What Is Event Management Software? Analysis of Features, Pricing, Types and Benefits

What is event management software? The definition of event management software, simply put, it is a set of business solutions that cover the different aspects of organizing an event, from planning to event and to post-event stages. Some solutions are end-to-end systems that provide tools for the entire event lifecycle, while other apps are focused on specific processes of event organizing. These can include registration, ticketing, floorplanning, schedulers, analytics and surveys.

Event management software solutions address many pain points of the industry for greater success rate. According to a study by The Bizzabo Blog, the main success metrics for event organizers are:

  • attendee satisfaction (84%)
  • revenue (56%)
  • media coverage (16%)
  • team building (12%)

Source: The Bizzabo Blog

Many of these factors are addressed by event management software.

The best example here is how these solutions shift data entry in registration from the organizer to participants. Attendees today key in their personal details on online registration forms, freeing up the event team from cumbersome manual entries.

Another key benefit is centralizing guest list data, which makes on-site check-ins and payment processing smooth and worry-free. We’ll discuss this and other benefits further later.

However, many event planners still fail to leverage these solutions. A study by Etouches, 42% of respondents see event technology as a pain point. We suspect this is due to lack of information on what these solutions can provide to planners.  

So, in this guide, you’ll learn more about the different aspects of event management software and, hopefully, you’ll appreciate the many benefits they offer. When someone asks you – what is event management software or why use a event management software – you can point him or her to this guide. Specifically, we’ll discuss the following aspects:

  1. Examples of event management software
  2. Benefits of event management software
  3. Types of event management software
  4. Features of event management software
  5. Buying factors to consider
  6. Pricing of event management software
  7. Potential issues
  8. Latest trends

What Are Examples of Event Management  Software?

Here are examples of event management software:

  1. Eventbrite. An end-to-end event management software solution that covers the entire event lifecycle. From planning to event to post-event, the solution features tools to streamline and automate mundane processes like registration, badge printing and reporting. It is also easy to promote your event utilizing the software’s integrated social marketing and Facebook promotion. Key features include group registration, reserved seating, fundraising/crowdfunding, online payments and audience polling.
  2. Cvent. It’s one of the most comprehensive event management solutions, Cvent has feature set specific to different users by industry, role or as third-party planners. Among others, the solution helps you find the best venue that fits your need and budget, track expenses, calculate ROI and improve overall efficiency of your event teams. It also features tools for targeted email marketing, mainly a centralized guest list database that can be sorted by different metrics. Likewise, Cvent makes badge printing and on-site check-ins faster and smoother using consolidated data culled from online registration. Key features include: event registration, payment processing, budget management, on-site tools and mobile payments.
  3. XING Events. It is adaptive to different events from small networking nights to large events. The Munich-based solution is geared towards German-speaking territories but can be utilized for U.S. and other countries. The solution consists of three modules: ticketing, event promotion and event management. It can also integrate with CRM systems to manage your post-event marketing. Among others, this solution features an event site builder and online ticketing booth.
  4. Eventzilla. Another popular event management software, Eventzilla covers your registration and ticketing processes. The app features secure payment channels integrating with key gateways like PayPal, Stripe Authorize.net and Braintree. Attendees can download their tickets online, greatly reducing your team’s workload. Likewise, it facilitates post-even surveys to give you a deeper understanding of audience feedback, insights that can help you on your next event. Features include discount codes, waiting list, location map display and on-site ticket sales.
  5. Ticket Tailor. The app focuses on ticketing aspect of event management. Unlike many ticketing apps, Ticket Tailor doesn’t charge on a per-ticket fee; instead, it has fixed price plans. That means you get your ticket sales intact. This app is used by prominent clients including TED X and MTV for their events. It is easy to set up and supports multiple events and ticket allocations. Likewise, it has customer order management and discount codes and voucher codes for deals.

Eventbrite’s ticketing reservation with floor plan.

Why Use Event Management Software?

What are the benefits of an event management software? These solutions can streamline or automate the back office processes in running an event. From pre-event, event and to post-event, these solutions provides efficiency, accuracy and cost savings. Here are the main benefits of event management software:

Consolidate different teams

Event management software provides a single platform that coordinates the tasks and activities, not just of the event team, but of your various teams, including sales & marketing, logistics, accounting and travel management. It makes it easy to associate the different but connected items across your organization. A change in one item, for example, can trigger alerts on related items ensuring everyone has the latest information. A shift in venue, increase in attendance, change in menu, etc. are cases that require quick coordination among teams.

The same platform makes communication open and clear, including vertically from the manager to the field worker. Managers have visibility on all aspects of event operations, while the ground crews are working efficiently and in synced avoiding conflicting or inconsistent outputs.

