Planning an event of any kind takes organization, teamwork, and a lot of manpower. However, one of the most important elements you should include in your event planning process is something that might be easy to take for granted at times: Event planning software.
Event planning software can help your team streamline all sorts of event planning tasks, from registration to event engagement.
So, what kind of events could benefit from event planning software? They can range from seminars and conferences, to university alumni events, to recruiting events for businesses. By taking advantage of event planning software, you can keep your data organized and up-to-date with real-time reporting, seamlessly process last-minute changes, and simplify your overall procedure.
Simply put, it’s imperative that organizations invest in the right solution before diving into planning their next event. In this article, we’ll take a look at the following:
- Event Planning Software: Understanding the Basics
- Essential Event Planning Software Features
- Making the Most of Your Event Planning Software
- Event Planning Software for Every Organization
- How to Choose the Right Event Planning Software
Planning an event can be a challenge, but with the right event planning software, you can not only improve your process, but also turn your overall event into your most successful yet. Check out these explanations so that you can find the best solution for your needs!
1. Event Planning Software: Understanding the Basics
With event planning software, you typically want a solution that can do it all. More specifically, you want to ensure that the most important tasks you’re undertaking can be streamlined. Without a robust system, some of these key tasks will quickly become tedious, which will slow down your overall planning process and potentially run the risk of facing more obstacles down the road.
For modern events that provide strong, positive experiences for guests both before and during the big day, these elements should be at the forefront of the software you select:
- Registration. By using event planning software, you can simplify your registration process, while still including the text fields to capture data you need from your registrants. A robust system should allow you to customize your registration form, prevent mistakes, and also help you make a great impression.
- Ticketing. Simplify your ticketing process by incorporating eTickets into your system. If you’re selling tickets to your event, you can automate the process of creating and emailing electronic tickets to attendees. Attendees can then show their tickets on their mobile devices for an easy check-in process.
- Payment processing. It’s less efficient to purchase a form builder and process payments separately through another service, such as PayPal. Find an event planning tool that allows you to accept payments through the event form itself and make the process more convenient for everyone involved.
It’s important to find a robust software solution that can be tailored to meet your organization’s specific needs and the requirements of your event. Keep these key elements in mind as you shop around for event planning software and ensure that your top contenders account for all of them.
2. Essential Event Planning Software Features
When investing in event planning software, it’s important to think about what your organization specifically needs, as mentioned before. However, there are several core features you should look for. Without these features at the center of your process, you could encounter organizational issues, especially with your data.
The main features you shouldn’t compromise on are event registration forms, attendee data management, real-time reporting, event apps, and support.
Event Registration Forms
This form allows attendees to register for your event and provide their contact and payment information. You need this for easy registration, of course, but also so you can keep your data organized and easily accessible. This will give you the ability to modify it when necessary, too.
When looking for registration form builders, it’s important to have a tool that allows you to build customized, mobile-optimized forms. That way, you can personalize the form with your branding, as well as include a combination of text boxes, dropdown lists, etc. You also want it to be easy for attendees to access on their mobile devices, and for your registration form to include a payment processing option, keeping everything conveniently in one place.
Attendee Data Management
Attendee data management is a key feature that allows you to keep your attendee data organized. When changes occur with your event’s schedule, it’s important that you can stay on top of them and communicate with your attendees about the change.
There are a few must-haves you should look for with this feature, like the ability to send event updates or reminders to your attendees, as well as track their payments, refunds, and other registration changes. You can also offer access to this information to the rest of your planning team (and control whether they can edit the information or view it only).
Real-time reporting allows you to track data in, yep, real-time. This way, you can stay up-to-date with registrations and other event-related data that you need to follow closely. Any data gathered from your registration forms should be reportable!
Look for a reporting feature that lets you create as many custom reports as you need. View and edit all registration data, track deleted and pending registrations, and add registrations from your end in case you need to override pricing, etc. This feature should also allow you to pull data from multiple forms or events.
An event app is a great feature for your attendees. This is because it engages your attendees before, during, and after the event, and lets them customize their experience with a personal itinerary, as well as browse the scheduled activities and speakers.
There are a few essential elements that should be included with this app feature. One of these elements is customization with your colors, logo, and other branding, to allow for a consistent experience. You should also be able to provide event details and updates, have a directory of attendees and speakers, and even allow attendees to communicate directly through the app via a discussions module.
This feature should serve a few purposes. It should allow you to troubleshoot and get emergency tech support, and also to ask questions and receive advice about the particular event that you’re planning.
The nice thing about having a support feature with your event planning software is that you can talk to industry experts so they can understand your event and offer their input. Look for a system with a support feature that offers a direct line to an expert in your field.
All of these event planning software features are essential in order to successfully plan your event and streamline your process. By incorporating items such as attendee data management, real-time reporting, and event apps, you’re helping to simplify your planning, but you're also making it simpler for your attendees, too. After all, one of the most important outcomes you want before, during, and after your event is attendee satisfaction!
