7 Steps to Reducing Event Stress

7 Steps to Reduce Event Stress

Reducing stress is important for event professionals

Just breeeeathe….If only it was so easy to do when you’re in the middle of the event planning crunch. Event stress is like the proverbial monkey on an event professional’s  back –  hard to shake it off but so necessary to get things done for your event or meeting.  By now you have heard that event planners have one of the top 10 most stressful jobs (landing at #5) according to CareerCast.com  study “The Most Stressful Jobs of 2017” (http://bit.ly/2oFXvED ).

If you are an experienced event professional, as I have been, this is not surprising – you have experienced – or are experiencing event stress first hand.  Getting a grip on and reducing event stress as best you can is critical not only for hosting a successful event or meeting; it is essential for keeping you cool, collected and stress free (ultimate goal!) throughout your event planning and management process.

Doing an event takes a lot of careful planning, coordination, and management of time and resources – money and people in particular. But in talking with other event professionals, there are some tricks to manage event stress and even ways to reduce or avoid it completely.  Let’s check out 7 steps to reducing event stress that go beyond taking those deep breaths.

  • Making Time and Being Prepared
  • Making Back up Plans
  • Learning to Love Your Checklists
  • Working with a Strategy in Mind
  • Working Collaboratively with Your Team and Delegating
  • Taking Care of Yourself
  • Using Event Technology to Help You Plan and Manage

Make Time and Be Prepared to Reduce Event Stress

Stress often comes from not being ready for something and event stress is no different.  It creates feelings of panic, loss of control and being overwhelmed.  To prevent event stress, think of the Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared.”  When you are prepared and something unexpected occurs, the situation is handled more effectively because you are prepared for the possibility of an unexpected event.

How do you prepare?  Start planning early.  Sounds like good common sense but it’s surprising how some event professionals will see a long lead (a rarity in itself) time as an opportunity to put things on the back burner.  Even if your event target date seems far away, do not delay and wait until it is closer to that time.  Time has a way of passing quickly and life gets busy so plan as soon as possible.

If your time has passed too fast or work life took a turn to chaotic and busy, consider pushing your target date back an extra week or two to give yourself more time to prepare.  Devoting extra time at the early planning stage helps you review all the event’s necessary parts in ways you might not do if you are more pressed for time.  It also reduces event stress.  Remember this is the time to think about your event as a whole writing down ideas for venue, theme, program, speakers, menu, entertainment, and invitation style.  Think big picture and start your planning!

Back up Plans Reduce Event Stress

And part of “being prepared” is having a backup plan.  Things can, and often do, go wrong or at least not as you envisioned.  Speakers can drop out, people change their minds, venues don’t work out, and marketing strategies aren’t delivering.   Always ensure you have a backup option for everything and not relying on just one.  Talk about event stress when your first option falls through. It’s best to prepare yourself for the worst possible outcomes and this will reduce your event stress as you’ll know you can overcome everything with ease.

Having backup plans and preparation also applies to the actual event.  No matter what you do, there will always be unexpected things that happen, no matter how planned or organized you are.  You just have to work under pressure and that’s why having you and your team ready and able to deal with the unexpected on site is important.

Although having a backup plan will help avoid major fallbacks and reduce a lot of event stress, it’s not always possible to have a backup plan for everything, especially on site.  An experienced event professional – you – will keep calm and carry on, infusing a sense of tranquility to those around you.  At times as an event professional, you need to accept and embrace failures when they occur.  You need to understand the impact of a failure and what to do to avoid it in the future.

Learning to Love Your Checklists Reduces Event Stress

There are a lot of different components that make up an event – are you planning on keeping track of all of them in your head?  Not a good idea, especially if you want to keep your event stress low.  You could cause a decision making bottleneck because your team and vendors are looking at you for decisions. Juggling all the different parts can be challenging.  Visualizing all of them on a checklist (and not numerous Post-Its around your office or car) can be incredibly helpful.

Think of all the tasks you need to do before, during, and after the event and create an event checklist to keep you organized, on schedule and to make sure you haven’t missed anything.  Write down everything that needs to be done for your event and when it needs to be done and by whom.  This may include setting a budget, sending out invitations, selecting speakers, ordering food and beverage, and hiring vendors.

Don’t be too vague about describing the tasks you need to do.  Breaking down your event into small individual tasks is one of the most effective practices in reducing event stress.  Seeing the smaller steps helps you remember all the parts better and not worry you are going to miss doing something.  Also, there is something very therapeutic to crossing tasks off the list as they get completed.  Humor yourself even if the list is very long.

Looking for help to make that checklist?  Sometimes emptying your head of what needs to be done is not as easy you think.  If so, try a couple of online tools such as Evernote, a powerful cross-platform tool that helps you “dump” what is inside your brain.  Another option is Basecamp, a web-based project management tool as well Asana a web and mobile application designed to help teams track their work.

Reduce Event Stress by Working through Tasks with a Strategy

A lot of people cringe at the word “strategy.”  Sounds hard to do and above my pay grade.  It’s not and it shouldn’t be.  It’s part of organizing your planning, forcing you to stop and think things through clearly before you take action.  If you think about it, doing events without an approach or strategy results in poor performance and only makes additional event stress for you.  So slow down a minute and think before acting.

