If you work in the event planning industry and have to configure and collect event registrations and ticket sales via online forms, you know how quickly things can get complicated and chaotic. From missed payments and complex registration systems, most event organizers spend endless hours following outdated processes that can lead to missed details, lost ticket sales, and miscommunication between the vendors, volunteers, attendees, and other event participants.
The good news? There is a better way!
If you’re an event planner who has been following “what has always been done,” you may not even realize how much time you are wasting and the opportunities you are missing with your current event registration process.
With the right process and event registration software, you could go from manually-filled Google sheets and chaotic check-ins to:
- A streamlined registration process and improved user experience that prevents form drop offs and exits
- Concisely displayed registration and ticket options, along with pricing, that enable attendees to make the right choice for them
- Automated collection of necessary attendee information
- Easy and instant payment processing via credit cards, Paypal, or other simplified payment options
- Event attendee sign-off on event policies, terms and conditions, and other legal documents and personal protections
- Create a user-friendly experience on both computers and mobile devices
Planning Pod’s forms builder and event registration software make creating smooth and intuitive registration and ticketing workflows easy. You have the ability to customize event registration forms to collect detailed attendee information as well as payments, and you can also easily collect registrations by embedding a registration form on your own website.
Table of contents
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about creating, collecting and managing online event registration forms. Following this process, you will provide attendees with a smoother, more user-friendly registration process while saving yourself hours of work each week and increasing ticket sales and RSVPs.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
- Custom order forms for the most common event types
- Creating a ticketing strategy
- What attendee information to collect and how to manage it
- Setting limitations and restrictions
- Processing payments for registration fees via credit card, PayPal, or cash
- Safeguarding yourself with policies, terms, and event attendee sign-offs
- Post-signup communications for improved attendee experience
- Event registration form integration to your website platform
- Checking in guests and other on-site considerations
- Choosing an event registration software to streamline your event registration process
Building customized event registration forms based on the type of event you’re hosting
Before you start your form builder, you’ll want to think about what information you need from attendees to better plan and execute the type of event you’re hosting. You want to ensure that you’re asking enough questions to maximize the success of your event, but not too much that you’re turning off potential attendees with a time-consuming or invasive registration process.
Here are best practices for each of the most common types of events:
Concerts, festivals and public events
When it comes to in-person events like concerts or festivals, you want to make the registration process as seamless and quick as possible. Most event attendees won’t want to provide extensive personal information or go through a long registration process to purchase a ticket. Instead, you’ll want to create an online registration form that only collects necessary contact information (like a name and an email address to send their online ticket or QR code). It should also feature a simple online payment field option that allows them to instantly pay for their ticket via credit card or PayPal. For larger ticket events, you may even choose to offer automated payment plans.
Webinars, seminars and courses
When it comes to educational events, be it online or in-person, you’ll want to collect more in-depth form responses. You may want to understand the level of expertise your attendees already have on the subject and what they hope to learn from the event to help tailor your presentation or curriculum, as well as contact information to send them event updates, training documents, webinar links or event location, and optional marketing follow-ups.
Fundraisers and galas
The main goal of fundraisers is to raise as much money as possible—and funding starts at the registration process. You can dramatically increase the amount of money you raise at your next gala or fundraising event by providing an easy way for event attendees to RSVP and purchase tickets online. Another way to maximize revenue is to include add-on options, such as t-shirts and other swag items, sponsorship packages, or additional monetary donations. You can also use your event registration form to solicit volunteers for the event.
Meetings, conferences and trade shows
Online event registration for large conferences and trade shows can get tricky. First, you’ll need to customize forms for your different audiences. The information you’ll need to provide to and collect from event attendees will be drastically different from what you’ll need from exhibitors and sponsors.
Second, you’ll need to clearly display and explain different registration options. You may have different ticket tiers, providing attendees an option between single-day or multi-day access, as well as VIP ticketing options, and will want attendees to clearly understand the differences and the value of the larger packages. For corporate sponsors and vendors, you may need to customize different event registration form options or collect applications and abstract submissions to ensure you’re collecting necessary information and vetting applicants.
