Planning events can be a very complicated process. Whether it’s a small seminar for 15 people, a conference for 4000 or a team building day for your colleagues – the same stages of event organisation come into play each time. Event managers are increasingly turning to technology to manage part or all of their event planning. This article examines some of the popular event software in use within the industry and discusses how it can benefit event planners and help manage more cost effective, efficient events.
Once the initial plan has been created and you know what your event is and where it will be, you need to manage your delegates. In order to get people to attend your event there must be some form of event promotion along with targeted invitations. Once people are aware of your event, they need to be able to register in an easy, fuss free way.
Technology and events are coming together more and more, enabling some of the more time consuming areas, such as invitation management to be automated. Using event software means that event managers can spend more time on value added areas such as speaker management and press relations.
One of the most popular modern event software applications is e-marketing, which is the use of email to promote your events. Email marketing has rapidly developed into a sophisticated event software tool and it is now a valid and respected method of promoting your event and sending out invites. Email marketing has many benefits over traditional, print invites;
- Email invitations save you time and money – There is no cap on the number of people you can send the e-invite to and no charges per invite or contact. Using the ‘Forward to a Friend’ feature means that your invite can reach relevant people who aren’t on your contact lists.
- Email event related updates – Attendees get automatic registration confirmations. You can even send automatic updates, reminders, and post-event follow-ups. Automating the updates and reminders allows you to get on with the more complex parts of managing your event, safe in the knowledge that the email technology is looking after your delegates.
- Integrate your email marketing tool with your CRM or database – Email marketing tools can integrate seamlessly with your office systems and CRM packages. Integration with applications such as Salesforce, Microsoft Office Outlook, Excel, Microsoft Dynamics and ACT means that you don’t have to duplicate data or manage your lists in two places – all your data stays exactly where it is, with the email marketing tool integrating directly with no intervention from you or your IT department.
- Get instant reports – See who opened your email invite, who deleted the invite without opening it, who registered, who has paid and more. View useful event reports or export the data for further analysis, allowing you to constantly enhance your invites and messaging, helping you to improve results with each event.
Email marketing tools are now one of the most cost effective and sophisticated ways of promoting your event. No other software tool allows you to monitor reactions to your invite, send automated updates and update your CRM with relevant information. Taking these jobs off your hands allows you to concentrate on other aspects of event management, meaning that you get a more streamlined and efficient planning process, giving you a higher ROI on the events you manage.
Event Software to Manage Online Registration Once you’ve sent out your email invitations, you need to ensure that delegates can register easily. Not only that, but as event managers you need to make sure that you extract the vital information you require from each delegate that registers. The most effective way of managing this process is to allow delegates to register online via your own website.
There are many event software tools available that allow you to create customisable forms which integrate seamlessly in your website. Having delegate registration forms on your own site, rather than on a third party, portrays a feeling of trust and a reputable quality about your events. You don’t want to send delegates to a third party site to register as this eliminates your business website from the process and means you missing out on valuable website traffic.
Having fully customisable forms means that you can create a bespoke registration process for each event you host. Some events may require just a name and contact details, whereas others may require specific information and even instant payment.
Can you take payment online using your existing event process? Enabling delegates to pay online, using a secure system, instantly eliminates any payment issues later on. Online payment software should offer a facility which allows your delegates to choose their preferred method of payment using a variety of leading online payment engines, such as’ Worldpay, Protix, Google pay, Paypal etc, via a secure website. At the same time, reputable event registration applications should provide two way integration from your internal financial application; allowing payment & invoice transactions to be filtered back into your accounts system.
Integrating your online web form with your CRM and finance systems means that all data is captured and all systems are automatically updated. No longer will you need to manage delegate information on a variety of spreadsheets; your CRM will be updated, meaning that the latest information is always available to everyone who may require it.
If you host the same event on a regular basis, you can set up your online registration as a template – all you need to do it change the date and it is ready for your next event!
Using technology to manage your planning can really help you save time and money. There are software applications that can provide you with these tools individually. Alternatively, you can invest in an ‘all-in-one’ type application that will provide you with a full end to end event management software solution. These solutions help you to manage every aspect, including:
- Website integration: Seamlessly integrate with your existing website without the need to re-design or re-brand,
- Registration management: Fully customisable online booking forms ensuring you capture the most relevant information from your delegates,
- Invitation Management: Comprehensive, easy to use integrated invitation management tool,
- Email Marketing: Powerful, integrated & fully functional email marketing tool you are able to send highly targeted email campaigns marketing to the relevant delegate audience,
- Badge Production: Produce personalised delegate badges pre or during the event with ease,
- Resource Management: Simply manage & allocate all resources through a comprehensive calendar feature, providing you with total control of all aspects of the event planning process,
- Payment Processing: Offering a variety of options to allow your delegates to securely pay online with confidence,
- Event Reporting: Determining the true ROI from your event can be determined & managed through powerful reporting & analysis suite, enabling you to simply & quickly drill down to the event data in just a matter of seconds,
- Survey & Feedback Tools: Integrated & automated feedback management tool, allowing you to action the opportunities from your events immediately.
If you plan events on a regular basis, you can no longer ignore the benefits of event software. Whether you choose to automate just one part of the process, or utilise the benefits of a full event management software application, is up to you. Either way, any way that technology can remove some of the manual processes you undertake when planning an event, results in a more streamlined and efficient event planning process, giving you a more cost effective and superior final event.