Case Study

How USC’s Dentistry School Brushed Up Its Event Registration Game

The University of Southern California’s Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry has been educating dentists and dental hygienists for 120 years — and they have a large community of students and alumni to show for it. To stay connected with its 10,000 active alumni, the school hosts dozens of events each year, from 50-person receptions to 500-seat formal dinners.

But registration for these events was far from friendly to the school’s community. Take an event like the Ostrow School’s annual scholarship dinner, for example. The 500-person event includes both students (who attend for free) and donors (who pay for their tickets).

To manage the two distinct types of guests and their two different price tiers, Barr and her staff took registrations by phone and email. Other issues — like international payments or dietary restrictions — were handled manually as well.

Ostrow’s Director of Events & Alumni Relations, Danielle Denise Barr, envisioned an event registration platform that could tailor the registration experience to each event’s specific needs. That way, she could showcase the variety of events the Ostrow School holds every year on one central landing page, without wasting her staff’s time on manual workarounds.

Photos by Misty Pelican Photography

The challenge: Handling complicated registrations while keeping admin simple

The University of Southern California is comprised of 22 independent schools and units. Each of those schools holds its own events, which range from small student meetings to major donor galas. Most of the time, guests buy tickets through USC’s central event platform. The problem? It’s a basic registration platform that doesn’t work well for the more complex events the Ostrow School of Dentistry was hosting.

“All you could do was check ‘Yes, I'm attending’ or ‘No, I'm not attending,’” says Barr. “If we were just having a simple reception or mixer, it would work — but for bigger events, it just did not suffice.”

It was possible to adjust the university’s platform a little to accommodate more complex events, but making those changes takes time: between one and seven business days, to be exact. Sometimes customizations come with additional costs as well.

“You have to submit a request and see if a modification can be made on their end,” says Barr. “If it is too complicated, then it requires a customization fee.” To avoid such delays and extra expenses, Barr and her staff turned to sub-par manual workarounds.

Barr wanted an event registration platform that allowed her to manage all of these kinds of details in one place. She wanted to free herself and her office staff from the time-consuming task of keeping track of all the moving parts of the registration process. Barr also wanted a central website for all the Ostrow School’s events, so that all of the relevant events would be transparent to students, alumni, and donors.

Barr began to search for a new platform with these three primary goals in mind:

- Create a single landing page for all the school’s events
- Find an easily customizable event registration platform
- Cut down on the amount of time her staff spent handling registration

By the numbers

  • 500

    The number of attendees at Ostrow’s biggest event

  • 2

    hours saved a week by cutting manual registrations

  • 2-7

    business days: how long it took to request a modification to USC’s event registration platform

Photos by Misty Pelican Photography

One landing page for all the school’s events

The search for an event registration platform led Ostrow to Eventbrite. When Barr saw its Communities websites offering, she knew it was the solution she'd been looking for.

Eventbrite Communities allows a group of event organizers to manage all of a community’s events on the same landing page. For the Ostrow school, that meant one branded website that listed their whole schedule of events, and the ability to create targeted pages for their primary communities (students and alumni).

“The Communities page met the need that we were looking for — to have a fun landing page for our alumni, students, and donors, where they can register for events, see event photos, and get more detailed information on speakers.”

– Danielle Denise Barr, Ostrow’s Director of Events & Alumni Relations.

Barr is not the only person who handles events for the Ostrow School. While she organizes alumni events, a colleague handles student events. Because Communities allows the website to have more than one administrator, both Barr and her co-worker can simultaneously post and manage their own events there. They can also create dedicated Communities for their own target audiences.

Photos by Misty Pelican Photography

A more robust registration experience

Sometimes one Ostrow event is actually three-in-one: a lecture, a cocktail reception, and a dinner all in one evening, for example. With Eventbrite, guests are no longer confined to a simple yes/no system and can pick and choose which segments they’d like to attend.

Eventbrite also allows Ostrow to create events with multiple registration options and discount codes that are only visible to certain guests. The students who attend Ostrow’s annual scholarship dinner, for example, have access to a discount code that lets them register for free — an option not available to the donor attendees.

Using Eventbrite, Ostrow can also tailor any secondary questions that are relevant to that specific event. That customization can be done by Barr and her colleagues when the event is set up in the platform.

“The buildout was so easy. The Eventbrite team made it very simple. Even if we need something customized at a higher level, the team is willing and helpful to help with modifications.”

– Danielle Denise Barr, Ostrow’s Director of Events & Alumni Relations

Another bonus to using the platform? Eventbrite also integrates directly with Boomset, an event managing software tool the Ostrow School uses to print badges at their events.

Saving staff members time

“Eventbrite saves us so, so much time,” Barr says. “We can go in and set something up in a matter of minutes. And with modifications, I don't have to wait and get approval for anything. I can do it all on my end and customize it completely.”

Before the Ostrow school started using Eventbrite, staff spent about two hours a week registering guests by hand. That work included taking phone calls, combing through inboxes to make sure no registrations had been missed, and chasing down data: names of guests, which events they are attending, any dietary restrictions, and their payment information.

Now that information is all included in one registration form and served to Barr in the Eventbrite Organizer app. The app lets her track attendees based on their specific tickets or registration types.

Barr’s favorite feature, though? She no longer has to wait to post an event or get approval to change it. She and her colleagues are in full control of their event registration process — when they’re ready to post an event, they can do it immediately and directly.

“Eventbrite saves us so, so much time. We can go in and set something up in a matter of minutes.”

– Danielle Denise Barr, Ostrow’s Director of Events & Alumni Relations

Photos by Misty Pelican Photography

An event platform that makes the Ostrow school smile

Since Ostrow has been using Eventbrite, the school’s Communities page has hosted about 12 events, almost all of which have sold out.

Next, Barr is planning a series of lectures that will take place in different parts of California. She’s looking forward to listing those events on the Communities page so alumni can browse the events and decide which they’d like to attend. With the lectures off-campus, Barr also plans to take advantage of Eventbrite’s robust promotional features to reach audiences nationwide.

For Barr, though, the best thing about Ostrow’s partnership with Eventbrite has been how easy it’s been. There’s no waiting for an event to be posted, staff members are no longer digging through their inboxes and replaying voicemails to make sure they haven’t missed an event registration or a change to an existing one, and events can be changed at will, as needed.

“Eventbrite just offers so much flexibility for us and it’s very user-friendly as well,” says Barr. “Everyone in the department has been able to access it and make modifications if need be.”

man on phone

Are you ready to increase your registration or ticket sales?

or give us a call at (855) 326-9945

Powered three million events in 2017.

Eventbrite brings the world together through live experiences. More than 700,000 organizers used Eventbrite in 2017 to drive ticket sales, promote and manage events, handle on-site operations, and analyze results across multiple sales channels.

© 2019 Eventbrite. All Rights Reserved.