Breaking down the registration and housing silos
September 19, 2018
Do Your Event Registration and Housing Silos Talk to Each Other?
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.
Two providers, two silos
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 impacts 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 distinct disadvantages compared to a single-platform (where one company handles both registration and housing using the same software):
- If your registration service and housing solution are with two different providers, your data for each will live in different 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.
- For attendees, they’ll need to deal with both the event registration platform and the housing provider to make changes. For example, say a guest cancels their event registration, but forgets to cancel their hotel reservation. This could lead to the attendee paying a no-show charge with the hotel.
- There’s another problem that creeps up in this model, too. 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 making a registration for the event.
One provider, one silo
These disadvantages disappear when one provider manages both housing and registration, and stores the data in one silo. 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 single- silo 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 two-silo system, these mistakes can often go unnoticed.
Many event technology providers operate this way, including some of the 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, completely custom experience
It’s pretty obvious that any decent sized event would do well to keep their registration and housing data in the same silo, through the same provider. SaaS solutions can help get you there, yet there is an even more efficient single-platform configuration that planners should consider: a custom-built, single-platform that includes registration and housing as part of a comprehensive event solution. A build-to-specification provider delivers all of the benefits of one vendor for both services, and also provides a high-touch and personalized support system that includes:
- Storing of historical pick-up data to help planners negotiate more accurate contracts based on their event’s needs.
- Expert understanding of hotel contracting to ensure new clients fully understand the terms and conditions.
- An efficient process for assigning contracted concessions like room upgrades and amenities that are passed directly to the hotel.
- Complete user visibility into reservation data and room pickup, and total flexibility to drive specific attendees to specific hotels or room types based on event and attendee needs.
- Management of the room block, including monitoring room pickup, advising planners when pickup isn’t going to be met, taking action to contact attendees who haven’t yet booked a room, and reducing room blocks at contracted review periods and cut-off dates to avoid attrition.
- Audit of hotel records before cutoff dates and at the end of the contract period to ensure that all data in the registration and housing platform aligns with the hotel’s, that hotel commissions are appropriately paid, and that any rooms booked outside the block are credited.
- Custom-built add-ons for roommate assignments and group reservations and payments, making the attendee user experience even more flexible and autonomous.
- Dedicated customer service to help attendees navigate date changes, cancellations, no-show charges and invoicing, when they’d prefer to work directly with a human.
This integrated registration and housing solution ultimately builds a strong rapport with hotels to ensure a good working relationship year after year.
Understanding 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. When selecting a registration and housing solution, be aware of all the options available and ask prospective providers where your data will live, and how that will impact your overall event experience. To learn more about integrating your event tech solutions for a seamless experience, visit us at stova.io.
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