The workshop. A classic event for anyone looking to learn something in a professional environment. Generally a positive experience for everyone involved.

The registration process for said workshop… well, not so much.

Maybe you’re like the Cultural Arts Division of Austin, Texas, and can’t wait to find a better way to do things, a solution that allows you to customize each invitation and registration so attendees know what to expect – and even have the chance to tell you what subjects they want covered before the session.

And, do all of that without having to be on the phone all day.

If so, read on!

The quest for a better registration

Lani Golstab, an arts marketing specialist at the Cultural Arts Division, explains that finding a better way to manage the organization’s workshops was crucial.

“We were having people basically RSVP through our staff,” she explains. “So they would call in and the person on the phone would put the information into an excel sheet.”

The Cultural Arts Division tested a few different event marketing tools, most of them free. In the end, none of them were quite the right fit. “We needed to be able to customize the events, because we wanted to describe exactly what was happening at each one,” Lani says.

That’s especially important for her department, because each seminar is decidedly unique. The Cultural Arts Division, as part of Austin’s government, works to boost creativity in the community by offering opportunities for working artists, writers, musicians, and others.

In 2010, the organization finally found the tool it was looking for: Event Marketing from Constant Contact.

From a call-and-Excel to a point-and-click

Suddenly, the staff at the Cultural Arts Division didn’t have to worry about the phones anymore. The organization implemented registration buttons on the main website and sent out invitations through email marketing campaigns.

“We also make sure that each event has its own website, so people have the opportunity to pass around the link on Facebook and that sort of thing,” Lani says.

One of the event homepages of the Cultural Arts Division.

The days of calling or mailing people to remind them about the workshops are officially over. Now, Lani can just set automatic notifications within the tool, so registrants are reminded via email.

“Having the scheduled reminders really helped, because before, I had to remind myself to do it,” she says. “Now, I can just set up the event and it does it for you.”

Growing seminars through customization

Lani says that the programs have grown alongside her use of Event Marketing. Attendance has steadily increased and, nowadays, Lani often has to cap attendance at 40.

The registration form often helps make each seminar a more customized experience for attendees. “Sometimes, speakers will request some more information from registrants, so that they can already have feedback by the time they start the workshop. That helps shake up the topic.”

All of that information is automatically stored in a database that can be uploaded to an Excel sheet – which takes care of the Division’s data entry problems from before.

Additionally, Lani and the rest of the staff can also take the answers into account for the next event. “We ask for company names and how they heard about the event, that way we know where our promotions are working,” Lani says.

This system is a far cry from the ringing phones and frantic data entry from a few years before. The Cultural Arts Division has taught the creative professionals by example – by being creative when it comes to helping people register for each event!

Do you have a creative way to deal with event registration? Let us know below!