"Reg" Revolution

The Latest Trends in Event Registration

The Latest Trends in Event Registration

Explore how data, technology, and community fuel event success for leading brands.
Online registration is the pivotal starting point of the attendee experience. It has the power to drive conversion, engage participants, inform budgets, and ensure attendance.

It marks the initiation of the data collection process, which is essential for shaping the event and personalizing experiences for diverse attendee groups. Whether individuals attend for technical insights or networking opportunities, effective registration ensures we capture their interests. This data enables us to facilitate connections and tailor learning opportunities. Registration data also plays a critical role in budgeting, from F&B and translation services to seating arrangements and space allocations. 

As tools become smarter, faster, and more comprehensive, event marketers are unlocking new potential for registration data. To catch up on what’s new and next in event registration, I sat down with Opus Agency’s Katie McIntyre, Director of Strategy and Event Technology, and Brad Rankin, Sr. Solutions Architect. Katie and Brad are tech/strategy powerhouses bringing expert-level consulting to our clients, processes, and our dedicated team of event technology specialists. 

Here are the top five trends they are seeing that will transform your event registration process.

1. Web-Based Event Applications

Brands continue to leverage mobile apps for events, particularly for managing fluid, complex schedules. However, investing in mobile apps may yield lower returns with single-track events. 

Enter web-based applications. 

Accessible via URL, these apps eliminate the need for downloads, making access much more convenient for attendees, especially onsite. 

“Web-based applications are exploding in popularity,” Katie shares. “The versatility of web-based apps allows users to access them from any device or browser, regardless of operating system.”

Uniform access ensures a seamless user experience for all attendees, whether desktop or mobile, Windows or Mac, IOS or Android. The trend toward web-based event apps increasingly appeals to brands navigating modern event management as event organizers seek more control and flexibility with their tools.

2. Phased Data Collection 

There is a significant trend toward phased data collection to drive registration and conversion. Phased data collection breaks down information collected from attendees into stages during the registration process and through the pre-event period. 

This approach prioritizes hyper-focused, difficult-to-abandon registration pages. Upon entering the site, users provide vital information: Name, company, job title, contact info, and payment information. 

After registration is complete, provide a landing page or confirmation email for attendees to enter secondary information like content preference, rooming selection, accessibility requirements, dietary needs, and emergency contact. 

“Any time a prospective attendee needs to make an additional decision or take an extra step, there is another opportunity for them to abandon registration,” Katie explains. “Often, the attendee may not have an approved hotel budget or wants to wait and see where their colleagues decide to stay. If they can’t bypass this step to complete their registration, they will have to return later to complete registration, increasing the risk of them abandoning registration altogether.”

Additional decisions before confirmation represent potential opportunities for prospects to postpone registration (sometimes indefinitely). Phase your data collection so the attendee completes registration before moving on to any secondary selections. 

Brad adds, “It’s important that planners ask the right questions at all phases of the registration process. Only ask pertinent questions that yield valuable insights, and exclude unnecessary ones that don’t impact the experience. Understand the purpose of each question and how you will use the data. Giving attendees a “profile” to complete after registration, including networking preferences and interests, or where they upload their headshot, provides an opportunity to collect data that isn’t mission-critical, but still adds to the experience.”

Some things to keep in mind to maximize your registration data:

  • Be Specific: Instead of asking, “Why are you attending?” ask, “What are the topics that most interest you?” or “What do you hope to learn?”
  • Avoid Redundancy: Instead of asking, “What do you hope to gain from attending?” and,What topics most interest you?” simply ask, “What would you like to learn about most?” 
  • Keep It Concise: Limit the number of pages and questions in your registration form. Remember, all secondary questions can follow once registration is confirmed.

3. Single Customer Records 

Leading brands leverage single customer records through BI (Business Intelligence) Tools and CDPs (Customer Data Platforms) alongside marketing automation platforms, CRMs (Customer Relationship Management) and event platforms to capture comprehensive data about their consumers. 

