Determining & Accepting Registration Fees

Registration fees are the main source of revenue for most conferences. It is important to set fees that will cover the cost of running the conference and attract the most number of attendees.

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Where to Begin

To begin, determine the registration types associated with the conference. Once established, the conference has to estimate the anticipated revenue and expenses associated with the conference. 

When setting registration fees, consider the following:

  • Prior year’s registration fees
  • Exhibitor income and sponsorship income
  • Previous attendance numbers
  • Anticipated expenses, such as food and beverage, hotel 
  • Fees for registration services
  • Local taxes and fees, such as value-added tax (VAT), or goods and services tax (GST)
  • Sister Society Partnerships (information regarding partnerships can be found on the website)

Establishing Registration Fee Types

Begin by clearly defining the registration fees associated with each type of attendee. 

In accordance with Policy 10.1.15, all registration fees must abide by the following:

  • IEEE member/non-member registration fee differential of 20% or above for all financially sponsored conferences. 
  • Conferences where IEEE is the sole sponsor must have a reduced fee for Life Members no more than that for Students.
Category Fee
Member The base registration fee for the conference
Non-member 20% or more than the member registration fee paid in advance or on site. A benefit of membership is reduced fees at conferences, so you want to charge non-members more than members.
Sponsoring organization (IEEE) Equal to or less than the member registration fee. You may provide a reduced fee to members of the sponsoring organization to encourage members from their organization to attend.
Co-sponsoring organizations (non-IEEE) Equal to or greater than the member registration fee. You may provide a reduced fee to members of the sponsoring organization to encourage members from their organization to attend.
Student member Reduced or waived fees. Required where IEEE is the sole sponsor.
Life member Reduced or waived fees. Required where IEEE is the sole sponsor. The registration fee for a Life member must be the same or less than the Student member fee

Students (non-members

Unemployed IEEE members

Retired IEEE members

Special VIP guests

Reduced or waived fees. Reduced fees for these groups is at the discretion of the Conference Committee of the sponsoring organization.
Non-members who join IEEE The difference between a member fee and a non-member fee paid by the attendee can be applied toward membership enrollment in IEEE.

Offer Early Discounted Fees

An early discounted rate is typically offered before the full registration fee goes into effect. There are many benefits to offering discounts not just for the attendee but for the conference as well.

  • Reward: Attendees are rewarded for early registration with access to popular sessions and keynote speeches.
  • Buzz: As attendees register early, this provides more time for them to promote your conference to other colleagues and friends.
  • Marketing Evaluation: Based on the number of registrations during the early discounted rate time period, marketers can evaluate their efforts and determine if a further push is necessary.

Quick tips: Never extend the deadline for the early discounted rate and ensure you market the early rate as much and as often as possible.

Cancellation/Refund Policy

Clearly state the refund policy on the registration form and conference website and in the registration-confirmation letter.

Typical refund policies:

  • Fees are refundable within 30 days of registration.
  • Refunds are made within seven to ten days of receiving the cancellation.
  • If a cancellation is made within 30 days of the start of the conference, the refund is made after the event.
  • The refund is reduced by a small fee, usually US$50 to US$100, to cover the administrative costs of processing and refunding a registration.

Establishing Payment Processing

Today, almost all conferences collect the vast majority of their registration funds online via credit card. There are 4 main components needed to execute this, all of which are offered by IEEE to conference organizers:

  • A front-end, customer-facing payment portal on your conference website
  • A payment gateway, like or CyberSource, to authorize the payment
  • A merchant account, for collection of registration funds
  • Your conference bank account, for funds to ultimately settle into and for use in making conference disbursements

Learn more about IEEE’s Registration offerings, which include the use of a payment gateway.


If you decide to use a registration provider other than CEE, it’s important that they comply with IEEE policy and can deliver an output suitable for an audit. 

Reconciling Registration

An important component of the registration process is performing a reconciliation. This involves confirming that all funds that the conference was expected to receive based on the registration report have actually been deposited into the conference bank account. This task should be performed by the Treasurer and/or by the vendor contracted to provide registration services. For more information on registration reconciliation, watch this short video:

We Are Here to Help

If you have questions about determining and accepting registration fees, please contact the CEE team.