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What Data Should You Collect at Registration?

by MYB, on November 26, 2019


An association’s success is built on member and customer engagement. And engagement starts with touch points. The moment somebody arrives at your website. The moment somebody purchases a membership or pays a conference fee. The moment somebody calls or emails with a problem.

Among the most valuable of all of those touch points is conference registration. Your annual conference is likely one of your biggest revenue drivers, so a solid understanding who attends is critical. Yet too many associations collect little information beyond names, addresses, and credit card numbers.

Collecting this information can be complicated, of course: Nobody wants to fill out a substantial survey just to get registered. Yet a few basic questions can help you make the most of this touch point. Here are a few examples:

“What’s your professional discipline?” For large associations that encompass multiple disciplines, this question can give you valuable feedback about which classes of professionals find your programming valuable---and which ones don’t.

“Are you a first-time attendee?” Knowing who your emerging members and attendees are can give you a snapshot of how effective and easy to navigate your conference site. That knowledge can then help you design programming that will keep them coming back.

“How do you spend most of your time?” For a medical society conference, this question can clarify the proportion of teachers, practitioners, researchers, and so on who are attending.

“What is your job role?” If you’re trying to attract more high-level executives to your conference, this question can let you know if you’re hitting the mark. If it turns out you’re drawing more middle managers and consultants instead, you can start to strategize about changes.

While you’re thinking about retooling questions you ask at registration, you should also make sure that your registration process doesn’t stand in the way of your collecting valuable data. For instance, one medical society we worked with allowed one person to register multiple attendees in one order form. This is huge asset in terms of convenience, of course. Unfortunately, the process did not generate separate badge ID numbers for each registrant. A more successful strategy will allow you to get individualized data on every attendee, regardless of how they’re registered.

Registration is also an excellent time to promote one of the strongest emerging data-collection tools available: your mobile meetings app. If you encourage attendees to download the meetings app---preferably one without a cumbersome log-in process---you can start getting real-time data about what sessions people are attending, what spur-of-the-moment events catch their eyes, and how all of this correlates with the demographic information you captured at registration.

Attending your conference is one of the biggest financial and professional commitments your association’s community makes every year. Don’t let it go to waste.