While searching for a solutions to increase the effectiveness of your company, which organize training courses or conferences, you will surely find many offers of online event registration software providers from all around the globe.
The main goal of a well-designed online event registration software (Saas, software as a service) is to simplify and automate the processes for organization of various events such as conferences, workshops or training courses. There are many different solutions available online, from simple applications to multi-tasking „all-in-one” event management platforms. The choice isn’t easy so you should deal with it methodically.
- Identify your business processes
- Identify your needs
- Check the costs
- Data protection
- Backups & technology
- Mobility, availability & uptime
- Ease of use
First, you have to…
1. Identify your business processes
In other words, identify repetitive tasks which are performed on a daily basis, e.g.:
- registering attendees for your events (collecting necessary data)
- sending confirmation of registration
- sending notification of payment options
- handling the limits of seats/tickets for events
- handling payments (checking bank account, etc.)
- sending reminders about the payment
- sending confirmation of payment
- updating information about cashflow
- issuing and sending invoices
- sending information to attendees about the event
No matter what is the size of your company, processes listed above are just some of the tasks performed daily. The larger the scale of your business, the more time it consumes, and the greater the risk of costly mistakes.
Involving a reliable automatic software that will take over these repetitive tasks is obvious solution. Automation and standardization eliminate errors, and let you regain a lot of time, and – as you know – time is money. Try to estimate how much money you spend on activities that don’t bring any added value for your clients.
2. Identify your needs
This is the most crucial part and you have to do it carefully. You have to specify what you need from an online event registration software. Recent research, conducted among event managers, shows that the four most important features usually are:
- reliable registration process
- payment processing
- ease of communication (eg. mailings to attendees)
- possibility of placing the registration form as a widget on the organizer’s website
Event organizers also often these additional options:
Create your checklist. It is worth remembering that when choosing a software, the quality is more important than quantity. Advanced platforms offer many options which you probably don’t use and won’t use in the future. Don’t pay for something that you don’t need:
- organizing mid-sized training course doesn’t require a floor planner
- organizing workshops doesn’t require gathering scientific abstracts
The results of the Event Manager Blog survey from January 2018 indicate that event organizers are looking for dedicated solutions, not “all-in-one” solutions. Check carefully the quality of the system before making any decision.
Serious software providers will allow you to test their demo without complicated process of applying for the access. Just like in a car dealership – you usually take a test drive before making a decision. This way you can quickly fill your checklist.
3. Check the costs
Check carefully the pricing. In principle, two price models can be distinguished on the market of online event registration systems:
- fixed monthly or annual fee regardless of the number of registrations
- variable fee depending only on the number of paid registrations
If you organize a lot of events, you should consider pricing model based on a fixed monthly fee. On the other hand, you have to take into account that the training industry is exceptionally seasonal. Fixed fee means that you have to bear the costs in “low-income” months.
It may be more cost-effective to choose a subscription system, but only if you feel confident in your sales. Nowadays, it is hard to predict market fluctuations even in short-term perspective. That’s why it is much safer for organizations to use “pay-as-you-go” model. This way you don’t have monthly fixed costs. You can easily pass the cost of the software to your attendees – this way you can use the software “for free”.
Reliable online event registration software provider will charge you only for the actually completed and paid registrations. It should be a win–win solution – you will pay only if you earn. They shouldn’t charge you for would-be participants.
As you probably expect, the more complex the software is, the more expensive it is. You have to consider whether you need a highly sophisticated all-in-one tool, or more simple solution.
An unquestionable advantage of the software as a service model is the lack of investment costs. You don’t need to install, configure, set or integrate anything. The software simply works and can be used any time. At least it works if it is programmed by well-organized software providers.
What to look for? You should definitely look into following issues:
4. Data protection
Nowadays, after the entry into force of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (on 25 May 2018), the protection of personal data is one of the most important issues in the process of registration. In the event of data loss or leakage, you have to deal with some unpleasant consequences and possible administrative penalties.
Storing your files in the cloud (DropBox, Google Drive, etc.) is not a reliable solution, especially in the context of personal data. Losing or sharing your computer with other people means that they will gain access to the information stored there. The obvious answer for this issue is online event registration software, especially the one that offers solutions that may help in fulfilling GDPR requirements.