Tournaments and competitions
When it comes to events like marathons, chess tournaments, or sporting competitions, you can streamline workflows by creating custom questions in the event registration form, such as level of participation, sizes for shirts or attire, and swag options. You can also require sign-offs on legal waivers and other important documents as part of the registration process so you’re not chasing down signatures on the day of the event. Automated follow-up messages enable you to send event details, important updates, reminders, and additional documents to participants based on their level of participation or other factors.
Tastings and tours
When organizing events like tours or tastings, you’ll want to make sure attendees know exactly where to be and when. With the right event registration software, you can offer different time and date selections for tours and schedule automated post-signup notifications that will email the attendee important event details, such as the location, an itinerary, suggested items to bring, etc.
Networking and business events
Even if you aren’t collecting payments for your professional event, setting up an event registration workflow could help you easily track and manage RSVPs. It’s also a great opportunity to collect contact information and business details and ask them to join your mailing list for future events, marketing promotions, and updates or offers.
Planning Pod’s form builder has endless data collection options, enabling you to collect everything from basic contact information to PDFs and in-depth quizzes. Contact us to see it for yourself.
Building a ticketing strategy for event registration
Once you determine what information you’ll need from your attendees, you’ll want to map out an in-depth ticketing strategy—from the types of tickets you will offer to how you will price them and any other add-on opportunities.
Types of tickets
Your first step in building a ticketing strategy is to determine what ticket options you will provide. Most events have several forms of ticket options. For example, a concert or a festival may offer a range of tickets from general admission seating to an all-inclusive VIP pass, and a networking event could offer exclusive ticketing options and prices to its members versus what it offers to the public.
Common ticketing options to consider are:
- General admission vs.VIP access
- Single-day vs. multi-day access
- Early-bird pricing vs. last-minute pricing
- In-person vs. virtual access vs. hybrid access
- Members vs. non-member access and pricing
- Individual sessions vs. full access
- Individual vs. group
Once you determine what categories of tickets make sense for your event, you’ll want to determine how much you should charge for each ticket. Of course, the ticket price should cover the costs of the event while generating a profit. To determine this number, you’ll want to tally the cost of food, venue, staff, decorations, tech, rentals, speakers, performers, your hours, etc.
Don’t forget to tally indirect business costs as well, and then buffer it with your desired profit margin. Divide that number by the minimum number of guests you expect to host and you will understand the minimum sales price you can offer to attendees.
However, covering your costs isn’t the only thing to consider when building your pricing strategy. You should also consider:
- Your target audience and their budgets
- How soon you need to generate revenue (if you need to start collecting money early on, you may want to offer opening discounts or early-bird rates)
- Your different ticket options
- Additional revenue opportunities, such as donation or add-on options
Additional purchase options
If you aren’t offering add-ons to your registration process, you could be missing out on a good stream of revenue. For example, marathon runners or concert-goers may want to purchase branded merchandise, such as a sweater or t-shirt, while attendees of a business event could purchase access to an exclusive post-event networking or a lunch buffet.
Types of add-ons to consider could include:
- Premium services – VIP services, exclusive accommodations, pre- and post-events, meet-and-greets
- Products – apparel, books, cups, swag items, gear rental
- Food and beverages – luncheons, happy hours, open bars, gala dinners
- Accommodation and transportation – private shuttles, airport transfers, lodging reservations
Offering discounts is a great way to encourage early ticket sales, reward loyal attendees, thank members, or peak ticket sales. Your discounting strategy should work together with your pricing and marketing strategies. You want to make sure you aren’t dropping below your minimum ticket sale marker and the timing of your discounts should coincide with your marketing efforts.
Some discount options could include:
- Early bird pricing
- Member pricing
- One-day-only sales
- Deep discounts for contest winners
- Add-on discounts for VIP ticket buyers
- Loyal customer discounts
- Promotional sales
Timing is everything, and that is also true with your ticketing strategy. Before opening registration or ticket sales, you’ll want to set some dates for when each tier of ticketing will be released, which dates certain discounts are available, and maybe even offer exclusive early access for members or previous attendees.
You should work with your marketing team to develop efforts prior to ticket sales to create excitement and build-up to the event. For example, if it’s a big-liner concert, you might announce the ticket sale date a few weeks ahead of time, creating a frenzy of buyers clicking to purchase tickets before they sell out.
You’ll also need to determine when you should shut off registration. If you are planning something that has a large luncheon or requires planning to a specific headcount, you’ll want to stop additional registrations before you place your final food order.
