event planning software

Photo by Kalle Gustafsson

If you are a party or event planner, you have quite an exciting job. It can be very rewarding to put together all of the little details to create a successful event. Whether a wedding, a birthday party, or a business awards dinner, planning an event or party can be exhilarating. When done right, your efforts can have a huge impact on the happiness of a large group of people — and what’s better than helping to plan an event or party that people will remember forever?

It goes without saying that there is a lot that goes into planning a successful event or party. From choosing the date, time, and location to arranging all of the fine details — such as the theme, the menu, and the activities to occur during the occasion — there is a lot to attend to in order to pull together a memorable event.

While an event or party planner’s job can certainly be enjoyable and rewarding, with so many different aspects to attend to and keep track of, it can also be challenging. Organization is the key to success in this industry. You can stay organized with different folders and portfolios, but there is a way to keep yourself super organized with ease: with event planning software.

What is event planning software:

As the name suggests, event planning software is a type of program designed with the intention to aid in the organization of events and parties. Professional event planners use it to keep track of events they are planning, keeping all aspects of the event planning process neat and in order.

Types of event planning software:
You can easily locate several different types of event planning software to suit your needs online. Some popular models include:

  • Eventbrite: Whether you’re planning a conference for thousands of people or a small retreat, this software will help you get the job done quickly and easily. With Eventbrite, you can not only plan your event, but you can promote it online, turning it into a huge success. You have the option to arrange for online registration and the sale of tickets, making it easier to manage the entire affair.
  • Planning Pod: With Planning Pod, you can plan out the details of your event and also easily connect with clients, vendors, and any staff that you may be working with, sharing the details of the affair and making sure everyone involved is up to speed. From weddings to conferences – to running a small business – Planning Pod makes it easy to run all types of events.
  • Events Clique: Not only can you plan out all of the details of your event, but you can actually lay out the design and bring the affair to life right on your computer with Events Clique. Simply input the details of your event space and import the products you intend on using, creating a virtual event space so you can see what your affair will look like before you actually bring it all together.

Benefits:

As you can imagine, there are definite advantages to using event planning software. The most obvious is the ability to stay organized. Another major benefit is that professional software can help you plan several events at one time, which really simplifies the process for professional planners.

Whether you are in need of professional or personal event planning software, finding it is easy. You can browse through different options online. Look through the features of the different types of software available and choose the one that best suits your needs. Once you purchase the software, you can begin your planning your next event.

Event planning software not only allows an event planning process to become easier, but for professionals, this software can help to boost success of a business.

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Bridget Galbreath is a freelance writer who specializes in a wide range of topics, including event planning and business. She has written for companies such as Reputation.com.

Anyone in the meetings and event planning business knows what a busy industry it is. This fast-paced, customer-focused field runs continually throughout the year, giving event planners and their teams little down time to take care of themselves.

In the midst of planning conferences and events for their clients, event planners can benefit from attending one or two conferences, as well. Conferences and conventions focused on the event planning business can provide planners with an opportunity to relax, be rejuvenated with new ideas, and feel refreshed and enthusiastic about going back to their clients.

While there are many event planning conferences, these are a few of the ones you won't want to miss this year.

Momentary quiet before the conference begins.

National Association for Catering and Events (NACE), Expo 2013.
It's right around the corner, but you'll still want to mark your calendar for the NACE 2013 Expo in Chicago from July 14th through the 17th. Event planners, caterers, and other professionals can take their businesses to the next level with workshops, networking, contests, and showcases.

Meeting Professionals International (MPI) World Education Congress.
On July 19th, nearly 3,500 people from the event planning industry will converge to Las Vegas for this year's World Education Congress. With sessions focused on career development, business, and leadership, MPI provides a four-day conference that's full of expert knowledge imparted at about 125 different sessions, a trade show, networking opportunities, and good, old-fashioned fun.

International Special Events Society (ISES) Eventworld.
Paradise Island, Bahamas, is the location of the next ISES Live Nassau 2013 Conference. Event-planning professionals will have the opportunity to be inspired and gain knowledge through creative and interactive workshops. Participate in breakout sessions and listen to keynote speakers share their insight. You'll leave this three-day conference, held August 22nd to 24th, feeling invigorated and excited.

