Given the significant time and effort that comes with planning events, it’s important to use every weapon in your arsenal to keep the workload down and reduce the potential for errors. Although it’s often said that organised people make lists, the truth is that putting pen to paper alone is rarely enough in an increasingly technology-driven world.To plan and manage an event effectively, the chances are you’ll need to store and use information for a number of purposes, and the simplest way to do this is by choosing the right software. Below are some of the most useful applications that will help make your event a success from start to finish.
1. Project management software
The issues you’ll have to consider ultimately depend on the size and nature of your event - catering, travel arrangements, venue hire and equipment are likely to be just a few of your concerns. One of the easiest ways to stay on top of all these different priorities is to keep them all in a single location using high-quality project management software, which allows you to put together timelines and project planners containing all the necessary tasks and monitor progress.
As well as the benefit of having a complete to do list, along with status updates and notes, in a single location, one of the most significant advantages of project management systems is that they make collaboration much easier. Some allow you to create project teams with other users, delegate tasks and track results, making them essential for larger events which may require an extra pair of hands or two.
2. Budgeting and financial planning tools
Events are rarely the top financial priority for businesses, so it’s important to make the most of the available budget. To do this, it’s wise to invest in a financial planning and budget management tool which will keep you up-to-date on what you have left to spend.
There is a wide range of software on the market to help with this, which can range from simple calculators to more complicated systems which account for variable costs and analyse your average costs per attendee. To an extent, your choices will be determined by your needs in relation to the size of your budget, but it may be wiser to invest in an option with higher functionality if it leaves you with a more accurate picture of your event’s finances.
3. Event registration
If you’re going to plan a valuable event, you need to know as soon as possible how many attendees you’re likely to have. Crucially, you may also think about getting payment sooner rather than later to keep your cashflow running smoothly. The best solution is an effective online event registration system to make attendee management much simpler.
Inviting delegates to reserve their place at your event online opens up a wide range of marketing opportunities - sending out information online and via email with a link to the form is far more likely to lead to a conversion than waiting for delegates to receive invites by post. Then, you can use a single online form to capture all the information you need from each participant, from the company they represent to their dietary requirements, and store it all in a single location. Crucially, you can also link through to a secure payment platform to ensure you receive funds quickly.
Delegate registration systems can make other stages of the planning process simpler too. If your software integrates seamlessly with other systems, such as project management, table planning software and contact management systems, you can significantly reduce the amount of time you have to spend transferring information from one application to another.
4. Mailing list managers
Once your event registration system has received all the information you need, a mailing list manager can utilise that data to send out relevant emails that will boost your event’s chances of success. It gives you the opportunity to send out reminder emails to all your delegates ahead of time to prevent last-minute no-shows. On top of this, you can even send out resources and preparation materials prior to the event and send specific messages to groups you have selected yourself.
Remember, you will need to pay attention to data protection laws and only use delegates’ contact details if they give you their permission.
5. Table planning software
Often overlooked, especially in the early stages when the mix of delegates has not yet been established, table planning software can be a lifeline when it comes to making sure your event goes without a hitch. Dragging and dropping names onto a single floor plan is a far less cluttered approach than scribbling names on a piece of paper, crossing them out and then moving them around.
Beyond the relatively simple task of determining who sits where, you can even use some versions to plan parallel sessions as well as experimenting with a range of different sizes and shapes of tables. It’s excellent for planning teams for group work at conferences and seminars, too.