When organizing an event, one of the key elements of success is managing your participants properly. Remember that each speaker and each attendee is your guest, and deserves to be treated as such! Hence the importance of creating a list of attendees with the same accuracy you strive for regarding other aspects of your event.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a detail freak like me – I admit it, I’m a perfectionist beyond limits 😉 But I have some simple tips I’d like to share with you that will benefit the performance of your attendee lists and therefore make your life a little bit easier.
A tool that you must master: Excel. If you do not have specific event management software, Microsoft Excel is the most affordable way to manage your list of attendees. It includes a huge number of functions that will allow you to get the most out of your list, provided you know how to use it proficiently. Only know the basics? Well maybe it’s time to invest in some computer training!
Lists are like spouses: you can only have one! Instead of having several lists in different files here and there, create a “master list” in which you establish different categories and filters. By doing so you will have access to all the available information, grouping and structuring the data at your convenience.
One field for each item. Though it is often done, do not be tempted to put more than one item in each field! For example, when including a participant in the list, don’t write his full name in just one cell; use one for his first name and another cell for his last name. And the same goes for everything else, including the address: zip codes, cities, provinces and countries should each have their own field. This will be incredibly helpful when combining data to other programs, whether you need to personalize some letters, print out attendee badges or provide statistics on the audience.
Establish guidelines to ensure correct data entry. It is very likely that more than one person will use the master list. Therefore it is essential to establish rigorous guidelines for entering data. Use of capitals, accent marks, abbreviations, compound names format… Remember that doing it right from the start will avoid having to make corrections later, saving you time and effort (not to mention a whole lot of aggravation!).
Thorough double-check. It’s most probable that the information has been compiled from different sources: lists from previous years, the client, on-line registrations, emails, social networks, call centers… So don’t be surprised if some attendees are on the list twice, and not all the information has the correct format.
Get the most out of your master list. The greatest advantage of having a well thought out master list is that it allows you to control many other tasks aside from the guest list itself. Invitations, confirmations, rooming lists, seating lists, attendees with special needs, arrival and departure transfers, accompanying guests, speakers, number of participants by category…