Registration online
January 13, 2006 12:15 PM   Subscribe

Can you help me find an easy way to do conference registration online?

I maintain the website for a small non-profit, which is pretty straightforward. They want to accept registration (and payment) online for an upcoming conference and I'm afraid I'm in over my head. I said I could figure it out, but now I'm really afraid of doing anything that will mess up their registration and make them look bad. Is there a reliable, cheap service that can help us do this? Or a moderately easy way to do it myself? I know nothing beyond basic HTML and css, but I have a few weeks to figure it out. We're in Canada, if that changes the services available at all.
posted by jheiz to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Are you looking to farm this out or run it yourself? I have seen several sites using osCommerce to sell seats in seminars and things. Depending on your competency you could set it up and host it yourself.

If you're looking for a hosted solution I'd suggest you shop the internet, literally. Many sites being run on hosted solutions show a "run by" button or something at the bottom. Alternately, you could set up a Yahoo store.
posted by phearlez at 12:21 PM on January 13, 2006

Check out Brown Paper Tickets, who bill themselves as "the first and only fair-trade ticketing service." I haven't used them, but they seem to have some pretty good services and their markup isn't nearly as bad as TicketBastard's.
posted by revgeorge at 12:51 PM on January 13, 2006

I've done this myself (an organizing committee of 3 for a conference of about 100), and it's really not that bad.

However, I recently heard of cvent, which basically lets you outsource the administrivia.
posted by adamrice at 12:56 PM on January 13, 2006

I've done this myself -- a ColdFusion form feeding an Access db, which wasn't ideal.

The non-profit I work for is looking at big, expensive ASPs to do this (and more) now, but TechSoup should help you find something for a smaller org. One I've heard of is Acteva. Good luck.
posted by jdl at 1:15 PM on January 13, 2006

I'm currently organizing an event through Acteva. They take care of all of the credit card stuff, take a bit off the top and send you a check with the rest. So far they've been pretty helpful when I had questions. We've had a billing problem with them in the past few days, but I got a quick response to my email and they're looking into it. I would recommend them.
posted by Inkoate at 1:45 PM on January 13, 2006

I was also going to recommend cvent. A previous employer used it for their conferences, and the marketing department was very happy with it.
posted by missmerrymack at 2:00 PM on January 13, 2006

I looked at Mollyguard and thought it would work very nicely. But the non-profit I support isn't all that keen on these new-fangled web-thingies.
posted by cairnish at 2:46 PM on January 13, 2006

I've been involved in organizing a number of scientific conferences. I've found Registration Systems Lab to be very professional about handling pre-conference and on-site registration. As I recall, they had a base charge and then a per registrant fee. They handle all the credit card issues, and provide detailed reports.

They definitely fit the bill on reliability, but may not meet your cheapness requirement.
posted by i love cheese at 3:27 PM on January 13, 2006

I haven't tried them, but I had a bookmark for sporg that you might check out.
posted by willnot at 4:48 PM on January 13, 2006

I do events and some website work for a small non-profit as well, and we just have a form on an encrypted web page that submits data to email via an .asp script.

The form accepts the registration data from the attendee, including credit card numbers, and we receive that data in a plain text file to email. The rest of the processing is done by hand. That is, the registration info is entered into our database by hand, and credit cards are processed individually via the phone system for our normal merchant's account. Paid receipts are emailed as PDF's to the attendees via Quickbooks.

It isn't the ideal way to do it, by any means, but it's cheap - which is key for us. It took some serious thinking about workflow to get a well-oiled processing system in place, but as long as we keep organized it has worked well for us for 15+ conferences.

I would love to have an Acteva or Mollyguard or what have you to take care of that kind of stuff for me, but even the small overhead they charge makes it totally not feasible.
posted by gemmy at 7:34 PM on January 13, 2006

gemmy's solution, while cheap and easy, does involve sending unencrypted credit card information via email. If you go with a homebrewed solution, you should definitely save the data directly to a database instead of email it.
posted by i love cheese at 4:28 PM on January 15, 2006

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