Anyone who has ever put on a great event knows its success is never coincidental. A financially successful event takes not only sound planning and execution, but a strong event strategy that includes an online registration system and payment processor. Both technologies working hand-in-hand let people register and pay for your event all within one transaction.

With the fall event season just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about what you can do to take your events to the next level.

Online registration is a great way to ensure success because it removes the labor-intensive and time-consuming process of managing registrant details. It also allows you to capture registrant information and payments 24/7 and at the leisure of your attendees. If there are fees for your event, it’s recommended to collect these fees with a payment processor such as PayPal.

Here are 6 best practices that will help you ensure financial success at your next event:

1. Time-value of money (TVM)

The time-value of money is a fundamental concept in finance. It states that money available in the present is worth more than money available in the future. This simple principle should influence all of your financial decisions.

Collecting fees during registration is a good financial decision because it can assist you in forecasting revenue projections leading up to the event. It also gives you the luxury of receiving monies in advance for a variety of event-related activities such as securing a venue, food & beverage (catering), transportation, giveaways, speakers, audio/visual equipment, paying vendors etc.

2. Payment solutions

Storing credit card information in emails and spreadsheets is a no no! Collecting fees during registration avoids the security risks that can arise from managing and storing credit card information on your computer. That’s why choosing the right payment process is an important decision. A good example of a well-known online payment processor is PayPal. Once you set up your PayPal account, everything will effortlessly work within an online registration system..

NOTE: Within PayPal, you’ll need either a Business or Premier account to accept credit card payments. Both account types are free.

3. Commitment in advance

There are three universal constants that I know of: death, taxes, and guaranteed attrition at your next event. Don’t be afraid to charge a fee for your events. There is plenty of evidence to show that the word “free” can convey a lack of value. Even if you charge $1 at the time of registration, you’re getting a firm commitment from those individuals that they are likely to attend your event.

4. Refund or cancel policy

When collecting fees to attend your event, it’s always good to include a refund policy. This policy should be clearly visible to your registrants. It can be placed within the RSVP, the event landing page, and/or your website. If you decide to have a “no refund” policy, it too should be properly posted for anyone paying for your event. If your event includes donations, describe any tax implications for deductions. Let your audience know exactly what can be written off for tax purposes.

5. Tracking/Reporting

One of the most important, but less obvious benefits of using an online registration system combined with a payment processor is the tracking and reporting. These types of tools help track the progress of your event through a series of dashboards and reports. At any point during your event, you can determine where you are with attendance and payments at a quick glance. You can also view registrant details and payment status and export out a report and view it in Excel.

6. At the event

Another excellent best practice when charging fees for your event is to offer different payment options during registration. This might include pay-by-credit-card, pay-at-door, and/or pay-by-check payment options. Once at the event, you can use a mobile card reader like PayPal Here, which involves a small piece of plastic that plugs into the headphone jack of your iPhone, iPad, or Android device. This allows you to collect fees at the event in real-time.