Author Archives: rsvpBOOK

Attendee Experience – 5 Ways to Make it All About Them

Attendee experience is important to event successSo I have been reading yet another article or two on improving attendee experience at events and meetings and felt I needed to chime in here on the discussion.  Why another blog on this topic? Well partly because I have been both an event professional and an attendee – as I am sure most of you have – and want to provide my own two cents from seeing both sides of the event table.  I also have noticed that the articles I have read are either focused almost exclusively on the logistical angle (ok I am guilty of at least one blog focused on this) or totally focused on how to help attendees party like it’s 1999 (did I just date myself here?)

Surely there is a happy medium of where one can merge the two to discuss the best of both topics – managing traditional logistics and creating experiences that engage attendees and encourage social interactions and relationship building.  Both play an important role in the overall attendee experience.

Attendee Experience – What it is, What it is Not

Going out on a limb here and giving my perspective of what the attendee experience is and is not.  It’s not just having all your logistics lined up so you’re not panicking.  It’s not your attendees fed, moving around effortlessly from session to session listening to speakers and no one complaining (yet) about the WiFi connection.  It’s not just having the right content for the right audience.  It’s not just about having loud audacious receptions and the latest gaming technology available for them to play with during your event or meeting – although in some situations, these are not the worst ideas.   It is, however, expertly packaging all these event essentials and seamlessly incorporating them into your event or meeting.  It is the logistics essentials worked out as well as the intangible element ensuring the attendees’ desire for social interactions and relationship building is also part of your event plan.   In reality, it IS all about them.

So if we are going to discuss the essentials of the attendee experience, we can discuss the key logistics necessities which put smiles on their faces as well as the ways which events and meeting can ensure those other intangible needs are met to ensure people really are the ultimate focus.

Attendee Experience – What Do You Really Want?

What do attendees really want?  This is the $64,000 question and getting inside the heads of attendees to learn the answers can be challenging.  I can’t write about everything but I will discuss a few big “I wants” I’ve heard repeatedly and provide some simple solutions.  I’ll then discuss addressing the intangible needs of attendees and how you can make them part of your great event attendee experience.

Attendee Experience Really Want – Online Event Registration

Attendees have gone digital and you had better be by now.  That’s where they want and expect to register for just about everything.  Ditch the paper registration forms – if you haven’t already – and get online now!  With the plethora of online event registration and management software platforms available, doing paper registration must not be even a consideration.  Collect registration details once and use the information provided to quickly and easily compile future marketing data, print name badges and rosters, personalize all future communications, and check-in attendees on-site or before your event.

Attendee Experience Really Want – Fast Check-in

Checking in should not be the event version of the Beatle’s song, The Long and Winding Road.  No reason for this at all with today’s on-site check-in technology readily available.  Attendees want to be checked in quickly, not with several minutes of organized chaos while you look for their registration information.  On-site line management is both a science and an art for event professionals which can be mastered with the right tools.  With technology like scan guns and barcodes and QR codes , scanning keeps lines moving is fast becoming the norm at events and meetings.  In addition, on-site self-check-in kiosks are another way attendees can move along without your involvement.   Making event check-in as seamless as possible for attendees makes your life easier too.

Attendee Experience Really Want – Communication, Early, Often and Via Mobile

Do we really need to discuss this?  Probably not but I will briefly.  Your attendees are connected to the outside world via smartphones, tablets or other mobile devices so connect with then wherever and whenever.  Send them up-to-the-minute event details, program changes, email notifications and automatic alerts.  Give them easy access to event materials that they can share on their social networks, downloads of handouts and relevant links.

Communicate with them early and often.  You are not the only email or text message they receive.  You are up against stiff competition but you can get through to them.  It just may mean being repetitive perhaps through a series of email notifications or alerts over a period of time rather than just one.  And email is not the only channel to use – you do know about social media.  Communicate with them across all your platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, wherever your target audience is found.

Finally speed is paramount.  In a world where connectedness reduces time delays, attendees expect and demand fast action.  They are happiest when you respond to their questions or messages quickly, usually within the same business day.

Attendee Experience Really Want – You to Be Prepared

To paraphrase the words of a song in Mel Brooks’ movie The Twelve Chairs, hope for the best but expect the worst.  Perhaps a bit dire, but you do need to be prepared for the unexpected and make such happenings as painless as possible for you and your attendees.  The most common “unexpected” is when an attendee can’t make it and wants a refund.  Make sure your policy is clearly stated.  What’s your viable back up plan for inclement weather?  Or if the staff at the hotel you are having your event goes on strike. (this last one did happen to me – oh boy!)

