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Do It Like A Pro: Choosing the perfect venue and online registration solution for your conferences and events

By Deen Ashraf, C.E.O, iMagining Director & Executive Coach, brains at work
Staging a conference or event might seem a tall order but with the right planning and innovative organisation, success is guaranteed. 
There are countless types – and sizes – from meetings to seminars, exhibitions to conferences, gala dinners to concerts, launches to fundraisers, the list can go on and on, each one with its own set of unique details to attend to. 
So where do you start? The key to successfully organising any type of event, large or small, is a clearly defined goal of what it is you want to achieve. Cut to the heart of the matter and identify the reason and purpose of your event; and when this is clear, only then should you start to draw up your plans.
Specific tasks and requirements vary depending on the nature of the event, but even the most experienced event manager would agree that venue selection and registration management are two of the most challenging tasks that require careful planning at the earliest stages possible.
Chances are, you might have read hundreds of books and reference materials about choosing the right venue and setting up the registration for business meetings and conferences. So we eliminate the unnecessary and stick to the essentials to come up with this road map to guide you in planning your event.
The Venue
Selecting the perfect venue is critical to setting the ambience and the actual success of a conference, meeting or event. It is good to keep in mind that the venue should serve as an effective space to serve the purpose for which your event is staged.
No compromise on comfort and convenience
A good experience for your guests and attendees is a must for maintaining a positive reputation for your company. Equally important is to ensure the venue is in line with the event and brand communication objectives. Although cost is a major consideration, it is simply not worth it to risk the choice of an untried or lower-cost venue in an attempt to try and recoup some of your cost. With or without the need to provide accommodation for the attendees, comfort and convenience should always be guaranteed. 
Location, location, location
The perfect location means different things for different events, but there are a number of important things to consider, including: accessibility, both by private transport and mass transit; parking provisions; local attractions and amenities; a safe and secure environment, among others. Hotels, convention centres, resorts – all these venues have specific strengths and weaknesses that you must consider before booking your events.
Does your choice of venue have adequate amenities that are fit for purpose? By understanding the needs of your delegates, you will make the event that much more probable of being a runaway success. Natural light for conference delegates to remain awake and attentive; adequate space for guest/delegate seating, branding and product displays; accessibility to break-out session rooms. Is there an organiser\\\'s room? Sound-proofing? Is it handicap-accessible? Are there banqueting facilities for gala ceremonies and award dinners? Does the audio visual equipment support the communication objectives, will it deliver the high impact quality required to arouse and engage all the senses of the delegates/guests?
Research is vital
Confirm a venue’s viability by doing on-site inspections, if possible with your technical committee and other key working groups. This will not only allow you to fact check your event requirements based on accurate data, but more importantly you will be able to identify possible challenges even before they crop up. It is also good to speak personally with the venue management so as to be clear about terms and policies, cancellations and other details. It is equally important to have your wish list before you sign any contracts, ensuring your expectations are met in advance, avoiding disappointment arising from policies after the signing of the contract. 
Event Registration
In most events, if not all, delegate registration is a huge challenge. It seems to make man\\\'s first trip to the moon seem effortless in comparison.
You know the issues especially endemic to the Middle East: planners are forced to waste time in manual communication and collecting and following up data; multiple emails for invites and information follow-up; hours spent on compiling and analysing data; and, not to forget the seeming endlessness of telephone calls, all of which negatively impacts job performance and sidetracks the more important tasks. A typical event, meeting or conference in this region also requires a mountain of paperwork – visa application forms, passport copies, credit card authorisation forms, etc – so the best event registration software is imperative, especially in this digital age.
From the basic, to sophisticated, to multi-functional, there is an abundant choice for online registration solutions.  You just have to know your priorities in order to pick the one that will work for you.
Is the program user-friendly, both for registrant and event organiser? Can the forms be customised with relevant questions? Can the software and user interface screens be branded as per the event? Is it an integrated solution that offers seamless data management? Does it provide easy payment processing? Will it produce statistics and reports when you need them? How reliable is its support team?
These questions can give you a clear picture of the extent of service your registration software offers, however, it is always good to test drive the system to understand how it works and how accurate it performs the task.
One software solution worth trying is Registre, a smart, online, automated guest logistic software program developed by brains at work. Its intelligent features include a customised and branded registration form for your company; a highly secure password-enabled access system; and, an ease of use that will keep non-techies happy.
Looking through Registre’s features, there are a number of benefits for delegates that will make your operations run as smoothly as they deserve: fast online registration; easy updating and editing; breakout session booking; easy uploading of documents for visas; assignation of a dedicated registration assistant, and the inclusion of auto-confirmation at every stage. What good do they bring: the end to manual follow-ups; quick and efficient invitations; simplicity of format; live registration updating; an automated reminder system; an ability to easily export data into other formats; efficient registration and updating; and, a total control over the system that supports effective event and conference management.
There are a lot of options for online event registration, but bottom line is you have to choose the right tool so you can finally experience an efficient and effective relaxed registration process.

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