I'm planning out the registration types for my large annual event and am looking for some advice on an issue that I had with this event last year.
I will have multiple registration types for the event, with some sessions visible to only certain registration types. There will be one registration type for staff, who need to have visibility to everything in the event. Ideally, staff will be able to see all sessions, and even add sessions to their agenda, but I don't want staff to be able to take up a seat from the session capacity. This would leave all of the actual seats in the room open for attendees across multiple registration paths, and staff would stand in the back, or just pop in and out of the session without taking a seat away from an actual attendee.
Last year I tried limiting staff to only be able to register for sessions a few days before the event started so that attendees had first chance to get a seat in the sessions that they wanted, but this was inconvenient for staff members. There were also several sessions that were sold out so that staff couldn't register for them by the time they had access, which meant they couldn't add the session to their agenda, even though they weren't going to take up an actual seat in the room. I ended up having to manually register them for those sessions in those cases, which was inconvenient for me.
Has anyone come across a situation like this, or have a good solution for this problem?
Knowing our staff may have to come in and out of the sessions, we do not require them to register for any sessions. Indeed, we purposely tell them to not register for sessions, only register for meals. They understand that they can take a seat after the session has been going for 15 minutes or so, assuming there are any vacant seats.
Thanks for the suggestion, Carl! I did this last year with my staff, and got overwhelming feedback that my staff wanted the ability to register for sessions in advance so they would show up on their personal agenda in the app. They weren't trying to take up seats in the room, but wanted a fast and easy way to see where and when all of the sessions they wanted to pop in on were occurring.
We got similar feedback about wanting the sessions to appear in their schedule. But it's all a matter of timing.
We have certain staff assigned to particular sessions and they know that in advance. It is their responsibility to know this and plan for it. For those not assigned, they can float about to whatever they want. But we tell them the complications it creates in the backend wrt seats being taken if they register. This includes inflating the interest in a particular session due to staff expressing their interest through the registration process. That, in turn, can influence the conference room assignments.
When the breakouts happen, there are only 5 to pick from. We put the onus on staff to remember what they wish to attend without the benefit of it appearing on their personal schedule. I mean, come on! We are a generally well-educated, savvy group. You can't quickly figure out the session you are going to pop into from a selection of only 5 topics? So what if you pop into one only to realize it wasn't the one you wanted. Walk back out and move to the one you really wanted.
Of course, if the number of topics were significantly greater, maybe I'd have some sympathy for them.
All that said, let's meet them at least half way. Our conference registration closes three weeks before the conference. Once that happens, our staff can add themselves to the sessions because room assignments and available seats are set. They also know, on the day of the session, that if a bunch of walk-ins crowd into the session, they are to give up their seat.
Have a great day,