Recently, there is a movement to establish an event code of conduct.  Setting up your expectations upfront and ensuring your event is a safe place for everyone is increasingly becoming part of your event or meeting preparation.   A code of conduct is your public statement that you value your attendees and will protect their rights to attend and learn without harassment.

Attendee Experience Really Want – The Important Intangibles

So well planned logistics put the smiles on attendees’ faces and lowers your stress level.  What about those intangibles which are harder to measure but are critical to the attendee experience?  You cannot shy away from addressing this part of the attendee experience just because it is more elusive to design and plan or difficult to measure success.

As Jeff Hurt with Velvet Chainsaw wrote about improving attendee experience, “Successful conferences will focus less on the logistics and more on creating experiences that foster communication, interactions and relationship building of their attendees.  They will focus less on providing experiences that transfer information and more on experiences that will allow people to discuss content, share stories and build connections.” (Improving Conference Attendee Experiences, Velvet Chainsaw, March 19, 2012).

This statement is as true today as it was four years ago when first written.  Today’s event attendee demands and expects more time to connect and communicate with other attendees at an event or meeting.  Large audacious receptions and gaming opportunities may provide some of this for certain types of events and attendees.  However, it has been my experience both as an event professional and an attendee, people are looking for more intimate one-on-one or small group opportunities to discuss, communicate and build the important relationships.  My perspective has a lot to do with the type of events I did but even so, peace and calm are eventually where people go to get their best interactions done.

What are some ways to design these attendee experiences?  Going back to articles by Jeff Hurt again, he validated some practices I have used (after trial and error and making many mistakes) but also provided some additional great ideas.  Let’s start with the typical event or meeting format.  When possible, move away from the large sessions with talking heads and promote discussion among attendees by designing for small group interactions within the larger session.  Better still create smaller sessions for the more intimate exchange of ideas and greater attendee participation.

Craft sessions which lead with questions that encourage attendees to participate and ask more of the right questions rather than provide “the” solutions to problems.  This format encourages out-of-the-box thinking, new insights and fresh ideas to address old professional or work problems facing attendees.  What value that adds to an attendee experience!

Move away from the “expert” speaker monologue with PowerPoint slides and actively involve attendees.  Facilitate this with a dynamic question and answer format that immediately engages attendees.  Speaker or panel interaction with attendees reduces the droning head and heavy eyelids of attendees.  The sleepy one-sided presentation is replaced hopefully by buzz and energy as people talk more informally and share insights and ideas more freely.

How about those networking and relationship building opportunities?  Creating the small group sessions is a great beginning.   Attendees are interacting already on a more personal level.  Although meeting up at receptions is still common, deeper dives and closing the deals are often best left to private conversations.  Provide attendees with comfortable physical space on-site if possible to conduct these conversations.  You also can help match them up in advance using the registration information – with their permission of course – to help make initial connections.

Finally, be thoughtful and creative with physical setup. Design purposeful seating arrangement so attendees have all the tools and encouragement they need to achieve their personal goals for attending your event or meeting.  Facilitate social interaction and networking opportunities.   Create meeting spaces, networking spaces which simplify interaction attendees’ desire.

Attendee Experience – rsvpBOOK

Although rsvpBOOK cannot provide you the intangible needs for your attendee experience, we can provide you more time in the day for you to focus on creating them.  The tools in the rsvpBOOK online event registration and management software are made to make your life easier.  We’re here to save time and money so you can work more efficiently and be successful, no matter the type or size of your event or meeting.  We want you to work smarter, not harder.  rsvpBOOK lets you use your time to take care of more demanding matters – creating an outstanding attendee experience.

Try rsvpBOOK today!  Smart, simple online event registration software.

 

Online Event Registration: 7 Tools for a Better Attendee Experience

online event registration toolboxIn a previous rsvpBOOK “Bits from the BOOK” Blog, (Feeling Your Pain – Five Pain Points for Event Professionals), I talked about one serious pain point for event professionals is being stuck in old event registration and management habits.  Everything from paper registrations, voluminous binders with spreadsheets tracking attendance and event financials, long on-site check-in lines, paper evaluation surveys, and clumsy event reporting tools.

