Creating Your Own Event Registration Forms – Online and Offline

March 10, 2011 - 6 minutes read

filling out a check

As you may have noticed, many events now “highly recommend” if not require you register for their event online.  But often they still provide an offline or paper event registration form for you to register via check in the mail.

As an event director, there are a number of things to consider if you want to continue to offer both off and online registration AND keep yourself from spending time manually merging the data together.

For many of you, in the end you will need two versions of your participant data.  One being the registration report for your volunteers to easily use at your packet pickup tables and check-in areas.  The other being a report specifically containing the participant information needed for your timing company to import into their timing systems.   Both of these will need to contain all registrant data that you have received prior to race day.

So before you rush into taking registrations any way they can come, we will help you answer this very important question:

What’s the best way to setup the online and offline event registration forms to capture all the information I need AND save me time on manipulating the data?

  • Make a list of the items you need from each participant. Start with the easy stuff.  You’ll probably need the standard first name, last name, address, gender, birthdate, email address and phone number.  But what else do you need to know?  Are you giving out t-shirts?  Require t-shirt size.  Do you need to know if they are running the 5K or 10K option?
  • Make a list of items you would like to get from each participant. This is different from the first point in that these are items that will not be required for their registration but would be good to know, usually for marketing purposes.  Think about things like “How did you hear about our event?” or “Is this your first triathlon?” or “Do you train with a local running club? If so, who?”  These types of questions may not be critical for them to run the event but will help you learn about who is participating in your event and therefore, understand where to target your event marketing efforts.
  • Talk to your online registration company. At ZapEvent, we encourage our race directors to contact us to setup their first event.  We take the time to get to know your event and what you need to get out of your reports.  We are dedicated to ensuring your participants have a clean, easy way to register online and helping you easily manage your event and pull all the information you need from the system.
  • Talk to your timing company. Many times your timing company will request certain things to be included in the reports you provide to them and or have certain deadlines they need information by.  Don’t assume you know what they need.  Make sure those are included at the start of registration so you don’t have to try and backfill the information by individually contacting registrants
  • Setup your online registration forms first. Now that you have all your questions determined, setup your online registration form and be sure to step through the process as your registrants will.  This will make double-sure your questions are all how you want them to look and your pricing is setup correctly.
  • Setup your paper registration forms second I always suggest doing your online form first because it’s pretty typical for the online registration system to have pre-set orders for many of the standard fields your participants need to fill out.  Plus, for your additional questions, there is usually some flexibility in where you can put them.  With ZapEvent, for no additional cost, we have a simplified way to enter your paper forms into your event just as the participant would if they were registering online.  So to make sure you can enter them quickly and efficiently, create the fields on your paper forms to exactly match the naming and order of the fields on your online form.

Now you are all set to start taking registrations!

Also, as a ZapEvent client, we can offer custom reporting access for your timing company so you no longer have to worry about providing them with a separate set of information.  With our process, your timer can easily pull your participant data directly from our system, in the form they need it without you having to do a thing!  Have your timer contact us for a quick, free consulation to see how we can help your event by providing them custom timing reports.

What other helpful tricks have you used to simplify having an online registration and a paper registration system?