Creating Easy, Customer-Centric Conference Registration Forms
From our previous discussions on membership forms and a new customer’s first experience with our organizations, we learned that less is more. The form and online experience both need to be as inviting and user friendly as possible. However, cumbersome forms and processes are larger than just membership forms; it impacts conference and event registration forms as well.
Importance of the Registration Form
While it is important to provide as many opportunities and educational sessions as possible during conferences, the registration forms can become overwhelming and daunting to potential registrants, especially first-time attendees. Repeat attendees may know the options and know what to look for on the registration form, but first-time attendees are looking at the registration with fresh eyes. These attendees do not know the format of our organizations’ conferences. The registration form contains an abundance of options including full conference registrations, single day registrations, and multiple day registrations, join and register discounts, preconference events, post conference events, donations, handouts, corporate symposia events, concurrent sessions, and optional events. On top of all these registration options there are personal accommodation requests and demographic questions that our organizations ask from their registrants. With all these options and information being gathered it is no wonder that the experience can be taxing and overwhelming to the registrant. By asking for too much we may be encouraging potential attendees to not provide any information at all, potentially causing them not to attend.
Reduce, Simplify, Streamline
So how does an organization reduce, simplify and streamline a form to improve the customer experience? If your form and AMS are integrated, one way to do this is to pre-populate as many fields as possible for returning customers. If a customer who has had a satisfying experience with our association with one transaction (membership, products, conference) chooses to register for/buy another, we already have their information. Simply prepopulate a registration form with their data, ask them to confirm or update, and then pass directly to pay.
At AMC, we have a program called Informed Decisions for all healthcare organizations (membership and certification). If it has been longer than six months between transactions, their customers are asked to update their key demographic data before the next purchase. Just before check-out, a prepopulated demographic page pops-up showing the customer their profile asking for update or confirmation before completing payment. Taking this one step further, we should prepopulate all conference registration forms with demographic information and special accommodations from prior registrations which customers could quickly confirm and then pass through to the next section, allowing them to simply sign up for sessions and pay.
Rely on Data to Help
We can and should rely on data to indicate if all the options on the forms are really necessary. For example, on conference forms, the most cluttered, why do we ever ask “is this your first meeting?” Shouldn’t that information in the customer’s database record indicate whether this is the customer’s first meeting? Check - One down.
Also, as heard many times anecdotally in association meetings, the benefit of one and two day options versus only offering full conference registrations is the belief that these daily options attract locals. Is it true? What does your data tell you in post analysis of your meeting registration? Did you attract a significant number of locals? Did you make personal calls to engage them after their conference experience? Did they convert to members or stay engaged to make additional purchases? Net, does this option work? If not, get rid of it!
All in all, when it comes to forms for membership or registration, our goal is to get it! And through the superior product the organization provides (wonderful membership benefits or great conference experiences), we should strive to create an affinity and trust that allows us to gather a wealth of customer information over time, not in one place as if it was our only chance.
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