It’s really time to come into the twenty-first century and lose some of those very labor intensive event planning and management practices.  Break those old event habits, or at least the worst ones, and push your boundaries by adopting online event registration and management software.  When you update your tools and choose the best modern practices to support your organization, it can lead to much better event and meeting success outcomes and a much better experience for you and your attendees.

What’s online event registration have to do with having a better attendee experience?  More than most people (other than attendees) realize.  You don’t want to spin your wheels and are looking for ways to make your event easier.  Attendees are no different – just they are on the other side of the registration table – so to speak.  Put everything online – it not only expedites the registration process, but it also ensures more accurate information.

So what are some online event registration and management software tools which make a better experience for everyone?

Tool 1 – A Customized and Branded Online Event Registration Website

Don’t make your attendees search endlessly for your event information.  Create a custom, personally- branded online event registration website with a landing page which clearly describes your event and event details where attendees can visit and get event information.  Start with creating a design theme for your entire event that matches your brand colors and logos that will carry across your event website, registration form and marketing emails.  This provides your event important identification with attendees which they always will recognize.  Almost for this reason alone, a custom registration page and website is valuable in a registration platform.

And good news!  You don’t have to be a programmer to create your registration website either.  Using online event registration and management software like rsvpBOOK, you simply use preexisting but customizable templates.  Using a wide selection of easy-to-use tools, you can create, edit and manage your online event registration websites for all types and sizes of events and meetings.  rsvpBOOK helps you make a perfect first impression with attendees right from the beginning.

Tool 2 – We’re Going Mobile – Using Mobile Apps

While creating your website, you also can produce a web-based mobile app for your event.  According to CrowdCompass by Cvent, 44% of attendees use mobile event apps and that number is expected to continue to grow in the future.   A mobile app gives attendees the option to register wherever they are and at any time.   When half of your revenue comes from registration, you want to encourage it when the thought to do so is fresh in the registrant’s mind.

Mobile access also keeps you and your attendees connected and in contact.  Throughout the registration process – and during the event – you can send email notifications, automatic alerts, program schedule information and updates, session descriptions and additions, last minute meeting materials or location changes. Finally, that feedback survey you want attendees to fill out?  Yep, send that in a mobile-friendly format and forget the piles of paper to track.

These mobile app features are important to make your registration process and actual event less stressful, time-consuming for you and easier, more seamless for your attendees.  It is part of the attendee experience they have come to expect from you.  As an online event registration software provider, rsvpBOOK knows what you want in your web-based mobile app and provides it.  It’s what you expect from us.

Tool 3 – Got to be Nimble – Flexible Online Event Registration Options

As an event professional, you realize one registration option does not fit every event or meeting type.  If you are holding a conference, workshop or training classes, you may need to allow for registration by session.  If you are holding a fundraiser, you will want to provide your donors or sponsors the ability to donate through your event page or set up a group registration to help manage event tables.  If you are planning one main event, the registration process is also different.  Single or multiple sessions, fundraiser or social event like a wedding, flexible registration options are important.

Also important is allowing group registration and not just individual ones for your event registration website.   Group registration is a great way to increase overall attendance and at the same time simplify the registration process.   You want to get as many registrations as possible, as efficiently as possible and with as much ease for your attendees.  Whatever the situation, be prepared to handle the variety of registration needs smoothly and seamlessly and allow your website to accept both individual and group registrations.

rsvpBOOK’s online event registration software tools take the complexity out of the event registration process,  capturing information efficiently and accurately for you and simply and hassle free for event registrants.  Your website can be created to fit any event type, to manage one or multiple sessions, workshops or classes with ease, and to accept individual and group registrations.

Tool 4 – Multiple Payment Options, Adaptable and Automated Processes

Attendees want to pay in the manner in which they are most comfortable and familiar which requires your online event registration website to accommodate these personal preferences and provide multiple payment options.

Typically people choose to pay by credit card.  Others may forego credit cards (yes there are such people) and opt for a personal check.  Still others may feel more comfortable with PayPal.  Finally, there are times where company checks or electronic wire transfers are preferred.  In all cases, you need to accommodate multiple payment options to ensure the simplicity of your registration payment process for attendees.

