Organise Conferences With Ease Using Event Management Software

Organising a conference can be a daunting and time consuming exercise. Whether it’s a small one day event for 20 delegates or a huge three day event in Earls Court, the general process and common problems are the same.

So what are the stages of planning a conference?

  1. Booking a venue
  2. Sending invites to a targeted list of prospect delegates
  3. Organising and booking all the resources, such as catering, collateral printing, promotional items, A&V etc
  4. Dealing with presenters and guest speakers
  5. Taking registrations
  6. Taking payment
  7. Sending reminder emails to delegates
  8. Printing badges
  9. Organising staff on the day
  10. Managing the budget throughout

This is an extremely basic and simplified list to indicate the general check list event managers must consider. This process can start from 6 months before an event or even as long as 12-18 months before for really large, national events. Managing all these steps can be extremely complicated and it can be very easy for event managers to make major mistakes.

To avoid costly errors, and to ensure conferences are organised in an efficient manner, many event professionals are looking to employ the use of an event management software solution. These solutions have the tools and capabilities to manage and track activities throughout the whole of the event and conference planning process, as well as the activities carried out as part of the event follow up (such as post event surveys and the creation of reports for intelligent analysis).

Taking the above steps in planning an event, here is how an event software solution can help:

1. Booking a venue

Control to an event manager is key; whether it’s a meeting/conference room in your own office or a larger external venue, event software can help by ensuring the allocation has been made and that payment has been taken. For more complex conferences which require multiple rooms across multiple days, event solutions include a comprehensive planning, resource and scheduling venue software tool. A highly configurable and fully customisable function sheet and a multiple calendar feature which will give you the ability to manage your resources and venue from one central and flexible application. This helps to simplify the normally complex process of booking and managing the venue.

2. Sending invites to a targeted list of prospects

The event manager may know the exact number and names of the delegates they are targeting or in some cases they might have been told to invite a certain demographic (based on relationship, job title, location etc). Managing the selection of delegates to invite is made easy with event software, since it is able to be integrated their CRM package. Meaning that all corporate records and data can be accessed easily and records automatically updated, so others looking at that record will know that the contact have been invited and whether or not they have registered and paid.

Event software also comes with sophisticated email marketing tools. Event managers are able to easily build and filter a selection of targeted delegates from their CRM and put these into a custom-made, HTML email which can be sent out. From the event management software platform, event managers will be able to track opens, clicks and other recipient activity.

3. Resource management

Event software will come with a Resource Management Module which is where event managers can track and control all the resources needed to manage an event. External suppliers can be given access to this module so that they can keep track themselves, rather than dealing with the event manager directly. For example, caterers can be given access so they can easily see current, up-to-date information on delegate numbers and any specific dietary requirements. Giving them direct access to this module in the event software means that event managers can deal with one less person and one less phonecall! Mistakes are also reduced since a layer of communication has been removed.

Resource modules also contain multiple and powerful calendars enabling conference managers to manage numerous resources on these various calendars; this is all accessible from one central location ensuring all updates/amendments/additions are recorded in real time. From the information collated through this Resource Module, event mangers can run bespoke reports providing details such as the number of pods available, number of brochures etc. Event managers will no longer have to juggle multiple spreadsheets across multiple calendars which will ensure fewer errors.

4. Dealing with presenters and guest speakers

Event software can also manage this process. Emails can be scheduled automatically to remind guest speakers about the event and to request certain information such as a bio for the marketing collateral and presentation slides for delegates. Speakers can also be given direct access to the Resource Management Module, where they can manage and update their own profile, and upload materials and other items. Again, this takes away the involvement of the event manager, freeing them up to work on more strategic activities.

5. Taking registrations

A convenient way to take registrations is online. This suits both delegates and event managers. It is a fast, effective method and is increasingly becoming the standard method of event registration. But there are good and bad ways of taking registrations online. Ideally event managers should want to direct prospect delegates to their own website, where a specially created page, with the branding of the company and the event have been included. Taking registrations on your own website plays an important part in increasing delegate sign up rates – delegates will be more trusting and more likely to sign up if it’s on the same site, whereas taking them to an external site may cause trust issues. It’s also important to be able to amend the information requested at the point of registration. Some events will just require a name, telephone number and email address, whereas others may require more detailed information. Event software can easily handle these changes.

