – lots of new tools, lots of new upgrades

This week saw the launch of a new bunch of updates to the EventElephant system.

At EventElephant we’re committed to making the event organiser’s life as hassle-free as possible. That’s why we’re continually updating EventElephant. We release literally dozens of functionality enhancements every month. A nip here. A tuck there. If it makes EventElephant faster, easier, or more enjoyable to use, we’ll do it. Many of the updates we release are based on the feedback we receive from organisers themselves.

The great new functionality and tools are available for you to use immediately and will make creating your registration pages and managing your event even easier! For a full list of the updates click here. Here are some of the highlights;

Copy you existing events
When you are creating a new event registration page you will have the opportunity to copy most of the details from an existing or previous event. This will save you precious time when trying to duplicate an event.

Preview your event as you go along
As you are creating your event in the ‘create an event’ wizard you will now be able to view what you are creating as you create it. When you click the ‘Preview’ button a new window will open allowing you to visualise how your event registration page looks each time that you add text, a banner/logo or an image.

Waiting lists for sold out events
When tickets have been sold out for your event the system will automatically start to compile a waiting list of potential attendees.

Attendees who try to book tickets only to find them sold out will be asked if they want to join the waiting list for when more tickets are released by the organiser.

New RSVP functionality for organisers
Organisers will be able to give attendees the option of responding to an invite to attend their event with a Yes/No or a Maybe. If you have chosen to use the RSVP functionality then a new RSVP report will be available for your event in the Event Control Area. The report will present a list of potential attendees who have declined your invitation or who are as yet unsure about attending.

If you would like to know about future updates to the system please subscribe to the EventElephant Blog.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

What a Pair! Hollywood Celebrities sing for Breast Cancer

'WHAT A PAIR!' is an annual celebration of duets by Hollywood icons to benefit breast cancer research. The annual event, now in it’s seventh year, has raised over $2 million dollars towards breast cancer research. Proceeds from the Los Angeles show will go to the Breast Centre at the John Wayne Cancer Institute at St. John's Health Centre.

The show attracts huge Hollywood stars and for one night only they can let their hair down and show their support for this great charity by collaborating and singing famous duets. Artists who have performed in past "What A Pair!" events since 2002 including Jamie Lee-Curtis, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Taylor Dane, Jackie DeShannon, Joely Fisher, Sally Kellerman, Faith Prince, Lea Salonga, Lea Thompson, Nia Vardalos, Marg Helgenberger and Jorja Fox from CSI Vegas, will unite with new participants to continue the tradition.

This year's event is taking place on September 26, 2009 at Santa Monica's new Broad Stage Theatre. To read more about the event and to purchase tickets visit

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Getting attendees on board with online registrations. By Colin Pauley

Switching from an offline to an online booking process can take a bit of getting used to – for organisers and attendees.

Organisers sometimes feel anxious about ditching the paper-phone combo and going exclusively digital. Meanwhile attendees will carry on using the booking method they’ve always used for the organiser’s events – until they’re prompted otherwise.

The emphasis for switching, however, lies with the organiser. They must take the lead if both parties are to reap the rewards of online event registration systems.

Here are ten tips for getting your attendees on board:

1. Go 100% online

Don’t give your attendees a choice. When you book a flight online, airlines don’t also give you the option to make phone bookings. And surprise, surprise – we book our flights online without a second thought.

2. Tighten your marketing

Marketing emails should be attention-grabbing trailers. They’re not the place for listing all your event info. So make your emails short and punchy. A single, concise paragraph covering the highlights works a treat.

And to really maximise registrations, position your ‘Register Now’ button so it’s impossible to miss. Plus make sure it takes attendees straight to the bookings page of your event registration website.

3. Get linked up

Plaster the URL for your registration website everywhere. Always include it in any marketing emails you send out. Display it prominently on your corporate website. Add it to any social networking sites you use, like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn, and include it in any emails to groups you belong to.

And don’t forget to add a clear call to action, like ‘Don’t miss out – register now’.

4. Create online incentives

People assume buying stuff on the internet is cheaper. So play on this assumption and make it cheaper to book online. For phone or postal registrations you could add a ‘manual processing fee’, for example.

Plus you can create another incentive by offering a discount for ‘early bird’ online bookings.

5. Refuse phone bookings

If someone calls wanting to make a telephone booking, tell them registrations and payments are only taken online and explain why. Then make things really easy for them by immediately emailing them the link to the registration page.

