Take any multi-day conference today and chances are it will offer attendees a choice of registration packages. Some will give attendees a choice of dates at different rates, others will bundle things like meals, accommodation or entertainment into the price. This concept of ‘packages’ first became popular when organisations used paper-based registration forms and needed a simple way of managing payments around their events. All attendees had to do was pick a package, submit their form and send the necessary cheque to the organisers.
Over the years, the advance of technology has made this process of managing payments a whole lot simpler. Online registration systems provide automatic calculations at the check-out stage of the attendee’s registration journey – regardless of the number of items purchased along the way. So the need for simplification no longer exists. In fact, ‘digital’ registration pages can do a lot more for attendee packages. They can give attendees the ability to tailor their own custom packages around these events.
Having a defined set of package options to choose from doesn’t necessarily simplify things – not for the attendee or the event organiser. Let’s take a look at a typical example. Suppose you give your attendees the option to select one of the following packages on your event registration page:
- Package 1 – Monday only
- Package 2 – Monday to Wednesday (3 days)
- Package 3 – Wednesday to Friday (3 days)
- Package 4 – Monday to Friday (5 days)
It’s relatively easy to set up, but offering these package options to your attendees can bring about a number of issues:
1. Trouble Counting Totals – Knowing exactly who is coming on each day should be the kind of information that needs to be available to an event planner at the touch of a button. Yet looking at our example, if you want to get the total number of attendees at your event on the Monday, you will have to add up the number of people who selected packages 1, 2 and 4. This number will reflect all the people coming on the Monday but it will also include the ones who have registered for the Tuesday and Wednesday sessions too. Also, it may include people who have no intention of attending the event on Monday but chose package 2 as they wanted to attend the sessions on the Tuesday and Wednesday.
2. No Transparency on Event Requirements – Knowing the exact number of people that are expected to attend on any given day is important for managing things like delegate communications, catering requirements and health and safety regulations. It is pure guess work to assume that people who have chosen package 2 will be attending your buffet lunch on the Monday, for example. Or that they’re interested in receiving content on topics that will be discussed in sessions on that day.
3. Limited Choice for Attendees – Options that are not listed usually end up with the attendee picking up the phone and calling your team to ask if they can attend ‘Tuesday only’, for example. This increases your workload, delays registration and could affect cash flow. Your attendee may also feel he’s not getting a good return on his investment as he’s made to pay for a 3-day event when he’s only interested in attending one particular date or session.
Offering your attendees a selection of package options for your event is a lot like a restaurant offering its customers a selection of set menus. Both are easy to set up. Both offer the same set of choices to everyone. Yet registration software can help attendees personalise their own packages around your multi-day events. In the same way that a restaurant offers customers the choice to order whatever they want using an a-la-carte menu, event planners can use their online registration forms to offer attendees the option to pick and choose what they want to ‘consume’ when registering for the event.
So instead of giving attendees a list of packages to choose from, registration forms can ask attendees which dates they would like to attend. Or you can break it down further and ask them what sessions they would like to attend. Upon selection, attendees can then be given a set of questions that allows them to choose individually priced items such as meals, meeting rooms, entertainment activities, transport and accommodation. They won’t need to do the mental arithmetic as the system will do it for them and they can focus on what they actually want to get out of the event.
Some may argue that breaking down prices like this will only complicate the registration process. That simplified package options provide a better experience for attendees. Yet the reality is that these packages are taking the choice away from attendees. And your attendees want that choice. They want the ability to decide that they will attend your conference for the first two days, spend one night in the hotel (as they’ve made other arrangements for the other two) and attend the networking drinks on the third night. They are used to making these choices in many aspects of their lives. They do it when buying add-ons for their flights such as meals, extra leg room or baggage allowance. They do it when ordering their meals in a restaurant. And there is no reason why they can’t do this around your events.
Benefits of a Personalised Approach
Creating a more personalised approach around event packages can bring a host of benefits to the event planner and the attendee:
- Increased ROI for Attendees – Providing attendees with the ability to pick and choose bookable items around your events gives them a clearer understanding on the value of their purchase. A subconscious connection is made with the content of each day, rather than simply the package fee. This provides the event planner with the opportunity to present additional value in context rather than just a price on a page.
- Personalised Event Communications – Knowing exactly which days your attendees will be attending can help you personalise all your email communications in the run up to your event. It makes more sense to send your attendee information about the sessions of the day they’re attending than have one generic email that goes to everyone on your list.
- Better Speaker Content – By having a more accurate picture of who will be attending the sessions on each day, event planners can break down attendee lists by company type, interests and goals and share it with speakers beforehand. They can then use this information to tweak the content of their presentations or personalise it with content or examples that are more relevant to the audience.
- Clearer Insight on On-Site Requirements – Knowing exactly who will be attending on each day of the event provides the event planner with a more accurate picture on what catering arrangements need to be made. So if you know that people are leaving early on the last day of your event, you may decide to offer them a packed lunch instead of the buffet you had initially planned. This can reduce your catering costs and reduce unnecessary food wastage. This kind of information will also help with emergency evacuations and other health and safety requirements.
- Alternative Source of Income – Asking your delegates specific questions on the kind of things they’re interested in purchasing around your event can also maximize your opportunity to make money. How about offering them to rent out that extra meeting room you have available on that specific day you know they will be at your event? Or offer them the choice to buy WiFi connectivity in their hotel rooms?
For some other ideas on how online registration systems like Eventsforce can help you personalise your attendee event experiences, have a look here.
Written by Paul Harris, Event Technologist and Client Services Manager, Eventsforce