If you are going to host an event for an organization or a company, the web offers a great place for you to reach the potential participants. What you’ll need is an event registration system which enables you to publish events easily and allows people to sign up for the events.
Creating an event registration system could be tricky, but asking a professional to do it for you is costly. Luckily, WordPress is a powerful content management system that comes with many simple tools which simplify the experience when combined.
This post offers a simple yet complete tutorial for setting up an event registration system in WordPress. However, if this is your first time to deal with an event or you are not familiar with the necessary components of a good registration system, you need to learn some basics first.
Important Features an Event Registration System Needs
When making an event registration system, you have to make sure that it is functional, providing what visitors need to sign up, and what you need to manage events. No matter you are building a system by yourself or adopting an existing one from others, you must make sure it includes the following important features.
One of the minimum requirements for the system is that it should allow you to add detailed descriptions about events. These details must include all the basic information such as the topic, accurate date, time, and the venue. According to your needs, you may also be able to add the speaker information, the price, and more. A well-detailed description is more appealing and trustworthy.
Registration form is another necessity as it is required for people to participate in the event. Fortunately, some event registration systems have pre-made forms that are well-designed and easy-to-use.
A good registration form needs to allow you to collect the information you need from participants. The basic information includes name, email address or phone number (for contact), and payment. If you host the same event on multiple dates, you should also require the attending date.
If your event has a physical venue, then you’d better provide a map which shows the location of the venue. This makes the organizer considerate, thus helps build the reputation. Coming with the integration of Google Maps could be a good feature of an event registration system.
Event management tools
A functional system must enable you to create events, sort them with categories or tags, edit them, delete them, and so on. Also, it should come with the ability to set a limit for the number of participants when the venue has a certain capacity.
Once a participant signs up successfully, he/she should receive a confirmation message in the inbox or on phone. A dependable system would also send reminders to participants at a specified time.
If the event charges, you will need a system that is integrated with multiple payment gateways such as PayPal, credit cards, check, etc. The ability to deal with coupons is also important.
Manually Set Up an Event Registration System in WordPress
Depending on how many events you will manage and what features you need, you may be able to get an event registration system set up by using the built-in WordPress features – posts/pages and the registration form. You can publish a post or page with the event descriptions, map, and other important information, and then add a form to allow signup.
These features are enough for managing one or several simple events, but there are many downsides. Some of the problems are:
- Creating an event registration system manually takes much time, and it is somewhat difficult for beginners who are not very familiar with WordPress.
- The default registration form is limited. To make it work in the way you want, you may need to use other services like Gravity Forms and MailChimp, which is troublesome.
- You have to integrate payment options like PayPal manually.
- You have to add an email notification system by using plugins.
- When creating a new event, you must start over again.
When more features are required, more plugins are needed. What’s difficult is that every plugin is independent and has its own settings. Combining their features together is more than frustrating. And these are the reasons why we don’t suggest beginners take this method.
However, you don’t need to be upset because there is another way out – taking advantage of some all-in-one solutions which allow you to manage everything from a single interface. The Events Manager plugin is a good one that is free-to-use yet rich-featured.
Set Up an Event Registration System with Events Manager Plugin
Events Manager comes with many good features. For example, it supports WordPress multisite and BuddyPress, allows exporting the registrations in CVS, enables participants to add events to their Google Calendar, etc. In below, we will detail the steps for using this plugin.
Step 1: Set up Events Manager
After installing the plugin, you will see a new “Events” menu item in WordPress dashboard. Clicking on the menu item expands a list of sub-menus, and the first section you have to deal with is “Settings”. There are several tabs on the settings page, each with a large number of options.
The first tab is General which includes all the general plugin settings. Under this tab, you can:
- Change the event and location settings.
- Specify the image sizes for front-end image uploading.
- Change the capabilities of each user role regarding event management.
- Customize the event submission form.
- Manage advanced options like performance optimization and styling.
There are numerous options to deal with, while the good news is that the default settings are great for most users. So you can just browse through the options and change some that are different from your requirement.
The second tab is Pages. Here, you don’t have to touch the numerous options, either, but you need to choose between posts and pages for event display, and select an events page which is used to display the event list.
For the next two tabs – Formatting and Bookings, you can leave them for later customization if you want a quick start. The default settings are good. What you need to pay some attention are the options under the Emails tab. In the case you want to send email notifications, you have to fill in the sender name, sender address, and choose a sending method. For the sending method, we suggest using SMTP in order to prevent common email sending issues.
Step 2: Create your event
Now you can visit “Events” > “Add Event” to create a new event. On the editing screen, you will see a number of options. First of all, you have to enter a name for the event, change the permalink, and add the event content in the post editor. The content can be formatted like a usual WordPress post.
Under the post editor, there is a section for location. Here you can select a location created before, or create a new location by entering the location name, address, city and country. As long as the address field is filled in, a Google map will appear.
If your event does not come with a physical location, you can check the option on the top to disable location.
Scroll down and you will see an option for registration. You have to enable event registration by checking the option. Then there appear some configurations for tickets and event. You can edit the price of tickets, the total spaces, registration close date and more as you want.
You can also allow comments on the event in the “Discussion” section.
On the right side of the editing screen, you have to select the time for the event.
Next, you can add tags and categories to the event as you usually do with normal posts and pages, and add a featured image if needed. When these are done, you get the choices to preview the event, save it as a draft, or publish it directly.
Step 3: Stylize your event
The event created in Step 2 looks simple and basic. If you want to make it more appealing, you will need to learn some formatting skills. In fact, under the Formatting tab discussed in Step 1, the plugin author has offered some code snippets and shortcodes that you can use to beatify your events. Acquiring these simple skills helps much.
Besides all the free features mentioned above, there is also a paid add-on which comes with premium features like coupon code management, offline payment options, automated email reminders, custom registration forms, reCAPTCHA, and so on. This add-on is priced at $75 for a single site and $150 for 5 sites.