6. Give good warning

Prepare your attendees for the switch. Email them in advance explaining that for your next event bookings and payments will only be taken online.

If you let them know what to expect and how the process works, they’ll be far more agreeable.

7. You’ll love it

Email attendees and let them know exactly how they’ll benefit from online registrations – quick and easy to use, more convenient with 24x7 access, greater security, better communication etc.

See the Why event attendees love online registrations blog for more ideas.

8. Make it official

Let people know about the switch to online wherever and whenever you can. For example, mention it in automated phone greetings, incorporate it in your voicemail and in all printed materials, like mailshots and e-newsletters.

If you run lots of events at once, devote a page to your events on your corporate website. Include URLs and punchy descriptions for each event.

9. Educate attendees

Pre-empt any attendee concerns and include a short FAQ section or page on your corporate website (EventElephant’s FAQs will help you).

Provide easy-to-follow steps on how to register for your event. Put it on your corporate website or in any emails to attendees. And be positive and inspire confidence with an encouraging message like ‘Register now – it couldn’t be easier’.

10. Get your staff on board

Sounds obvious but make sure your staff know how online registrations work and are completely comfortable explaining the process to attendees. If they’re unsure about anything, you can always enroll them in one of EventElephant’s free online registration training sessions.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Why online registration pays. By Colin Pauley

There’s no going back. It’s inescapable. Our lives and our businesses are shaped by the internet and it will only become ever more so.

The reality for event organisers is that fully embracing web technology is no longer an option - it is an urgent requirement. Naturally some are still a little nervous about changing from paper based to online methods, and some are wary that their event attendees will be equally as cautious about online registration and ticket payment.

It’s clear though that at some point every event organiser will have no choice but to join the online revolution. Not doing so is increasing the risk of becoming uncompetitive, of creating attendee dissatisfaction and of rapidly eroding event margins.

So what are the key online advantages for the event organiser?

1. Boost attendance and revenue

On average event organisers report a 20% increase in attendee numbers when they offer an online registration and payment facility.

Attendees are much more likely to take action and to register and pay straight away if they are presented with just an online option. They are more likely to postpone their decision to sign up if they have to confirm and pay by phone or post.
Plus built-in functionality boosts attendees’ commitment to the event. Making the most of automated personalised emails and click-to-confirm email reminders reduce drop-out rates and ensure a fuller house.

2. Slash costs

End to end online registration, payment processing and attendee management systems dramatically streamline the labour intensive processes involved in running and managing an event – generally saving 50% off of the traditional costs.
Organisers significantly reduce the cost per attendee by creating greater efficiency such as; reducing keying errors, spending less time on account reconciliation, experiencing fewer on-site attendee problems, minimising postage, printing, labour and telephone costs.

3. Tight attendee management

Most online event registration systems come with reporting functions. They’re great for keeping a really close eye on your event and delegates. And because the reporting is in ‘real time’, there’s no lag – you always get an accurate picture of your event.

Plus they’re really easy to use. You can export data to Excel, Word, Access and other formats, which comes in really handy when you want to create attendee badges and delegate lists etc.

4. Up-to-the minute financials

Forget calculators. And spreadsheets. Online event registration systems put an end to worrying about one of the worst aspects of event organising – collecting the money.

The smart systems come with a built-in secure payment function for processing debit and credit cards. Organisers can take bookings, issue any refunds if required, and conduct a number of other transactions.

Because all payments are taken using one system, you get up-to-the minute figures on essential info like the number of tickets sold, which promotional discounts are working well, and how many group bookings have been taken etc. You can also immediately see what breakout sessions have sold out and whether you need to add extra workshops.

5. Increases customer retention

Happy delegates come back. It’s that simple. Plus they’re far more likely to recommend the event to their friends and colleagues. Get the event wrong and you pay the price. Disappointed delegates waste no time spreading news of a poorly run event.

This means making sure all event management and marketing is as tight as a drum. There’s no room for mistakes. An admin error might seem small but to an attendee it can really rankle. For example, a typo on a name badge may be only one letter out, but it’s still sloppy. And it implies the organiser cares more about the numbers than the individuals.

That’s why smart organisers don’t take any chances. They use online event registration systems, which put the delegate in total control of their info. Which means nothing falls through the cracks. And no-one gets upset.