2014: The Special Event.
Wedding planners, caterers, and other event planners won't want to miss The Special Event in Nashville, TN, from January 7th through the 10th. This four-day extravaganza is jam-packed with professional development sessions, trade shows, and various track programs geared toward specific industries and groups. Held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, this conference will be a great way to kick off the New Year.

Event planners can keep up with what's new in the industry by attending a conference.

Get Started, Get Involved

The best way to get involved in event-planning conferences that suit you best is to join your local or regional event-planning association. These associations work tirelessly to bring members current news regarding professional development opportunities, networking meetings, and upcoming conferences.

Join a local association and get involved as a volunteer, if possible. You'll be up close and personal with all that's new and exciting in the event-planning industry, which will ignite that passion and enthusiasm your clients appreciate so much. Although it may not be possible to attend more than one conference per year, doing so is beneficial to you as a professional, and your clients will directly benefit from your attendance, as well.

Mary Ylisela is an author who writes about business, professional development and tourism for organizations such as Reputation.com.

 

While there are an incredible number of fantastic blog posts out there that cover every conceivable aspect of event planning, the problem is that these helpful posts only cover one aspect of event planning at a time. This is why we at eVenues decided to create a "Very Big" list of event planning tips organized by category. The idea is to create a sort of "cliff's notes" type resource covering every aspect of event planning. When relevant, we'll be linking to articles that talk about these event tips in more detail.

Contributions to this event planning tips list are welcome! I will be sure to provide credit to everyone who contributes. Just email me at kenji [at] evenues.com. Just send me 2-3 sentences for your event tip, and feel free to link to an article you've written that touches upon the topic as well!

Table of Contents:

Before The Event: The Planning Process

  • Conduct research of events with similar goals and purposes: Search events on Meetup.com, Facebook, Eventbrite and Plancast. Attend some of these events if possible. 
  • Reach out to attendees of similar events. Save the names of public invite lists (often found on Eventbrite events), that way you can reach out to attendees to learn what they liked about the event and what might useful for yours, not to mention the fact that you can invite them to your event later.
  • Set Goals! Why are you putting this event together in the first place? Some possible goals might include: fundraising, lead generation, pubic relations, recruitment, inspirational, a sales presentation, relationship building, motivational or educational.
  • Make sure that the date of your event doesn't conflict with other large events.
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Small Meeting Tips (Board Meetings, Off-Site Meetings)

  • When putting together an agenda for a board meeting, consider using Google Docs so that everyone can review the agenda beforehand. The great thing about Google Docs is that everyone involved can make comments or raise questions directly in the document. This can save a lot of time before beginning the meeting. [Further Reading]
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Finding Event Sponsorships

  • "Event sponsorships straddle the fine line between the desires and motivations of sponsors and attendees. Sponsors are driven by leads, demos and opportunities, while attendees tend to be learning focused. To increase the likelihood that attendees will engage with your sponsors, allow attendees to define the sponsorship packages." -- Dennis Shiao, Director, Product Management at Dot Net Nuke
  • Research past events similar to yours that may have had sponsors. See if you can’t contact the event organizer to get the names and contact info of the sponsors.
  • Before contacting potential sponsors determine what benefit a company organization will get by sponsoring your event. Will they be allowed to mention their product/service to event attendees? Is this product/service something attendees would want?
  • Use a sponsor directory like SponsorHub to find potential sponsors.
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Finding The Right Venue

  • Go to eVenues.com and do an initial search for venues in your city. If there happen to be a lot of listings in your city, filter the results by capacity and price using the filter on the left hand side of the screen.
  • If search isn’t turning up the venue you need, consider using the eVenues Full Serve option, where you specify exactly what you need in a venue and the eVenues staff will get back to you with some venue options, free of charge.
  • Be sure to get information about: parking and transportation, WIFI and A/V Capabilities, the venue's catering policy (Is catering in-house only or is outside catering allowed?), venue accessibility.
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Finding Speakers for Your Events

  • See if you can't find speakers for your events from industries other than your own. These speakers can provide a fresh perspective on your industry or field that are often overlooked. Use services like Klout and Followerwonk to find the thought leaders in these areas to identify these speakers.
  • Go on youtube to find videos covering topics that you might be interested. See if you can't get in touch with these speakers. Also, consider looking at speakers lists from local TEDx and Ignite talks to see if anyone in these lists could be a good fit for your events.
  • Set up a survey form on your blog (or event better, your event website) and get your attendees to pick the speakers for your event.
  • If you're having trouble finding speakers through direct outreach, consider going through a Speaker's Bureau and have them help you out.
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Marketing Your Event