One way to lay things out strategically is by creating an action plan with realistic timelines and goals.  This step really should be done before developing your event task checklist.  Without setting up your action plan and event goals and timeline, it’s difficult to breakdown specific tasks necessary to move your action forward and achieve your event goals.  Having the plan, timeline and your event checklist helps you stay focused and see the purpose of your event for your company or organization.  Add this as another event stress buster!

Foster Team Collaboration to Reduce Event Stress

Unless you are some Super Event Professional wearing a red cape with nerves of steel and moving faster than a speeding bullet (well I think we all do the latter a lot), you are usually working with a team of people to do an event.  Working in a team and delegating tasks does help reduce event stress because it shares the event planning and management load.  However, working collaboratively as a team without some sort of conflict can create a double-edged sword for you.   You want the help but not the drama of conflict in a team.  Articles on building team collaboration are numerous but one of particular interest is the 2007 Harvard Business Review study called Eight Ways to Build Collaborative Teams.  And, as with most everything these days, there’s an app for that…see the Scoro blog 40 Top Team Collaboration Tools You Need Right Now.

Once your event checklist is complete, delegate event tasks to relevant persons on your team.  Stop believing you’re the only one who can do the job right and need to do everything or your event stress will skyrocket.  Sacrifice some time in the beginning to save time in the long run by teaching team members that you trust how to do the things you need done.  Then embrace their autonomy to get the job done without you micromanaging their efforts.

Reduce Event Stress by Taking Care of Yourself

After a while, organizing an event can send you a bit stir-crazy and blunt your sense of reality so it is smart to take regular breaks and switch off.  As a hard-charging event professional, you may ignore the signs and move forward but you do at risking your health and well-being.  Stop!  Breathe!  Unplug!  Even if you do this for a small amount of time, it refreshes and recharges you physically and mentally.  You may have ways that help you switch off during stressful times so use them now.  Going for a run or walk, exercise (my personal event stress buster), yoga, meditation, listening to music (yay!), seeing friends are just some suggestions for de-stressing.  Whatever works to help you unwind and relax.

Some things you also need to avoid in order to decrease your event stress level.  These include avoiding stimulants such as coffee (bye, bye Starbucks runs!) and alcohol.   It’s only temporary so you will survive.

Probably the most important things to help you de-stress, and people take for granted or ignore, is getting enough sleep and eating healthy.  Both activities seem to go out the window quickly for event planners, especially at the peak of event planning.  Sleeping and eating healthy aren’t just for well-being and beauty, but are important to helping you stay energized, ready to work productively, and reduce event stress.

The better you take care of yourself, the fewer tendencies you will have to over react to everything.  Event professionals tend to be prone to offering hospitality to others and ignore their own needs.  Don’t fall into that trap.  Here’s where just breathing is important.

Using Event Technology Helps Reduce Event Stress

Use event technology where it provides usefulness and cuts down on tedious work.  In this day and age of tight budgets, fast-paced planning, and short timelines, this is critical to keep your event stress under control.  You know it’s true.  We discussed earlier the online technology for helping you create your event checklists – what else should be on your event technology list?  Other obvious technologies include using safe and reliable online event registration and management software and get rid of the old fashion way of registering by fax or phone which is slow and stressful.  Event registration and management software is a case of using technology wisely, saving time, and reducing event stress.  Think about automating emails and social media posts, a feature which should be part of event management software.

Another example is to use social media accounts like Twitter for getting the word out and marketing your event  – before, during, after -as well as creating a community for your event attendees.  Sound like just one more task to do?  Maybe, but it is amazing in how it can help reduce your stress of “how can I reach more people?”  It’s also a wonderful way to engage your attendees and create a fun event.

Our Conclusions on Event Stress

As event professionals, we all experience some level of stress as we plan and manage our work life.  We need to deliver great attendee experiences, make our bosses or clients happy but also need to preserve ourselves and stay physically and mentally healthy.  Our stress deeply affects the way we perform.  Our team, our colleagues, our attendees notice it.  Using some, maybe all of these steps discussed can help keep your event stress in check, keep you healthy, and hopefully sane.  Try them and happy event planning!

Online Event Registration Software:  rsvpBOOK Reduces Your Event Stress

Using event technology to make your event planning and management easier and run more smoothly is really a no-brainer.  Finding the right event technology to help you is another story.  At rsvpBOOK we believe we are the right online event registration and management software to reduce your event stress.  We believe we make the complex easier.

We can provide you smart, simple online event registration and event management software to save time, save money and allow you to work more efficiently to get things done right and on time in this era of increasing high expectations and event stress.  And, the versatility of rsvpBOOK event management software meets your needs no matter the event type or size, from professional training meetings and workshops to large conferences.

Our powerful software brings together all the online registration and event management, marketing, email automation, social media tools, onsite check-in, evaluation and attendee feedback reports, database integration, online payment processing tools you need into a single place. We help you streamline your event processes from beginning to end.  And if you need us?  We’re here for you via phone, email, or online chat.

 

rsvpBook has you covered so your event can manage itself and you have less event stress.   Smart. Simple.  Efficiently.

 

Try us at www.rsvpBOOK.com.  We make the complex, easier.

