If your business or organization hosts an annual event like a conference or gala, planning is a lot easier when you know who all is coming and have the budget available from ticket sales. This means that the earlier your attendees register for your event, the better. In fact, you probably already know that the real key to getting registrations for next year starts even before this year’s event. Ideally, your attendees will register in a reliable cycle, and enjoying this year’s event should immediately kick off registering for next year.
Of course, it almost never works that way in practice. Some people buy when the date looms on the calendar, and there are always some who wait until the very last minute. But your favorite attendees are the ones who are ready to register for next year the same time they’re picking up their badge at this year’s event. And that’s exactly what we’re here to talk about today. Here are three surefire ways to kickstart next year’s registrations by getting people to sign up while they are attending this year’s event. In other words, a little strategic event planning can go a very long way.
Register for Next Year to Enter the Raffle
Everyone loves an event raffle, and most people are willing to do something frivolous or fun to enter. Writing their name on a paper ticket, wearing a silly hat for a few minutes, or carrying around a claim ticket all night are all well within what your attendees will do for a chance raffle prize. You can also use this fun and casual conference event to encourage attendees to register for their ticket to next year’s event. For those who come every year and already plan to attend, they’ve got nothing to lose and a whole silly prize to gain from the interaction.
Registering to enter the raffle is also a fun thing that groups of attendees will wind up doing together, giving you that glom-on bonus to the number of people who register. One person in a group says, “Hang on, I’m going to enter the raffle since I’m coming next year anyway” and as a result, their friends who want to meet up next year also take a moment to register. It’s a perfect master plan.
The most obvious and popular approach to encouraging early registration is to provide discounts on tickets and event ticket packages. Your association members are happy to invest in attendance each year because the conference offers them some value and they have a great time. So the same value-adding incentive can be used to encourage your members to register early for their next conference ticket.
By cutting the price of next year’s ticket, you’re sure to find more than a few yearly attendees are more than happy to register early (cluing in your budget and guest list among other things) in order to pay less for an event they already plan to attend. This is especially true if you also offer discounts for upgraded ticket packages so that early registrants can enjoy next year even more on their usual budget by registering early.
Discounts and Rewards On-Site for the Pre-Registered
You can also give your attendees a lot more than a chance at a raffle prize for registering for next year. In fact, you can make the next-year-registered an entirely new echelon of attendee by adding special permissions (badge stickers or bracelet colors) that comes with discounts or rewards offered throughout the event. Most conferences have a few special levels of attending member, including hosted speakers, VIPs, scholarship attendees, and those who splurged on a high-end ticket package.
Add pre-registration for next year as a middle echelon that allows anyone to upgrade their ticket package or take advantage of special on-site deals. You might, for example, consider tying food vendor discounts to pre-registration, access to exclusive conference events, or vouchers for local services like restaurants, museums, or shuttles. You might also provide better swag designed for higher-level ticket packages.
Attendees who register a full year early get to have more fun this year as a result. This is a great way to start a whole new prestigious trend of attendees registering a year early to get the on-site perks of pre-registration.
Package Deals for Full-Year Pre-Registration
Then there are the deals you offer in the future as a reward for attendees registering an entire year ahead of time. At the event itself, offer a one-time event-duration-only offer for attendees who want to register for next year between talks and catered lunches. Build a particularly rewarding guest package for year-early birds who are ready to register so far ahead of time. Consider the kind of lodging and travel booking discounts you can provide with that much warning. And what your attendees will find most valuable in a package for early registration.
You may consider that early registrants who are low on cash will appreciate packages that cover more living expenses while attendees come to represent prestigious businesses every year may be more drawn to luxury perks or networking opportunities. And everyone likes free food. By offering perks for next year, you add a serious incentive for this year’s attendees to ensure they have an even better time in the future by registering for a fun pre-registration package deal.
Are you striving to get more early registrations for your association’s annual event? Locking down the guest list is an important part of throwing large association conferences, symposiums, workshops, and the like. If you have a yearly event (or several), there’s no need to simply wish that your members would register earlier. There are dozens of ways to incentivize them to get online and register, even an entire year earlier. You know that getting registrations starts at the previous year’s event, and more than just how fun it is to attend. With these tricks and the ideas they’re sure to inspire, you’ll be surprised just how many once-last-minute registrants are ready to sign up a whole year ahead of time. For more event registration and planning insights, contact us today!