  • Create an online event flyer: One way to set your event’s online presence apart from the rest is to create a shareable stand alone web page with its own unique design. Smore, for example, allows its users to create an event flyer with a professional look and feel.
  • "Keep people first. Remember that technology, social media and education, experience and space design are all just tools we use to help people engage. As we eye a growingly diverse participant group in terms of both age and culture, it will be incumbent upon us to rise to the challenge of meeting the needs of all attendees, each of whom wants an increasingly individualized experience." -- Jessie States, Education Content Designer, Meeting Professionals International
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Catering and Menus

  • "The caterering trends right now are more self serve. Make your own salad,make your own tacos. People like to control what they eat." -- JoAnn Gregoli, Elegant Occasions
  • "In order to make a wedding dinner an extraordinary experience, pay attention to all of even the smallest details of your meal. The champagne should be chilled, the food should be unique and special to you as a couple and do not forget….The Bread." [Further Reading] --Jaime Geffen, YourBash!
  • "When communicating your budget to your caterer, keep this in mind as 35% of your budget goes to food, 25% to staff and 30% to rental equipment…and then 10% for tax. Your caterer will be able to help you figure out what is available to you and help you create a catering budget." --Anthony NavarroLiven It Up Events. [Further Reading]
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Event Registration

  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

A/V and Venue Setup

  • "How do you transcend the counters and headers [of a mundane area like a regstration space? Simple: Use audiovisual. Try pumping fun music into the area—trust me, having some trendy beats or even Beyoncé is a simple way to elevate the registration experience. Another great way to spice things is up is a creative use of lighting.

    At my 3-day conference we lit up registration in a different color each day (day one was pink, day two was blue and day three was green). Attendees noticed the fresh feel each time. It signaled to them that this day was different and full of new energy." -- Wayneston Harbeson, article excerpt from expoweb.com.

  • "Don’t be afraid to think out of the box with A/V support – it’s an area where most people fear due to lack of knowledge in this specialized area. Most venues have in-house preferred, not required, providers, so you can always look at bringing in YOUR preferred vendor instead. Think about adding some simple lighting with lots of color to transform the room, moving gobos on the walls and floors, and scenic frames around your video screens instead of the typical black drapes." --Michael Vargo, Director, Special Events at The Walt Disney Company
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Music and Entertainment

  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

Keeping Your Meetings Sustainable

  • "With the release of so many new standards for sustainable meetings in the last couple of years, it's easy to get overwhelmed. My suggestion is to start by using them for inspiration. Much like cookbooks that you read to get ideas for your own recipes, the standards can be helpful for great tips and recommendations that you then blend with your own creativity to develop your unique sustainable meeting." -- Mariela McIllwraith, MeetingChange
  • "Increase your event sustainability with reduced printing. Calculate your current paper use as a benchmark and communicate your goals by estimating your CO2, waste, and water savings with your attendees. Use the free meeting sustainability calculator http://ativsoftware.com/co2-calculator-for-paperless-events/. Learn 10 strategies towards a paperless meeting at http://ativsoftware.com/2012/07/10-strategies-towards-paperless-events-conferences-and-meetings/" --Silke Fleischer, Executive and Co-Founder at ATIV Software
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

New Technology uses for Events

  • "Eliminate your 10-pound 3-ring conference binder by using an iPad or other tablet." --Corbin Ball, Corbin Ball Associates. [Further Reading]
  • "If it is important to focus on demographics besides geography and the potential audience is located on a national or global scale, then virtual technologies can assist with extending the reach of the event. If this is the case, consider the optimal agenda to enable multiple time-zone participation." -- Elizabeth Glau, Building Blocks Social Media.
  • "Look to television for ideas that are more suited to a remote audience, for example man on the street interviews, talk show and news desk formats designed for broadcast." -- Jenise Fryatt, Icon Presentations [Further Reading]
  • "When it comes to event technology, it is important that the technology that you select, aligns with your event goals. Rather than starting with the technology, start with what you want to accomplish and then evaluate your tech options. This will help to achieve your goals and increase your chance of technology adoption at your meeting." --Jessica Levin, Seven Degrees Communications
  • "Whether you’re new to the meetings profession or are a seasoned meeting planner (one who hasn’t used a CVB since pre-internet days when they were your easiest information source), a CVB is worth a look. Technology tools ranging from conference microsites, social media assistance, online housing systems, interactive maps are available to conferences and meetings even in smaller destinations. Don’t assume that only Tier 1 cities can offer technology assistance. Also, most CVBs will provide assistance even if your conference booked directly with a hotel." --Janis Ross, Executive Director of Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports [Further Reading]
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

