MORE THAN 100 COMPANIES are out there selling online meeting registration. The question, of course, is which ones fit your company's needs. Intelligent sourcing of these critical services requires a detailed request for proposal that reflects the priorities of your company. Security, ability to integrate, pricing, and reporting are just some of the hot RFP issues, says Vanessa Vlay, CMP, vice president and CMO at San Francisco-based Certain Software, which sells the online registration product Register123. Here Vlay shares decision-makers' top concerns and offers suggestions on the questions buyers should be thinking about.
REPORTING: Every online registration service offers reports, but buyers need to ask themselves: How important are custom reports? Know your needs. Do you need to report registration activity per event, per division, per quarter, per individual? Does upper management need to see the reports in a certain layout, or look and feel, that matches other company reports?
CONSISTENT BRAND EXPERIENCE: How closely does your registration site need to match your company's Web site? Nearly every online registration service can upload logos and match company colors. But, if having your registration interface and navigation look exactly like the company site is critical, that's another level of expertise.
INTEGRATION: Are you looking for a stand-alone registration service or one that can integrate with your company's other technology solutions? Know what your online registration system needs to “talk” to — an employee database, a CRM solution, a training system? Does it need to integrate with housing or online travel providers?
ON-SITE REGISTRATION: How does the online registration system translate on-site at the meeting? Do you need an Internet connection, or is there an off-line, on-site module? Do you need a registration service that is “live,”or will you be satisfied updating your records once you are back at the office?
FINANCIAL: If you are collecting registration fees for the conference or for certain activities at a conference, how is the money processed? Does it go into your bank account or into the registration company's, with checks cut on, perhaps, a monthly basis? Also, how is financial information reported? Can it be summarized by event and tied into your company's financial systems?
SECURITY: Most online registration vendors process credit card transactions, but only a few have passed a third-party audit, which adds a level of security about how data is handled. Companies that are especially concerned about security — banking, investments, insurance, and so on — should address this with the vendor. VISA, for example, has the Cardholder Information Security Program, which sets standards for the way that cardholder data is stored and transmitted.