Ease of payment makes a better attendee experience – and less of a headache for you as an event professional.  In addition, customize your flexible online payment process based on event types, registration types, discounts, refunds, and promotional codes all in one place.  Also save additional time by using automated purchase confirmation emails and receipt processing!  More efficient for you; more user-friendly for your attendees.

rsvpBOOK knows the sensitivity of online payment for you and attendees and has created tools to manage your payment process efficiently and securely.  Multiple payment options? Check.  Customized and automated online payment process? Check and check.  Saving you time and making payment more user-friendly.  Yes we do.

Tool 5 – Can you Hear Us Now?  We Like Social Networking!

What would the event world be like without social networking?   Online social networking has numerous purposes but for event professionals social networking is a great tool for creating buzz and publicizing your event before, during, and after it happens thereby boosting your attendance.  You use it but encouraging your attendees to use it by providing them easy access to social networking link icons via your event website and other online event registration and marketing communications, magnify its impact as an event marketing tool.

The popularity of Facebook as the social media choice leading up to an event and after an event is documented by the FreemanXP Event Marketing Institute.  Use the Facebook Event Manager tool to automatically post information about your event to your Facebook Events page.  The “in the moment” nature of Twitter makes it the “go to” social media platform to use during events using your event hashtag.  Although these platforms are the most popular, event professionals would be remiss to ignore others like Instagram (pictures are worth a thousand words) and LinkedIn (top site for reaching other professionals) for event marketing.  In the end, choosing the right mix of social network(s) depends a lot on which are the primary hangouts of your targeted audience so consider that when determining your social media outreach.

rsvpBOOK event management software includes social media tools which can help you create your event buzz and get the word out to help you raise attendance.  Our tools allow you and your event attendees to share links to your event through their social media profiles.  We help you quickly raise awareness in your social network and empower your registrants to help you as you broadcast and post your event details on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media networks.

Tool 6 – On-site Technology – Reducing the Check-in Lines

Ever show up at an event or meeting and the attendee line snakes around for what seems like a mile from the check-in table?  Perhaps long lines are not the top nightmare for attendees (and you), but certainly lands in the top five aggravations.  They are not a good attendee experience.  Are there solutions for this found with online event registration and management software?  Yes!

Professional event software like rsvpBOOK provides the on-site technology which takes the long lines out of checking in at an event or meeting.  Using scan guns connected to a laptop or PC only works well for larger events.  Scanning remotely using a smartphone or tablet app is another option that can be used for both small and large numbers of registrants.  For events or meeting with many registrants, Onsite Kiosks make check-in fast and easy and reduce check-in times.  The rsvpBOOK On-Site KIOSK Mode sets up a predetermined number of computers to allow last minute registrations, registrant self-check-in on-site badge printing and making final payments.  This arrangement removes the time consuming and labor intensive work from a potentially aggravating situation at any event or meeting.

Tool 7 – How’d We Do?  Online Attendee Feedback and Event Reports

If you’re using spreadsheets to keep track of the result of your event or meeting, you know how tedious and labor intensive it is.  There is a lot to keep track of including sales, attendance, after-event attendee survey responses.  With so many things to keep track of, there’s always the risk of incomplete information and errors.  In addition, it is laborious to compile the data and covert it to a format that is easily understood and shareable with others within your organization.  It’s time to ditch the paper and save time and money by going electronic with online surveys and real time accounting reports.  You and everyone else is curious to know how your event did and how to improve next time so work smarter, not harder.

Your attendees already have gone digital, so should your surveys to ensure optimum feedback on your event.   With rsvpBOOK software, you can design a custom attendee survey and easily send it automatically and track the results in real time.  And all that information can effortlessly be exported to any spreadsheet program of your choice.  Make it fast, easy, and green so you have that information for future planning as well as for your final reports to organization management.

And about those accounting reports to management?  With rsvpBOOK online event registration and management software, all the pertinent information is a click or two away.  You can track every part of your event with real time insights and quickly report revenues to your stakeholders with customizable report tools.  All reports are downloadable and can be exported to a spreadsheet program of your choice.  With rsvpBOOK software, no log in is required for sharing reports which are up-to-the-minute accurate.