 

 

5 Simple Ways to Keep Your Event Data Safe

Keeping Event Data Secure is critical

Keeping Event Data Secure is critical

In a recent article by the Event Manager Blog, the post discussed the Coachella music festival website data breach earlier this year which led to hundreds of thousands of people’s personal information ending up in the wrong hands.  (http://bit.ly/2nHgnpE )  Such an event data breach is certainly an event professional’s worst nightmare.  Although you can’t always prevent very determined cyber hackers from stealing personal and financial information, you can make every effort to make your event data as secure as possible,

From retailers and banks to tech companies and Hollywood movie studios, data has been exposed as crackable, hackable and exploitable. Your event data is just as vulnerable.  With today’s events reaching thousands or even millions of people, event data breaches become more possible.

How can event data hackers access event attendees’ personal information? Opportunities to collect event data are everywhere at events including pre-event emails, registration systems (online and onsite), interactive technologies especially those using unsecured Wi-Fi, mobile apps, insufficient event tech provider security.

… And the list goes on. Event data brings incredible insights and measurement capabilities to event professionals. However, with the industry overflowing in information, we now also have the responsibility of protecting it.

Although such breaches are unlikely to be problems, you still don’t want the fear of an event data breach of your attendees’ personal information to keep you awake at night.   Safeguarding event data is key, but how?

There are basic protection actions, such as using PCI-compliant registration collection platforms and identifying a privacy policy and a communication plan if and when an event data breach does occur and deploying apps that allow for opt-ins, or additional levels of security in areas that are considered more vulnerable.  But in addition to these protections, here are 5 other simple ways to keep your event data safe.

Make Your Event Data Safe by Watching Your Emails

It’s fast, it’s easy, it’s convenient.  It’s also a great way for you to accidentally let attendees’ personal information and event data flow into the wrong hands.  Most of us conduct our event planning and management via emails because of its speed of delivery and efficiency.  We are not suggesting you stop using email for your events – that would be ridiculous.  We are suggesting, however, you think twice about what attendee information and event data – such as lists, invoices, and reports – you are sharing in an email and who you are sharing the information with.

Don’t put anything in an email that you wouldn’t share openly in the least secure manner.  If you don’t need to email it, don’t – try walking over to your colleague’s office or use the phone to call your partners, stakeholders or tech provider with event data.

What about Those Passwords and Your Event Data?

In a world where cybersecurity and identity theft are on everyone’s radar, it is amazing how many event professionals are lax in password protection protocols.  We all understand strong passwords are critical but once in place, very few event professionals set up a schedule to change and update their event system passwords regularly.  To you this screams “hassle!”  To event data thieves this screams “access!”

Password changes are usually done under the direction of the IT person and can range from 90, 180 or once a year.  Best practices for how often vary but it is good to make it happen, especially when there is a change in personnel or when an event data breach, no matter how minor, has occurred.

Are you in the habit of sharing your passwords with colleagues?  Guilty too.   It’s often quick and easy but sharing passwords even with members of your own team can lead to intentional or unintentional breakdowns in security of event data, especially the critical financial information.

Make sure you know who on your event team has access to your event system and event data.  Monitor and possibly restrict access or create multi-level access processes as necessary.  And be sure to cut access immediately to those employees who leave your company or organization as well as former vendors or stakeholders.

Is the thought of managing passwords making you feel stressed?  Remembering your personal passwords is hard enough but now adding those you have at the office can seem overwhelming.   Then try one of many password manager options available to help you out, like LastPass or 1Password that help pick random passwords and synchronize them across many devices.

Moving Event Data Around – Printing and Using USB Devices

Having event data in hard copy print form or moving it around on USB devices greatly increases the chances of it getting lost, stolen or compromised.  It is best not to use such methods.   Cut out the need to print out materials or transfer between systems with a USB device by integrating event data with all the other systems you use for your events so that it is automatically updated in all systems.

This is particularly important while onsite at events.  Don’t leave registration lists or electronic devices like laptops, tablets or smartphones unattended.  Make sure any event data on your screens is not visible to unauthorized users and, of course, do not discuss sensitive information in public areas around strangers where it can be overheard.  Seems like common sense – it is, but under stressful and fast-paced onsite event situations, we can forget to be cautious.

Ensure your team is well trained to protect event data and know the measures they can take to keep it safe from prying eyes and itchy fingers.  Creating and following event data security policies is important and a wise practice for you as an event professional.

What Your Event Tech Provider Has to Do with Event Data Security

Event and meeting professionals often use outside event technology vendors to help with event registration, planning and management.  Because you do, they become an important part of your event data security umbrella.

Make sure your event technology provider’s security policy and practices make protecting your event data a top priority at every step of your event process.  Find out from your provider where your event data is stored and how it is stored – how often it is backed up and when it is deleted.  Learn its plans and practices to protect your event data in case an event data breach does occur.  Ensure that your event data is protected if it is integrated with event apps, event registration and management systems or other event-related systems.  Finally, make sure you know and are happy with the people at your event tech provider who have access to your event data and how they provide authorization and share that information.  How do they deal with an employee who has access to your event data but leaves?

What Do You Do When an Event Data Breach Occurs?