These centralized records give brands profound insights into purchasing behaviors, marketing data, contact and employment information, and all event-related data like sessions attended, survey responses, and event spending. These records give marketers a full scope of their audience members’ values, preferences, and behaviors within every marketing channel. 

“In the past, integrating event data into marketing platforms and CRMs was a process, but today, most event platforms have standardized integrations with Marketo, Salesforce, Hubspot, Eloqua, and dozens of other systems,” Brad shares. “The challenge today is that, through these various integrations, it's easy to accumulate a surplus of duplicate or conflicting data rather than a single source of truth that includes all customer data in one place.”

Consolidated records serve as a customer snapshot, combining data from attendees across event portfolios, CRMs, and Marketing platforms. As these records mature, attendees will enjoy more relevant content, recommendations, and personalized experiences. Organizers can better plan future events thanks to a more robust customer profile. 

Brad adds, “Single, centralized attendee records empower planners with a comprehensive dataset when organizing events. This technology provides attendees with personalized recommendations based on their entire event history rather than just data from an individual event. Over time, we’ll see this manifest as a higher percentage of content and activities being relevant to a higher percentage of the audience, more targeted follow-ups, and overall higher engagement.”

4. The Pre-Event Event

Events like Rainfocus INSIGHT and Adobe Summit are upping the engagement ante with pre-event events. These virtual pre-events offer sneak peeks, behind-the-scenes access, and speaker insights to help attendees prepare for their onsite experience. These digital events often feature in-depth session abstracts beyond static descriptions to give attendees a feel for speaker styles and keep the excitement simmering. They tend to close early with a call to action, such as completing an attendee profile or updating daily schedules in the agenda builder.

Leading brands are investing in pre-event events to fuel FOMO and answer the ever-important questions: Why in person? Why now?

Katie explains, “Virtual on-demand sessions are great, but they fall prey to procrastination. With scheduled virtual gatherings, there's a sense of urgency, and the human desire to participate kicks in. It's a win-win: attendees get more out of the event, and organizers keep them engaged.”

Adobe Summit also hosts pre-conference training for attendees to take advantage of onsite learning at a reduced price, another rising trend in pre-event engagement.

5. Community Building

Leading conferences are building vibrant online communities on Discord, Slack, Twitch, and proprietary platforms to help drive registration. These channels allow attendees and prospective attendees to interact freely, moving beyond one-way marketing communication. 

“Imagine being a product user and planning to attend a user conference to delve deeper into its features,” Brad shares. “Instead of exclusively receiving traditional communications, you join a Discord server full of product owners, marketers, and evangelists. Here, discussions happen in real-time; you can learn from sales or marketing representatives or ideate and problem-solve with peers who share your interests and experiences.”

These communities are evergreen and active year-round, keeping event organizers connected with their audience and providing a central hub for announcements and engagement. Some brands are even designing dedicated spaces for online communities to meet IRL. Many online communities also share exclusive registration promo codes, discounts, and incentives, adding even more value and exclusivity to these spaces.

Take Salesforce’s Trailhead platform, for instance. Here, users create profiles, watch on-demand content, earn certifications, and connect with other Trailblazers. Adobe’s Experience League connects users with events and allows them to register from the platform; AWS uses a Twitch channel for similar endeavors. 

Big Idea

By incorporating these five trends—web-based apps, phased data collection, single customer records, pre-event events, and online communities—event leaders transform the registration process from a hurdle into a springboard for attendee engagement. These innovations not only streamline the process for attendees but also gather valuable data to personalize the experience, amplify FOMO, and forge lasting connections. Ready to revolutionize your registration? Drop us a line.

Katie McIntyre, Director of Strategy and Event Technology at Opus Agency is a self-proclaimed nerd who blends a love of data, analysis, and process with a passion for crafting compelling narratives, experience, architecture, and communications strategy to form critical insights and successful engagements for our clients. 

Brad Rankin, Senior Solutions Architect at Opus Agency, is a tinkerer, maker, and taking-things-apart enthusiast whose blend of technology, strategy, and project management expertise elevates events, optimizes implementation processes, and transforms online destinations into experiences.

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