All businesses, big or small, must differentiate themselves from their competitors to succeed. While marketing is one important piece of the puzzle, planning and managing successful promotional events is another major part of it.
The process of promoting a product, service or idea by holding a planned public event (online or offline) involves a lot of planning and coordination.
That’s where event management software can help: An event management—or event planning—solution allows users to incorporate business logic into planning and organizing an event.
This guide can help potential buyers find the best solution for their needs. Here’s what we’ll cover:
What Is Event Management Software?
Common Functionality of Event Management Software
Key Considerations for Event Management Software
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Market Trends to Understand
Reviewers' Choice Products
Our Reviewers’ Choice list shows the five highest user-rated software solutions for Event Management when adjusted for total number of reviews and recency of reviews.
If a software solution has more reviews, and more recent reviews, we value those ratings more highly than a product with fewer, older reviews. This is because is it much harder to get 100 five-star reviews than it is to get 10.
We also know that software vendors continually tweak and update their product, so we believe that more recent reviews tend to be more accurate.
To determine which products made the final cut, we looked at how users rated each solution's:
A solution can make the Reviewers' Choice top five in all three categories, or just one or two. All software solutions in the Reviewers' Choice have at least 10 reviews from real software users. The final products are listed in alphabetical order from left to right.
For more details on how we selected our Reviewers' Choice, read the full methodology.
An event management system helps businesses automate the process of planning, organizing, marketing and ultimately analyzing promotional events.
Among other things, this type of software facilitates:
It can also be used to administer real-time polls and surveys to keep the audience engaged and incorporate customer feedback to improve future events.
Most event planning software solutions offer some or all of the following capabilities:
|Attendee management||Creates an enhanced attendee experience with functions such as customized registration, guest list management, assigned seating arrangements, polls and Q&As for increased engagement and assignment of qualified staff members to escort attendees. Certain solutions allow users to facilitate travel arrangements for attendees.|
|Registration management||Enables users to accept or decline registrations for events, conferences or seminars through both online and offline channels. Certain solutions allow users to book rooms, venues or tables for attendees.|
|Venue management||Allows users to identify potential venues and prepare a detailed floor plan or layout and allocate booths to exhibitors. Certain solutions allow users to manage event logistics, catering and resources.|
|Ticketing||Facilitates the sale of event tickets or registration for conferences through online or offline channels. Also allows users to customize ticket prices and types and set quantity limits.|
|Event analytics and reporting||Enables the generation of customizable reports, so users can measure event ROI based on metrics such as budget utilization, venue utilization, audience engagement and marketing success.|
|Event marketing||Allows business owners to market events with tools and functionality that allow users to create a customizable event website, launch email, social media and push messaging marketing campaigns and create promo codes.|
|On-site management||Enables users to manage event-related activities at the venue including on-the-spot attendee registrations, creating and printing name badges for attendees, checking in attendees via barcode scanner and integration with self-service kiosks for easy check-ins.|
|Session management||Allows users to create and monitor content for event exhibitors, speakers and sponsors. Also allows users to create event agendas and gauge attendee interest for each session.|
Here are a few other factors to keep in mind as you evaluate event planning tools:
Make sure the software offers a mobile interface. Event coordinators are often on-the-go, evaluating venues and meeting with caterers and other professionals to get everything set up. Having a mobile interface available enables a seamless workflow, regardless of location.
Software should support necessary integrations. When choosing an event management solution, it's important to consider which other tools you'll need it to communicate with. You might consider vendors that offer native integrations with customer relationship management (CRM) products that offer features such as:
Choosing the right event management software depends on the size of the business. Consider the following buyer types:
Small and mid-sized businesses. These businesses typically operate as establishments with up to 100 employees and specialize in a certain area. Such companies might consider a best-of-breed system that specializes in their niche. For example, businesses that primarily hold online events should look for a solution that offers ticketing, online registration management, event marketing and event reporting. Business that hold on-site events should seek features for venue management, on-site visitor management functionality and guest list management, badge printing, barcode scanning and sessions management.
Large enterprises. Companies that specialize in large events often host on-site events that are connected to simultaneous online events working in sync with their offline counterparts. These businesses should look for features that synchronize both online and offline event registration. They may want to consider an event management solution with a modular suite that provides the ability to pick and choose modules according to their needs.
Big data analytics. Event organizers need to go beyond collecting attendee and registration information to provide a truly customized attendee experience. A wealth of data on customer preferences can be retrieved by tracking customers’ online activities, such as their social media posts and shopping preferences. Big data analytics allows businesses to aggregate and study this data, so they can serve up customized content to users.
Beacon technology in attendee management. Based on Bluetooth low energy (BLE) technology, beacons will go a long way in personalizing the customer experience. Imagine an attendee walking to an event and receiving a customized welcome message the moment they enter the venue, followed by an app notification that automatically opens up a map to guide them toward the registration desk and around the event. Beacons can help keep attendees engaged and encourage them to connect with other attendees, which can lead to more event registrations in the future.
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