3. Making the Most of Your Event Planning Software
Now that you’re familiar with the core features you should look for, consider how these features can work individually or together to improve your event planning process. There are challenges that can come up during your planning, so let’s look at ways to address them using robust event planning software features.
Optimize the registration process.
What if you’re a university trying to reach out to students and faculty to register for your event? You can use your registration software to create an email template, upload contacts, and send out emails inviting individuals to register. Once users click through the email, this feature can also pre-populate their event registration forms.
Simplify the check-in process.
If you’re a business putting on an event and you want to simplify the check-in process, you can use an advanced form-building tool to customize the forms so that they capture the data you need. By doing this, you’ll offer a streamlined check-in process for the attendees since their data is already recorded, and simply scan their eTicket, for example.
Offer the right opportunities to the right attendees.
How do you ensure that attendees find the right activities during your event? By using an app tailored to the event, you can make the schedule easy to access. You can also provide maps and update attendees about any last-minute changes. Even more, attendees can personalize their itinerary by looking through the options, which allows them to pick the most appropriate activities for themselves.
Learn from your data.
If your association is planning a conference, take a look at past attendee data in your CRM to figure out which events were most popular. By using event planning software with an API that lets you pull registration data into your CRM system, this is easy! Pull reports to see how many people registered for and attended a particular activity. See which activities weren’t as popular and prioritize your time and energy around the ones that had the highest attendance.
Get helpful advice.
What if you’re not sure where to start with your corporate event? You have the speakers lined up, but you’re not sure how best to leverage the technology and features available to you. Get some tailored advice from an industry expert during a one-on-one support chat.
Getting the event planning stage right will have a major impact on the whole event experience. When you start off with an organized plan and the right resources to learn from past events, register your attendees, and build an app, your entire event will benefit. Having a strong plan of action from the start is imperative to ensuring your event’s overall success.
4. Event Planning Software for Every Organization
Different kinds of organizations have different event planning needs. That’s why it’s important to consider the type of event you’re putting on and what components of event planning software you should take advantage of. Having robust planning software can help you navigate all of this. Let’s take a look at more specific organization types and their needs:
Businesses will generally put on seminars and conferences, team-building activities, product launches, and even recruitment events. A lot is asked of event planners for businesses, and if you have to compromise because you don’t have the right software, that can quickly become an issue.
A robust system can help with logistics, communications, and event registration forms. For instance, such a system can send save-the-dates and invitations, help manage your registrant data, and even create name badges.
One of the most common event types that associations put on is conferences. It can be challenging to bring in a lot of people from different backgrounds - which typically occurs during these types of events - so it's important to have software that can conveniently obtain a wide range of data. Use a system that can customize your registration forms to record the data you absolutely need to capture.
In addition to having a variety of attendees, an association might also have multiple departments or groups with event registration needs. Use a software vendor that offers to break down information about how each part of your organization should use the software, as well as how to reach out to your industry expert for assistance.
Universities put on a particularly wide range of events, such as lectures, readings, alumni gatherings, and school spirit events. Because universities typically have tight security protocols and other internal policies, processing payments for these events can be a challenge.
For that reason, it’s important to find software that offers PCI-compliant payment processing with your event registration. You should be able to use the merchant account that comes with your software, or even integrate it with your credit card processing account.
Depending on your type of organization, as well as the amount and types of events you put on, you’ll have different needs and challenges. Finding the right event planning software is imperative to your event’s success, and it all starts with first determining what those needs and challenges are, and then learning how your chosen system will help you address them.
5. How to Choose the Right Event Planning Software
Now that you’re closer to investing in event planning software, it’s important to ask some key questions before committing to your choice. There are several types of event management software and competitors out there, so consider how you would answer these based on your past event planning. What was successful, and what wasn’t?
Ask yourself the following:
- What are some event planning challenges we’ve faced in the past?
- How have previous solutions missed the mark?
- What are unique needs our organization faces?
- How can we increase attendance at our event?
- How much data do we need to keep track of?
- How can we effectively communicate with and engage our attendees?
The takeaway? Consider how robust event planning software with an array of features could help you answer these questions and/or solve these issues. Your organization should choose an event planning software that offers the core features listed above, but you should also select a platform that can customize your tools based on your type of organization. The more customized the experience is, the better it will be for your planning process and for your guests.
There are several factors to take into consideration when you’re looking to invest in event planning software. But one of the most important elements you should focus on is optimizing your registration process so that you can effectively plan and execute your event. With a smooth registration process, you will find that your entire planning process follows suit.
Are you interested in learning more about event planning software, or any of the other talking points in this article? Check out these additional resources below:
- Why Using Integrated Tech Gives Your Event an Edge on Attendance. Learn how using integrated tech in your event gives you a leg up on improving your attendees’ experience.
- 6 Questions to Ask Your Potential Online Registration Provider. Explore the types of questions you should ask before committing to an online registration form vendor.
- Woo Your Event Attendees On-Site: 5 Tips. Discover how you can engage with your event attendees during the event, from tactics like using a conference app to more interactive activities.