Finding Your Online Event Registration Toolbox with rsvpBOOK

No time to spin your wheels?  We didn’t think so.   The tools in the rsvpBOOK online event registration and management software are made to make your life easier.  We’re here to save time and money so you can work smart and be successful, no matter the type or size of your event or meeting.  We want you to work smarter, not harder.

rsvpBOOK helps you streamline your event processes, from beginning to end, from website details, to on-site resources, and final accounting reports.  No need to duplicate information, manually process, and drag huge binders of forms with you everywhere.  Let’s reduce the paperwork!  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!

Addressing An Epidemic – Helping with Zika Virus Training for Nurses

Zika virusOutbreak – January 2016

It wasn’t that long ago – January 2016 to be exact – that the outbreak of a mosquito-borne virus adversely affecting pregnant women was making its way into the news headlines worldwide.  The Zika virus spread across South America, Central American and the Caribbean and eventually arrived in the southern United States.  Brazil, the hardest hit country, reported cases of infant microcephaly and other disturbing pregnancy outcomes for women who had been infected.   In the same month, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel alert for people traveling to regions where Zika virus transmission was ongoing.  By February 2016, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of the Zika virus a “public health emergency of international concern” a rare designation reserved for such devastating scourges as Ebola, polio, and H1N1.

As news of the Zika epidemic reached the public consciousness, health care providers knew time was of the essence and immediate action was needed.  Although health officials and medical personnel had only hazy details about the Zika virus transmission and the existence of what has since been established as an alarming causal link between Zika and associated birth defects, they realized they needed to prepare to manage expectations, raise public awareness, care for pregnant women with Zika and their babies, and martial resources necessary to push back the threat.  Success would rely on a public health and medical workforce primed, trained, and ready for the onslaught.

Addressing an Epidemic – Need for Training

Hospitals and medical personnel – doctors, nurses, and public health officials – are on the front lines 24/7 fighting the Zika virus epidemic.  Because of their central role in containing the virus, training is critical to protect them as well as the general public and care for those women and babies stricken.

So far Zika virus training has proceeded quickly and is widespread throughout the country.  But as the situation changes, so will the need for ongoing and updated training.

With the rising number of infections, hospitals and public health officials around the country are talking with their staff and providing extra training in light of the Zika virus.  Although the Zika virus is not new, the epidemic nature of this recent outbreak is significant and responding to it is requiring a variety of actions by the medical community.  Zika virus training ranges from public education about Zika virus, counseling women who are pregnant or who are planning to become pregnant, revising hospital protocols for testing and handling of specimens, to caring for and monitoring infected pregnant women and babies with Zika-related birth defects both in the short term and long term.

rsvpBOOK  – Health Care Training Management Software

So where does a software company like rsvpBOOK fit into this equation?  rsvpBOOK has been in the forefront of online event registration and management software companies working with the health care community to arrange training and continuing education classes and workshops – and not just for dealing with the Zika virus.

As you are already aware, overworked staff is a reality for many training divisions. Time is a priceless commodity.  Online event registration for hospital training is your much-needed assistant taking care of a multitude of tedious tasks to free you to focus on the training itself.   And wouldn’t you like more time in your day to spend on training materials rather than endless registration and class management details and logistics?

rsvpBOOK.com can help ensure the success of your training program.  Timeslot management, Continuing Education credit tracking, one-click reporting, automatic email reminders, employees changing their registrations, classroom size restrictions, class time updates and other issues which require a great deal of time and energy to manage and execute.   It all comes together in one place with rsvpBOOK to let you make the most of your time and resources.  And, if you’re a non-profit or government entity, we have a discount for you!

Your schedule is tight and exhausting.  rsvpBook will add hours to your day by doing the registration work for you and ease the burden on you and your staff.   So delegate training registration and management to the people who know how to make it work best and give you and your staff a great training experience.  rsvpBOOK – smart, simple online event registration and management software for all your training needs.

Try us at www.rsvpBOOK.com.  Free trials available.

Feeling Your Pain – Five Pain Points of Event Professionals

Feeling the pain - pain points of eventprofs

Blog Title - Pain BlogIt was the best of times; it was the worst of times.  Or so the phrase goes in Charles Dickens’ book, A Tale of Two Cities.  That’s how I often felt in my days as the event director for a small non-profit when the thrill of a great event would send me soaring but often the pain of getting there would make me so stressed and miserable that I would question “why am I doing this?!”

You get that roller coaster ride too?  What are some of these “pain points” that we share as event professionals and what can we do to make it the best of times… at least more often.

