If registration goes well, it seems that the rest of the meeting is a lot easier. Get your meetings off to a good start by following this advice:

Online Registration Form Requirements

  • Decide whether you will use a commercial or an in-house program

  • Accessibility to and knowledge of program used to create/modify Web sites

  • Details for the conference

  • Determine how payments can be made

  • Very clear instructions about filling out the form

  • Contact information in case of questions

What to Include on Registration Form

  • Full name

  • Name as it will appear on the nametag

  • Place of employment

  • Discipline/area of study (if applicable)

  • Home address

  • Institution address

  • Preferred address

  • Phone, FAX, e-mail

  • Special needs: dietary, accessibility, other

  • Permission to publish contact info

  • Registration type: with or without meals

  • Notes or questions

  • Cancellation policy

Spreadsheets

How do I set up a spreadsheet so that it will be easy to use?

Sheet titles/columns:

  1. The general registration sheet should include the following columns: last name, first name, name on nametag, checked in, e-mail, role, paid, check number, confirmation e-mail, database updated, food issues, contact release, special needs.

  2. The speakers/presenters sheet should include the following columns: last name, first name, Social Security No. and home address received, travel arranged, lodging arranged, books requested, AV needs.

  3. The travel/lodging sheet should include the following columns: last name, first name, lodging location, confirmation number, arrival time and method, departure time and method, shuttle needed, extra nights needed

Timing of Announcements
Plan when you will announce:

  • The meeting itself (save the date)

  • Call for papers deadline

  • When registration is open

  • When registration closes

  • What to do about walk-ins

Decide when and what to communicate to:

  • Logistical contacts

  • Conferees

  • Sponsors

  • Vendors

Confirmation Information
Confirm with logistical contacts:

  • Hotel rooming list

  • Dietary needs

  • AV/technical needs

  • Room setup

  • Vendor arrival and setup

Confirm with conferees:

  • Travel

  • Registration fee

  • Contact information from them

  • Contact information for coordinator in case of travel and/or last minute changes

Confirm with speakers:

  • Travel

  • Lodging

  • AV needs

  • Handouts

Welcoming Your Guests

  1. Appoint one person to coordinate all logistics.

  2. Make sure that your contact number is on your conference schedule so that conferees can get in touch with you easily.

  3. Set up a specific registration area at the venue

  4. Have access to catering and room setup staff at venue.

  5. Have a computer with you at registration.

  6. Be aware of the flow of arrivals. If conferees are arriving slowly, two people should always be at the registration table. If attendees are arriving at the same time, our recommendation is one staff for every 25 conferees.

  7. Arrange all nametags in alphabetical order on the registration table.

  8. Stack welcome packets on or behind registration table. Welcome packets should include: a program schedule, a map of the venue, a list of nearby restaurants for those who have not chosen the meal option, bios of the presenters, a contact list of participants, the list of sponsors and booths available at conference, conference details (points of information related to the conference), a bibliography put together by presenters, the plenary speaker abstracts, and an evaluation form.

  9. Make sure that you have blank nametags for walk-ins and/or errors on the nametags.

  10. Have pitchers of ice water and glasses available at registration for conferees as they arrive.

What Ifs?
Plan what you would do if:

  • the caterer doesn't show up for the event;

  • people who have not registered for meals want meals when they arrive;

  • speakers show up with handouts and AV requests that have changed from the originals you received;

  • there are too many walk-in registrations for the rooms you have set;

  • international speakers do not have all the correct paperwork or do not have it with them when they arrive;

  • the rooms are set up incorrectly when you arrive;

  • there is a mistake on a portion of your welcome packet information;

  • one of your guests has a health emergency;

  • the venue floods an hour before your event begins;

  • the microphones in the room don't work; and

  • the guest speaker does not show up.

Valuable Resources

For more on the fundamentals of meeting management, visit meetingsnet.com/ReligiousConfer-enceManager.

This article was adapted from a past RCMA tutorial led by Donna Romanowski and Mary Bennett.