Category Archives: Event management

Event Websites: How to Make Yours Stand Out

Creating a stand-out event website
Creating a stand-out event website

Creating an event website doesn’t have to be overwhelming but does require creative and strategic marketing thinking

 

So you have just been given the green light to get working on that event which has been waiting in the wings for the past couple of months and you have a “to do” list a mile long of things you need to get done –  Invitations, flyers, e-mails, sponsors, program, speakers, marketing campaigns, social media posts, event website.  Wait!  Event website?  Yes, you knew about the event website part but now are wondering how to create one to be as great as that event you’re planning.  Where to begin?

Creating an event website does not need to be an overwhelming task but does require time, creativity, and strategic thinking to rise above basic functionality.  What a lot of event professionals forget is that your website is the primary point of contact and first impression of attendees to your event.  Before people even arrive at your event, your website is the initial face you present to people and they will be judging your event on the basis of your website.  As such it is your most important marketing tool.  If you want to sign up more attendees, attract exhibitors, sell more sponsorships, then you need to create your event website that will attract attendees and compel them to invest their time and money in your event.   With this in mind, we are sharing some important “how to” tips to create a stand out event website.

Your Stand-Out Event Website is Functional and Informative

Ok, so this isn’t the most exciting part of creating your event website but event professional hubris has been the downfall of some otherwise great event websites.  A well-designed website should offer all the important information you need for your event and be engaging and encouraging prospective attendees to register.  When creating your event website, use the best practices and fundamentals of a good website design – simple pages with an eye-catching image which engage your visitors.  Emphasize clarity in your information and ease of navigation for your website so people will get what they need in the shortest possible time – seal the deal while the intention is there.  Make sure the most important content – event location, date and details, event description, registration button – are front and center.  Have a clear navigation bar which is well-organized, visible, and prioritized based on your popular pages.

Don’t ignore the event description.  It needs to convey in as short as possible text, what’s great about your event, what you do and why people should register for it.  Why? When people search for your event in Google, they’ll most likely get a title and description for your event homepage in the search page results.  That text is coming directly from your website and you can control that with tags in your html head section.  There are important restrictions here:  title tags should have fewer than 65 characters and description tags should have fewer than 150 characters.  Anything beyond that will not be seen by search engines or people.

Your functional website also will be adaptive, meaning it will look good on all devices (desktop, phone, tablet) and on all screen sizes and browsers.  The registration button pops out and catches attention and takes prospective attendees to a very straightforward online registration process.

Your Stand-Out Event Website is Search Engine Optimized

Your event website also needs to rise above the other event noise and be optimized in order to be found in search engines by prospective attendees. Start with a memorable website address and descriptive event title.  Keep the address as short as possible and make sure it matches your event title.  Short and original makes it easier for prospective attendees to remember, search for, and share your event.  Also, search engines use titles to help group your event with other keyword searches and to indicate what the main topic of the page is.

Without keyword stuffing, use keywords in your title and event website content which will get you picked up by search engines and found by your target audience when searching.  Especially use your keyword(s) in the title of your event.  Ideally you should work your keyword(s) into a title that’s also compelling for readers in order to get clicks from people who are browsing the search results.

Of course, good SEO means knowing your audience and the right keywords they would use to search for your event.  Understanding the right keywords will help you better optimize your website title, content, headings and website address.  Keep this in mind when creating them.  Need a little help here? You can try Google AdWords (free) or Moz’s Keyword Explorer (free trials available) to create good keyword list.

Because SEO is based on links, the number and quality of other sites linking to you link early and link often.  Link to other relevant pages from your event website as well as any blogs or websites you have access to.  Be sure to link appropriate things to appropriate places and make sure your links include your keywords. When it makes sense, include a few outbound links to non-competing pages in your content.  Search engines crawl the web by following links to and from other pages to get a better idea of how your page interacts with the rest of the web.

Your Stand-Out Event Website is Social Media Optimized

One of the main reasons people attend events is networking so anything you can do before, during and after your event with your website to improve networking is going to add value to your efforts to get people to attend and become loyal audience members.  Social media provides such an opportunity for your prospective attendees to, well, socialize and network.  Optimizing your website for social interaction creates an environment in which your attendees, exhibitors, sponsors and other stakeholders can participate in your event on personal level.  Optimizing for social media makes use of the fact that your attendees and your other stakeholders are your biggest champions and uses the power of the social media as a valuable marketing tool.

