Category Archives: Event management

Manual Event Registration: 9 Scary Ways it’s Costing You

Manual event registration is costly and stressful. Time to switch to an online system

Manual event registration is costly and stressful. Time to switch to an online systemTime. Money. People. Labor. Do you want to waste these precious resources?  We didn’t think so.  Then why is it that manual event registration methods still survive in planning and executing events?

In many situations the person or persons making the decision about whether or not to use online event registration software is not going to be involved in the daily planning and running of the event.  Often the things these decision makers care about most – like cost – are not always the same as the things that can keep an event professional up at night – like please make it easier and quicker for me!  With such a disconnection, how do you make the case to ditch manual event registration and upgrade to online event registration software?

When you, as an event professional, are choosing online registration software, you already know about the biggest advantages this type of software offers.  Among the many benefits, you can automatically collect attendee information in a fraction of the time manual event registration requires and without the huge labor expense.  Also switching from manual event registration to online registration reduces the stress load on the people running the event – you.

If you need to convince someone to give you the ok for online event registration software, then you need to show the costs of the traditional manual event registration and the benefits of going to online event registration software.  So we prepared 9 scary ways using manual registration is costing you as well as the benefits to using an online system.

Objections!  Why Are You Staying with Manual Event Registration?

The most common objections to moving from manual event registration to an online system include:

  • It’s not in the budget
  • Our old system is working (or worked) fine
  • We aren’t ready for online event registration

Do any of these objections sound familiar in your office discussions?  Do you really want to keep old manual event registration practices 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 because 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, your boss or clients 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 costly, very labor intensive, extra work generating event planning practices.  Break those old event registration 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.

9 Scary Ways Manual Event Registration is Costing You vs the Benefits of Going Online

People typically make objections to switching from manual event registration when they don’t know how online event registration works and how it will help them.  What you need to make your case are some effective arguments showing the costs – in terms of time, money, labor, inefficiencies – of staying with a manual process vs. the benefits of replacing it with an online process.  Here are some great ones for you to use.

Quick and Easy Registration Experience for Attendees

With manual event registration, potential attendees need to download a paper form, fill it out and either fax or mail it back to you.   All event registration takes time to a point but this old traditional way is far more time consuming for attendees.

Manual event registration also has potential for lost registrations, data and payment security issues and delays in registering attendees.  Another problem – when you’re closed, so is your event registration process.  Not good – you may miss out on getting those potential attendees.

Online event registration is fast and seamless experience for attendees linking them to a form from your event website which they can complete and return with a click of a button.  The registration information is submitted to your database within minutes.  No need to deal with faxing and mailing.  No delays with receiving information; no data or payment security issues.

Also, online event registration is always open so attendees can register any time whether your office is open or closed.  This is especially important when dealing with people from different time zones.

Registration Forms with Built in Logic

People make mistakes.  This happens of course when completing registration forms for events.  When using manual event registration methods, such as faxes and mail-ins, catching and correcting these mistakes gets difficult and costly in terms of time and a person’s labor.  It also can create confusion down the line at the event itself if not caught and corrected in time or at all.

Online event registration forms can prevent people from making mistakes or invalid or conflicting selections.  This results in more accurate and complete data.  For example, if someone leaves an important mandatory field blank and tries to submit the form, the built in logic of the form can create a message asking the person to fill that section in before continuing.

Similarly, if a potential attendee must choose between one option and another, the form can eliminate the possibility of the person choosing both options.  This is not possible with fax or mail-in registrations.

Elimination of Manual Data Entry for You

Manual event registration requires you and your team to manually enter all the data from paper forms faxed or mailed in, into a computer, or worse, create some paper filing system.  The potential for data entry errors is significant and the time and labor it takes to manually organize the data can be excessive.

With online event registration, potential attendees enter their information into an online form.  It is automatically organized and stored in an online database that you can immediately access, anywhere at any time.  There is no opportunity for someone else along the line to misread the data or enter it incorrectly.

More Manageable Information, Better Data Integrity

A common challenge in event planning is maintaining your data so that what you need is stored in one place, not on several different computers, in filing cabinets or on various desks throughout your office.  This is often the untidy situation with manual event registration which can create a real potential for inconsistencies, errors, and headaches for both you and your attendees.

Online event registration holds all information in one central database.  Any changes or updates are done automatically.  Everyone sees the same information.   Information is consistent and up-to-date at all times.  Also, you can access and sort the information online or automatically download it to your spreadsheet, making it easy to create mailing lists, name badges, or whatever you need to do.

Automatic Event Confirmation

When using manual event registration, the average turn-a-round time from the day a paper registration form is received until the attendee gets a confirmation can take a few days.  With fax and mail-in registration, confirmation is delayed as your team manually processes the registration, checks availability, and then manually creates a confirmation email or letter.  This is a highly inefficient and costly use of your precious time and event personnel.

Once a person submits their information through the online event registration form, the system automatically generates a confirmation email that is sent out to the potential attendee confirming their registration.  This email can also contain other information you may want them to know once they have registered.

