Using Digital Waivers to Streamline Association Events

A man and woman at a check-in desk for an event

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Logan Lewis


In 2023, 49% of associations reported an increase in membership. This is a significant increase from 2021, in which only 26% of associations saw an increase. While some of this growth was due to market changes, associations say that members are excited to attend events in person, meet with fellow professionals, and get involved in the organization.

Take advantage of this positive trend by implementing innovative ideas and strategies, growing your digital presence, and hosting exciting, valuable events. To help you keep the momentum going, we’ll discuss some of the top ways to use digital waivers and other technology to streamline your events. 

Let’s get started!

Top Benefits of Using Digital Waivers for Events

There are a few reasons your association may need waivers at its event. Waivers are essential for the following scenarios:

  • Volunteers will be doing tasks that involve risk, such as lifting heavy objects like chairs and tables. 
  • Attendees will be participating in physical activities. For example, Smartwaiver’s guide on activity waivers recommends using these for charity races to help protect the organization from liability. 
  • Your association is taking photos and needs to obtain a photo release to use the images on social media, your website, or in future promotional materials.

As you plan your fundraiser, conference, or other event, consider going paperless by using digital waivers instead of traditional forms. Here are some of the ways that digital forms can streamline your events and give attendees more positive experiences:

Reduced check-in traffic.

Congested check-in desks are dreaded by event organizers and attendees alike, and they can feel unavoidable. However, using digital waivers and forms can help you combat long lines at registration. 

You can share links to your digital waiver ahead of time so attendees can read and sign them before they even enter your conference hall. In addition to trimming check-in down to just a minute or two, allowing attendees to complete waivers ahead of time can:

  • Allow attendees to make more informed decisions. When attendees can sign the waiver at home, they’re more likely to read it thoroughly. This way, they’ll have a better understanding of the risks involved, photo release clauses, and any additional warnings or information (e.g., the potential for food allergens to be present).
  • Improve accessibility. Digital waivers are more flexible than paper forms, allowing attendees who need special accommodations to engage with them. For example, users can brighten their screen, increase text size and contrast, and use screen readers. They can also quickly translate the waiver into another language if needed.
  • Relay important marketing insights. Use the number of complete waivers as a way to estimate attendance on the day of the event. If you share links to the waiver, you can also gauge how many users engage with your marketing campaigns and communication channels. For example, if most attendees clicked through to the waiver from a social media post, you can conclude that those attendees have a preferred communication channel and your social media campaign was successful.

Sharing links to your online waiver or baking it into the event registration process will ensure that most attendees sign before the event. However, you can accommodate those who forget by posting scannable QR codes that link to the form or using on-site kiosks. Set up a separate table to avoid slowdowns. 

Obtaining electronic signatures.

Imagine that you’re registering for a conference online. You complete the registration form, pay for your ticket, and receive the confirmation email. However, the next step involves printing and signing a waiver, grinding the process to a halt. 

Getting electronic signatures from attendees is much quicker and easier, and they can do it from their desktops, laptops, or smartphones. This streamlines the registration process, improves attendee experiences, and event boosts attendance. When registering is so simple, more attendees will complete the process and come to the event. 

Additionally, electronic waivers and signatures can be more secure (and just as legally binding) as traditional paper waivers. Make sure to choose a quality software provider with stringent security features like encryption, two-factor authentication, and certificates of authenticity for each form. Protecting sensitive data will inspire more trust with your members, and you can rest assured that each signature is valid and remains unchanged.

Real-time access to data.

One of the top pain points with paper forms at events is storing and locating them. For example, let’s say an attendee gets injured at your event and you need to quickly locate their waiver. You’ll waste time sorting through every other waiver to find it rather than resolving the situation.

Digital waivers are stored in a virtual database, not a filing cabinet. This allows you to search for the attendee’s name, the date they signed the form, or the name of the event to quickly locate their waiver. Additionally, you can include the following questions or fields in your digital waiver to personalize the event to each attendee:

  • Which speakers or topics are you most interested in? Learn about attendees’ interests and then have volunteers recommend sessions or activities they are most interested in. For example, recommend a workshop about improving bedside manner to a member of a healthcare association who is passionate about positive patient experiences. 
  • How did you hear about this event? See which of your marketing messages attracted the most attendees. List options like your website, social media, association meetings, and referrals from friends or colleagues. 
  • Are you a member of our association? Some attendees may not be current members of your association. Make note of registrants who answer “no” to this question. Welcome them to the event with brochures about your organization or pair them with a volunteer who can help them navigate the event. Then, send them special follow-up communications inviting them to become a member.

These data points can also help you streamline and improve future events. Make note of attendees’ interests and take them into account for next time. Reach out to attendees with personalized invitations to your next event that mention their interests—you can even prefill the registration form with their information so signing up is as convenient as possible.

Other Ways to Streamline Events with Technology

Using digital waivers is a great way to streamline registration and provide personalized experiences to your attendees. Here are some other tools to make your events more organized and efficient:

  • Association management software (AMS): Your AMS can help you manage member relationships, revenue development, data analysis, and event planning. Protech recommends choosing a solution with event management features like online self-serve registration, automated meeting setup tools, and data collection and tracking tools. 
  • Volunteer management app: To ensure all of your volunteers are on the same page and can perform their roles effectively, consider using a volunteer management tool to connect them. Look for software that automates repetitive tasks like scheduling and has messaging and notification features. 
  • Data analysis solutions: Accurately track event performance, determine better ways to engage members, and craft compelling, personalized experiences for attendees. For example, tools like Google Analytics help you track users across multiple communication channels so you can follow (and enhance) their journeys.

You may occasionally need more specialized event tools. For example, if you are holding an auction fundraiser, you’ll need features to manage bids and host your auction catalog. If your event is virtual or hybrid, you’ll need some kind of video conferencing tool like Zoom. 

Members are excited about attending events, enhancing their skills, and building their networks. Make attending your events as convenient and enjoyable as you can with streamlined registration processes and tailored recommendations. You’ll build a legacy of top-tier, engaging events that current and potential members get excited about year after year.

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Logan Lewis
Content Coordinator

Logan Lewis is the Content Coordinator at Smartwaiver, the leading digital waiver service trusted by thousands of organizations around the world.

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