So it happens and you’re devastated.  Who wouldn’t be?  As with any crime, you need to report it to the proper authorities.  And, as scary and uncomfortable as it is, it is important to be transparent and as soon as possible inform your registrants and attendees. The sooner they can take action to protect themselves by changing passwords, the less of a problem you will have on your hands.
To avoid stumbling around and panicking when an event data breach occurs, it is wise to have an existing company or organization policy in place and the right staff trained to take action when an incident occurs.  Preparation can take the edge off such distressing situations and help you and your team focus and respond quickly and efficiently.

Conclusion

It’s impossible to make your event data completely hacker proof, but it is important to take steps to lessen the possibility of it ever happening.  Consider the ways discussed here and others from your team and IT people to make sure your event data is safeguarded.  Also have a plan in place for if or when an event data breach occurs.  You’ll sleep better at night.

And one more thing…please share these tips with others and repost this on your social media channels and emails.  We all want our event data to be safe and secure.

rsvpBOOK – An Event Tech Provider Safeguarding Your Event Data

At rsvpBOOK we realize you have your hands full with planning and managing a successful event.  Worrying about the security of your event data should not be one of those issues you lose sleep over at night.  That is why as your event tech provider we put safeguarding your event data at the top of our list.  How?  Just a few ways include:

  • Using a PCI-DSS compliant collection platform
  • Every transaction is sent using 256 bit SSL secured connections
  • Event-specific login control to minimize unnecessary employee access to data
  • All shareable event reports containing attendee event data can be password protected before sending to third parties

rsvpBOOK provides you a smart, simple online event registration and event management software to save time, save money and allow you to work more efficiently to get things done right and on time.

Our powerful software brings together all the online registration and event management, marketing, onsite check-in, evaluation and attendee feedback reports, online payment processing tools you need into a single place. We help you streamline your event processes from beginning to end.   And, the versatility of rsvpBOOK event management software meets your needs no matter the event type or size, from professional training meetings and workshops to large conferences.

Try us at www.rsvpBOOK.com.  We make the complex, easier.

 

 

 

 

Online Summer Camp Registration Software – 9 Tips for Selecting

Online Summer Camp Registration gets you ready for fun!

Summer Camp Online Registration gets you ready for fun!

 

Raise your hand if you remember summer camp as a kid!  Well I hope those hands are raised in enthusiasm but  I  imagine not all summer camp experiences were that great…like the time my church camp lost my suitcase and I had to wear the same outfit for 3 days straight – UGH!  But I’m really here to talk with you camps and camp organizations.  How many of you are looking for ways to offer online summer camp registration that is easy and convenient for your camper parents and can eliminate many of the hassles of managing your summer camp programs?  Raise your hands!  OK…let’s talk.

Online Summer Camp Registration Software:  So Many Questions!

If you have evaluated online summer camp registration software lately in anticipation of upgrading your camp program registrations, you may have noticed the many software suppliers out there and all the features they offer you.  Each camp registration supplier offers what it considers to be the most important features that your summer camp absolutely must have to be successful.  The sight of all the information can be overwhelming.

But let’s focus on a few key points to consider in your search.  The first question people ask is “what is the best online summer camp registration software?”  Answer:  there is no “best online summer camp registration software.”   That is the wrong question to ask because what is best for your competitor or the organization across town, may not be the best one for you.  Your decision needs to be based on what fits you and your needs and what answers your camp registration and management challenges.  Questions like:  Do you need a full camp management system or is a more tailored system a better fit?  If you are charging a fee, how do you collect payments?  Is the software user friendly for parents and easy to administer for you? Are you maintaining a database in which you need to collect detailed or sensitive parent and camper information?  Do you need other features such as email and marketing and report capabilities as part of the software package?

And these are just a few questions regarding your priorities.  Other considerations in choosing include:  What have been the painful online summer camp registration experiences that you want to avoid in the future?  What practices do you want to stop doing?  How can you become more efficient?  The list could go on but it is really a list you need to create and ask yourself and your team when going through the selection process.  The bottom line is to know your needs, your priorities, your customer (the parents and campers) and not get sidetracked with the unnecessary bells and whistles that don’t fit your prioritized needs.

Online Summer Camp Registration Software:  What Are Your Priorities?

Since what is part of online summer camp registration means different things to different people and organizations, before you choose software decide what it means to you.  In particular, ask yourself:

  • What functionalities do I really need for my summer camp program? Ultimately you need an online summer camp registration software and management system that works for your program and not that of other camps. The software you choose should give you exactly what you need – nothing more or less.  Before you begin looking at software options, evaluate what functionalities you really need and those you’d like to have but aren’t necessary (the wish list) and prioritize them.  Do this before your search since it will help you stay focused on your needs and not get caught in the software demo trap of believing you need to change everything and your program needs every feature presented to you.  Remind yourself and ask: “Is it something I need?” If not, put it aside for now.  Perhaps a full-blown summer camp management systems with too many features isn’t a good fit for you.  Maybe a smaller more customized system tailored to your specific needs works better.  You can answer this question better if you have done your homework and prioritized what functionalities you need versus the ones you wish you could have.
  • Do I need a full online summer camp registration software and management system or is a smaller more tailored system a better fit? If you don’t run many summer camp sessions, you may not need all the bells and whistles of a more complex, feature-rich online summer camp registration software and management system. But if you’re planning numerous sessions with large numbers of campers, some sophisticated online summer camp registration tools will help you manage such things as email communications, marketing for multiple sessions, data collection, staff management, and reports. This is where you cross the line from just dealing with simple summer camp registration to actual camp management and need help with juggling many balls at once.  If your priorities have crossed this line, keep looking for a more sophisticated software fit.  Even customized systems can provide these features but make sure you will use them.
  • How will I collect online summer camp registration fees and other kinds of online payments too? If you are planning to sell items either through your website or a Camp Store, or take other online payments, it’s worth considering software that will meet all your online payment needs.   Need to offer multiple payment methods or payment plans?  Make sure your software provider offers these too so your customers can register easily and quickly.  Because anything which involves the exchange of money online, make sure whatever online summer camp registration software service you use is compliant with data requirements set by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) to ensure transaction security.  If you’re just looking for something inexpensive and don’t need elaborate features, PayPal might work well.  At an approximately 2.5% transaction fee, it’s one of the least expensive ways to take online payments.  It doesn’t, however, integrate seamlessly into your website and doesn’t offer online registration features like the ability to cap the number of registrations.  Camp organizations with more technical experience could also consider PayPal’s Pro system which offers better website integration.
  • How will I collect and manage registration information and create reports for smart decision-making? This could become a long list but consider registration information you need to track and monitor as well as create reports for you and your board?  Information like tracking changes in camp registration numbers for each of your sessions – sell-outs, cancellations, waiting lists.  This is especially important if you are doing multiple camp sessions and programs.  Any online summer camp registration software you choose needs to be able to help streamline and, if possible, automate these tasks for you so you can adjust and act quickly to notify campers’ families.  Also, having comprehensive reporting tools as part of your software to analyze everything from camper data to financial performance against your goals helps decision-making.  Check software for its report capabilities to track the information that is important to you either through templates or custom reports.  Maybe you did a special promotion or ad – how effective was that?  Who did you send camp information to but didn’t respond?  Who cancelled and reasons why?  What are your most (and least) popular sessions or programs?  Just a few thoughts but the point is to have comprehensive reporting tools so you can know and not guess what is happening.  Finally, it’s a good idea that whatever tools a software offers, that it also be downloadable into the spreadsheet program you use and shareable with important third parties. 
  • How will I communicate to campers and camper families? How will I market my summer camp?  Is this a priority for you?  It really should be no matter how small your summer camp organization.  As you well know, gone are the days when communicating with people was done only via snail-mail and the phone.  Enter e-mail and social media.  So it goes almost without say (but I am just in case it slipped your mind), your online summer camp registration software and management system should be sophisticated enough to provide email and social media marketing tools for your summer camp.  Check for email capabilities that help you create, automate and schedule informational and promotional communications to your campers and camper families.  And although flyers and brochures still may be in your promotional tool box, update your marketing efforts with social media.  Harness the power of social media to increase your reach – make sure your next online summer camp registration software and management system has these tools for the most popular social media channels.

Online Summer Camp Registration Software:  A Guide for Selecting

You and your team have asked many questions about your online summer camp registration software needs and are ready to start the selection process.  What other things should guide your decision.  There are at least four other pieces to consider before getting our online summer camp registration software.

  • Ease of Use. As when buying a car, take the online summer camp registration software you’re considering for a test-drive.  Getting a free trial so you can get the feel for the camper and camper family experience and software design is important.  While the software may look good on paper (or in a demo with the software company people), it may not be that easy to use in the real world when you use it on your own.  You want software that is easy to use for you and your camper families.  After all, the whole point of getting the online summer camp registration software is to make your life easier and create a good experience for them.  And yes, good online summer camp registration is part of the camper experience.
  • Customer Support. Not much is more disconcerting than running into software problems at absolutely the worst time and not having anyone to help you. This is especially if you’re new to online registration software or suffer from tech anxiety.  When selecting your online summer camp registration software, make sure the provider offers resources and guidance on how to successfully use the software to help you and your camper families.  Make sure you have a variety of options to contact them – phone, email, online chat.  Good customer service can define good software, especially in a crisis.
  • If you are doing a lot of camp sessions or programs, or even if you’re not but they vary in size or type, you really want to study the versatility of any software you are considering.  Consider choosing software that is capable of handling all your camp sessions and programs and is easily scalable.  Having multiple software platforms to do different sizes or types of summer camps is not only costly, it is inefficient and confusing.  Then there is the learning curve for you and your repeat campers.  Why do that to yourself… and them.  Go for the versatility in a single software that can work across all camp types and sizes.  Make life easier and less chaotic.  It’s worth it.
  • Quality of Features. There’s the old adage, “it’s quality, not quantity” and it’s important here.  If you get both characteristics in a software, great but let’s keep the eye on the quality of features.  As a busy individual, you need a number of features in order to successfully plan and hold your summer camps.  However, don’t get caught up in the comparison shopping too much.  Pay attention to the quality and richness of the features.  Make sure the functionality is there.  Look for features that are easy to use and that can actually help you and provide your campers and camper families a good experience.

Online Summer Camp Registration Software:  rsvpBOOK Fitting Your Needs

So you’re searching for online summer camp registration software to fit your needs.   rsvpBOOK can be your fitness savior.  We take the complex and make it easier.  We provide you smart, simple online summer camp registration software to save time, save money and allow you to work more efficiently to get things done right and on time.  Our powerful software brings together all the online registration and management, communications, marketing, reports, databases integration, online payment processing tools you need into a single place. We help you streamline your processes from beginning to end.  And if you need us?  We’re here for you via phone, email, or online chat.

rsvpBOOK saves you time and money, so you can use it to take care of more demanding matters and focus on what’s important – creating the best summer camp experience imaginable.