What I experienced, and what other event professionals I know considered their biggest pain points of event professionals include:  shrinking budgets and controlling costs, shorter lead times, not enough event staff, rapidly changing technology demands, continuing with time consuming event planning practices, and demonstrating the return on investment – ROI – to the “powers that be.”  Not saying this is a complete list but this blog can only discuss so many at a time.  So here we go…

The Incredible Shrinking Budget – WHAT Budget?

 Shrinking budgets and controlling costs are almost enemy #1.  OK you can’t hate the reality of working within a budget and controlling costs – it’s important for any company or organization to have a budget framework to work against.  But it appears most event planners agree that shrinking budgets competing against rising expectations of company management, clients and attendees is a painful experience.

The “traditional” cost structure for events and meetings also has permanently disappeared in the last several years shifting the focus toward smaller gatherings of shorter duration, scheduled regionally or locally to reduce travel and expenses for event staff and attendees. Sponsorships usually geared toward large sit-down dinners and elaborate event signage often is used for less extravagant but more necessary and functional event needs.  And this is just spending for the actual event itself.  What if there is the need for additional event staff to plan and execute?   Coffee and donuts at the local coffee shop anyone?

As event professionals we are faced with this reality so must set the tone for management, clients and attendees to reign in some less important expectations while creating memorable meetings and events.  You can cope with these challenges by making small, often easy changes which appear natural and planned for the attendees.

I’m Late! I’m Late! – Shorter Lead Times

Isn’t it great to come into the office each day feeling you’re already behind the 8-ball? It isn’t fun.  Event professionals invariably mention shortened lead times as one of the big pain points of event professionals.  I remember thinking “this should only take a few months to make it happen” I also recall when things got crazy with all the numerous moving parts going sideways on me asking myself why I didn’t start planning sooner.

Not to make excuses, but shortened lead times are a challenge of modern event planning.  Given that many organizations and companies don’t know their meeting and event budgets until the most recent fiscal results are available, the planning cycle has shrunk (along with those fun event budgets).  One or two years has been reduced to a few months or weeks for event professionals to plan everything.  No fun, lots of pressure, lots of pain.

However, as an event professional, you still have to work within the given time frame.  So let’s shake hands with some of your challenges – like venue availability, caterers, sponsors, event personnel resources, attendee lists, marketing for attendance, competing events.  The list goes on but you get the picture; you may have lived it.

Good Today, Better Tomorrow – Keeping Up with New Technology Demands

This is not a “keeping up with the Joneses” frivolous concern.  Incorporating the latest and most event audience engaging technology has grown from being a novelty to critical necessity.  The use of mobile devices has conditioned attendees to expect information, interactivity, and connectivity to be constantly available.  A well thought-out event website now has the essentials including apps, mobile sites, and the use of the familiar social media channel buttons to enhance event and meeting attendance and attendee experience.

And now the most current disruptive technology change happening on social media with important ramifications for the event industry – live streaming.  If I may quote Julius Solaris, Editor of the Event Management Blog:  “The live stream revolution is happening.  In the space of a few months, what used to be written is now live video.  The social networks’ mantra ‘tell us what’s up’ has been replaced by ‘Show us what’s up.’ (Italics added)

And have you noticed the Pokemon Go craze?  If you thought this was just a game for people with too much time on their hands, think again.  This is the use of augmented reality to play a game but with wider implication for us as event professionals who want to provide attendees with the best attendee experience.  Both live streaming and augmented reality are slow coming to events, but to ignore their importance – at some level in your event – is to lose out on a great engagement opportunity and a better attendee experience.

So maybe you don’t need the fanciest dinners or can eliminate that extra reception.  Sometimes skimping on the necessary technology may be more detrimental to the attendee experience than that extra ounce of food and drink.

But We’ve Always Done it This Way – Using Outdated Planning Practices

Well this is one of the most painful of all pain points of event professionals.  The use of multiple spreadsheets to track attendance and event financials; manual payment methods; malfunctioning databases and CRM systems; manual email invitation distribution; manual check-in (and the long lines);  paper evaluation surveys.   You name it, I experienced it all.  Do. Not. Laugh.

So what are some of your old event planning practices you hang on to?  Do you really want to keep them or do you want to move forward?  OK, I get it – as event professionals we are always short on time and money and sometimes we rely on tried and true practices as it seems like the quickest or easiest thing to do. Or maybe “we’ve always done it that way” feels comfortable and taking the leap to do things differently fills you with dread.

