eventcore CEO Mark Johnson is a strategic, results-oriented executive in the increasingly complex field of event technology. An enthusiastic, engaging and influential leader, Mark uses his 20+ years of industry experience to help companies realize there are no limits on what their events can be.
Breaking Down Registration and Housing Silos
As any experienced event planner knows, solid registration and housing solutions are integral to running a good meeting. An online registration system is standard for even the most casual B2B gatherings with out-of-town guests, and most organizers secure hotel room blocks and discounts for their guests.
Yet depending on your event tech setup, your registration and housing data may live in entirely different silos – and this can have a huge impact on how your attendees experience the event.
Some registration providers hand off hotel reservations and room block management to another company; others manage this as part of a comprehensive technology and service offering. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each model and see when it makes more sense to keep everything under one roof.
The most common event model includes two different providers — one for registration and the other for housing. Attendees experience this as a simple link from one to the other.
Once your attendees register for the event, they are referred to a housing page, which is linked to a separate housing platform (or directly to the hotel’s booking system). The handoff can appear seamless, but the data lives in two different databases (silos). This may impact how planners can manage the room block and how attendees can make changes to their room reservations.
Having separate providers managing registration and housing gets the job done, and can be cost-effective for smaller scale events. But there are some things that you should be aware of, and plan for:
- If your registration service and housing solution are with two different providers, your data will live in different locations — or data silos. Having those separate databases could lead to extra work for both planners and attendees, increasing the odds of mistakes.
- The event team will have to go to the housing provider (or directly to the hotel) for room pickup information or to manage the room block. This makes it more challenging to get the complete picture of your event, like seeing what guests have registered for the events, but haven’t booked their hotel room.
- Attendees will need to deal with both the event registration platform and the housing provider to make changes. For example, if a guest cancels their event registration, but forgets to cancel their hotel reservation it could lead to a no-show charge.
- Many registration services utilize conference codes and links to the hotel block where attendees can book directly with the hotel. This could allow users to make a reservation at the group rate without registering for the event.
One provider, one location
The other option is to have one provider manage both housing and registration, and store the data in one location. In the single-provider system, planners can access data on registration and housing from the same platform; similarly, an attendee making changes to any aspect of her participation (dates, cancellations, sessions, room types, roommates, etc.) can do all of that in one place.
Let’s say someone cancels a registration. In a unified system, their room reservation is automatically cancelled. Likewise, if someone tries to book a room at the discounted rate, they cannot do so without also registering for the event. In a siloed system, these mistakes can often go unnoticed.
Many event technology providers operate this way, including some SaaS solution providers. While definitely a step up from the two-provider system, many of these out-of-the-box event programs still lack the capacity for users to have the kind of self-directed experience we’ve come to expect in the age of big data and personalization.
One provider, custom experience
If you are leaning towards using one provider for both registration and housing, you can choose out-of-the-box solutions, or opt for a custom-built, single-platform solution that includes registration and housing as part of a comprehensive event solution.
Using a build-to-specification provider increases the chances that you’ll also get a high-touch, personalized support system. Having a support team that knows your specific program can help reduce the stress involved with event management.
While having streamlined, exceptional technology is of the essence, having a dedicated customer service team to manage room blocks with the hotels and help attendees navigate date changes, cancellations, no-show charges and invoicing is an extra touch that many organizations — and their attendees — appreciate.
Understand your options
Housing and registration technologies and services run the gamut — from those requiring extensive hands-on planner supervision and attendee effort on one end of the spectrum, to full-service management of the venue contract, room block, and attendee customer experience on the other end.
Only you can decide what the best fit is for your event. But when selecting a registration and housing solution, be aware of all the options available. Ask prospective providers where your data will live, and how that will impact your overall event experience. Ask about how customer support is handled, and how attrition is managed. Decide what you want to manage in-house and what you want to outsource. And if you opt for custom-built, we at eventcore would be happy to help.