Registration management is not for sissies

September 15, 2017


Dana’s Meeting Minutes is based on the Meeting Planning Triangle©. Click here for a link.

Registration management is not for sissies, and I’m a sissy. I will not do it. Besides lacking patience with confused people (just click the button next to LUNCHEON TICKET), I’m not allowed behind registration desks; I socialize too much and hold up the lines.


Of course, a well-designed registration process will ease the entire process and create a good experience for most registrants.



Tip #1

Managing registration requires thoughtful advanced planning and high-level thinking

  • Consider every phase of your registration process from both your and your attendees’ perspectives.

  • A registrar should be a confident decision-maker, a critical thinker, a natural problem-solver, and, most importantly, kind and patient. The last two are non-negotiable. If someone doesn’t smile naturally, he/she does not need to be in that position

Tip #2

If it’s tough to register, they might abandon it all together

  • Ask people who did not design the system to test it by entering fake registrations.

  • The registration page should open to the name and address fields. Do NOT require a log-in or sign up.

  • Put explanations in pop-ups so there is less visual clutter.

  • Don’t use paper forms.

    • Checks. Include the option to send a check. Generate an invoice if needed.

    • Computer-Free. Register computer non-users over the phone to save time deciphering handwriting and fixing mistakes.

Tip #3

Write clear instructions

  • Use the fewest words possible.

  • Use the fewest steps possible.

  • Ensure there is a logical path to purchasing event tickets.

  • Make it easy to register guests and additional people from the same office.


Gather great info when they register

Add questions that will help you design a better meeting experience and/or increase registrations. Write questions only after you identify what you want to know and why you want to know it.



You think your attendance is aging out (what you want to know)

and you’re wondering whether to invest time and money to target market younger people (why you want to know it).


Question #1

Identify your birth year: (Tracking by generation is easier to plan for than having only years.)

  • Before 1945

  • Boomer 1945-1964

  • Gen X 1965-1984

  • Gen Y or Millennials 1985-1995

  • iGen or Gen Z 1996 and later

Question #2

Do you have colleagues in your office from younger generations who should be here?

  • No

  • Yes

    • Why aren’t they here?

      • We can afford only one registration. (this covers the “have no money” problem)

      • They need to stay back and run the office. (this covers the “can’t empty the office” problem)

      • Our company rewards longevity with convention registration. (this says you need to pitch the benefits of all staff attending)

      • They will not benefit from participating in this event. (this tells you about your convention content)

      • Other, please explain.


  1. Don’t ask the questions if you won’t use the data. It’s a time waster for all involved.

  2. Open-ended questions are harder to answer and to analyze. Use numerical or multiple choice questions when possible.

  3. Too many questions are a turn-off.

I have included links to articles (below) that have more details and sample questions. It’s worth the time to peruse them.



Check out:

How to Master the Art of Event Registration by Erin Thompson for

4 Best Practices for Your Event Registration Site on the Expo Logic Blog.

8 Event Registration Principles to Delight Attendees on The Bizzabo Blog.

105 Questions to Gather Data from Your Event Registrations by Brian Pesin for Event Farm

How to Use Registration Data to Boost Conference Attendance by K.C. Hopson for Event Rebels


This article focuses on website log-in registrations, not convention registrations, but there are many parallel points: Website Login, Registration, and Data Collection Practices that Drive Customers Away by Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler


Information disclaimer: WANT MORE? references do not imply an endorsement for any company, product, or service.




Dana L. Saal, CMP, CAE, has been planning meetings for associations for more than 30 years. She recently decided that coaching meeting planners is now more fun than proofing BEOs, counting coffee cups and writing scripts. If you think a bit of coaching could improve your meeting, send a message via her website.

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