When it comes to planning any type of event, there are a lot of moving parts to track. This includes securing a venue or online service, booking speakers and panelists, and more. But your event planning doesn’t start or stop there — you have to create a registration and payment system that will create a strong first (and hopefully positive!) impression of your event.
Online payments have become the norm and, now during the pandemic, a necessity for your attendees. Attendees need an easy and quick way to pay online and will be turned off by a complicated or manual payment process.
Online payments are safer, faster and always available. When incorporated into your event registration process, online payment processing can streamline the entire experience, resulting in more registrations, less administrative costs and more revenue.
Many elements play into this, and we’ll take a look at all of them:
- Payment Processing: The Basics
- Benefits of Online Payment Processing
- The User Experience
- Mobile Payments
- Pricing and Security
Keeping these elements in mind is key to making a great first impression on your registrants and also securing more attendees and registration fees.
Are you ready to learn about the ins and outs of payment processing? Let’s take a look!
1. Payment Processing: The Basics
Before we discuss the best practices for processing payments for your event, we should define a few terms you should understand. These include payment processors, merchant accounts and payment gateways. Let’s take a look at these:
- Payment processor. A payment processor is the company that handles your transactions. They relay information from your registrant’s credit card information to both your bank and your customer’s bank.
- Payment gateway. A payment gateway is the technology that connects all of the merchants and payment networks, capturing payment details for transactions. It then routes that payment information to the payment processor or acquiring bank.
- Merchant account. A merchant account allows merchants to process online credit and debit card payments. Your payment gateway deposits the funds from the sales in this account.
Understanding the basics of payment processing is important so you can get an idea of how it works in general, and then use that information to determine how you want to go about processing payments for events. Taking online payments has proven to be a very efficient and effective way to process event registration.
If you’re interested in learning more about payment processing basics, check out this helpful glossary.
2. Benefits of Online Payment Processing
Online payment processing gets you more registrants and faster payments, while lowering your administrative costs. This makes accepting online payments completely worth it.
As an event planner, it’s important that as many people register for your event as you need or want. So, what are the benefits of taking online payments with your event registration? Let’s take a look:
- You’ll get money faster. By accepting payments with your online registration form, the funds will be transferred quickly so you can pay for other expenses related to your event, saving you time and money. You’ll also know who to hold a spot for at the event because you’ll know they actually paid.
- It’s easier for registrants. Registering and paying for a spot online is faster and frictionless compared to writing a check and mailing it in. The registrants will also know their payment is secure due to the SSL (security encryption) that’s implemented throughout the registration process.
- Keep track of registrant payments automatically. A registrant’s payment will be automatically connected with their account in your database. Online payments also make it easier to communicate about balances that are due, and you can track how much money you receive on a regular basis (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.).
- It’s safe and secure. Online payments prevent fraud and errors, especially since you eliminate the chance of a check getting lost in the mail. Refunds can even be processed with a few clicks.
- You can receive payments anytime. Receive payments 24/7, not just during your operating hours.
Online payment processing is an advantageous way to increase event registration and attendance, as well as your revenue from registration fees. If you’re looking for some top event management software solutions that will allow you to do this, check out this list.
3. The User Experience
Of course, with event registration and payment processing comes another factor to consider: your users’ experience. If you want to avoid abandonment before individuals finish registering for your event, there are a couple of things you should make sure your payment system does:
- It should integrate with your registration software. In order to truly streamline your process, your payment processor should be fully integrated into your registration software. This means allowing registrants to pay easily within the registration process, and not having to leave your site to go pay on a third-party site, which can decrease trust. Then you can manage payments, send invoices and more.
- It should be easy to use. The fields should be clear and easy to fill out, without asking for too much information. Your registrants’ contact information and payment information should be sufficient. For instance, if a registrant was filling out a course registration form and the payment process was simple and integrated right on the form, your registrants would be more likely to complete the process.
By keeping your users’ experience at the forefront of your event planning process, you can secure more registrants and ensure their time spent on your site leaves a positive impression. If you don’t focus on having an easy payment system and the process frustrates users, you’ll have a smaller turnout and fewer completed registrations.
4. Mobile Payments
With the rise of online payments, it’s important to also consider all the channels for accepting payments, as flexibility is key. This includes accepting mobile payments.
Mobile payments are essential to event registration because people are on their phones at all hours of the day. Why not make it easier to register for an event from the device they use most?
Try these tips to improve your mobile payment process:
- Make the mobile checkout process consistent with your other channels. This is done easily if your registration software is mobile-optimized already. If your software directly embeds on your website, this means you can accept secure payments directly through your own site, keep your branding consistent and establish trust, which means people are more likely to complete their transaction, including on mobile.
- Make the payment entry simple. Make sure your registrants don’t have to zoom in on the form to get their cursor where it needs to be. Have a numbered keyboard show up on their mobile device so they can easily key in their credit card number, for example.
By using a mobile-optimized form and payment processor, you can increase the number of attendees to your event and even gain some new ones who might not have thought to register later on a desktop computer. Widen your audience by widening your options!
5. Pricing and Security
There are many advantages to using an online payment processor, but of course, there are other factors to take into consideration, such as pricing and the security of your registration process.
There are a few payment options that may come with online payment processors, such as:
- A monthly administrative fee plus processing fees on transactions
- A flat per applicant fee plus processing fees on transactions
- Only processing fees (but at a higher rate)
It’s also important to note, however, that when using a payment processor that integrates directly into your registration software, fees may look different in that they are bundled together, blended rates are available, and there isn’t always a flat per applicant or per transaction fee.
In addition, having payments that are directly integrated into your reporting structure is very beneficial, as it allows you to connect payments with your user database and create custom reporting that integrates user and payment information together in any way that you need it.
These are some of the options you may be choosing from. The most important things to consider are the features that come with the payment processors you’re considering, and how affordable the pricing structure is based on your needs.
In terms of security, we’ve already mentioned that registrants want to pay online because it’s more secure than sending a check through the mail. But how do you ensure the process is actually secure?
By using a payment processor that encrypts the data the user sends to the receiver, you can ensure that your registrant’s information will be protected. For example, look for a payment processor that:
- Is PCI compliant
- Is run from a server with a physical firewall
- Encrypts all of its data
- Has a Web Application Firewall (WAF) that filters any possible database attacks at the transmission level
- Regularly scans its database and servers
There are ways to look out for and prevent online payment fraud, so be sure to follow these practices and keep your data secure with SSL.
Online payment processing is the most effective and secure way to register attendees for your event. Without integrating a secure payment processor into your registration form, you’ll leave more room for error, lost checks, and less event turnout.
Keep track of your registrants and payments as they come in, and you’ll be ready to take your event planning to the next level!
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Asaf Darash, Founder and CEO of Regpack, has extensive experience as an entrepreneur and investor. Asaf has built three successful companies to date, all with an exit plan or that have stayed in profitability and are still functional. Asaf specializes in product development for the web, team building and in bringing a company from concept to an actualized unit that is profitable.