Today’s post is the last in a series devoted to possible technological solutions of online event registration systems. The previous two entries concerned the development of a custom registration software and free (or little-paid) solutions based on the open source code (WordPress, Joomla).

This post is dedicated to summarizing the advantages and disadvantages of commercial online event registration systems, which can be quickly launched on the event organizer’s website.

Commercial online event registration software

There are a lot of systems available online for registering event participants for training courses or conferences. These are Saas products, in other words – software as a service.

The vast majority of available systems are dedicated to the American market, which means that you won’t find the solutions necessary for the “European” event organizer. This applies in particular to the lack of appropriate invoice templates, or – more importantly – the lack of compliance with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

To use a commercial online event registration system, in each case all you have to do is register an account. In principle, two price models can be distinguished on the market for this type of services:

  • fixed monthly or annual fee regardless of the number of registrations;
  • variable fee depending only on the number of registrations.

If the scale of your business is large, at first glance the pricing model based on a fixed subscription may seem more advantageous. However, you must take into account that the training and conference industry is exceptionally seasonal – a fixed fee means you have to bear costs in “dead” months.

Theoretically, it may be more cost-effective to choose a subscription system, but if you “feel” strongly the seasonality of sales, the safer pricing model is the commission on the sold ticket. You can easily calculate the cost of the system in the price of the ticket – this way you will use the software “for free”. In the “weak” months you won’t incur any costs. Make sure in advance, however, whether commission is charged only for paid registration – this price model is the most transparent and predictable. Otherwise, it will turn out that you will pay for each participant regardless of whether he paid for the ticket or not.

Pros and cons

An unquestionable advantage of the systems offered by external companies is the lack investment costs and the procedures of tedious system implementation. After the correct setting up of the account, the software simply works and you can use it right away. At least it works in well-organized systems. If you have to wait for some reason to start an account or create an event, this is the reason to give up the service.

The strength of systems that have a large client base is their ability to adapt the functionality to the expectations of the event industry. The provider of such software responds to the needs of many different clients, so you can expect that your basic requirements will be met in the standard of the application. If you need additional options – don’t hesitate to ask. It may also turn out that there is a functionality in the standard, which you didn’t think about and which will make your work easier.

In principle, the software provider pays special attention to the security of information, regular backup, and customization of the product to the requirements of various internet browsers. The company guarantees quick response to system malfunction or reported problems and queries. If this works as described, then you are dealing with people who know their stuff. If not – look for an alternative system.

The added value of a good software is its adaptation to the applicable provisions on personal data protection (GDPR). Some systems offer ready-to-use solutions that comply with the GDPR.

What are the disadvantages of paid registration systems? Certainly the price – you have to pay for it ;-). Seriously – avoid products that “bind” you with long-term contracts – enjoy the freedom of unlimited use and ability to stop using the service. Also avoid products that have a complicated or incomprehensible price list.

The disadvantage of the software is certainly the speed and reliability of the application. The more complex the product, the slower it works. 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. So check the quality of the system before deciding to use it. An extremely useful feature in this case is the ability to test the system before you create an account. Just like in a car dealership – you make a test drive before making a decision. A serious software provider will make it easy for you to try the demo account without any unnecessary formalities.

The weakness of the system may also be its limited functionality, eg the possibility of organizing only one event under the single subscription. If you organize many different events, use systems that allow you to easily organize many events simultaneously.

Summary

The use of commercial online event registration systems is a sound business decision. At a reasonable price, you can have a tool that will save you a lot of time, and thus money. For less than the fees payable by online payment operators, you will introduce automation and standardization of work and eliminate mistakes. You will be able to solve typical technical issues related to data security and the provisions of the GDPR.

It is definitely worth investing in increasing work efficiency and saving time. Remember that you can’t buy time.