How to get started with Conference Management Software: Part Eight – Powerful Registration Reporting

In this series we have been reviewing how event technology can be employed at various points in the lifecycle of an association’s annual conference. One of the key advantages of using first rate online registration software is that you can collect critical data about your attendees. However, if you cannot manipulate the information in the manner you need, your online registration system may be creating a bunch of hidden costs by not giving you functionality that high end platforms provide. Here are some reporting features your online registration software should have.

  • Most importantly, you need to be able to export all data to Microsoft Excel spreadsheets or CSV files. Some software platforms keep all their report data in proprietary formats in order to keep you locked into their system. No matter how good a system might be, you must be able to export your data in a format you can manipulate. One reason is just your ability to format specifically for presentations. Another big reason you need this flexibility is proper integration of your data with your other systems. Finally, you need to have the ability to change platforms for valid business reasons and keep your legacy data. It should be a deal breaker if you cannot export the data out of your online registration system into an external format like Excel or CSV.

  • Critical types of reporting data should include registration contact information, demographics, expected workshop attendance, purchases, and financials.

  • You need to be able to generate that, in future years, data that can boost conference attendance.

  • You should be able to generate custom reports of your registrants’ data. At a minimum this should include being able to select the fields you want to view and filtering the output by categories such as items purchased, workshops selected, or payment status.

  • It is also important that you can do things with Custom Reports besides viewing the output. One critical piece of functionality is being able to send emails to the people who appear on the report. This is the ultimate in targeted communication with your attendees. The value of sending an email to everybody who signed up for a particular workshop, for example, cannot be underestimated.

  • Similarly, you should be able to use the output of custom reports to generate PDFs that can be distributed or used. This includes things like labels, participant lists, and even letters to be mailed!

  • Finally, you should be able to generate badges from results of custom report. This comes in handy if you need to have specific badges for certain groups of attendees.

  • If you have a trade show component you should be able to report on key information such as booth purchases and financials either separately or integrated with the general conference registration data.

If your online registration is unable to perform these functions, then you’re in for a lot of hidden costs because you will have to execute these tasks manually – a time consuming, error prone, and expensive affair.