Lower overheads

With across and top-down visibility on your event operations, it is easy to control expenses and keep to budget caps leading to savings and higher returns. Likewise, event management software is good at automating certain event management processes, thereby, you cut down on time spent in completing tasks. This can translate to reduced staff time.

Moreover, a small team can perform multiple tasks with the aid of a good event solution. Tools like coding-free event web builder, self-service online registration, autoresponders and data management perform some of the most time-consuming back office processes in organizing events, freeing you from soliciting additional contractors.

Other more specific cost benefits are: helping you find fast a venue with the best value for your money by thoroughly scouring online sources; and aggregate spending to extract better deals from suppliers.

Smooth workflows in the entire event lifecycle

Some event management software solutions help you from planning to promotion to on-site operation and to post-event evaluation. They feature tools for event management, event marketing and post-analytics reporting and survey mechanism. Many of these tools ease out off your shoulder the traditional burden of building your database. Online registration, for example, allows participants enter their details instead of you. The database can be sorted differently, too, for targeted email marketing. Likewise, you can run analytics or conduct a survey on the database and find insights based on participation, attendance, location, no shows, etc., post-event analytics that can aid in improving your next events.

Finding suppliers is also made efficient and faster. An event management software solution can quickly send out requests for quotes to different vendors. You can receive quotes within hours, if not minutes.
Likewise, on-site tools enable you to walk through participants with clockwork precision. The database from online registration can sort paid and non-paid participants and can print at once the badges. Mobile payment or an internet-connected laptop makes it easy also to process on-site payments.

More focused event marketing

Critical to the success of your event is a long-term promotion. Months (or even years) before the event, the solution, depending on its sophistication, can help you aggregate social media mentions, online communities, mailing lists, media and blog placements, etc. so you can start engaging potential participants. Some solutions provide communication channels to get prospects’ feedback or questions or build a mailing list for staggered and targeted email marketing stages leading to the event date. A dashboard can give you a general view of your event marketing’s KPIs including social media engagement level (mentions, likes, shares), number of participants, leads and media pickups. With an aggregated data on your event promotion you can see how far or near you are from the target on opening day.

Efficient data management

With a single database event management software solutions can collate online registration details, sort them for various email marketing campaigns and run real-time and post-event analytics for insights. A centralized database also means various users are accessing the same latest data, eliminating misinformation. Different parties are quickly notified of changes in the database like number of participant, venue, programme, etc. Documents and reports are likewise updated and consistent throughout the organization. Moreover, the time needed to create lists, documents or reports for different teams is greatly reduced since all teams can refer to a single file.

What Are the Types of Event Management Software?

What are the types of event management software? There are no clear distinctions on the types of event management software, but we can categorize them by their feature set. Likewise, many of these features are packaged independently and can be considered as a type on their own. Knowing the different types helps you answer the question, how does a event management software work?

  1. End-to-end solutions. These solutions are considered the true event management software solutions, covering all the bases of putting up an event. From pre-event to event and post-event cycles, the solutions provide you with tools to automate or streamline back-office and field processes. They also include event marketing features to help you promote your project and analytics and survey tools to give you insights on important metrics like attendance, feedback, expenses and revenues.
    Examples: Eventbrite, Cvent
  2. Free, Open source. Many event management solutions are open source to let you add custom processes that fit your unique requirement. They are 100% free but are limited to a particular functionality like form builder or scheduler. Many free apps are designed to scale to paid plans as your needs get more complex.
    Example: 123ContactForm
  3. Event scheduler. These apps feature your real-time availability and allow customers to self-book. They can reschedule the date, pay online and communicate instantly with you for special requests via the platform. As an event tool, they can eliminate schedule conflicts, free you from manually processing each booking and avoid miscommunication on appointments.
    Example: Acuity Scheduling
  4. Web conferencing. They can fall under their own category or be part of a suite of event management tools. Web conferencing tools are specific to online-only events, particularly webinars. The features can scale from small meeting to large conventions.
    Examples: Zoho Meeting, Livestorm
  5. Polling apps. These apps have their own category but are a consistent tool for many event organizers. They have tools for live polling, a great way to elicit engagement from your audience, whether it’s a small-room audience or a crowd. These apps usually feature a live graph that displays poll results in real time and can be integrated in social media networks to reach a global audience.
    Example: VoxVote
  6. Ticketing apps. Ticketing can be a part of a larger event management system or specific to this functionality alone. They allow for selling tickets online and can feature more robust tools like attendance management and customization.
    Example: Ticket Tailor

What Does Event Management Software Do?

What does an event management software do and how does event management software work? A key to knowing the answer to: what is event management software? is to ask, what are the features of event management software? Depending on the feature set, these solutions offer tools to cover the planning, event and post-event stages. Let’s identify these key features.

