Meetings

Meeting Registration: It Goes Beyond Process

By / Jan 9, 2015 (iStock/Thinkstock)

Registration for meetings and events is about more than the process. It’s also about what’s included, the price, and any extras that come with it. Here’s a look at how three associations are thinking creatively about registration packages.

Earlier this week, I was taking inventory of the topics I covered on my blog last year. Of course, there were the usual suspects, like technology, content marketing, green meetings, and new event formats. And there were some unusual ones too, such as how you can apply lessons from both a rock concert and state fair to your next meeting.

But as I was going through the list, I realized that I had never dedicated an entire post to what’s considered an essential part of any meeting or event: registration. But rather than look at the process itself—which obviously needs to be as simple and streamlined as possible for attendees—I thought I would take a look at different registration packages associations are offering to attendees.

Team Spirit

The first example I came across was from the National Science Teachers Association. For its National Conference in March, it is offering what it calls the NSTA District Package.

When a team of at least four (including one administrator) from a school district registers for the Chicago conference, NSTA will tailor a conference experience “to ensure that both school leaders and teachers get the most from the conference with personalized sessions for district leaders—including information on how to access our digital resources, conference materials, and post-conference learning opportunities.”

In addition, each member of the team receives other perks, including early access to the bookstore, an invitation to a networking reception with other district leaders, a district team planning session where attendees can share what they learned, and free post-conference webinars.

NSTA limits access to the package to the first 100 district teams (of four to eight) that register for the conference and complete a brief survey. Also noteworthy: The package does not cost anything above the regular per-person registration fee.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Attendees like to have control over their conference experience and choose what they’d like to spend money on. The National Association of Bilingual Education helps with that by offering attendees five different registration packages.

For example, the Premium Registration Package—which costs $450—includes full access to the three-day conference, a one-year NABE membership, three breakfasts, and tickets to both its Awards Luncheon and its Presidential Gala. On the other hand, the lower-cost options may only include access to one day of the conference or exclude a ticket to the Awards Luncheon.

Single Session

What would you do if you discovered that your attendees were not buying your conference’s education pass because they felt they didn’t have time for more than one or two sessions daily, since they were also busy meeting with vendors and walking the show floor?

That was what the P.G.A. Merchandise Show was facing. Its solution: Allow attendees to purchase tickets to individual education sessions.

This option was first offered at its January 2014 meeting, and the results were terrific. More than 850 people registered for the education conference at last year’s show, more than double the 420 who registered in 2013. The group is offering the same for this month’s meeting. Each session costs $105, unless attendees managed to get in at the early-bird rate of $90.

“With single-session registration, we were able to provide our attending P.G.A. professionals and golf retailers with flexibility to schedule their most pressing business on the show floor in coordination with education sessions of greatest value to their careers,” Ed Several, senior vice president and general manager of P.G.A. Worldwide Golf Exhibitions, told Biz Bash.

By giving attendees a variety of options, each of these associations has shown that it’s putting its members’ needs first. Now it’s your turn: What different types of registration packages has your association found most or least successful? Please share in the comments.

Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editorial director of Associations Now. More »

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