6. Taking payment

Having a registration and payment process that is easy, straightforward and efficient is vitally important if event managers want to ensure a high level of delegate attendance. Event software gives event managers the ability to take payments online, via a secure web portal – giving delegates an easy, trustworthy method of payment. Since the event management software can be integrated with the back end finance application, payment can be easily accepted, records updated and receipts sent out automatically, without any intervention from the event manager or accounts payable staff. If payment isn’t taken online, the event software can automatically sent out invoices to the delegate. For an even smoother payment transaction event solutions will include connectors allowing seamless integration with your internal finance system.

7. Sending reminders to delegates

The email marketing tool included in the event software can have emails created which can scheduled to automatically be sent to all delegates. These can be reminder emails, or emails with updates or event amendments. They can be created in advance and then forgotten about as the event software will manage the rest.

8. Printing badges

The production of delegate name badges is a small part of hosting a conference, but is one that can be extremely time consuming for event managers and can cause real issues on the day of the conference if any mistakes have been made. Event software packages will come with easy to use, effective badge production tools. Not only will the creation of custom badges be easier, but the section of delegate names will be done automatically since the event software will be integrated with the CRM – so it’ll know exactly what names and details to print.

9. Organising staff on the day

The effective Resource Management Module enables all staff to be accurately managed – it will be easy for event managers to delegate activities to individuals and log it in this Resource Module. Staff can access this module anytime and from any location (via the Internet) so they will always be aware of what their responsibilities are and where they need to be.

10. Managing the budget throughout

Event software is an excellent tool for managing finances and budget. All costs can be taken via the integration with the finance system. These can then be easily tracked and monitored, with alerts to warn the event manager if there are any issues or if costs are rising fast. Reports can be instantly created, with a click of a button – useful for event update meetings and if event managers need to compile any statistics for senior management.

So we can see how event software can revolutionise the stages of planning a conference. Without event management software, a lot of these tasks would be manually created, tracked and organised via huge spreadsheets. There would be high chances of errors and mistakes and the whole process would be time consuming, stressful and ineffective for the conference manager and those associated with the event.

How to Avoid Making Small Business Mistakes

A business mistake, whether large or small, can potentially cost a small business owner time, money and aggravation. Before you make mistakes that outweigh your successes, take note of five common business mistakes and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Spending too much money on overhead. A suite of offices may sound appealing to you, but if you conduct your business primarily by phone and e-mail, why waste money on rent? Instead – at least for your first year in business – run your business from home. You could use the money you save on rent, on office equipment or other supplies.

Mistake #2: Failing to research demand for your product or service. You may have an innovative product or service, yet if no one needs it you’re wasting your time and money. Conduct informal online surveys and get the opinions of friends and business professionals whose opinion you trust, to find out how interested they are in your product. The time you spend researching your idea will save you time in the long run.

Mistake #3: Ignoring the competition. Don’t obsess over what your competition is doing, yet don’t discount new services or products they have to offer or even a new website they’ve created. Although imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, resist the urge to copy your competition. Find your niche and develop a market around it. Eventually your competition will start taking a closer look at you.

Mistake #4: Not networking. When you go out on your own, e-mail and call everyone you know including clients, business associates, friends and anyone else who can help your business grow. Also, increase your involvement in various trade associations.

Mistake #5: Not writing a business plan or goals. Think about the old saying, “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there.” Have a clear vision of your business, especially how you’re going to be profitable and find new clients, and you’ll be able to measure your success.

Get More Reach With Social Media Marketing Strategies That Work for You

Your business is probably already on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and all of the other platforms you need to be in order to reach out to your customers. But even so, it doesn’t feel like you’re gaining the proper traction or posting the proper media to inspire the engagement that you know you need to get. In short, your social media marketing strategies aren’t fine tuned and some might even say, non-existent.

