Who gets my information when I register at an event?
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 freely available; 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 conference organizers, sponsors, trade show participants, app developers, etc. can use the information we give at registration. What might these parties do with it? If they are contractors, are there any restraints on sharing or selling to third parties?
As a conference facilitator, I’ve always had access to attendee registrations. But no one has ever asked me to sign an NDA for the information I’m privy to.
These days, when you can convert a registration list in a few minutes into data for a bulk email, mail, or phone campaign, let’s start thinking about these questions and coming up with some answers. Event organizers and planners: take responsibility for requested data, and clearly communicate how you will use it.
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