WordCamp Organizing 101: Registration

This is part of our series on organizing WordCamps. If you’re an organizer with advice to share, or a potential organizer with questions to ask, please get in touch with us!

The official WordCamp Planning Guide outlines ticket sales and pricing in detail. So, in this post, we’re going to talk about other things related to selling tickets and handling registration during the event.

Let’s go!

Asking Questions During Registration

All WordCamp sites use the CampTix plugin to handle online registration. One of my favourite features in CampTix is the ability to add custom questions to the registration form.

So, what questions should you ask? Consider:

  • What’s important for the event? These are the things you need to know. For example: t-shirt size (if you’re ordering t-shirts), dietary restrictions, food allergies, and so on.
  • What would be useful to collect & share? This is optional information that can help you — and other WordCamp organizers — put on a better event. For example: Where are your attendees coming from? What’s their WordPress experience level? How many WordCamps have they attended? Is this their first?
  • What’s interesting? These are the miscellaneous questions that would make for a good wrap-up blog post after the camp. For example: What’s their favourite plugin/theme? Why do they use WordPress? If there’s one thing they could add to WordPress, what would it be?

Should you allow refunds?

Self-serve refunds are a new, optional setting in CampTix. It’s nice that people can free up tickets if they’re unable to attend; but it’s also a risk if you’re relying on ticket revenue that suddenly disappears.

Consider:

  • What are your fixed & variable costs? Whether you have 10 attendees or 1000, your fixed costs don’t change. Your variable costs, on the other hand, will be tied to the number of attendees you have. If you’re relying on ticket revenue to help cover fixed costs, I suggest you keep refunds turned off.
  • How much lead time do your vendors need? This important for catering, and other stuff that’s directly tied to the number of attendees you’re expecting. Turn off registration after your orders are “locked in”. (Uneaten food that you don’t have the cash for is never a good thing.)

Handling Registration Line-Ups

The second half of the registration beast: line ups!

Key thing to keep in mind here: More lines = faster registration. It’s really disappointing to be stuck in a lineup when the schedule says opening remarks are being made.

Some other tips:

  • Choose a convenient space with lots of room. Don’t make attendees hunt for the registration area. It should be near the venue’s main entrance, easy to find, with lots of room for people to move around.
  • Have multiple registration lines. Export the CampTix CSV and break the list into groups: Speakers, Sponsors, Volunteers, and Attendees. Sort each group alphabetically.
  • Paying at the door? There’s a line for that. If you’re letting people register at the event, get them in a separate lineup.
  • Have badges at the ready. If names are printed on the badges, group them and sort them in the same way you grouped and sorted the registration lists.
  • Prepare to herd cats. Once people get through registration, where do they go? Have a path for them to follow that leads away from the registration area, preferably towards coffee and an area to mingle before presentations start.

A smooth registration process, from online to offline, will make for happier attendees and a better WordCamp.

Good luck! 🙂

Photo: Registration at WordCamp Phoenix 2011.

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