Let’s be honest for a moment: Registration is to the event landscape what accounting is to the office- Something everyone needs but no one gets excited by. Simply put, event registration will never be the rock star.
But rather than a necessary inconvenience, let’s take a different approach. Let’s pretend that registration is an opportunity to set the stage and create anticipation. (I know what you are thinking, but humor me for a moment).
Registration is often the first face to face interaction participants will have with your event. With a few little hints, you can use it to create real anticipation.
This seems like an obvious point, and it really should be. But you would be surprised at how many organizers employ a registration company, set them aside in an area, and think that this is enough. Taking the on-site experience of the participant into consideration, one should really spend time doing their homework on the on-site vibe their registration company will provide. Is your registration partner thinking about the process? Where will bottlenecks appear? What are the challenges faced by the attendees as they set foot in your venue. Have attendees just hopped off a 12 hour flight? They may not have the same patience as someone who arrives well rested. If participants have to collect materials such as a conference bag or proceedings, as well as add further details into their record, how can these processes be incorporated and streamlined? Most importantly, how can this experience be turned into something fun and exciting? This is the challenge.
People get aggravated or disengaged when they do not know, or understand what is happening. What is the best way to inform people of the process? Have they been engaging with the pre-event communications? If their secretary organized everything, there is a good chance they have not. Clear signage, audiovisuals, and sufficient on-site support counters lined with smiling hosts are a great way of informing visitors, as well as offering some entertainment. Let’s face it, attendees don’t relish the first few minutes after their arrival, so doing something that sets the tone for what they will experience in your event is crucial. And hosts and hostesses can add a very nice human touch.
Tech in the registration process is not just a way of getting names in and tickets out. Of course technology adopted in the right way has the ability to do this, but this is a one dimensional take on the process. Consider other areas within your event and how technology is shaping the experience – take this opportunity to show everyone that you care. How can the specific challenges and objectives of the registration be brought into this fold?
A great example of this was a recent networking event I attended. People were introduced to a set of individual objectives, to help them achieve the most out of their time on site. Presented as ‘a game’ during the registration process through fantastic visuals. Interactive devices were issued to people at registration and hosts (with champagne) created a conducive networking atmosphere by interacting with people waiting in line, making themselves available to answer questions as delegates kept their position in the line. How nice is that! As people entered the main session, the atmosphere was alive. People were informed, engaged and relaxed. The result was a really productive event.
The first thing your participants experience is probably something you want to put a little extra though and effort into. Here is a short list of things that help set the tone for a great event:
- Use clear signage to delimit several lines, each with its own clear purpose. “Exhibitors”, “Pre-Registered”, “Speakers”, “Delegates”, etc. Why not add a touch of fun to make everyone feel welcome: add a line for “Anyone at all! You’re welcome”. Sometimes a visitor is not sure where they belong.
- Beautiful tactile tablets with a sexy welcome screen are not expensive, and show you are in tune with technology. Reduce the waiting lines by adding a few extra tablet kiosks so delegates can retrieve their badge in a fun and simple way. Keep in mind that not all delegates will be tech savvy and may require a host or hostess to help with tablets.
- Always include clearly visible list of steps, if your visitors have to get several items “Step 1”, “Step 2”, “Step 3”, etc.
- Hosts or hostesses walking around, welcoming people while they wait in line is the best way to address any doubts or questions, and avoid a delegate lining up for a while only to find out they aren’t at the right place.
- A few large video screens with a short intro in text or video, telling people what to expect of the registration / welcome process is always a plus.
- It is inevitable that at some point, when everyone suddenly arrives all at once there will be a little bit of waiting time. Anything you can do to make that time valuable to the participant will increase your ratings measurably. How about introducing a networking & digital document collection device such as Poken? A simple and fun explanation, and the visitor feels you’ve really invested in helping them get the most out of their time at your event.