Should program planners have a pre-registration for free genealogy events?
Its a good question that deserves some thought. Personally it is my experience as a genealogy librarian and program planner that even in situations where genealogy programs are offered free to the public, that having participants sign up for the event in advance is a real advantage. Here’s why:
- Free genealogy programs are popular, and usually seating is limited in meeting rooms. Count the places available, and cut off registration when the places are filled. I usually keep a waiting list.
- My registration form gathers name, address, phone number and email address so I can create targeted mailing lists, notify people of venue changes, cancellations etc, and send reminders before the event
- I phone the participants two days before the event to remind them of the program. If there is a cancellation , I call the first person on the call in list!
- Using that e-mail address we can send along a questionaire to help speakers learn audience expectancies, or send along a copy of an article to read in preparation for the event.
- Pre-registration helps participants commit to attendance, and it helps them feel a part of the event.
- Pre-registration brings some sort of re-assurance of the success of the promotion early in the advertising if it is successful, and raises a flag if its not working.
This came up recently in discussions with two different Family History Center Directors. I’ll be doing a free lecture for each of these centers this spring. They are making the choice about registration and I do not know what the decision is. So I have been marshalling my thoughts.
What is your experience?