Have you ever wondered whether you could be handling registrations on your own, without the need for a registration platform?

Setting up your own race registration page on any website is surprisingly easy and can help you take control of your registration flow and revenue.

In this step-by-step tutorial we’ll show you how to set up an online registration page on your website without any technical skills in a few minutes and how you can turn registration from a cost to a revenue source.

But first, a few facts…

What makes up a registration page

If you already have experience with online registration platforms, you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of work that goes into setting up a registration page. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Registration pages are really simple things, in essence. There are only two components to them:

  1. A form you create so you can collect information from participants, such as their name, email, T-shirt size etc
  2. A payment processing service you bolt on so you can take entry fees from participants when they register

That’s it.

Setting up a registration page should feel effortless and only take a few minutes. If not, things are probably more complicated than they should be.

What you get charged for online registration

Whenever you use a registration platform, however costs may be presented, you always pay two fees: a payment processing fee and a platform fee.

The platform fee is what the registration platform charges you for using their registration software and varies from one provider to the next. Typically this ranges between 2%-6% of the gross entry fee.

The payment processing fee is what the payment processing service, like PayPal, Stripe etc, will charge to process a credit card or other payment and deposit money into your account. This fee is universal across all registration platforms. So, for example, if you use Stripe to process credit card payments, Stripe will charge you 2.9% + 30c per transaction, whether you’re taking registrations through Active, RunSignUp, Race Roster or anyone else.

There’s nothing you can do to avoid the payment processing fee. But, you can avoid paying the platform fee by setting up your own registration page.

To be clear, if you use any kind of online registration software there will always be some fee to pay. But instead of the 2%-6% fee charged by registration platforms, you can end up paying much less – or even make a profit – by using a DIY registration solution.

Setting up a registration page in 10 minutes

There’s a number of DIY registration tools you can use to set up your online registration page. We actually quite like Ticket Tailor for its ease of use, so that’s what we’ll be using for the purposes of this tutorial.

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💡 Does your website run on WordPress? If so, there’s a couple more options you could consider for your registration page.

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To demonstrate the steps involved in setting up a registration page, we’ll use the example of a made-up Super Awesome Running Festival with three separate races: a 5K, a 10K and a Half Marathon.

Step 1: Create an account

Sign up for a free account at tickettailor.com/race-directors.

Step 2: Enter your event info

Build your first event by entering your event name, date and a description. You can add images, like a race logo and cover image, and make the description as elaborate as you like, but some basic info is ok for now.

 

 

Step 3: Set up your entry fees

Add all your different race entry fees one by one. If you only have one race distance, you will only need one entry fee. We are setting up a running festival with a 5K, 10K and Half Marathon, so we’ll need three of these.

For each race, add a name, quantity of entries you’re selling and an entry price:

 

 

Boom! We’re done:

 

Step 4: Add booking fees

As we saw, between platform fees and payment processing fees, there’s between 5%-10% in registration charges that need to be paid during the registration process.

When it comes to these charges, most registration platforms will offer a choice:

  • Deduct the fees from your revenue, e.g. if a participant pays an entry fee of $100, $8 are deducted by the registration platform while you get the remaining $92, or
  • Pass on the fees to participants, so the participant pays $108 to cover both your $100 entry fee and the $8 of combined registration charges

Unsurprisingly, most race directors (71% of them, in fact) choose the latter option. So that’s what we’ll do here.

Ticket Tailor doesn’t charge a ticket fee on registrations. Instead, it lets you add a booking fee of your choice on entries you sell.

Under Advanced Settings for each of your entry fees, go ahead and add a booking fee:

 

 

So what should that fee be?

Well, the fee doesn’t have to be steep. Ticket Tailor, for example, charges a fixed annual subscription which typically amounts to less than 1% of entry fees. Add to that our payment processing and a total booking fee of 4%-5% should be more than enough to cover your costs.

A $3 booking fee on our $70 Half Marathon entry fee sounds reasonable and is still much lower that the typical surcharge a participant would face through a registration platform. We could increase the booking fee further and make some money on registration, but we’re happy to break even for now and pass the savings on to participants.

Step 5: Create your registration form

Next step in the process is building your registration form through the drag-and-drop editor:

 

 

You can customize your form to suit your needs and save it so you can use it on other events without having to rebuild it from scratch. But the important rules to remember are:

  1. Only ask for things you need to know. This is good both for user experience and user privacy.
  2. Ask for things in the most efficient way. Don’t ask for someone’s date of birth if all you need to know is their age on race day. Why give yourself the task of doing the math on his DOB? Ask directly for their age on race day instead.

Step 6: Enter your payment account details

Last thing you need to add is your Stripe and/or PayPal account details, so you can receive payments directly into your account:

 

 

Step 7: Launch your registration page!

That’s it. Switch your race from “draft” to “on sale”:

 

 

and you’ve got a live registration page!

 

 

You can take a look at the registration page we just built here. Feel free to click on the “BUY TICKETS” button to see the entry fees and registration form we created in action. Neat?

Embedding registration on your website

What if you want to add the entire registration flow to your own website? You can easily do that with embed codes:

 

 

First, customize how you want the registration form to look on your website and, when you’re done, use the HTML code to embed it on any page of your website. Users will now be able to complete the whole registration process from start to finish without leaving your website.

Advanced registration features

Once you have your basic registration page up and running, there are a few more things you could add to your registration flow, such as:

  • Price tiers to incentivize early registration (you can do this by adding different entry fees with their own expiration periods)
  • Participant donations for your cause or charity
  • Referral codes so you can implement your race ambassador or other referral programs

You can also track your sales through your event dashboard and integrate your Mailchimp account so that every new participant is added on your race mailing list for easy communications.

Final thoughts

Like so many of the DIY tutorials we do at Race Directors HQ, building your own registration page may not be for you. You may find, for example, you need more complicated features, like merchandising options or advanced fundraising features. The process we worked through above won’t be able to deliver that.

But if you’re like most events which need a user-friendly registration interface that pays money straight into your account and has enough behind-the-scenes firepower to let you track your sales and  run your referral programs, then DIY may indeed be the better option for you. You will save money that you can choose to keep or return to participants in lower fees or better value.

If you have a question or comment about anything discussed in this tutorial, leave us a comment below and we’ll be happy to help out. For more how-to guides and hands-on advice on improving and growing your event, don’t forget to take a look at our tutorials section.

 

READ NEXT: How to Promote Your Race: Our Ultimate Guide →

 

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