If you’ve ever registered for a large conference (e.g., an association’s annual conference), you’ve probably seen this question on the registration form. And you know what? I hate this question.
As a data person, what this question says to me is, “Even if you’ve attended this meeting in the past, we don’t know who you are.” And that’s a terrible message to send to your members and customers. Suppose I’ve attended your annual event 10 times? Should you really be asking me if this is my first time attending? NO! You should know that I’ve attended 10 times.
Ideally, your registration system (whether it’s your AMS or something else) should know who I am, and know if I’ve attended this event in the past, thus rendering the question moot. And even if your system does NOT know if I’ve attended in the past, don’t ask the question; take the time to compare the current registration list to past lists and figure it out yourself. Otherwise you’re just broadcasting that you don’t know who your best customers are.