Finally, you should consider whether or not you plan to offer event insurance through a third-party insurance provider. With the impacts of the pandemic, many consumers are now concerned about potential cancelations or an inability to attend due to illness or other factors out of their control. You can offer an option for attendees to purchase ticket insurance, which will allow them to recoup some or all of their registration payments based on specific outlined events.
Planning Pod’s event registration software enables you to create countless ticket types, prices, and discount codes in the setup of your event registration.
Attendee information and management
Every event registration form requires some level of information from the registrant, but you’ll want to be careful not to ask too much. The less information an attendee needs to fill out, the more likely they will complete the registration process. So, it’s important to carefully consider what attendee information you actually need to meet your event goals.
Commonly collected information in registration forms include:
- Contact information, such as full name, email, phone number, company name, industry, title, social media profiles, emergency contact information, etc.
- Additional group member details
- Food preferences, meal choices, food allergies, and dietary restrictions
- Sizes for t-shirts or other included apparel
- Travel details and lodging logistics for shuttles and transportation services
- Event-related details, such as session options, content or programing preferences, etc.
- File uploads, such as applications or abstracts
Of course, the information you collect is only useful if you’re able to organize it and use it! With an all-inclusive event management software there are automated integrations between event registration forms and your CRM systems. This enables you to easily keep track of those important attendee details.
Planning Pod enables you to quickly see your registration progress, sort by attendee types, search for attendees and view order and payment details, initiate refunds and void tickets, and so much more. This means no more manually-filled Google sheets that are ripe for missed information and mistakes.
Limitations and restrictions
Before you start selling tickets, you want to make sure you’re registering the right people. For example, you may place an age restriction on an open-bar add-on, or password protect the event registration for closed or member-only events.
Other limitations to consider are:
- Maximum number of attendees and maximum availability for various ticket tiers
- Limit to number of registrants for early bird discounts or sales promotions
- How many tickets each attendee can purchase
- Minimum purchase age
- Checkout time limit and abandoned form limits
You should also consider how and when you will issue refunds. For example, you can allow full refunds within 24 hours of purchase, but only partial refunds within 7 days of the event. Some attendees may also want to be able to resell their tickets or edit their ticket information and you will need to determine if you want to allow this and how you will handle those requests.
With Planning Pod, you can easily set-and-forget limitations to your ticketing process, letting the event registration software do the work for you.
There are many ways to collect payments—cash, ACH, check, credit card—but the easiest and most reliable form of payment is via online credit card processing. Checks can take a long time to clear and unless you’re selling at the door, cash can be difficult to collect. Thankfully, there are many third-party payment processors you can choose from to enable instant, online payments with minimal processing fees.
When comparing payment process options, you’ll want to consider:
- If they allow payments to be made for events of if it is excluded in their terms and conditions
- Any restrictions, special requirements, or fees regarding payment refunds
- Whether or no they integrate with your event registration form software provider
- How many business days it takes to process a payment and deposit the money into your account
Enabling payments via PayPal or other secured methods is also a great idea for guests who may be cautious about entering their personal credit card information into the payment field.
Planning Pod integrates with the most popular payment processors, including PaySimple, Square, Stripe, and QuickBooks Payments – so you can choose the merchant that makes the most sense for collecting payment for registrations.
Policies, terms and sign-offs
Creating documents that state your event’s terms and conditions and receiving sign-off on those documents is important to providing transparent expectations to participants and legally protecting yourself should a dispute occur.
Common items to include in your event’s terms and conditions are:
- Photography and videography policy – Any restrictions regarding the taking of photos and recording of videos
- Photo and video consent release – An agreement to the use of photos or videos containing the participant in future event marketing materials
- Refund policy – Whether refunds are accepted and any refund limitations, as well as expected turnaround time in responding to refund requests, refund request deadlines, and more.
- Reentry policy – Whether or not you will allow reentry to the event after check-in and any limitations to this
- Ticket exchange or transfer policy – Whether you will allow attendees to transfer their ticket to someone else and if their are any additional fees or limitations regarding this
- Event cancellation or rainout policy – How refunds or rescheduling will be handled
- Lost ticket policy – How attendees can re-download tickets or address other ticket-related concerns
- Liability and personal risk waivers to remove responsibility from event organizers
- COVID-19 and other health-related restrictions
- Forbidden items and behaviors
- Any other limitations, expectations, or agreements to protect the event organizer and event participants
If you are using the Planning Pod event registration software, you can easily add event terms and conditions to your online event registration form.
