There are tons of conference software options on the market and deciding which one is right for you can seem daunting.

While there are many options to fit any budget and any need, it helps to have a basic list of features you should look for when evaluating conference software options.

There are software options for the budget conscious event planner all the way up to enterprise level software that will meet this criteria. They are baseline features that will help any conference planner register, charge and manage attendees, vendors, and speakers for their event easily!

#1 Group Registration

The ability to register groups as easily as individuals is an important feature for any conference.

Group registration will allow for a “head unit” to register and pay for all the “sub-units” of the group. This is very helpful for payments and also streamlined email communication. One study shows that group registration can increase your registration rate by 26%

#2 Embedding on Your Website

27% of users abandon registration processes that are hosted on a 3rd party website. That is a lot of missed opportunities!

Find a registration software that allows you to place the registration and payment forms on your website. This means that applicants will complete registration on your website, with your design and branding.

#3 Automatic Billing + Payment Plans

The most important part of any conference or event is of course, the money. Collecting payments can be a huge time suck and hassle if you don’t have the right software.

While it is wise to have your payments integrated in your registration process regardless, the more important payment feature is the ability to offer payment plans coupled with automatic billing.

Automatic billing just means the ability to save a card on file, so that when payment plan due dates arrive, the system can automatically charge the attendee.

What does this mean for you? No frantic email reminders about making payments or chasing down people who don’t pay on time. This is where the right software can really come in handy to save you time and allow you to work on other aspects of your conference!

Payment plans are great anytime, but especially great if your conference has a higher price tag. Not everyone can afford to pay the full amount in one shot, so payment plans allows attendees to break up the payments in a more manageable way.

#4 Conditional Logic

Conditional logic is pretty standard in most conference software systems. Essentially, conditional logic means that every user will have a unique registration flow based on their answers to certain questions.

For example, you can ask at the beginning of your application, “Are you a speaker, vendor or attendee?” The forms that populate after will depend on the answer to that question.

Conditional logic also means you can offer variable pricing depending on the attendee type, which is important for a smooth and clear registration process.

Conditional logic can also get more advanced. Some software allows you to stack conditions on top of each other, which is very helpful for effective data management and reporting. For example, the ability to filter and send an email to attendees who: paid their deposit, is signed up for a payment plan and is from the state of CA.

Not all software has this more advanced ability, so be sure to ask about it when demoing or researching conference software.

Conclusion: How to Choose the Best Conference Software

In addition to finding a software option that includes these top 4 features, the best place to start when looking for software is your own needs.

Sit down and create a “need to have” list and a “would be nice to have” list. This exercise will help you think about what is really important for you and necessary for your process to help you narrow down your options.

When thinking about your “need to have” list, a good way to frame this is to think about the “problems’ you have during your registration process and what software features you need to solve this problem.

Looking at features as solutions is a great way to evaluate any business tool! There are a lot of “nice to have” features for any tool, but what you really need are solutions to solve your business problems.

Asaf Darash is the founder of Regpack, an online registration system used by more than 5,000 organization worldwide including the NFL, Goodwill and Stanford. Regpack's technology is based on Asaf's Ph.D. that dealt with computer data connections and networks and is the foundation for the flexibility of the Regpack system.

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