Saturday, February 18, 2012

The dangers of online event registration

You are thinking of putting on an event. You want people to be able to sign up for the event in advance. You have a few choices. You can use a direct payment system such as Google Checkout, PayPal, etc. but if you event needs additional information such as Age, Gender, T-Shirt size, etc. it is not easy to request this using the direct payment method. An alternative is to use an online event registration system that is customized for your type of event.

But here's where you should beware. Remember that your data is your data and your payment is your payment. Some online event registration systems give you little or no access to your event registrations. And even worse, these online event registration systems are usually the ones that hold on to your money. This is crazy! What kind of business prefers to be paid 30 days or 60 days after the event for items that are paid and cleared within days. I've even heard of online registration operators tell event directors that the online registration operator will "front" the event director "money". Always beware of someone "front"ing you, your own money.

Instead, say "no, thank you". I simply want to be paid when each registrant signs up.

This gets even worse. Consider this case that has been reported recently. An online registration system that does NOT disclose the registrants to the event director and HOLDS all the payments -- the worst possible case -- decides to hold the event director hostage and decides to force incredible overpriced event race timing on the event director. Now the event director could take his participants and timing business elsewhere, you would say. Yes, he could but only if the event director has access to the participant data. But of course in this case the event director does not. To top it all off, the online event registration operator threatens to refund all the participants money UNLESS the extra payment and charges for timing are accepted and paid for.

This seems like a unrealistic case, who would be so unethical and destroy their own reputation. But this is a true case.

The point is always realize that your data is your data. And your money is your money.

Do not trust some of these fly by night online registration system that hold your money and your data.