What are the best options for association event registration?

Associations have many options available for their association event registrations. These options for associations tend to fall into three categories, all of which include online registration:

1) Online-based applications that are hosted by a company that specializes in registrations.
2) Association database packages that include a registration component, including an online component that is hosted on your current database server.
3) Custom-built association applications that are hosted on your association’s server or a third-party server.

Each of these options has pros and cons for associations. The key is determining which is a best fit for your particular association.

– Online-based applications tend to be feature-rich and can be affordable, effective options. They are less likely to offer customized options, but over time these systems have incorporated many custom customer requests, making them quite robust.
– Registration systems that are part of an association database package have the advantage of integrating tightly with your main database. They also also less likely to offer customization, but like the online packages, they have also become more feature-rich over time.
– Custom-built association applications offer great flexibility, but tend to have a much higher up-front cost than online systems and may not integrate with your main database as well as association database-based registration systems.

Which system is right for you? That question can probably only be answered after your association speaks with representatives of the three types of companies mentioned above. Smaller associations may find the online-based registration to be most cost effective short-term, as the database-based and custom-built applications tend to have a high start-up cost. If your association has a very high number of events or attendees, the database-based or custom-built options may be more cost effective, but that excludes any upgrades your association may choose to purchase over time.

Bottom line, it’s a tough choice, and there is no easy answer for every association. Each option is excellent in its own right – the key question is how they fit your association’s unique budgetary and functional needs.

What type of registration system does your association use? Have you found that it works well for your association’s needs?

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