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6 simple solutions for event registration

By Jeremy Steele

Registering people for events can be difficult. From taking payments to keeping up with all the details, the process can give any staff member or volunteer a headache. That's what makes event registration the perfect task for the Internet to lend a hand.

We have sifted through hundreds of providers to choose a handful of different solutions from which you can choose the one you need. Each of these can be just the medicine to make your event registration headache go away.

For each service, we looked at the ease of use and how many "extras" there were beyond collecting basic information — extras ranging from indicating T-shirt sizes to exporting all the data to an easy-to-import file for any other database.

Each service deals with pricing a bit differently. Most of them charge a fee to use their service in addition to the fee collected from credit card transactions. That distinction is important to keep in mind. If you are having a free event, a service that doesn't charge anything for using its tool can make this decision easy. However, once you start allowing online payment, the processing fees can be a game changer.

1. Check your church database software

One of the biggest headaches with event registration is having people input all their information for every event, and then plugging the needed information into your church management or database software. Before you start checking third-party solutions, see if the software you are using for church management will do what you need for event registration. Using your current software may be as easy as flipping a digital switch; however, make sure to check the cost. Adding this module is often pretty pricey.

2. Use the mass market solution with Eventbrite.

Eventbrite is by far the largest event management service. With hundreds of thousands of customers, it is the market leader and company-to-beat in this space. A key to its success is how incredibly simple it is to use the basic features that meet the needs of organizers of 99 percent of events. It also has a good selection of extras, including great social integration. However, if you are planning a massive, complex event with multiple seminar tracks, you may want to go with another solution.

Cost for free event: FREE
Paid event service fee: 2.5% + $0.99 per attendee (you can pass this on to the customer)
Processing fee: 3%

3. Create your own form with Formstack.

You can save a lot by building the registration form yourself with a solution like Formstack. Form builder services are versatile tools that let you build anything you need. They will take a bit more time than the plug-and-play solutions. Whereas setting up the basic event registration with a special question about T-shirts took a little less than five minutes on Eventbrite, the same form took about 15 minutes to create in Formstack. Since Formstack does not process credit cards, you will need to arrange and set up your own payment gateway through a service like Paypal or Stripe (both charge 2.9 percent plus 30 cents per transaction) ahead of time so that you can link it to your form. If price is the number one consideration or if making sure you have total control over every detail of the form — from customer data to the specific color of text — this is for you.

Cost for free event: Same as paid event
Paid event service fee: $39-$249 per month
Processing fee: Depends on your gateway (typically 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction)

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4. Make an impression with Brown Paper Tickets.

Instead of hosting an event with the same email confirmation code used everywhere else, Brown Paper Tickets enables you to have tickets printed and mailed as they are ordered. Setting up the event registration is quick and simple. The only issue is that the Brown Paper Tickets branding is very prominent everywhere, including on the printed tickets. On the upside, Brown Paper Tickets will not charge you anything for any event because they pass all the cost along to the customer. When your customer chooses a non-physical ticket option for a free event, there is no charge at all. If you want old-school paper ticket charm powered by the Internet, this is a perfect (and inexpensive) solution.

Cost for free event: FREE
Paid event service fee: 3.5% + $0.99 (paid by customer)
Processing fee: Included in service fee

5. The sky's the limit with RegOnline.

If you are looking for the top-of-the-line event registration solution, RegOnline is for you. This will help you manage everything from sourcing hotels and venues to printing name tags and registering people for breakouts. RegOnline will handle it all. For something with this level of power, the setup is relatively simple. It also has easily searchable help, as well as good articles on topics like event marketing and building successful surveys.

Cost for free event: Same as paid event
Paid event service fee: $3.95 per registration
Processing fee: 4.95%

6. Create a beautiful registration with Picatic.

For those who are both price- and design-sensitive, Picatic offers a unique solution. The registration builder focuses as much on the look and feel of your landing page as it does on the event details and pricing by giving you control over a beautiful template. In addition to a modern interface for controlling the details and setting ticket prices, Picatic gives you sliders to control the opacity of the header overlay. If you don't mind having the Picatic branding on your page, all of these tools are free. An upgrade to the pro account will remove all the Picatic branding and a 2.5% + $1 per transaction fee.

Cost for free event: FREE with Picatic branding
Paid event service fee: Free with Picatic branding or 2.5% + $1 per transaction for the pro version
Processing fee: Depends on your gateway (typically 2.9% + $.30 per transaction)

Whatever the solution you choose, online registration can take the pain out of many of the details associated with your event. Whether you want more control, paper tickets, beautiful registration pages or all the tools to organize thousands, there is a perfect solution for you.

Jeremy Steele

When Jeremy and his wife are not playing with their four children, he oversees youth and college ministries and leads the evening worship service at Christ UMC in Mobile, Al. Jeremy is an author of several books and resources that you can find at or follow him on Twitter!