Using online event registration software in the light of the GDPR regulations concern two issues:
- relationship between the organizer and the software provider
- relationship between the organizer and the attendees
Friendly software providers could and should provide you with a solution in both areas mentioned above.
In the view of the GDPR provisions, an event organizer is also a personal data administrator of event participants. You should remember, that it is your responsibility to apply appropriate technical solutions in the registration process. That’s why it is extremely important to choose solutions that will ensure that the registration forms comply with the regulations.
In principle, the software provider pays special attention to the security of data, regular and automatic backups, and adjustment of the product to the requirements of various internet browsers.
5. Backups & technology
You should certainly have few points on your checklist referring to software provider’s backup strategy and technology. The frequency of backup is crucial in the context of the security of your data. The next thing – what is estimated time of system’s restoration in case of failure. Check carefully both matters.
Make sure that the software uses SSL encryption (connection between the server and the web browser). You can check it easily: the web address in the browser should start with https://… and be preceded by a padlock icon. Definitely reject all apps that doesn’t have SSL implemented – it is as simple as that. If you see http://… and no padlock icon – close the tab and forget about this application.
It is also worth asking what technologies the software provider use. You can easily check what version the developers use, and – therefore – how safe and modern the software is. Software providers have to be one step ahead of any potential threat. Lack of software updates equals inviting hackers to hurt the app and its customers. Secure software must be based on current technologies – there is no other way.
6. Mobility, availability & uptime
Ability to work anywhere and on any mobile device is the biggest advantage of online event registration systems over other types of software. An effective online event registration software has to be reliable– there can’t be any compromises on this issue. In order to take full advantage of this feature, the software must provide high uptime (readiness of the application to work measured in percent) and simply work fast.
The uptime of the system is measured as a percentage over a longer period of time. Generally, it shouldn’t be lower than 99%, which means that within 24 hours the downtime of the application shouldn’t be longer than 28 minutes. By comparison, Google’s browser is available in 99.99%. It is practically impossible to reach availability time at 100% over a longer period of time.
Therefore, the online event registration software should have uptime 99% and above. You have to remember that unavailability usually doesn’t mean problems with the system itself, but results from planned technical breaks related to software updates or the implementation of new features.
The second equally important factor is the speed of the software. A high value of the uptime parameter won’t be worth much if the program is slow. If every action is associated with long response time (eg connection to the database), it makes such application basically useless.
In short, the software must be highly available and fast – these two factors are crucial. Only the system that meets these two conditions is worth considering.
7. Ease of use
It’s a no-brainer – a well-designed online event registration software must be fast, simple and intuitive, both for the event organizer and attendees. The simplest test – you should be able to create an event and registration form without the need to contact support. If you can’t do that, well, search for other software.
Wisely chosen online event registration software will be a great tool in managing your events. In other words, the software provider should be a solid partner for your business. This means that you have to be able to contact your partner and get quick and meaningful answers to your questions. While testing different software providers check the response time of the support staff and the effectiveness of dealing with your questions. In business, as well as in life, it is worth counting on rock-solid partners. Check who uses the software and look for reviews.
When you start using new software, it’s common thing that you have questions or you just stuck somewhere in the app. You can take a phone call, or – if the software provider doesn’t provide this form of contact – you write an e-mail asking for help, hoping for a quick solution to the problem.
A fast and effective support proves that the company cares about its clients and you can count on it in the future. The company should guarantee quick response to system malfunction or reported problems and queries. Delayed response, and in the worst case scenario, lack of response or ineffective solution to your request should give you a warning sign. There is no point in establishing a cooperation with such a company.
The strength of popular online systems is their ability to adapt the functionality to the expectations of the event industry. The provider of software responds to the needs of many different customers, so you can be quite sure that your basic requirements will be met. The best part is that you get access to an application developed in accordance with the best practices on the market.
Remember, don’t hesitate to ask if you need additional features. Software development is a constant two-way communication with people and companies that run a business in event industry. This is because the development of the system involves both programmers and its end users. As a result, you get the tool that reflects know-how of many really smart people. This is an extremely important added value.
Basically, a well-designed online event registration software will save a lot of your time and money. You’ll be able to standardize and automate business processes in your company. As a result – you’ll gain time for sales or marketing activities that can bring you tangible effects. If you and your staff are exhausted – you will gain time to rest and recharge your batteries.
You know what to do. Fill your checklist, compare the results, choose the best event registration software.