In conclusion the online payback is worth it – The top and bottom line numbers improve. Your event process becomes more efficient and your attendees are impressed by a better all round experience. As an event organiser it’s not something you should think about. It is something that you should make happen. As soon as you can.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Why event attendees love online registration systems - By Colin Pauley

We’ve all been there. You arrive at the conference bright and early, looking forward to getting stuck into the programme. Then the organisers tell you they’ve no record of your booking. Cracking start.

So they exchange a few blank looks, mumble an apology and promise you they’ll sort it before hurriedly handing you a name badge. With someone else’s name on it. At least it may as well be for all the errors. Nice touch.

And by the time you’ve finished remonstrating that you’ve pre-booked and already paid for your lunch, you find lunch has left the building. Talk about Heartbreak Hotel.

How can this be when we live in the digital age? And have done for YEARS. I banished the ‘weekly shop’ at the local supermarket long ago. My groceries are dropped at my door at a time that suits. Brilliant.

And I can book a flight – and satisfy no end of aviation laws – in five minutes. Start to finish.

Come to thing about it, there’s not much I can’t order using my laptop from the comfort of my sofa. Books, CDs, TVs, sofas, beds, washing machines, takeaways, taxis. Practically anything.

And there doesn’t seem to be any problem getting my details right. Plus I get an email confirming my booking and a nudge when my stuff’s on its way. No hassle, no stress. Easy.

In fact it’s now got to the point where it seems odd when a company doesn’t indulge my preference for all things online. Particularly when it comes to registering for events. Make it easy for people and they’ll come. Don’t, and they won’t. It’s that simple.

So it’s great to see savvy event organisers grabbing all the digital world’s got to offer. By using online event registration systems, they’re cutting out loads of hassle and alleviating the undoubted pressure that comes with delivering a large event. By switching from the traditional way of registering delegates to super-fast online bookings, they’ve made their lives so much easier. And they’re not hearing their delegates complaining either. Here’s why:

1. Super-fast, super-easy registration

Once you’ve checked out an event online and decided to attend, you want to book it there and then. You don’t want to faff around with calling someone up and going through all your details. Or worse, have to print off forms, mess around with cheques and rely on snail mail.

Online registration and payment systems make life so much more convenient. In one quick visit you can punch in your details, register for the event and make your payment. And because it’s online you can register whenever you want. No waiting for office hours. Register at a time that suits. Job done – and all from one convenient portal.

2. Top-drawer data security

Nowadays online transactions are protected by state-of-the-art security, like encryption keys and firewalls. Plus there are audit trails for transactions, so you don’t have to worry about who’s got their mitts on your debit / credit card details. Nothing’s left to chance or human error.

Unlike with the traditional phone-and-paper combo. Hard-copy spreadsheets and files are often left lying around, plus they’re easy to mislay or unwittingly throw away.

3. Total control

The online revolution means we don’t just expect to be able to do things ourselves, we demand it. Online event registration and attendee management systems put you in the driver's seat. No more relying on customer service lines. Or suffering those nerve-wrecking automated response systems.

An online registration system gives you complete control and lets you personalise your booking. From planning your breakout sessions, to choosing what you want for your meal, to stating your hotel room preferences.

And because all your details are safely tucked away in a single system, you can go in and change something whenever you want. If you want to see the latest speaker or programme updates, just log on and take a look. Or if you need directions and want to print off a map, it’s no problem at all.

4. Rapid confirmation emails

It’s reassuring when you know something’s been done properly. Most online registration systems send automated confirmation emails, which give you that peace of mind – instantly. The email hits your inbox moments after you’ve clicked ‘confirm booking’. So you can quickly check everything’s in order and then forget about it. No chasing people up to make sure your booking hasn’t disappeared into the admin ether.

5. Keeping in touch with organisers

Big events involve a lot of people. Which means there’s always the chance that there’ll be changes to the programme. An extra speaker added here, another breakout session there.

For delegates, if things do change it’s nice to know straight away. Not at the event, when that really insightful extra session is full up.

Most online attendee management set-ups come with a built-in contacts database and email system. So as the event evolves, the organiser quickly rifles off targeted and personalised emails to their contact list and everyone’s bang up to date.

Not that we like being emailed all the time. So if we’ve had enough of these missives, these smart email systems let us opt-out immediately at the click of a button. No questions asked.

As someone who’s never far from his next event, I’m always put off when I’m denied an online registration system and payment facilities. I know it means having to find the time to book it when I’ve got loads more interesting things to do.

The bar’s been raised in recent years. Regular event goers have developed certain standards. Not least because in today’s online age, they know there’s no excuse for making event registration hard work.