The worst advice we’ve heard about conference registration

Most event managers have their preferred way of doing things, and some practices make more sense than others. We’ve rounded up a couple of the most misguided pieces of advice we’ve heard about the conference registration process. Read on to find out what not to do.

One registration desk is sufficient for streamlined registration.

Some event managers are under the impression that one desk, with a single “check-in” points, is the most efficient way to register their guests. They’re guided by the thinking that the area will be easy to spot, and staff will be able to work together as a team. Unfortunately, this often leads to congestion and frustrated guests – painting an unprofessional portrait of your brand. Avoid this situation by placing multiple registration desks in a room. Ensure stations are visible by making use of clear signage, and user ushers to direct your guests. In addition, guests could be grouped according to surname clusters to make the process even more organised.

Name tags only need to be printed as people arrive.

While this seems like a great idea in theory, mainly because of the cost-saving aspect, this process is incredibly time consuming and not worth the couple of cents you are going to save. What’s more, if you encounter technical difficulties on the day, like a printer that’s run out of ink, you’ll hold up the entire event programme, resulting in unhappy guests. Instead, pre- print them before the day, and then have the facilities to allow you to print a few new tags in case an uninvited guest arrives, or someone’s name is spelt incorrectly.

Using Excel to record all registration details.

This means that each registration desk has a different, and often conflicting, version of your guest list, which makes collating the data extremely difficult. What’s more, if one of your computers is stolen – you’ve lost precious data that won’t be recoverable.

Using an online event software solution eradicates all of these problems. This will ensure that all of your data is synced, in real time. You’ll also be able to send out SMSs or emails to notify people about last minute changes to the programme – positioning your events as highly organised and professional.

Using sales staff to co-ordinate the registration process.

This seems like a smart choice, as most of your sales team will be able to recognise guests. However, this also means that your key sales people are stuck doing grunt work, missing out on valuable network opportunities. Instead, outsource this to experienced administrators who are adept at registration processes.

Using unskilled, temporary staff as registration facilitators.

The conference registration process is someone’s very first impression of your brand. If you’ve hired inexperienced staff to register your guests, you’ll come off looking unprofessional. A guest’s experience of the conference registration also sets expectation for the rest of the conference or event – rather spend a portion of your budget on hiring people with the relevant skills – the pay-off of using inept staff isn’t worth it.

Waiting for all guests to arrive before opening the registration desk.

Event planners often think this is a good idea, as they’ll be able to ensure that everyone is at the venue already, and by having a short registration period they’ll reduce both the costs involved, and the time it takes.  Waiting for everyone to arrive before opening your registration desks is a recipe for disaster – there will always be hiccups, which means extra time must be allocated. Some guests might be put off long queues, or be in a hurry to get to a talk in time, and won’t register at all. Make sure you have at least one desk open beforehand to allow early birds to register before the rest of your guests.

Treating guests, speakers, VIP’s and members of the media equally.

As egalitarian is this is in theory, you don’t want your VIPs having to stand in a queue with the rest of attendee. Ensure that they’re made to feel important, by creating a VIP check-in table, and by briefing registration staff on who’s who before the day.

Relying on desktop computers to check people

This is an outdated, and unnecessary practice. You’ll need to organise the setting up of each station, and if you need to move, you will need to pack up and unpack a whole lot of heavy equipment. You’ll also need to find a phone line or wifi connection. This isn’t conducive to positioning your brand as an industry leader. Make use of tablets such as iPads to check guests in, so that you can freely move about the venue, all the while being connected via 3G.

So, there you have it. If you’re planning your next registration process, take any advice you receive with a pinch of salt, and commit the above to memory.

Image Credit: Events @ Illonois Springfield