 Come try us at www.rsvpBOOK.com.  We’re making the complex easier.

Online Event Registration Software: 7 Tips to Find Your Fit

Online Event Registration Software: Finding Your Fit

 

It’s December and another year has blown past us faster than the Starship Enterprise.  It’s often a time for reflection on what has been good and not so good and pondering ways to improve for the next year.  For event professionals such reflections can turn to reviewing event management practices and technologies used during the past year and deciding to keep them, upgrade them, or toss them out for something different.  One item that may be on this list is your online event registration software.

These days, most attendees expect to register for events online which means you’ll need software that accepts online payments, manage attendee information and more.  Fortunately, there are many tools to help you, ranging from simple to sophisticated and all the way to multi-functional.  So many, in fact, that choosing one can be overwhelming.   Online event registration means different things to different people so the choice you make needs to work for what it means to you.  To decide what might be the online event registration software for you, ask yourself some relevant questions.

Online Event Registration Software:  What to Ask Yourself

When selecting an online event registration and management software, the first question many event professionals may ask is, “what is the best event registration software?”  That is probably the wrong question to ask because what is best for your competitor or the organization or company across town, may not be the best one for you.  Your decision needs to be based on what fits you and your needs and what answers your event planning “pain points.”  Questions like:  How many events or meetings are you doing each year? What are your event registration priorities? For example, do you just need to get some basic online event registration capability up and going, or do you have more sophisticated requirements?  If you are charging a fee, how do you collect payments? Am I maintaining a database in which I need to collect attendee information?

And these are just a few questions regarding your event priorities.  Other considerations in choosing include:  What have been the painful event registration experiences that you want to avoid in the future?  What event practices do you want to stop doing?  How can you become more efficient?  The list could go on but it is really a list you need to create and ask yourself and your team when going through the selection process.

Online Event Registration Software:  What Are Your Event Priorities?

Since online event registration means different things to different people, companies, and organizations, so before you choose software decide what it means to you.  In particular, ask yourself:

  • Do you simply need a quick, inexpensive and easy way to do registrations for a few events per year? If you don’t run many events, you may not need all the bells and whistles of a more complex, feature-rich online event registration system. But if you’re planning to hold complex conferences, meetings, or other larger events, some sophisticated online event registration tools will help you manage such things as lodging, an event website, name tags, registrations for multiple sessions within the event, social media, check-in and much more.  This is where you cross the line from just dealing with simple event registration to actual event management and need help with juggling many balls at once.  If your event priorities have crossed this line, keep looking for a more sophisticated software fit.
  • How will you collect registration fees and other kinds of online payments too? If you are planning to support online donations, sell items, or take other online payments, it’s worth considering software that will meet all your online payment needs.   Because anything which involves the exchange of money online, make sure whatever online event registration software service you use is compliant with data requirements set by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) to ensure transaction security.  If you’re just looking for something inexpensive and don’t need elaborate features, PayPal might work well.  At an approximately 2.5% transaction fee, it’s one of the least expensive ways to take online payments.  It doesn’t, however, integrate seamlessly into your website and doesn’t offer online event registration features like the ability to cap the number of registrations.  Companies and organizations with more technical experience could also consider PayPal’s Pro system which offers better website integration.
  • Is integrating registrants into your database a key event priority? If you conduct a lot of events and meetings and attendees are key stakeholders for your company or organization, think through how you get registrant information into your database.  Consider integration methods or software systems that support not just online event registration but all your stakeholder management needs.  Does the software integrate with a CRM through data sharing or can it export data (as a .cvs or .xls file) that you can import to your database?  If you’re conducting a lot of events, or want a clear view of how your stakeholders are involved with your company or organization, generally a more sophisticated integrated software system can be worth the investment.  So evaluate the functionality of your existing (or first being purchased) online event registration software and see if it is fitting your needs here.  If not, time to check other options.

Online Event Registration Software:  A Guide for Choosing

You and your team have asked many questions about your event planning needs and are ready to start the selection process.  What other things should guide your decision.  There are at least four other pieces to consider before getting our online event registration software.

  • Ease of Use. As when buying a car, take the online event registration software you’re considering for a test-drive.  Getting a free trial so you can get the feel for the user experience and software design is important.  While the software may look good on paper (or in a demo with the software company people), it may not be that easy to use in the real world when you use it on your own.  You want software that is easy to use.  After all, the whole point of getting the online event registration software is to make your life easier and create a good experience for your attendees. And yes, good online event registration is part of the attendee experience.
  • Customer Support. Not much is more disconcerting than running into software problems at absolutely the worst time of your event and not having anyone to help you. This is especially if you’re new to event planning software or suffer from tech anxiety.  When selecting your online event registration software, make sure the provider offer resources and guidance on how to successfully use the software to help you and your attendees.  Make sure you have a variety of options to contact them – phone, email, online chat.  Good customer service can define good software, especially in a crisis.
  • If you are doing a lot of events, or even if you’re not but they vary in size, type or format, you really want to study the versatility of any software you are considering.  Consider choosing software that is capable of handling all your events and is easily scalable.  Having multiple software platforms to do different events is not only costly, it is inefficient and confusing.  Then there is the learning curve for you and your repeat attendees.  Why do that to yourself… and them.  Go for the versatility in a single software that can work across all events.  Make life easier and less chaotic.  It’s worth it.
  • Quality of Features. There’s the old adage, “it’s quality, not quantity” and it’s important here.  If you get both characteristics in a software, great but let’s keep the eye on the quality of features.  As a busy event professional, you need a number of features in order to successfully plan and execute your events and meetings.  However, don’t get caught up in the comparison shopping too much.  Pay attention to the quality and richness of the features.  Make sure the functionality is there.  Look for features that are easy to use and that can actually help you achieve event goals and provide your attendees a good user experience.