Event marketing tools

They have all the features of a event management software, allowing for promoting your event to reach a wide online audience and solicit leads. Marketing channels include social media, email marketing, media and blog sites. The tools vary but solutions feature the basics like event website builder, an integrated mailer and event calendar.

The event web builder establishes the landing page for your pitch and online registration. Most solutions feature plug-and-play builders with drag-and-drop functionality, allowing anyone to create event pages without a hitch. A mobile version may also be featured, which is important considering that many participants may access your landing page from their smartphones.

A mailer, on the other hand, culls information from the online registration for email marketing campaigns. You can send emails at various event stages with different specific themes, namely, nurturing leads, encouraging feedback and sending reminders or a call to action for early-bird deals. The mailer can be branded by you with personalized merge fields to lend to the message more engagement. The mailer can also track real-time data (open, clicks, etc.) and display sponsorships as this platform is likely part of your media values to sponsors.

Meanwhile, an event calendar, whether built-in or integrated, can show participants the different programs plotted across the event dates. Some solutions allow participants to click on a specific date or program on the calendar from where they can reserve a slot.

Online event registration

One of the admirable features of event management software is the shift of entering registration details from the organizer to participants. This is made possible by online registration, where participants key in their information directly into the event database. Sophisticated solutions even allow for multi-track or multi-session registration, where guests can opt for specific event programs or workshops to attend. To protect data integrity against spam and trolls, these systems can feature restrictions like registration code or unique ID system for each guest. The same database can be used for event marketing and on-site processing.

Event management on-site tools

On-site tools ensure clockwork precision and fast processing of guest arrivals. Cloud solutions enable any internet-connected laptop to act as on-site self-service registration kiosks for walk-in participants. Similarly, mobile or online payments enable these guests to complete transaction on their own via credit card or a payment gateway. This enables your registration team to focus on checking in attendees. Badges and labels are accurately printed from the central database. Payments are also cross-checked easily from an online portal and invoices are quickly printed on demand; the same thing for documents like brochures and agendas.

Some solutions also allow for running real-time reports on site to help you keep a close tab on KPIs like number of attendees, revenues, meal selections and available slots. And to add a social engagement to an on-going program, a live stream tool can display the event numbers or broadcast snippets of it.

Database management

The database is at the core of event management software. It pulls together online registration, on-site guest list, mailing lists and analytics. Look for import/export capabilities, variations in sorting to extract different metrics and integration with key business systems for CRM, help desk, workflow management and cloud communication.

Budget management

It’s another key feature to help you monitor funds, re-estimate expenditures and calculate savings. This module captures all your event transactions and ensures the accuracy of budget details, from high-level estimates to granular line items, resulting in precise ROI. This feature can also track deals or quotes and actual payments made and evaluate the average cost per participant to help you scale estimates.

Event reporting

You can run analytics with event management software before, during or after the event, enabling you insights for a more informed decision. Some solutions allow for real-time reporting to help you assess attendance, expenses and other key metrics and make adjustments if necessary to keep on target. Reporting can take the form of summaries or drill-down details that you can share with your teams, partners, sponsors and other stakeholders. Tracking trends is also possible with event analytics to help you build on your best practice set. Moreover, you can customize reports to focus on important metrics for future events.

Survey for feedback

Some solutions provide a way to elicit feedback on the event. This allows you to gauge your success or failure and help shape future events. A survey can be personalized for targeted participants. The issues raised by a survey help you avoid them in the future, while the merits you get from feedback can be replicated and built on in the next events. The survey tool is also helpful to sort your most engaging contacts in the database, and, perhaps, segmentize them as potential leads for your CRM initiative.

Cvent’s on-site tools include registration, payment options and badge printing.

What Should You Consider When Buying an Event Management System?

What are the factors to consider when buying event management software? Aside from pricing which is obviously tied to your budget, here are the key things to consider before subscribing to a solution.