Secure, Real Time Payment

Ensuring safe, secure payment is yet another reason to ditch manual event registration processes.  When using manual event registration, you can often be waiting for the check to come in the mail or for a credit card transaction to be approved – or declined.  In the meantime, you may have to put other potential attendees on a wait list until you know for sure that payment is coming and secured.

Using online event registration, you use real time, secure online credit card processing.  Within a few seconds you know if the transaction has been approved and you have the security of know you have the fees.  Online credit card processing also allows people registering for your event to process their own transactions.  This eliminates the need for you to individually process each transaction and from having to track people down when cards are declined because the number is incorrect or funds are not available.

Managing Event Capacity

Often you want to limit the number of attendees to an event or meeting.  With the old manual event registration method there is no easy or fast way to monitor the attendance numbers.  Faxes might still be coming in when you reached your event limit and then you have to contact potential attendees to let them know that you couldn’t process their registrations because the event was full.  Awkward!

Online event registration helps you set the limits so that it limits the number of registrants to a particular event, workshop, or sessions.  Once the limit has been reached the form will not allow any more registrations and it will notify potential attendees that the registration limit has been reached.

Real Time Reports- Tracking Attendees and Revenues

One of the big complaints we as event professionals experience is that we often don’t know how many attendees are showing up to our event until the very last days of the registration period.  This can be hugely frustrating as we try to finalize numbers for our venues, our food and beverage vendors, and any last minute materials we are preparing.  Using manual event registration methods only makes this situation more agonizing.  The workload is already heavy leading up to your event, who needs to make it worse?

Using real time reports in online event registration system offers you the ability to watch your registration data flow into the database in real time so you can get a more accurate count of expected attendees and what you will need for your event.

Interested in tracking your revenues?  No kidding!  With real time online reporting you always know how much revenue has been collected, if any credit cards were decline and which potential attendees still need to mail their checks.  Manual event registration can’t quickly supply this type of important information which can create embarrassing registration situations for your or you client.

Lower Materials Costs; Lower Labor Costs

In the traditional manual event registration, a lot of time and money is spent on creating and printing hard copy materials – from registration forms to slick event brochures and information packages.  While all this might be nice and attractive, it is also hugely expensive when it comes to printing and mailing and the labor involved in getting it all done.  Does your budget allow this?  Not many do these days when event budgets are usually pretty tight.

Online event registration allows you to eliminate or greatly reduce paper materials.  You can present your event form and entire event information package online.  If you want, you can print a smaller, less detailed brochure that will direct potential attendees to your website for all the information they need, including how to register online.

Labor costs are much lower when using online registration than when using manual event registration methods.  Less phone calls, faxes, data entry, copying, and mailing.

Ditch Manual Event Registration – Go Online with rsvpBOOK

No time to spin your wheels with manual event registration?  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 make the complex tasks of event planning and management, easier.

rsvpBOOK helps you streamline your event processes, from beginning to end, from website details, to on-site resources, and final real time attendee and revenue 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 at your event.

And if these reasons aren’t enough, rsvpBOOK was named a Top 20 Most Affordable Event Management Software by Capterra, the business software review website as well as a Top 5 position in Reviewers’ Choice by Software Advice, online technology review firm.

rsvpBOOK.   It’s smart, simple, saves you time and money.  Try rsvpBOOK at www.rsvpBOOK.com.  Start your free trial today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

Post-Event Debriefs: Important for Event Success

Post-event debriefs are important for future event successAfter putting a lot of time and effort into an event, it can leave you exhausted and ready to forget it and move on to whatever is next on your list (including maybe that vacation you dreamed about).  But an event professional’s work is never done not even when the event itself is over.  Just as necessary to planning and getting all the details right for a successful event, is sitting down after the event and reviewing your results – the good, bad, and ugly.  Enter the important but often overlooked – sometimes feared – post-event debrief.

Debriefing an event simply is asking yourself and your team focused questions about the event itself.   Taking the time to analyze helps you get a firm understanding on what happened and how you can build upon that experience in the future.

Were our goals reached? What is the feedback from our attendees and other stakeholders? What processes worked or didn’t work?  What lessons did we learn and how do we apply them to our future events?

Why the Post-Event Debrief

Even if you think you know the answers to these questions, holding a post-event debrief meeting to review the event while it is fresh in your mind is absolutely essential.  Don’t view it as a negative experience.  Post-event debriefs are not just about pointing out the mistakes that were made, but also about celebrating successes.  The post-event debrief process helps identify how to replicate success, grow from challenges, and improve and innovate for your next events.  It does not have to be hard or time consuming and it yields great results.  Consider it the first planning session of your next event.    You have all the knowledge from the event that just took place – what worked, what didn’t, attendee and stakeholder feedback on their experience, and how it can be improved.  This is the framework to build for your future.

Honest and accurate feedback and discussion allows you as the event professional to make better business decisions about each event you do.   This is the big reason for the post-event debrief.

