Registration System Looks To Keep Things Simple

New York — A relatively low-key player in the crowded online registration arena, called eRSVP, is winning clients by keeping its web-based tools and interface as simple as can be.

eRSVP, which debuted its third major upgrade at MeetingWorld here this summer, aims to do one thing well: enable planners to set up a simple process for attendees to register online, using an Internet-based form, for an event or meeting.

Its no-frills approach has won for it the meeting registration chores for such clients as Hilton Hotels, accounting firm Ernst & Young and pharmaceutical giant Wyeth, among others.

It's making inroads against stiff competition, the company says, by keeping the complexities at bay.

"It's very straightforward," said CEO and co-founder Ajay Arora. "And there's very little learning curve for the meeting planner to set up a site — sometimes 30 minutes or less."

eRSVP currently comes in two flavors. The standard version, for companies planning just a few events per year, offers registration, pure and simple, with a minimal setup fee of as little as $100 and a per-attendee fee of $1.

The Max version, rolled out last fall, offers tools for more complex meetings (including multitrack session registration and wait-listing for overbooked sessions), more customizable surveys and reports, campaign management tools, and an attendee analysis component. In addition to higher setup costs, the per-registration fee can run $3 to $4, Arora said.

Both versions have e-marketing capabilities to generate interest in the upcoming event.

"We found that eRSVP was the most user-friendly," said Kathie Stapleton, executive director of both MPI's New York chapter and the Big Apple chapter of the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International. She said she had considered a competitor, Cvent, before going with eRSVP.

Stapleton uses eRSVP to register attendees for a variety of workshops and breakfast and lunch meetings. Between her two organizations, she plans about 50 meetings a year for some 1,400 members.

Because so many of her events are similar, Stapleton said she can easily change the title of an online registration template and the description, and it's ready for the next meeting.

Gen Art, a New York-based company that stages fashion, multimedia and art events for hip audiences around the country, has been an eRSVP customer for about six months. The company's online event registration sites are a bit more complex than Stapleton's, adding in member recognition and ticket giveaway features.

"eRSVP had the potential to do customized solutions for us," said Adam Walden, Gen Art president. "They gave us the features we needed."

Arora said he is considering adding real-time hotel registration to future versions, which would better enable planners to capture out-of-town attendees into official room blocks. He's considering an air-booking tool as well.

Currently, eRSVP hosts about 1,000 live events. A new version, due out this fall, will be aimed at associations and include membership management functions. But Arora doesn't want to get too fancy, he said.

"We want to make it as easy for planners as reading your email," he said.

Contact Christopher Hosford at [email protected]