If you are an organiser who has recently switched your event booking and payment process from offline to online, then you’ll know that sometimes it takes a little getting used to – both for you and for your attendees.
At first organisers can be a little tentative and reluctant to becoming exclusively online. And attendees? Well, they will continue to use the booking and payment methods that they have traditionally associated with the organiser, no matter how imperfect and unsatisfactory that process is – but only until they are otherwise instructed.
Yet for organisers it is vital to grasp the nettle sooner rather than later – the financial payback of online registration and payment demands it. And you'll be surprised how quickly even your most traditional attendees will adapt to online registration.
Here’s 10 tips for getting your attendees onboard:
1. Go 100% online
Don’t give your attendees a choice. Stop offering alternative booking methods. When you are booking a flight online, airlines don’t also give you the option of booking your ticket via the phone. As a result we all book our flights online without a second thought.
2. Get your marketing focus right
To maximise your online registrations make your marketing emails short and punchy – a paragraph in length. See it as a short trailer for your whole event. Give a concise overview of the event highlights and make your ‘register now’ button very highly prominent. Make the button impossible to miss and ensure that when it is clicked that it links to the event registration website.
Your marketing email is about persuading your attendees to visit your registration website and not for displaying all your event information.
3. Always be linked in
Always include the URL link of your registration website in your emails. Always send several emails to potential attendees for each event and include the link in every one.
Always include your URL link clearly and prominently on your corporate website. Include the link in emails about your event to your social networking groups such as Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn. Talk about your event and include the link on online forums or on Twitter or on your Facebook updates.
Make the link a clear ‘call to action’ for the attendee such as ‘register now’ or ‘register here’ or ‘to register for the event click here’.
4. Create incentives for online bookings
Offering online registration discounts encourages early attendee adoption, so make the ticket price more expensive for offline bookings. Charge a processing fee for manual or paper registrations. Make it clearly financially beneficial to book online. It is, after all, generally accepted that you get better deals via the internet no matter what product you are buying. You need to tap into that mindset.
Similarly, consider offering discounts for early online registration.
5. Refuse phone bookings
If potential attendees phone in to book manually then explain that registration and ticket payment are now exclusively online. Let them know that you will send an immediate email that will include the link for them to go straight to the registration page.
Have the email ready to go and explain the benefits for the attendee of using online registration and payment.
6. Give prior warning
Prepare your potential attendees for the switch. Give then good warning. Send them an email in advance that will explain that your next event will only accept online bookings and payment.
Let them know what to expect and how the process will work.
7. You’ll love it
Let your attendees know how they will benefit from your online registration system, such as ease of use, convenient and quick, more secure, self service, better communication.
Get them on board either with an email or a link to a page on your corporate website.
8. Make it official
Add a message to your voicemail system announcing the newer and more convenient online registration option along with the URL of your registration website for your next events.
Promote your online registration by placing your URL address in all printed materials, e-newsletters, email communications, handouts, signage etc for each event. Or if you run many events devote a page to your events on your corporate website with clear links to the registration website for each event beside each event description.
9. Educate them
Include a short frequently asked questions section or page on your corporate website.
Provide easy to follow numbered steps on how to register for your event. Put it on your corporate website or in your emails to give attendees confidence. Make it along the lines of ‘it’s easy to register and pay – here’s how’.
Offer attendees an online demonstration of how registration works.
10. Get your staff on board
Make sure that your staff are familiar with the online registration process and comfortable explaining it all to potential attendees.
Enrol your staff participants in one of our free, online registration training sessions to answer all their questions and build their confidence.
Alan Anderson, Blue Tube Design