How to Do a Post-Event Debrief Right

Just because a post-event debrief is done following your event doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare for it in advance.  Start early by setting your objectives for the event and communicate them to your team before the actual event.  Help them prepare by letting them know what your expectations for the event are and your measurements of success.   Who are your key stakeholders (partners, sponsors, attendees, exhibitors) and how the event is intended to serve them.  Once at the event, have them observe and get feedback on your event processes (registration, check-in, program, food services) to see how they were successful, how they could be improved and be more efficient going forward.  Encourage everyone to keep their eyes open while onsite and write down observations and ideas as they come to mind. Take their observations and comments and fold them into your post-event debrief meeting for discussion.

Scheduling a short informal debrief “download” onsite immediately after the event concludes is really effective if you can arrange it.  As time passes, insights, observations and experiences begin to get fuzzy compromising your ability to act on them.  A quick review on what went well, what could go better next time, obvious problems at the event provides some instant feedback to take away for the subsequent formal debrief back at the office.

It almost goes without saying that if you want attendee and stakeholder feedback for your post-event debrief, you must ask them right away.  Whatever method you use to question them, whether it is through onsite poll, a mobile app, next day online survey, social media, or email, knowing and using their feedback for your next event is what will influence its success.  Some survey questions will apply to all participants but be careful not to distribute a “one-size-fits-all” piece.  Write questions which are very specific to the needs of each participant segment in order to get right type of feedback.

For the actual post-event debrief, you want answers from two different groups of people based on their role in your event:  the back-end “behind the scenes” participants and the front-end participants, essentially the attendees.  Debriefing the back-end of your event requires you to evaluate the physical planning and execution of your event and how effective and efficient it was.  Aimed at your team and vendors, your questions here focus primarily on efficiency, ease of task implementation, and flow of information.  The front-end analysis concentrates on attendee experience and engagement with your event.  This also includes checking in with your sponsors and exhibitors.  These questions are posed directly to your attendees and these other stakeholders and deal primarily with program content, satisfaction with event activities, customer service, and attendee/stakeholder experience.

Post-Event Debrief Questions

As mentioned previously, debriefing an event simply is asking yourself and your team focused questions about the event itself.  As part of the back-end and front-end reviews, here are some possible post-event debrief questions to consider.

Back-End Post-Event Debrief:  These are questions aimed to work out how well the event was planned and executed.  Ask them of your team members, vendors, and sponsors

1)  What were our original event objectives and were they achieved?

2)  Were there challenges meeting those objectives and what were they? (think budgetary constraints, revenue goals, marketing performance, AV or other technology issues)

3)  Were those challenges resolved and how?  Do they need to be discussed further for better results next time?

4)  Were team member roles and expectations clearly defined and information available to ensure individual and team success?

5)  What were some of our successes?  How can we replicate at our next event or make even better?

6)  Did our event serve our stakeholders (sponsors, partners, board members) as intended?

7)  How effective and efficient was our registration process?

Front-End Post-Event Debrief:  Your front-end post-event debrief is entirely about assessing attendee experience and engagement.  You want to know if their expectations were met, if they had fun, found value for their investment of time and money, and how you can make their experience even better in the future. Ways to get feedback have moved from the traditional mail-in questionnaire to getting the same information through the use of technology.  Simpler. Faster. Easier.  More immediate.  Here are some ways to get attendee and stakeholder feedback.

Spot Polls. Onsite spot polls are fast and immediate.  Attendees will have the most to say, and be the most likely to give you feedback, if you ask soon after they have interacted with some aspect of your event.  And the possibilities of what information you can get from them via a poll are virtually endless – program, food, entertainment, speaker.  Without the time delay of other feedback methods, the information you get from them while it is still fresh in their minds is considerably better.

Mobile Apps.  Not as immediate as spot polls but certainly up there in getting fast responses, is using your mobile app.  Good for a variety of purposes at your event from information sharing to networking, your mobile app also can be a platform to check-in with your attendees and get valuable feedback quickly.  Again, you are tapping into their comments when they are best remembered.

Social Media.  You used it to market your event, now use it for getting comments back about it.  Put questions up on your social media.  Surprise!  It can be amazing the responses you will get by simply asking pointed questions after your event using Facebook or in a dedicated Twitter chat.  Be prepared for the good, bad and ugly being out there for all to see.

Email.  Still probably the most used method to get attendee feedback is the email survey.  Send it out as quickly as possible after your event.  Having it sitting in their email inbox when they get back to the office is best to prevent time delays making attendee and other stakeholders’ recollections fuzzy.

Final Thoughts on Post-Event Debriefs

Don’t fear the post-event debrief.   Honest and accurate feedback and discussion is what you want.  It allows you as the event professional to make better business decisions about each event you do.   It provides the knowledge and understanding about your event to keep attendees and stakeholders happy and coming back for more.  That is proof of your event success – and that’s what you want.

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 for your post-event debriefs, 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!