A Few Good Event Registration Tools
By Laura Quinn
Most event participants now expect to register online for events, so youll need a tool that can accept online payments as well as manage attendee information.
Fortunately, many software programs will accomplish these tasks, with varying levels of complexity: there are scrappy, affordable tools that handle just event registration; generalist packages that can process many different types of payments; powerful, feature-rich software that can manage the entire conference, including; and more.
What Are Your Registration Priorities?Before choosing a tool, decide what event registration means to you.
No-Frills Registration ToolsNo-frills tools allow you to set up a basic registration form that links to your Web site, collect credit card and other registration information, process the credit card charges, and then view (or export) a list of registrants. If you only run small, infrequent events, or you have large events where few attendees fit the characteristics of promising constituents (like large festivals), these inexpensive tools can be just what you need.
PayPal ( www.paypal.com): With a transaction fee of approximately 2.5 percent, PayPal is one of the most inexpensive online payment systems. It doesnt, however, integrate seamlessly into your Web site (when viewing the registration form, its clear to registrants that they have left your site for PayPal's), and doesnt offer event-registration features, such as the ability to cap the number of signups. Youll also need someone with some HTML skills to help set it up or to update event pricing.
Eventbrite (www.eventbrite.com): Formerly known as Mollyguard, Eventbrite offers event-registration functions that extend PayPals or Google Checkouts payment functionality, such as discount codes and ticket levels, simple attendee surveys, easy posting of your events to other sites such as Eventful or Google Calendar, caps on attendees, and a limited ability to tailor a registration form to match your site and your needs. Payment is less integrated; the registrant is taken to the PayPal or Google Checkout site to finish the credit-card transaction. In addition to PayPal's fees (about 2.5 percent of the transaction) or Google Checkout fees (2 percent plus $0.20 per transaction), Eventbrite bills your organization for an additional 2.5 percent of the registration price, with a minimum of $0.99 and a maximum of $9.95 per registration. The tool is free for free events.
Brown Paper Tickets (www.brownpapertickets.com): With a reputation as a fair-trade ticketing service, Brown Paper Ticket specializes in performance-type events with assigned seats and physical tickets. It also supports registration for general admission events for which no tickets are issued. The simple, effective functionality includes such nice features as multiple pricing levels, a 24-hour phone registration line, and support for multiple dates for the same event. Brown Paper Tickets has no upfront setup charges or per-event fees. Its affordable, clear-cut pricing scheme is $0.99 plus 2.5 percent of registration. Like EventBrite, the tool is free to use for free events.
For More Complex Events and ConferencesA number of tools combine event registration with tools to track and report on all the details of a complex event. These include Acteve, 123Signup, RegOnline, and Cvent.
Additionally, many online payment services have recently added a registration function. If youre hoping to collect payments for more than one transaction type, it can make sense to consolidate these functions into a single vendor such as Click and Pledge, AuctionPay, QGiv, GiftTool, MemberClicks, and Contribute.com.
Laura Quinn is executive director of Idealware, a nonprofit that provide reviews and information to help nonprofits choose software. For more, contact her 718-208-8172 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.