  1. Functionality. Do you need to cover the entire event lifecycle or just a portion of it? End-to-end solutions include features for planning, event and post-event stages. They are ideal for big or recurring events. On the other hand, some solutions only provide select tools leaving out the rest. They are ideal for small projects or users with specific requirements. Feature set affects pricing tiers, so if you have a tight budget, it is helpful to identify the most important tools you need and subscribe to them only.
  2. Integration. It is rare that you’ll only use the solution for all event-related processes. There are key business systems that impact on your event workflows and data, namely: 1) travel management, which books rooms and transportation for guests; 2) workflow management, which allows for creating task lists and approval processes; 3) mobile payments, helpful for on-site registration; 4) help desk to address tickets: and 5) accounting for cost and financial management.
  3. Scale. Even as you manage small projects today, if you plan to grow your business make sure you event management software has room to grow. That means it can sale to handle more participants, include more features for marketing, logistics and other areas and provide support for large-scale events. A look at the pricing plans should give you a clue of the solution’s scalability.
  4. Support. Using a new platform with tools that disrupt your old workflows can be disorienting. You will need support for your entire team’s smooth transition to running things tenfold more efficiently and faster with new software. The vendor should preferably provide 24/7 support or at least with response time not exceeding 48 hours.
  5. Social media. Social media is important to spreading the word about your event. There should be integration with or support for social media posts or live social feed. Live streaming via Facebook or YouTube can also add dimension to your event coverage and invite more participants at the tail-end of your program. Live streaming can also be converted to recorded content and uploaded for SEO.

What’s the Cost of Event Management  Software?

Here are the typical cost of a event management software:

  1. Eventbrite: It’s offered for free for free events, but paid event has to subscribe to a plan. Charges follow a formula: (2.5% + $0.99 service fee/ticket sold + payment processing fee at 3% of the ticket price).
  2. Cvent: It’s an example of solution offered through quote. The quote is based on different metrics: by industry, role or as a third-party planner.
  3. Xing Event: Paid subscription starts at $1.10 per attendee + 5.9% of the ticket price (Ideal for seminars and conferences), while an enterprise plan is on quote basis. Xing Events also offers a free app suited for small networking nights.
  4. Ticket Tailor: It’s a typical solution with specific tiered plans. It offers four plans starting at $25/month with the premium plan available by quote.
  5. RegOnline: It’s only available as an enterprise plan and by quote only.

What Are Potential Issues When Implementing an Event Management Software?

Although the advantages of event management software is clear, there are problems associated to event management software. They can range from minor to serious issues, which you should be aware of before committing to a subscription.

  1. Simplistic, not simple, UI. Software solutions strive to simplify their features and processes to ease onboarding and user adoption. But in the process, they compromise customization that enables you to use the tools according to your workflows. The best way to ensure the event management software product is simple enough to learn but still highly customizable is to get a free trial and experience firsthand the UI. Try to balance and assess how much configuration it allows you and if, in fact, you can customize the interface with little trouble.
  2. Cost-effectiveness. Great event management solutions may come at a hefty price and powerful features. But if you only have a small event, the ROI may be compromised and the software proves costly. As a general rule, the cost of software should only be a minimal part of your total operational expense.
  3. Lack of support. Some vendors focus only on selling their software and lack after-sales support. During downtime or technical glitches the vendor may not be available and you have to wait a day to resolve the issue, which leads to delays.
  4. Integration problems. Event management software solutions that cannot integrate with key business systems compromise flexibility. You may have a mailing list that can’t be loaded into the registration database or, conversely, your guest list can’t be exported to your CRM. This results in data silos and undermines your capability to generate insights.
  5. Overlapping functionalities. End-to-end event management solutions are great at covering your entire event stages, but the rub is, they may be performing processes that your other systems are doing. For example, CRM, email marketing, help desk and project management. If you have these systems in place, make sure your event management solution has no redundant function; otherwise, you’ll be paying unnecessary costs.

What Are the Latest Trends in Event Management Software?

The purpose of event management software is further enhanced by the latest trends happening now in the industry. We think these technologies will greatly impact event management soon, if not now:

  1. Wearable devices. The use of Near Field Communications (NFC) devices in events is gaining traction. They use wireless communication technology to streamline on-site processes by simply showing, for example, a wristband or their smartphone, for scanning. The application to events are plenty, from registration to payment to unlocking room accommodation and getting served with particular menu set.
  2. Augment reality. The hype on Pokemon Go last year showcased how this technology can level up events for more audience engagement. AR is a technology that overlays computer generated information or graphic onto a live environment, for example, conference room or exhibit area. It can be applied to display 3D presentations with the speaker “inside his presentation.” It can also spruce up exhibits by turning displays into an interactive experience. Likewise, AR can add a gamification dimension to your event.
  3. Beacons. Beacons are micro transmitting device using Bluetooth low-level energy (BLE) signals and usually embedded on smartphones. Apple popularized its iBeacon and its application in events. For example, when attendees pass by a certain exhibit area, their smartphone is prompted with information specific to the area they are on. Beacons can also be applied on on-site check-ins, surveys and games.
  4. Drones. Drones are already widely used in sporting events, mainly for vantage-view coverage. In events, drones can level up loot bag and souvenir kit sponsorship, by displaying brands in the air. It is similar to promotional airships, but drones, significantly smaller and lighter, can make air sponsorship happen indoors.
Category: B2B News, Featured Articles

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