Online Event Registration Software:  rsvpBOOK Fitting Your Needs

So you’re searching for online event registration software to fit your needs.   rsvpBOOK can be your fitness savior.  We can provide you a smart, simple online event registration and event management software to save time, save money and allow you to work more efficiently to get things done right and on time in this era of increasing constraints but high expectations.  And, the versatility of rsvpBOOK online event registration software meets your needs no matter the event type or size, from professional training meetings and workshops to large conferences.

Our powerful software brings together all the online event registration and management, marketing, onsite check-in, evaluation and attendee feedback reports, databases integration, online payment processing tools you need into a single place. We help you streamline your event processes from beginning to end.  And if you need us?  We’re here for you via phone, email, or online chat.

rsvpBOOK has you covered so your event can manage itself.   Smart. Simple.  Efficiently.

Save you time and money, so you can use it to take care of more demanding matters and focus on what’s important – creating the best event and valuable attendee experience imaginable.

 

Come try us at www.rsvpBOOK.com  Work smarter, not harder.  Start with our FREE trial today!

 

Crowdsourcing Your Next Event: 5 Helpful Steps

Crowdsouring for your next event
Crowdsouring for your next event

Crowdsourcing can make many heads better than one for your events

As event professionals we plan our events to make our attendees happy – draw them in, engage them, make them want more, and return next time.  We want to make sure that we are meeting their needs and ultimately getting a positive ROI for them and for our company or organization.  Arranging speakers and topics often 12 months in advance is a challenge.  Delivering quality up-to-date content to your attendees isn’t always as simple as highlighting trends, buzzworthy topics, or celebrity speakers.  Now attendees not only want to participate in the event itself, they also want to play a part in deciding what it is.  One tactic that event professionals are starting to use with the process of selecting topics and speakers for their events is crowdsourcing.

What is Crowdsourcing?

So what exactly is crowdsourcing and how do you use it for event planning? Crowdsourcing is the process of collecting information, content, and ideas by asking for contributions from a large group of people.  For event professionals, that large group of people should consist of those who have attended similar events in the past as well as the members of your target market.  You can use it in many ways – selecting speakers and panel session content topics as well as choosing attendee activities at your event.  Done right, crowdsourcing can be a great way to delegate some of your event work to attendees, find innovative solutions to problems, produce new ideas and generate excitement for and personal investment in your event.

Getting Ready for Crowdsourcing – Ask Questions

But are you ready to use crowdsourcing? How far do you want to jump into this type of planning process and in what areas?  How do you effectively implement crowdsourcing into your event?  Before jumping into using the crowdsourcing, you need to understand crowdsourcing an event is a co-creation process between you and your crowdsourcing participants.  It involves managing your ego as well as the egos of others in the planning process.  If also involves letting go of some of your control over every aspect of your event. Deciding if, and how much, of your event content you want to crowdsource will depend largely if these realities cause you anxiety or if you are willing to share some of the responsibility of planning with others.

If you get past this initial soul searching, the other part of deciding if, and how much of your event content and speaker selection you want to crowdsource will depend on your audience.  Some questions you should ask before you begin implementation include:

  • What kind of information are you gathering and for what purpose? New ideas? Topics of discussion? Great speakers?
  • Who do you plan to ask? What is your demographic?
  • How many sessions and speakers will participants have input on? Are you going to be adventurous and go all out or are you going to be more conservative and limit the areas of crowdsourcing?
  • What feedback have you already received from past attendees and stakeholders which can help set your direction and event framework?
  • How will you collect ideas and suggestions, evaluate them, and make the final selection?
  • How will you promote your crowdsourcing to your target audience and interested participants?

You may have others you want to include in your decision making but these should help you get moving on the right path.  Knowing the answers to these questions will help you to set reasonable expectations for your event.  They will also provide you a framework within which to do your crowdsourcing process.

Crowdsourcing Process in Action – Setting the Framework

Once you decide to use crowdsourcing as part of your event, make it easy for your audiences and stakeholders to suggest ideas by utilizing your digital and social media online resources, implement a smart evaluation and selection process, and do plenty of promotion to reach people.  Let’s start with soliciting input.

Every event has a theme providing a framework within which topics and speakers relevant to the theme are created and eventually selected.  Using your framework, you have planned your thematic messages and topic strands that are going to be delivered at your event.  But not everything needs to be determined by you – include your crowdsourcing participants in the process.  Let them choose what topics they want to learn about or speakers they want to hear from too.  Someone might come up with a new and fresh speaker or topic that you have never even heard of.  Here’s where you can crowdsource ideas from your interested participants and begin your co-creation process.

