Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

July 20 2015

The Simple Way To Make Your Registration Fee More Appealing

By David McMillin

Meeting planners are constantly experimenting with ways to make the price of registration more affordable and appealing for prospective attendees. Early bird savings. Housing bundling package pricing. Member-only discounts.

While all these can seem like great deals, what if attendees aren’t necessarily looking for Black Friday-style price slashing? What if, instead, they’re looking for ways to delay the sting of forking over the full registration amount?

At the DMAI Annual Convention in Austin, Mickey Schaefer, President of Mickey Schaefer & Associates LLC, offered a new idea to defray costs for attendees: installment payments for the registration fee.

“Installments can be particularly important for the attendees who pay their own way,” Schaefer said.

The idea isn’t just coming from Schaefer; it’s coming from attendees themselves. Schaefer’s session offered an overview of the findings of the recent PCMA/IAEE/TEI Decision To Attend Study. The research examined the behaviors and preferences of more than 7,000 attendees from a wide range of meetings and conventions. Not surprisingly, cost and time are two of the primary barriers that stand in the way of a prospective attendee’s ability to participate in a meeting. While an installment plan does not remove the cost barrier, it can accommodate the month-to-month changes in an attendee’s financial situation and remove the psychological worry of paying one lump sum. Schaefer said that many respondents indicated that installment plan options would be appealing.

LEARN: Download The Decision To Attend Study For Free

The Power Of Recurring Payments

While I am not familiar with any meetings that offer installment plans for registration fees, there are plenty of organizations that have embraced an installment plan for their membership dues. The Association of Fundraising Professionals offers a six-payment plan for dues, and the American Library Association gives members the opportunity to divide payments in two equal installments. The American Medical Association offers a monthly membership dues plan to certain categories of medical professionals, too.

In addition to meeting attendee financial needs, an installment plan can offer an opportunity for meeting planners to better articulate the value of the on-site experience. For example, the organization can send a reminder email before each payment is processed with key highlights of new sessions, new speakers and new reasons why those payments are a wise investment for the attendee’s career.

What do you think of an installment plan option for your annual meeting’s registration fees? Would your organization’s financial model allow for greater payment flexibility for attendees? Share your thoughts in the comments below on whether you believe installment plans could have an impact on increasing registration numbers.

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