Optimize for social media, primarily Facebook likes – and don’t forget Facebook Events – Twitter tweets and, increasingly, Linked In.  Each platform has its own quirks so keep them in mind when optimizing for social actions and use best practices for each specific platform like best time of day to post for each platform, using the hashtag for Twitter, writing in the right content format, and the extra engagement value of great images.

Also, when doing social media optimization, you should think in terms of both technical and content.  On the technical side, make sure you have a set of unique html tags included in titles, descriptions, links, and shareable images.  And how about those ubiquitous social media site share buttons?  They are important to encourage prospective attendees and make sharing easy.  On the content side, think strategically about your session names.  Are they catchy, clear, concise and specific?  How will they read as tweets? What would someone say in a retweet or a Facebook comment?  Increase your creativity here and the social media benefits can provide great rewards.

A word of caution: if you optimize for social media, you must be prepared to invest the time and energy into keeping the social buzz about your event alive.  It requires constant attending to as you are constantly talking to its visitors, pushing out fresh content by the way of news, tweets, posts, and blogs.  So let the social sharing begin!

Your Stand-Out Event Website Has Unique Content

Take an honest and strategic look at the language you use to describe your event.  Is it unique?  Is it compelling?  Would anyone notice if you switched it with text from a competing event?  Does it show what is different about your event and make people want to sign up to attend?  It should.  Is other key content such as the speaker bios canned and boring?  A bit more creative effort by you can make your event website the one that sticks out because it has new information.

Functionality and optimization are important but you need to help prospective attendees connect the dots of how you are unique and are going to deliver the education and connections they are looking for.  Your event website must convince them that your event will deliver value and be worth the time and money investment they are making to attend.  Here is where great “sticky” high quality content is crucial, content that is simple, credible, and elicits positive emotions.

Simple:  Create a simple message that conveys the reason(s) people should attend your event.  This requires you to think like an attendee and discovering why you event matters.  At the same time, generate interest and curiosity in your event which will be satisfied by attending.

Credible: We all want people to attend our event but promising and not delivering will kill your credibility and reputation.  Tell how you will deliver on your promises of a great event by painting a clear picture of the specific things people will get from attending your event.  Perhaps it’s highlighting specific event activities or a major influential speaker.  Show with images how these promises have been fulfilled in the past to add to your credibility.

Elicits Positive Emotions:  Our decisions to attend events are not always logical choices.  They are often influenced by our expectations and anticipations about what we are going to receive in return for our investment.  We invest time, attention and money into things we care about and think will make a difference.  Your event website content needs to address the question: how will my event make people feel?  You can help people by featuring testimonials and stories on your website from past events and encourage attendees to tweet and blog before, during and after the event.

One other consideration for your content – structure it so it is easily shareable.  For example, if the focus of your event is its speakers, make sure each speaker has his own page, image and link – it’s easier to tweet about and pass around.  You’re also empowering others to leverage their own networks.  The same goes for panels, special event features and your sponsors!

Having a functional and attractive event website fully optimized (SEO and social media) to do its “technical” job is important.  However, to maximize your event website you will need to dedicate time, creativity and thoughtful effort to make sure you have fresh, relevant high quality content that speaks to your audience.

Your Stand-Out Event Website Creation

So back to that event you are planning and creating that stand-out event website.  Remember your event website represents your organization and your event to your audience and others.  It is their first impression of you even before they get to the event so make that first impression count.  Most people will make their decision based on how your website looks, functions, and what it says.  Don’t use no money and no time as excuses for having a poor website that turns people away before registering for your event.  Put in that extra effort and creativity and it will pay huge dividends for you, your event, and your attendees.

About 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, 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!

 

 

 

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.

 

How Event Management Software Helps You Sell Your Event Tickets

How Event Management Software Helps You Sell Your Event Tickets

Tickets

Event management software enables you to manage multiple events quickly and efficiently. The software is easy to use and gives an overview of all activities related to your events. You can use it to input event details, communicate with participants, create reports and much more. One of the benefits of event management software is the ability to sell tickets from your event registration page.

How Can Event Management Software Help To Sell Your Event Tickets?