After the Event: Making Assessments

  • "After the digital event pull a report of exactly who logged in during the LIVE streaming and login duration. From there categorize these attendees by industry, title, organization type, etc. You can then use this data to develop more targeted marketing for your next digital event." --Deb Greif, bxbGroup
  • Have a tip? Email it to kenji at evenues dot com!

event marketingMarket share and mindshare: A successful event can bring heaps of both kinds of attention to your business. The key is to plan it so that your execution is flawless. That's where the practical concerns such as insurance, safety, security, and logistics come into play. Many decide to hire an event planner once the scale of even a "small" event is understood.

This article focuses on getting the most marketing mileage possible. Let's look at three crucial time periods that can affect how the marketing is received: prior to the event, during the event, and after the event.

Prior to the Event

Major planning starts here. What will the event say about your company, service, or products? What is the desired mood you want to achieve? What will attendees learn, or what other benefits will they receive from attending? This is the time to craft the strong message that will be repeated throughout the event.

[ ] Comprehensive marketing plan

Direct mail, website, radio spots, TV, newspaper ads, film and photography, and other methods should be part of the planning process depending on the audience you want to reach.

[ ] Logo, colors, and style guide

Events with strong visual branding throughout the experience tend to be more memorable and feel more cohesive.

[ ] Press kits -- paper and digital

Plan to notify local and/or regional media prior to the event for the best hope of earned media. At minimum, you'll need a press release with photos, bios, and information packets ready to distribute.

[ ] Social media marketing plan

Word-of-mouth is still the cheapest and most effective marketing method; social media should be the centerpiece.

[ ] Pre-show emails

Whether a part of your existing newsletter or as stand-alone promotion, emails are an important way to build buzz.

[ ] PPC, SEO, and online advertising

Target keywords and phrases for advertising leading up to your event.

[ ] Create the agenda packet

This document is a potent sales tool to get attendees. Highlight the benefits of attending and the proposed schedule of events. There should be at least two versions, one electronic and one printed for the event itself.

[ ] Show giveaways

Order the giveaways you'll use during the show to encourage participation.

During the Event

Every part of the event contains a marketing possibility. A strong, consistent message should be seen and felt from start to finish. Plan activities that support this overall message and be sure that all materials designed for attendees to take with them also conveys your theme.

[ ] Creative materials at the venue

Consider distributing packets of information in a suitable format. This may include novelty tchotchkes or branded everyday items. It may mean digital materials, such as free apps or games.

[ ] Visuals at the venue

Marketing potentials include all signage, posters, banners, balloons, boards, name badges, tent cards, plaques, etc.

[ ] Filming and photography

Events are goldmines for marketing materials. Be ready with a professional photographer or videographer. Hire a pro to ensure quality images and good lighting setup.

[ ] Social media "live streaming," "live tweeting," or similar

Have a dedicated group of people creating social media updates for Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites to maximize and capture the real-time experience.

[ ] Collect testimonials

Video is the ideal way to collect testimonials since you can reuse this later (be sure to have attendees sign a release). Soliciting written feedback and photos also work well.

After the Event

Immediately after the event is a time to collect feedback, materials, and measurements. All of these data points can be processed for improvement in the future or used in upcoming marketing materials. Organize the post-event media and other information as diligently as you planned it for best results.

[ ] Measure and report on social media outreach

Use a site like Hashtracking.com to measure discussion reach.

[ ] Collect links to social media updates

You will be able to point to these again later since most will stay online for a long time.

[ ] Archive the event on your website or post again to social media

This archive can provide valuable social proof for future events.

[ ] Collect and organize feedback

Attendee testimonials can be organized for future use, as can post-event survey responses. Look through feedback for verbiage useful for marketing future events. Be sure to get permission for attribution.

