How to Fight Late Registration

New Maritz research offers solutions to attendee procrastination

The world of event planning is grappling with a new reality: attendees are waiting longer than ever to commit to attending conferences and trade shows. A recent report by Maritz, a global event management company, sheds light on this trend and its potential consequences.

The Registration Insights Report, compiled from data on over 360,000 attendees across 30 trade shows over a three-year period, to reveal a surge in last-minute registrations during the pandemic. While patterns have somewhat normalized, the lingering effects are evident. In 2023, a significant portion of attendees (29%) still waited until the final two weeks to register, compared to 23% in pre-pandemic 2019.

This shift in behavior presents logistical and financial challenges for event organizers. The report highlights the potential for a diminished attendee experience as well, with those registering late missing out on opportunities to plan their schedules effectively or secure preferred hotel accommodations.

The study also identifies attendee demographics that skew towards late registration. First-timers are nearly twice as likely to register late compared to repeat attendees (47% vs. 25%). Interestingly, the data suggests industry plays a role too. Sectors known for a more structured work ethic, like healthcare and law, see lower late registration rates (29% for medical conferences). Conversely, industries like food and beverage see a higher proportion of late registrants (54%).

Strategies offered by the report to combat this trend include:

Strategic Registration Timing: Avoid opening registration too far in advance, especially if event details are still evolving. Consider a “soft launch” followed by a more focused marketing push closer to the event date.
Leveraging FOMO (Fear of Missing Out): Create a sense of urgency by offering exclusive perks, like networking opportunities with VIP speakers, to those who register early.
Streamlined Registration: Simplify the registration process to minimize frustration and abandonment. Analyze why people might be starting registration but not completing it, and address any identified roadblocks.

By understanding these trends and implementing targeted strategies, event organizers can incentivize timely registration and ensure a smoother experience for both attendees and themselves.

For further insights and resources, the Maritz report can be accessed here.

Any thoughts, opinions, or news? Please share them with me at vince@meetingsevents.com.

Photo: Unsplash+ In collaboration with Getty Images

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