Guests, invitations and registration

 

Event invitations are an important part of event promotion and planning. In many cases, they are the primary way to get the word out about an event and can help drive event attendance and ticket sales.

Invitations should be sent four to six weeks before the event. Any less than two weeks is not desirable as the event organizer/university appears disorganized, or invitees may perceive that the invitation is not sincere or that they are on a ‘B’ list.

NOTE: Invitations for government announcements are often sent out only one to two weeks or days before an event, but in these cases, it is out of the event planners’ control.

Preparing your guest list

Start with creating a Master Guest List (MGL) to identify the various guests you want to invite to your event. Noting the broad groups will remind you of the range of individuals that should be invited. Circulate your master guest list for input, feedback and approval from each stakeholder. 

SFU internal guests to consider inviting to high profile events:

  • Chancellor
  • President 
  • Board chair
  • Board of Governors (BOG)
  • Vice-presidents, deans and extras (e.g. associate VPs and executive directors of the Surrey and Vancouver campuses)
  • Select honorary degree recipients (HDR)
  • SFU alumni board members
  • Alumni (consult with Alumni Relations office)
  • Chairs, directors
  • Faculty, staff, students
  • Co-op students (consult with Work Integrated Learning (WIL))
  • Student ambassadors
  • First nations representatives
  • Aboriginal elder
  • Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) leaders
  • SFU Community Trust board
  • Retirees
  • SFU Surrey Community Advisory Council
  • SFU-India Advisory Council (IAC)

SFU external guests to consider inviting:

  • Sponsors
  • Donors (consult with University Advancement)
  • Prospective donors (consult with University Advancement)
  • Government representatives. Consult with SFU
  • Government Relations or SFU Ceremonies and Events  (C&E) for protocol if you decide to invite government representatives (e.g. MPs, MLAs, premier, ministers, lieutenant governor, opposition leader)
  • Family/friends of guest(s) of honour
  • Media (depending on nature of event)
  • Community partners
  • Co-op employers (consult with WIL)
  • Parents
  • Institutional partners
  • Friends of the university
  • School districts
  • BC university and college presidents/chancellors

If C&E has the capacity to assist with your event, they can help you draft an MGL and submit your data request. Please contact Gloria Chu, Director at open@sfu.ca to enquire. 

* Event-Master-Guest-List-Template.doc
Download a sample Master Guest List (MGL)

Invitation content

Include the following key information in your event invitation:

  • Compelling subject line, max 40-50 characters (evites only)
  • Eye-catching header/cover image
  • Event name
  • Brief statement about the event
  • Date
  • Time
  • Location, directions, parking and alternative transportation information
  • Contact information for enquiries
  • Registration info/link and registration deadline
  • Ticket prices
  • Dress code
  • SFU logo(s)
  • List of sponsors/partners and logos
  • Social media hashtag
  • Link to website for more information
  • Other information as applicable

 

Print invitations

Print invitations are used when you want to be able to save a physical copy of your invitation for archival purposes and can indicate that the event is of significant importance. Your invited guests can also keep it as a memorabilia piece. 

Invitations can be printed by SFU’s Document Solutions or an external vendor. SFU Document Solutions request a minimum of one week turnaround time for print projects. 

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Electronic invitations

Electronic invitations are more commonly used as they are cost effective, environmentally sustainable and allow for your guests to easily register online once they receive their invitation. Campaigner is the tool we use to send out electronic invitations.

Download sample evites below.

Campaigner

SFU departments can use an online tool called Campaigner to create and design electronic invitations. Campaigner is an email marketing tool that allows you to:

  • Create HTML emails and invitations
  • Schedule distribution 
  • Manage your contact list and newsletter signup forms
  • Track the success of your emails based on open/click rates. 

 

SFU has an enterprise subscription to Campaigner and the subscription cost is covered by IT Services, meaning the service is free for you to use. Sign up for a Campaigner account and learn more about how to use the program on SFU's Communications & Marketing’s website.

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Invitation approval process

Ensure you plan time to circulate your invitation for input, feedback and approval from each stakeholder. If your invitation lists the president as the host of the event, in addition to internal departmental approval, you will also need approval of the invitation by your Vice-President (VP). After your VP has approved the invitation, please forward the invitation to the President’s Office at dpo@sfu.ca to obtain final approval.

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Registration and tracking

To track registrations, it is recommend that you create an online reply form to collect guest information. 

When taking registrations, consider the following:

  • Are the invitees permitted to bring a guest? If so, how many?
  • Do the guests have any dietary restrictions that you would need to pass onto the caterer?
  • Are you preparing nametags for the event? If yes, would you like to display additional info such as company name, alumni degree, etc.?
  • Do your guests have accessibility requirements? 
  • If it is a sit-down meal, are there seating preferences?
  • What information do you need to display on your reply form? 
  • Is it a public or private event? Can anyone register to come?
  • How many registrations can you take (consider your venue capacity and attrition)?

What to include in a registration form: 

  • Prefix
  • First name
  • Last name
  • Title
  • Department
  • Company
  • Email
  • Attendance – Yes/No
  • Comments (e.g. dietary restrictions, accessibility needs, etc.)

 

Other possible fields:

  • Preferred name
  • Guest first name
  • Guest last name
  • Guest dietary restrictions/ accessibility needs 
  • Address
  • City
  • Province
  • Postal code
  • Country
  • Phone
  • How did you hear about this event?

Registration form best practices:

  • Set up an automated email response that generates upon submitting the reply form to summarize event registration details
  • Include SFU branding
  • Thoroughly proofread and test your registration form before making it ‘live’ and have two or three people assist with proofreading and testing

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What to do when you reach event capacity:

  • Start a waitlist
  • Close the registration page
  • Add a message to the Eventbrite page or website to inform guests that the event has reached capacity

Registration tools 

SFU offers three survey tools to collect event guest registrations: Eventbrite, SurveyMonkey and WebSurvey. 

Eventbrite

Eventbrite is an event management and ticketing website that allows users to browse, create and promote local events. The ticketing software can be used to track registrations for free or paid events. For most events, this is what C&E uses to collect registrations.

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SurveyMonkey 

SurveyMonkey is user-friendly, online tool to create consistent looking surveys. Survey Monkey can be used to collect registrations for free events or to survey event attendees following an event.

 

WebSurvey 

WebSurvey is a tool for creating basic surveys.

 

Tracking tools 

It is important to utilize a systematic and organized method to track registrations. You will need accurate registration information to provide final numbers to your caterer and venue and to ensure you have a nametag for everyone. Keep your registration system simple, consistent and up to date.

Excel

If you are tracking your own registrations, you can use Microsoft Excel to create a table to track the responses from your guests based on the fields of information you requested on your registration form.

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Blackbaud

If C&E is helping you track registrations for your event, it will be using Blackbaud (BB), a Client Resource Management software.