For more detailed steps check out The Definitive Guide to Event Marketing produced by Marketo. It is a free download with email registration.

Featured images:

Katie McCaskey is a freelance journalist who covers event marketing tips and trends for Vistaprint, a leading source for address labels, invitations, and other products to help you market your next event successfully. Katie has written about marketing for 12 years and is co-owner of a neighborhood grocery/cafe outside of Washington, D.C. 

countryside meetings

Photo By: Joe Shlabotnik

For most of us, at least 40 hours of our week is spent in the sprawling urban world, surrounded by the glass & concrete of office towers and bumper-to-bumper traffic congestion.

When it comes time to host a meeting, the venue of choice often ends up being in the exact same environment, even though most events are typically meant to act as a change of pace from the normal day-to-day working life. So why not shake things up a bit and host a meeting outside of the city instead?

Out in the countryside, you have nearly endless choices for unique and memorable meeting locations that are as far from the metropolitan experience as you can get, including everything from valley resorts, to forest cottages, charming hotels, and so much more.

For both event planners and attendees, hosting a meeting outside of the city has a number of benefits, including enjoying a relaxing & laid-back environment, taking in the fresh air and peaceful scenery of rural areas, and inviting the opportunity to take part in team building activities that you just can’t find in a city.

Enjoy A Laid-Back, Small Town Feel

Help your meeting attendees escape the chaos and bustle of city life for a little while by hosting your event in a small town, rural area, or secluded location. Outside of the city you’re guaranteed to find locations that offer a laid-back atmosphere surrounded by small town hospitality and charm that you just can’t find anywhere else.

One of the best reasons to escape the city for your next meeting is that it gives attendees a chance to wind down some stress from their day-to-day working lives. This can hopefully lead to a much more enjoyable & productive event, as well as a more memorable experience than having just another get-together downtown.

In fact, psychological research has shown that being in novel environments; from a quaint small town hotel all the way to something incredibly unique like a wine barrel room tends to lead to more pleasurable feelings and improved outside-the-box thinking. As a result, hosting your next meeting in these types of locations can have a hugely positive impact on the quality of the event.

Take-in the Fresh Air & Scenery of the Countryside

Taking any opportunity to reconnect with nature is always a good thing, and you can help your meeting attendees out by booking your next event far beyond the skyscrapers and highways of the city. The fresh air and scenery of rural spaces will do wonders to calm some minds, leading to a more relaxing and productive gathering.

In a city it can be easy to lose touch with the natural wonder of the world, and the constant buzz of urban life can be draining at times. Having just another meeting in the a city environment might lead to a less than enthusiastic crowd, so you’ll probably be greatly appreciated for taking a leap and planning an event that gets all your attendees out into nature for a change of scenery.

You don’t even have to go far outside of the city to reconnect with the natural world. For example, if you take about a 90-minute drive outside of Los Angeles, you’ll find the peaceful Korakia Pensione oasis villa in Palm Springs, or if you’re in Edmonton, Alberta and up for a short flight, you can experience the natural beauty of the Athabasca forest in nearby Fort McMurray.

Get Involved in Unique Outdoor Activities

If you’re planning a team building event rather than the usual conference or typical business meeting, consider doing it outside of the comfort zone of your team’s day-to-day city lives, and explore what the countryside has to offer instead. This change of pace can lead to once-in-a-lifetime experiences that can be a huge help in building longtime bonds and unforgettable stories.

While team building events in the city can often be meaningful and bring your team closer together, the impact of sharing a completely new experience in relatively unknown environments can really leave a lasting mark on how your team sees each other. The great outdoors of the countryside encourage a bigger sense of adventure, challenge, and fun that simply can’t be replicated in between office towers in the downtown core.

Depending on the destination and time of year, your team building activities can include a large variety of unique experiences. You can do everything from hiking in the woods outside of your hotel, sailing the waterfront outside of your cozy maritime meeting venue, to skiing the slopes alongside your mountain resort. The variety of countryside activities are nearly endless, but no matter what you choose to do, it’s certain that your team will never forget it!

Michael Smith is an Inbound Marketing Consultant at Powered By Search, writing on behalf of Quality Hotel Fort McMurray offering hotel rooms and meeting space in northern Alberta, Canada.