Post-Signup event planning communication
The event registration process doesn’t end at the ticket sale. It’s important to regularly communicate with attendees leading up to the event so they have the information they need to maximize their experience and even make some strategic post-event communication to maintain a relationship and keep them in your marketing funnel.
One of the first communications you should send after someone signs up is an automated email that contains registration confirmation, the event ticket, and important details regarding the event, such as date, time, location, and any other information to help them prepare. You can also include links to the event FAQs, the terms and conditions they agreed to, additional event policies, and any requirements for entrance.
Other information you might want to include in your confirmation email are:
- Parking details, such as lot locations, costs, and valet availability
- Directions for check-in and welcome day
- Accommodation and lodging details or recommendations
- List of required documentation for entry (ticket, valid ID, COVID vaccination card, etc.)
- Event dress code or suggested attire
- Suggested items to bring (notebooks, computer, rain gear, camping gear, etc.)
- List of items that are prohibited at the event (outside food, alcohol, video or photography equipment, etc.)
- Event organizer contact information in the event of questions or concerns
You can also send multiple emails leading up to the event, such as date reminders or exclusive offers on add-on options. Days before the event, you may want to send any PDFs, workbooks, or documents that they will need for the event.
After the event, you can follow up with a thank you message and a recap of the event. You may want to include videos or presentation downloads and make a final offer to purchase add-ons, such as branded gear, photo packages, or memberships.
It is also beneficial to store the attendees’ contact information and follow-up for future events they may be interested in—just be sure to get their consent to send marketing promotions.
Event website integration
Embedding contact and event registration forms directly onto your event website is a great way to improve customer experience and streamline your marketing efforts. Instead of customers having to hop between platforms, you can simply drive them to your website, where they can learn more about your event, sign up for notifications and email communications, and, eventually register for your event.
When choosing an event form builder software, you’ll want to opt for one that enables you to quickly and easily build customized forms that fit onto your website and match your branding. Your forms should include your event logo, colors, fonts, and other aesthetics that match your website and event branding. It will also need to fit the dimensions of your website for both computer and mobile devices, work with your website platform, and come with a custom code that allows you to easily embed it to your website.
For the page itself, you’ll want to make sure the landing page is clean, has a clear flow, and provides sufficient information. You may want to start by explaining what the event is and when, the benefits of joining the event, and any special keynote speakers, performers, or event highlights. You’ll also want to include a clear call to action above the embedded form to call attention to it and direct people to register. If you’ve never built a ticketing landing page, it could be beneficial to watch a tutorial on the key elements of a successful landing page.
With Planning Pod, you can build a mobile responsive event landing page and embedded form together within the tool, making it easier to market your event and sell more tickets.
On-site event management
On the day of the event, you will need a system for checking-in and welcoming attendees. Based on the type of event you are hosting and its size, your check-in process may look different.
If it’s a concert or a festival, you may need to have multiple staff members scanning tickets and security monitoring and checking guests. For trade shows or conferences, you may have a welcome desk where participants can pick up itineraries, maps, documents, books, or other necessary materials. Marathon runners or sports competitors will need to grab their numbers, uniforms, and any swag items. Finally, gala guests may be welcomed with table numbers and sponsored swag bags, while networking event participants could be greeted with name tags and icebreaker cards.
Whatever your check-in process looks like, it’s important to ensure you have efficient staff, the right tools and materials, back-up procedures, and adequate signage that lets guests know where they need to go to check in.
Planning Pod enables your staff to easily scan tickets directly from a phone or tablet via the Planning Pod app, providing a real-time check-in experience that is instant, easy, and prevents fraudulent tickets or double entries.
Choosing the right event registration software
When it comes to choosing an event registration software, you want more than just a form builder. Planning Pod offers an all-in-one event management platform that integrates planning and ticketing into one easy-to-use, collaborative tool.
Easily track your registrants, manage sales, design event floor plans, send in food orders, create custom registration forms, and import contract templates, to-do list templates, and more to shave hours off your work week. Contact us today to try Planning Pod out for yourself.