We live connected to our mobile devices for information and communication, so it's only natural that the trend of mobile access and online integration for event registration continues to build.

HOW DOES ONLINE REGISTRATION WORK?

Basically, an event host decides on the registration options and fees, and then uses template-driven forms to create an online registration form and web page.

The next step: setting up the account process, importing the invitee list, then going live and using the system to send email announcements. This basic outline comes from Corbin Ball, CMP, owner of Bellingham, Wash.-based Ball Associates, an independent consulting firm specializing in event technology.

And Ball should know — he keeps track of some 200 online registration companies. Here, we look at three major players:

CVENT KEEPS TABS ON THE MONEY

The online registration and event management product from Cvent includes a number of different features that event planners can turn on and off, says Eric Eden, Cvent vice president of marketing in McLean, Va. The price ranges from $3 to $10 per attendee based on functionality and features.

Cvent's payment system and gateway to a client's bank account give clients a unique ability to stay on top of cash flow. “If an attendee registers for a conference, we enable e-commerce so the money goes directly into the client's account,” Eden says. “There's no routing of money two or three weeks later.”

To boost its mobile apps offering, Cvent recently purchased CrowdCompass, a company that makes mobile apps for conferences. CrowdCompass provided the mobile app for The Special Event 2012 in Tampa, Fla., in January. “Event planners spend a lot of time working on their websites,” Eden says. Now, “Attendees can actually press a button and get the same info from the website, and it goes into CrowdCompass' mobile app.”

USERS ‘LIKE’ EVENTBRITE

Eventbrite's claim to fame is its power to empower users on social media. According to the company, its users report that the average “share” on Facebook generates 11 page views back to an event page, and an average of $2.52 in ticket sales.

“If you go to Eventbrite.com and hit ‘Create an Event,’ it will walk a planner through the ‘create’ flow and the steps need to make the event live,” says Eventbrite marketing manager Brianna Haag, based in San Francisco. If an event planners charges and collects money, Eventbrite has a per-ticket fee relative to the ticket price, she adds.

The company has three mobile apps: “Eventbrite,” to keep all attendees' tickets in one place and “discover” events near them; “Entry Manager,” to handle event check-in via an iPhone, Android or iPad; and “At the Door,” to collect onsite payment for an event. “If someone is looking to buy a ticket at the door, you can process credit card information with ease, and the attendee information for on-site payments will sync on the back-end with your Eventbrite account,” Haag adds.

Eventbrite just released Passbook integration for iOS6 (Apple's operating system), and Haag credits this upgrade with a tremendous number of downloads of the Eventbrite app. “In the first week since we launched our Passbook integration, we saw 20,095 Eventbrite tickets uploaded into Passbook,” she says.

ATTEND-ESOURCE: YOU CHOOSE

Attend-eSource is a suite of web-based tools and related services with online registration, attendee badge creation and management from Minneapolis-based MetroConnections. Attend-eSource can be implemented for any size or type of meeting, the company says, and planners can use the tools and services à la carte, according to Erin Thompson, director of Attend-eSource services. She says registration services can range in price from $8 to $38 per attendee, depending on the service option chosen and the event's specific requirements.

A recent client implemented a mobile website to provide session information, agendas, housing information and registration to attendees, all accessible via their mobile device. Brad Neuman, director of Attend-eSource Technologies for MetroConnections, explains that the client promoted the conference hashtag early to track engagement and interaction. Attendees could find the hashtag on various conference materials including the general session stage, drink coasters at the reception, and even the custom-branded event pillows.

New features include “a badge self-scan, a new administrative interface to check off people as they walk up to an event that can update multiple attendees at once, and self-check-in kiosks with badge printing,” Neuman adds.

WHAT'S NEXT?

So where's registration headed? We asked Ball to take a stab at future trends and — no surprise — it's all things mobile.

“Look for increased integration with mobile apps, mobile ticketing, mobile lead exchange, mobile document delivery, near field communication — AKA NFC — and social media integration during registration, during the event and afterward,” Ball predicts.

RESOURCES

BALL ASSOCIATES
www.corbinball.com

CVENT
www.cvent.com

EVENTBRITE
www.eventbrite.com

METROCONNECTIONS/ATTEND-ESOURCE
attendesource.metroconnections.com