But it’s really time to stop and reconsider.  It’s time to come into the twenty-first century and lose some of those very labor intensive, extra work generating event planning practices.  Break those old event habits, or at least the worse ones, and push your boundaries.  When you do, you will realize that if you update your tools and choose the best modern practices to support your organization, it can lead to much better event and meeting success outcomes – with more hours in the day for you to focus on creating a better attendee experience.   To work smarter and not harder and provide your attendees the best event experience, it’s time to change.

You’re Only as Good as Your Last Event – The Pursuit of Good ROI

When your event or meeting goes well, everyone will let you know and shower you with kudos. If it doesn’t go quite so well… watch out!  You’ll DEFINITELY hear about it.  Every planning and execution step taken is scrutinized and questioned so being ready for a successful event or meeting is essential.  Sure, every event professional experiences hiccups along the way but positive ROI breathes long life into any event or meeting.  But what are you measuring to determine ROI?

Proving return on investment (ROI) is the biggest struggle for event and meeting professionals.  Sure you can measure the tangibles such as attendance goals met, expenses, evaluation feedback but what about the intangibles?  Placing values and determining ROI on the intangibles hinge on measuring a variety of hard to measure facets and quantifying them to determine the overall effectiveness of a meeting or event.  Such as how much time attendees spent in sessions, with key board members or partners or clients; how many attendees interacted with exhibitors and became customers; what about tracking social activity and attendee engagement after the event – just to name a few.

How attendees spent their time equates with interest, engagements and relationship building.  Knowing this helps you create better events and to guide future action around what has proved interesting and useful to your attendees.  In addition to time, knowing how many people actually interacted with exhibitors and engaged with sessions influence event attendees to return again and helps you justify the investment in your event or meeting.  All these intangibles are important to ROI and a struggle sometimes to measure.  Therein lays some pain for us all as event professionals.

Who Ya Gonna Call?  No, Not Ghostbusters

So you’re feeling the pain and at rsvpBOOK, we’re feeling your pain too.  Smaller budgets, shortened lead times, keeping up with new technology demands, stuck with labor- intensive event practices, quantifying good ROI and more.  So who ya gonna call?  No, not Ghostbusters.

rsvpBOOK can’t be your savior on everything.  We can, however, 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 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, 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.  No need to duplicate information, manually process, and drag huge binders of forms with you everywhere.  rsvpBook has you covered so your event can manage itself.   Smart. Simple.  Efficiently.

So ditch the spreadsheets and reduce the paperwork!  Alleviate some of the pain points of event professionals.  Save your 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.

 

5 Plus Ideas to Have Some Hashtags with Your Event

5 Plus Ideas to Have Some Hash(tags) with Your Event

Many years ago when my day job was the event manager at a national non-profit, I first encountered the prefix “#” before a word and thought it was a typo.  OK, I am from a different generation which did not grow up with the vast array of social media options which are so popular today.   It was a much different time and I was a much different event manager and the ubiquitous hashtag was not the powerful event marketing tool it has become today.

So I learned and became effective with using the hashtag when marketing my organization’s events.  A few experiences and pointers I want to pass on – perhaps not new but they do bear repeating especially when you’re rushed for time and thinking about a great event hashtag may stymie your creative juices.  These tips may help you be better focused.

Here are some key features to consider in your event planning to create a great event hashtag.

Make it Unique

Believe it or not, this can be more difficult than you think.  There are tons of events going on so coming up with something unique takes a bit of effort.  However, it’s important to pick a hashtag that isn’t being used at the same time as the one you want to use.  Do a search to see if your hashtag is currently being used.  Also do not use one that may be easily confused with another event or purpose.

Some of my first attempts at “being unique”  failed when I used what I thought was a catchy phrase then found out several other organizations thought they, too, were being clever.  Back to the drawing board I went…several times before I found something that fit this feature of uniqueness.

Make it Concise…but Clear

We all need to be concise with our hashtags, especially when running up against character constraints such as those on Twitter.  I read that the perfect hashtag counts only 8 characters or less.  In my brain, that was always too difficult but I did try…succeeded rarely.  However, the point to remember is don’t be so concise that a person will have difficulty deciphering what you’re saying or the name of the event.  A little more length is more important than brevity if you want potential attendees and their friends on social media to understand immediately what your event is all about.  And, of course, attend!