Crowdsourcing Process in Action – Soliciting Input

As an event professional, you can provide topic strands within the event program that appeal to your intended audiences and encourage their participation in the decision-making.  You can do this in various ways.  Probably the easiest is to ask them in person or online what topics or keynote or panel speakers they want to include within your thematic framework.  You also can provide topics or speakers and get feedback from them.  Exploring the feedback will give you a better idea of what is in demand and important to them and not just what you think is in demand.

Some other tools for crowdsourcing include surveys, questionnaires, social media or blogs which illicit suggestions.  Employ that email list you created and your most active social media accounts and post your questions to your target audiences.  Be innovative and engage your participants.  Maybe use a unique event crowdsourcing hashtag or a contest where you reward the winner (winners) with something valuable (maybe a free pass to your event, an opportunity to introduce a speaker or chair a session).  Offering incentives is a great way to get their involvement.  Perhaps you write a blog post about your event and solicit comments and suggestions.  E-mail a survey to your mailing list.

Finally, what feedback have you received from past similar events?  Using responses and data collected from surveys and live polls taken at the time is a direct link between your event and your attendees.  This information offers a multitude of opportunities you can easily act on.  The insights gleaned can be used to design better events and attendee experiences and help you make your event as relevant and engaging as possible.

These are just some initial suggestions to get you moving forward in your crowdsourcing efforts.  What is important is to start the process and get the input so you create your event.

Crowdsourcing Process in Action – Evaluating and Selecting

How democratic do you want to be in evaluating and selecting?  This is your call and can range from opening it to all interested people in your audience to “vote” on suggestions made or establishing a smaller group of “judges” to make the final determinations on topics and speakers.  If you decide on an open process, you need to determine who gets to be a “voter” –  the entire public or only registered attendees.  Most events that use crowdsourcing require that “voters” be registered as they have more of a stake in ensuring a quality lineup at the event they are attending.  One of the big trade-offs of this type of democratic process is that final selections can delay your overall event programming and cause last minute time crunches as you finalize topics and speakers.  To avoid this, voting deadlines need to be established.  Also focus and quality may suffer but again, you hope your potential attendees are selecting for the best and hottest topics and speakers to make the event program.

On the other hand, just because you are involving the outside talent of your audience and stakeholders with crowdsourcing doesn’t mean you have to be totally democratic in your evaluation and selection process.  There needs to be some limits or restrictions here to avoid the whims of fancy.  Also setting some safeguards for evaluating and selecting topics and speakers can maintain your event focus and theme as well as ensure a certain level of content and speaker quality.

Here is where creating an advisory board or committee and using their expertise to help curate the most relevant content and speakers is beneficial.  Adding such boards or committees help you with the evaluation and selection process in some way lightens the burden and responsibility for you to make these decisions alone.  It also is a great way to gauge the kinds of topics that will most interest your event audience, especially if they have history with the event or the subject matter which has been selected as your event theme.

Once again a middle or hybrid course may be the solution for you.  An option is to use the advisory committee or board to do the initial screening of topics and speakers before opening the process to voting by the public or registered attendees.  It can be easier and more effective for those who participate in the selection to have a refined list of possibilities rather than an endless, and perhaps confusing, list.  It also helps you with a bit of quality control.

Crowdsourcing Process in Action – Promoting Your Efforts

Don’t forget to promote the opportunity to get involved in your crowdsourcing efforts. Whether you are crowdsourcing ideas before your current event or during a previous event, make sure everyone knows they are invited to contribute and how to do it.

As with soliciting suggestions input, use your email list of current and previous attendees and other stakeholders; actively engage with your target audiences on your most active social media accounts and hangouts; and don’t forget in-app push notifications to get the word out.  Your website and blogs are also great promotional tools to let people know what you are doing.

Whatever methods you use to promote your event crowdsourcing efforts, it is important to reach as broad and diverse a segment of your targeted audience as possible.  It provides you a great pool of talent and ideas which you alone may never have thought of or even considered.  Perhaps two heads are better than one?  It also engages them as potential attendees to your event and provides them an opportunity to engage with you and your brand.

Crowdsourcing Conclusions

The benefits of crowdsourcing are clear – not only do you gain ideas from a diverse group of people and get more interesting results for your event but it also allows you to actively engage your attendees and ensures you are covering what they really want to discuss and learn at your event.  The potential for a richer attendee experience is greatly increased by involving them.  They will be much more engaged with your event and more likely attend if you include them in the decision-making process.  For you, it positions you as creative and innovative and if that isn’t enough, it can lighten your event programming load by including others in the process.  Between you and your crowdsourcing partners, you are creating a successful event.

About Us – rsvpBOOK

rsvpBOOK is an online event registration and event management software.  We help you streamline your event processes, from beginning to end, from creating your event website, to on-site resources, attendee and stakeholder feedback technology, and final accounting reports.  Use your time to take care of more demanding matters – creating an outstanding attendee experience.

rsvpBOOK.   It’s smart, simple, saves you time and money.  Let’s you work smarter, not harder.

Try rsvpBOOK at www.rsvpBOOK.com.  Start your free trial today!