Finding the Strategies for Your Niche

One of the main problems with many company’s marketing strategies is that they are applying the same methods as a universal solutions program for their social media team. This means that essentially, they are taking social media marketing strategies that they’ve heard about and using them “as is” instead of tailoring them to their specific niche or industry.

For example, social media marketing strategies for restaurants are going to be very different than social media marketing strategies for Fortune 500 companies. Of course, when we put it like that, it seems very obvious-unfortunately, the constant failings of social media lets us know that it’s not. The problem arises because not only are the outcomes and goals of each industry very different, the means to the end have to be as well.

Why Using This Strategy for Your Industry is Vital

For instance, in our example above, a restaurant’s marketing strategies should be to entice viewers to come in and eat. This means that taking pictures of different dishes and posting them up on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is a good ploy. That creates salivation for the food and people are likely to Like, Share, Re-Tweet, etc. the picture. That keeps the restaurant fresh in the customer’s mind and next time they are looking for a place to eat, they’ll remember how good the food looked and make reservations.

On the other hand, a Fortune 500 company isn’t going to get much interaction off of photo media. Sure, Bob in accounting might be interesting to talk to, but a picture of him analyzing graphs on his laptop in the break room isn’t likely to inspire the right kind of interaction. That’s because the goals of a Fortune 500 company on social media are likely to bring in more clients, keep current clients engaged and recruit top talent for the firm. The best way to do this would be to employ social media marketing strategies that establish the company as an industry leader. For example, sharing blog posts and articles that contain relevant and useful information is a great way to market yourself as on the forefront of the industry.

How to Tailor Your Social Media Marketing Strategies

Of course, with so many industries and niches out there, it would nearly impossible to go through each one, showing you how to tailor your marketing strategies for your exact niche. Instead, it would be more time-efficient to go through how different goals affect your marketing strategies. Simply think about what you’re trying to achieve and then match it up with some of the following suggestions. Keep in mind that interaction is the ultimate short term goal for social media, so whatever gets you to that point-no matter how strange or unconventional it may be-will be best for your company.

  • Expand your Customer Base. If you’re looking to expand your customer base through this marketing strategy, you’re going to want to post content that is highly sharable and branded. This means that the more viral potential your posts have and the easier it is for those posts to be traced back to you, the better it is for business. A great way to do this is to post links to your blog on your website, provided of course the blogs are high-value in terms of information and content. This allows people to share the link to your website, meaning the more viral it gets, the more leads will be coming into your site. Be sure there is a strong CTA (call to action) at the end of the blog leading to your contact or sales pages. If your social media marketing strategies in the past have shown to be effective when media images and video are shared, make sure the pictures are watermarked with your brand.
  • Strengthening Your Current Client List. Another great benefit of this medium is that you can strengthen your current clients’ loyalty. We all know that it cost more to bring in a new client than to retain a current one, so this is a big chunk of social media marketing strategies right here. The key is that you want to constantly provide value to your clients. This means that if you’re in an industry where new information is constantly coming out, you should be the ones providing your fans with that info first. Ask yourself this: what am I giving my followers in terms of value? If you can’t list at least five things, you need to start doing a better job right away. Alert your fans to events that pertain to their interests, share articles, posts, recipes, etc. Give opinions and loose advice but stay away from risk-the bottom line here is that you want your customers to remember why they need you in their lives every single day.

Using Your Social Media Marketing Strategies Wisely

When it’s all said and done, when it comes to social media marketing strategies, whatever works for you is the best rules to follow. Social media is still a fairly young marketing game (compared to television, radio, print, etc.), so nothing is written in stone. Even the so-called “experts” in the field are still fine-tuning their marketing strategies, so you can expect things to change on an almost consistent basis over the next decade or so.

Until that time comes and it become a science, the best you can do is keep your ear to the ground and stay afloat with all of the latest information, techniques and trends.