Make it Memorable

Create your hashtag so it sticks in people’s memory!  If potential attendees can’t remember it, the hashtag can be quite useless and you’ve lost all marketing potential with it.  How can you make it memorable?  Make sure it’s understandable, make sure it makes sense, make sure it’s relevant to your event or purpose.  Jumbled abbreviations, words that don’t relate to your event or purpose will only confuse and frustrate and turn potential attendees away scratching their heads.  Avoid them or attendees will avoid you and your event.

Watch out for Negative Connotations

Has this happened to you?  It almost happened to me and I have seen it happen to others.  If your hashtag can be interpreted in another negative way or contains bad implications or associations, toss it fast.  Not good. Not funny.  Don’t go there.  A potential career buster.  Check and check again. Have another set of eyes check too.  You want the marketing campaign for your event to be remembered the right way.

Be Creative

Here’s where bringing all this together and letting your imagination run wild comes in. You and your team might check other successful examples of great event hashtags to inspire you to reach your creative heights.  Brainstorm about what you see, create hashtags, then tick off all the boxes – unique, concise but clear, catchy, easy to remember, no bad associations. Which one has all these features and works for achieving your event marketing goal?  You got it!

Give Me Examples You Scream!

OK I will.  Each year the Village of Arlington Heights, Illinois holds its outdoor food fest block party for its residents…and then some.  Called the Taste of Arlington Heights, the event has been a huge regional success.  Every year the block party hashtag changes #AHTaste2014, #AHTaste2015, #AHTaste 2016.  All perfectly simple, short, recognizable and predictable for block party fans.  Adding the year to the hashtag is an easy way to make it unique.

Using Hashtags on Twitter for a Community Summer Block Party
From the case studies file of Tweet Beam (www.tweetbeam.com/cases) is the example of the popular soda, Mountain Dew.  The “green” soda used #DewGreenScreen for their Dew Green Screen campaign, a series of exclusive movie premieres in the United Kingdom.  The hashtag was catchy, unique, memorable, and although not real concise, it was very clear.  Effective? Yes!  The engagement of Mountain Dew fans turned #DewGreenScreen into a trending topic on Twitter.

Mountain Dew's effective use of a hashtag for its #dewgreenscreen event

Time to Launch!

You got this far, so make it happen as a marketing tool.  What can you do to make the most of your event hashtag?

Make it Your Brand

Whether you are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media platforms, use the same hashtag for all content related to your event to create a branded hashtag for your event.  Using a branded hashtag will be easier for other to follow activities around your event.  It also provides you a clear way to track social activity across all social platforms you are using.  Consistency is key for successful marketing!

Be Promotional

Don’t limit the use of your event hashtag to just social media platforms!  Use it on your posters, signage, presentations, news releases, and website.  Make it part of your everyday conversation.  Encourage speakers, sponsors and attendees to use the hashtag for their own social activity before, during and after your event.  And about your employees… your greatest advocates are sitting right next to you… or down the hall.

Keep Track

No matter how you may try, there will be people who will add their own personal twist to your hashtag and brand your event slightly differently.  Monitor this activity and all hashtags that refer to your event so you can keep up with what is being said about the event on social channels.

Also one of the great advantages of using hashtags is that you get to see exactly who was talking about your event and what they were saying. Use both quantitative and qualitative analysis of your hashtag to learn more about your event. How many people tweeted? What did people like? What really bugged them? You should also be keeping a close on the hashtag before, during and after the event itself so that you can quickly respond to questions or comments.

So stop and take the time to plan a hashtag strategy before your event takes off and you’ll have a much stronger and effective social media campaign.  Hashtags tie us together across a range of social media platforms which makes them an invaluable marketing opportunity for event professionals hoping to spread the word about their events.

rsvpBOOK and Social Media Tools for Your Event

At rsvpBOOK our Social Media Network tool can assist you when you’re ready to get the word on social media out about your event.  We’re here to let you work smarter, not harder in your event planning and marketing. So when you’re ready, check us out at www.rsvpBOOK and try a free trial of our online event registration and management software.

With social media as the major conduit of information for just about everything, spending the time and energy to come up with an event hashtag is imperative.  It can be the difference between a mediocre (maybe a flop?) event and one that knocks attendees’ socks off and have them crying for a repeat.