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Best Practices

How to Make the Right Decisions for Your Event Registration Strategy: Launch, Discounts, and More

12 Jun 2024 | Heather Pryor | 4 minutes

How to Make the Right Decisions for Your Registration Strategy

When it comes to event registration, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. As your audience evolves and your events grow, it may be time to re-examine the details of your registration strategy. 

Many factors go into a successful registration process. Consider the timing of your registration launch, available incentives, the length of your registration forms and process, and whether or not you’ll accept last-minute registrations. In this post, we’ll compare the advantages and disadvantages of various approaches.

Setting a Launch Date for Registration

Many event professionals are eager to launch registration early. Getting attendees signed up as soon as possible can generate excitement, give the team early indicators on attendance, and offer other clues to make decisions around food orders and hotel block reservations. However, launching too early has drawbacks. For example, you may see a higher number of cancellations as attendees’ plans change and their schedules fill up once the event draws closer. 

So when is the best time to launch your event? The trend may be shifting. According to Maritz’s 2024 Registration Insights Report, 43% of conference-goers now register within the four weeks leading up to the event. The report also states that attendees tend to spend more in the timeframe between 31 and 60 days before the event. 

To strike the right balance, we generally recommend opening registration two to four months before the event, with the expectation that a significant percentage of attendees will wait until a month before the event to sign up. 

Offering Pass Discounts Vs. Offsetting Event Expenses

Pricing event passes is another balancing act. The challenge is attracting a sizable audience while also generating enough ROI to justify the event budget and demonstrate success to company executives. One popular pricing strategy is to advertise a standard pass priced just above your actual target price to leave wiggle room for discounts as needed. 

Another common way to offset event expenses and entice attendees to register is a tiered early-bird pricing strategy, with passes that become increasingly expensive as the event draws closer. Many teams also offer discounted group pricing. 

In these cases, the higher number of passes sold as a result of these strategies far outweighs any loss from discounted sales. 

Long or Short Registration Forms: Which Is Better?

Event teams need to keep their registration forms concise while still gathering the information they need to process the transaction and personalize attendees’ experiences. Asking too many questions can lead to registration abandonment while asking too few questions can leave gaps in data that become frustrating later. 

When in doubt, default to a shorter registration process. You can always gather more information about attendees after they’ve signed up. Asking registered attendees for more information before your event is a great way to build anticipation and remind them of your event. 

For example, you can send a know-before-you-go email to prompt registered attendees to complete their personal profiles or invite them to participate in a pre-event survey. Some event teams present get-to-know-you questions at check-in. The information gathered from any of these options helps you fine-tune your personalization strategy. 

The Benefits and Drawbacks of On-Site Registration

Finally, on-site registrations can boost your attendee numbers but cause last-minute complications. Of course, having more attendees means there are more potential customers at your event, and if your platform is equipped to handle the newcomers, getting everyone registered is manageable.  

But if a large portion of your audience frequently registers on-site, you may benefit from offering shorter, regional events that require fewer meals and no overnight accommodations. You can also reduce the number of last-minute registrations by incentivizing local attendees, who are more likely to show up without registering, to register online. Consider offering a special early-bird discount code to those who live within driving distance of your event.

Another indirect way to prevent unexpected on-site registrations is to plan a destination event. If all attendees plan to travel, they will naturally register early to book their flights and hotel accommodations in time. 

For all aspects of registration, knowing your audience is key to achieving your registration goals. Always analyze past event data to understand what motivates them. RainFocus compiles all attendee data into a global attendee profile that helps you evaluate attendee behaviors over time to determine the right registration strategy for every event. 

Learn more about how RainFocus can simplify registration!