The software can be used to quickly setup an event registration page in which people can register and purchase tickets. The entire process of registering and purchasing ticket(s) can be completed in minutes. Using pen and paper event management requires you to employ a staff to manually process registrations and ticket payments. There can be errors when processing the information manually and the potential to lose information which results in problems with attendees and ticket sales. These problems are mitigated with a good Event Registration Software & Management tool because it automates the registration and ticketing process thus saving time and money. The payments are processed using credit cards which allows registrants to purchase tickets at their convenience. You can also go paperless by giving registrants a ticket number or including a Bar-code/QR in the confirmation email that can be scanned from their smart phone. All these features make the ticket processing easy which motivates people to buy tickets through the event registration page. The software not only offers an easy event registration page and secure payment processing but includes options for automatic discounts, group discounts, discount codes, and asking lodging and travel information.

Event Registration Software & Management can be used to easily market any event that you are managing. It can be integrated with social media sites so that your event page can be accessed by registrants through Facebook, Twitter, etc. This opens up opportunities for more ticket sales as more people know of the event registration page from these sites. You can use email marketing with the software. Email marketing is a very effective means of spreading information about an event and you can send out emails fast using the software’s email features. By making use of event registration software you can impress people with a smooth event registration page and increase ticket sales.

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Check-boxes or Radio Buttons?

Check-boxes or Radio Buttons?

Checkboxes

How do you choose between check-boxes and radio buttons? One is square and the other is round; which fits your event registration website? There is more to choosing than just looks or your favorite shape. Choosing the right option will decrease confusion for your registrants and increase the accuracy of your session selections.

Check-boxes in a group of sessions allow 1 or more to be selected while Radio Buttons allow only 1 selection.

Examples:

  1. If you have sessions that occur on different dates OR at different times, then you will want to place them together in the same group AND use check-box selection – allows more than 1 to be selected .
  2. If you have more than one session that begins at the same time, then you will want to place them together in the same group AND use radio button selection.

How do I decide how to Group my Sessions?

Grouping your sessions correctly is the key to insuring that your registrants are not confused by the selection options. A couple of general rules:

  1. If you have sessions that start at the same time, make it impossible to register for more than one session – put all of these sessions in one group.
  2. If you have sessions that start at different AND non-overlapping times, then you will want to make it easy to pick as many as sessions as they want – put all of these sessions in one group.

Tips

  1. There cannot be check-boxes AND radio buttons in the same group.
  2. If you require attendance at a session, then this session should not be in a radio button group with other sessions.
  3. You can require attendance at the session level; however, …
  4. Do not place 2 sessions, each requiring attendance, in a group with radio buttons

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Are you asking questions on your registration page?

Are you asking questions on your  registration page?

If you’re organizing an event—like a conference, a fundraiser, a training seminar, or a professional event— asking the right questions is critical and can determine the success of your event.  With an online registration tool like rsvpBOOK.com, you can ask the important questions to registrants easily. Not only will you save time but your guest will love providing all pertinent information before the event.

Lets face it, you will need the information in order to increase your chances of having a successful event.

What are good questions for event registration?

Some people are unaware of the types of questions that are useful when managing your event. Capturing useful information from your registrants can substantially affect the quality of your event management tasks.

These questions are intended to give you ideas about what questions can be useful to you.

FLIGHT ARRANGEMENTS GROUP ARRANGEMENTS HOTEL INFORMATION MISCELLANEOUS REGISTRANT INFO

Benefits of using rsvpBOOK.com to ask questions

  • Capture additional registrant information using  customized questions you create
  • Use conditional logic to display different questions based on specific responses
  • Use conditional logic to display Sessions and/or Sales Items based on question responses; can be used to display different sessions and sales items to different registrant types, for example guests, sponsors and exhibitors
  • Design your question responses using text fields, radio buttons, check-boxes, and drop-down menus
  • Show different questions for each registrant type
  • Organize and display your questions using section headings
  • Specify whether or not responses are required or optional
  • Easily export question responses to any spreadsheet program using our standard reports
  • View responses by question or by registrant
  • View and download attendee responses, easily filter by any specific question, such as arrival time, meal preferences, lodging arrangements
  • Use our standard reports or create custom reports to meet your specific needs.
  • Easily share question responses with vendors and include only the information they need. All reports are accurate in real time; send to the caterer, the hotel, the shuttle company, colleagues and managers

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