Recently, I was browsing the website of a conference at which I’m presenting and saw a link to a list of registrants. One click later, I possessed a nice Excel spreadsheet containing the names, companies, and “badge type” for the seven hundred attendees. Hmmm. At the bottom of the spreadsheet, I noticed a second tab: “Sheet1″. Clicking on that showed a smaller list of a hotel chain’s participants that included emails. Yikes!
This got me thinking about who gets our conference information when we register. Personally, my contact information is scattered all over the internet; it would be hard not to find my email, office phone, and mailing address with a quick search. But I doubt that many conference attendees share my promiscuous nature.
I suspect that many conference participants don’t want their information freely handed out to all and sundry. Practitioners of a conference topic or field usually don’t want to be bombarded with emails and calls from suppliers of products and services relevant to their profession (and even less, communications from vendors in whom they have no interest). But most of us have seen this happen more than we’d like.
Yet there is seldom a clear explanation when we register for an event as to how the information we are required to give to register may be used by the conference organizers, sponsors, trade show participants, app developers, etc. What might these parties do with it? If they are contracted by the organizers, are there any restraints on what can be shared or sold to third parties?
As a conference facilitator, I’ve always been given access to attendee registrations. But I’ve never been asked to sign an NDA for the information I’m privy to.
These days, when a registration list can be converted in a few minutes into data for a bulk email, mail, or phone campaign, we need to start thinking about these questions and coming up with some answers. Event organizers and planners need to take responsibility for the data they obtain, and clearly communicate when asking for it how it may be used.
Otherwise, attendees may start registering using this. And that would be a shame.
Does it bother you that you don’t know how your registration information will be used? What are you doing at your events so that attendees know who will have access to their information?
Photo attribution: Flickr user valpearl