Event registration can play a surprisingly critical role in the success of any event, big or small. While people often get caught up in other aspects of event planning, such as selecting the right venue or vendors or scripting out the event itself, choosing the right event registration system can have a ripple effect (good or bad) on all of these other elements of organizing your event.
While there are a variety of event registration websites available for event planners, the costs of premium features may be prohibitive to some, especially for smaller or more informal events. This leads many event hosts to turn to Google Forms as a free event registration alternative. For nearly a decade, Google Forms has functioned as a remarkably effective survey and information-collection tool, and the fact that is free for use has only bolstered its popularity further. It’s no surprise that it has often been an option for event registration over the past decade.
However, should you use Google Forms for your event registration process? The answer isn’t a simple yes or no. Instead, let’s consider some of the obvious Pros and Cons of using Google Forms for event registration, and why the best answer might actually be yes and no.
The most obvious benefit to using Google Forms for event registration is the the cost – there is none. All you need is an active Google account to serve as the hub for your form, and then you can create and utilize all of the essential features of Google Forms without needing to spend a dime. This reason alone is a major benefit for individuals, NPOs, or event planners looking to host informal or smaller events that don’t need a professional or branded feel. Why spend your limited (or non-existent) budget on event registration when you can conserve it for the event itself?
Part of the reason Google Forms has been so ubiquitous in fields from education to business to personal party planning is due to how user-friendly the interface was designed to be. After being updated a few years ago, Forms offers an easy drag-and-drop interface, the ability to create a variety of question types (such as polls, or even video prompts) easily, and the ability to automatically create data spreadsheets to store and sort responses that can be shared or exported with a click. You can easily toggle privacy settings, the ability to collect email addresses or solicit responses anonymously, the ability to lock the form after submission or allow for edited or multiple responses, and more from the settings menu. And you can easily duplicate and edit the form for repeated or recurring events without needing to start from scratch each time. There’s a lot to be said for the convenience of using this tool for your event registration form, especially if you are daunted by more feature-heavy event management software.
In addition to the convenience offered to event hosts in cost savings and simplicity, there’s also an added benefit to using a solution that most of your attendees will likely already be familiar with as well. Since so many people see Google Forms on a weekly or daily basis as part of their jobs, using Google Forms for event registration requires little to no learning curve or “tech support” for your potential attendees. Additionally, since the Form can either be sent directly via email or added as a link to an online invitation, users won’t need to sign up for anything to complete their event registration process (unless you require them to). Sparing your guests an annoying sign-up or registration process can potentially increase your response and attendance rate.
Yes, we realize this was also listed as a benefit. However, the simplistic nature of Google Forms is also a hindrance for event planners looking to provide either a more customized or more branded event registration system. Integration with other tools (such as custom QR codes) involve either multiple steps or workarounds, or adding Google extensions to Chrome that sometimes don’t integrate with Forms as seamlessly as you’d hope. Other important event management processes such as selling tickets online, collecting detailed online RSVPs, or mass communicating with guests also involve additional steps that may cause more hassle on your end than it’s worth. If you anticipate needing some of these more robust event management features, you may want to consider spending the extra money for a more customizable event management software solution.
Forms offers only limited options for customizing the actual form design, meaning you can’t have your graphic designers transform it into an enterprise-level appearance. You won’t be able to significantly change the layout, add professional multimedia features, or white-label your event registration process using Forms. While this may not matter for more informal events, for corporate events or traditional events such as weddings, sending out a standard form may be considered tacky at best or unprofessional at worst. If you want to create a process that gives a memorable first impression, reflects the theme or integrity of the event itself, or simply want to create a unique event registration experience, you’ll want to explore event registration software with a greater array of customization options.
While Google Forms has made its name on being reliable and easy to use (otherwise why would it be so widely utilized?), like any other tool from a major corporation, tech support is limited to standard customer service streams. This means that you will likely experience significant waits for any specific event registration setup question, or be forced to turn to 3rd-party help articles to try and find workarounds to add needed functionality to your event registration form. While this may not be an issue for some, for others who want dedicated support services, this is another reason to consider an enterprise-level event registration platform