Welcome to the 2019 event technology guide. Here you’ll find information on and examples of popular event tech tools like event management software, event marketing software, event planning software and more.
What is Event Technology?
Event technology is any digital tool that helps planners complete tasks pertaining to their work as event organizers. Types of event technology include but are not limited to event marketing software, event management software and mobile event apps.
Why is Event Technology a Big Deal?
That’s a good question.
Before event technology, hosting an event was a very manual process. Attendee lists needed to be drafted contact by contact in Excel or on-paper. Event promotions were limited to mediums like print and mail-in services.
While these processes were manual, the worst part was that it was near impossible to track and measure the effectiveness of the different components that make up an event.
Today, event marketers have a complex array of technologies to choose from. Everything from marketing to ticket sales to data collection can easily be added to an organized event tech stack.
Each piece of the event technology stack does its part to support the full event lifecycle as it transitions from one phase to the next. Things like building websites, increasing event registrations, and email promotion are all made possible thanks to event technology.
How to Navigate Event Technology
With all these tools to choose from, it can take a little research to find the ones that best suit your needs—and work well together. While some event tools require manual data entry, others might automatically capture information for you. Some tools might perform competing tasks while other might actually work better together.
To get started with event technology it’s important to consider your business goals, what trends are currently affecting the market, what you are looking for in terms of personalization, and what knowledge sources you’ll use to cross-check your top picks.
Learning the purpose of each event tool and the cross-compatibility of your favorites can be challenging. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you better understand what type of technology you should be looking for.
Types of Event Technology
1. Venue Sourcing Tools
Venue sourcing tools are any event technology program that allows event planners to search, browse, and filter through venue options in their chosen location. There are many tools for finding event venues and spaces but here are some options to consider:
EventUP: EventUP allows organizers to directly message venue owners. They have a wide selection ranging from corporate event venues to private dinner party spaces.
Splacer: Videos and historical backstories add a personal touch to the search experience. This tool is best for event organizers in need of more intimate and personal gathering spaces.
HeadBox: This UK-based venue sourcing tool allows event organizers to pay for their chosen spaces through their secure website. They have over 5,000 venues to choose from.
Headbox in action via Headbox.com
2. Event Website Builder
Your event website is an important digital portal for prospects and attendees to get acquainted with your upcoming affair. Important details, registration and ticketing options, and additional marketing materials are all located here. These tools help you create this important piece of your event puzzle.
Wordpress: This tool is a free and open-source content management system. It’s most recommended for users with some understanding of how to code.
Wix: There are free and paid options for website building available through Wix. The site offers drag-and-drop website creation tools.
Bizzabo: If you’re looking for a website builder that is built from the ground-up for events, you may want to consider trying Bizzabo or a comparable event marketing platform. Bizzabo comes out-of-the-box with tools for managing registrations, tracking behavior, and powering your event promotion efforts.
Bizzabo's website builder in action
3. Event Registration Management Tools
Tools for event registration offer users different ways to increase and facilitate attendee conversions. Some event registration tools specialize specifically in event registration but can integrate with other event technologies. Other event registrations may come as part of an all-in-one event platform.
Boomset: Specializing in on-site attendee experience, Boomset offers features like self check-ins, badge printing and multi-session tracking.
Bizzabo: Event registration is one of the components of Bizzabo’s tech stack. You can customize visitor flow, integrate registrations with social media, and collect attendee data in one place. Other event software may enable event organizers to tackles comparable tasks.
4. Event Agenda Tools
Event agenda tools help attendees learn about, select, customize and navigate their activities during your event. Some event agenda tools event allow attendees to build their own schedules and rate sessions and speakers.
Shdlr: Shdlr provides options for those wanting calendar integration, website or blog schedule embedding, and event registration website building.
Bizzabo: Bizzabo’s event agenda tool comes loaded with tools for custom-branding, featuring sponsors, collecting feedback and more. Other event software may enable event organizers to tackles comparable tasks.
Bizzabo's event agenda tool in action
5. Event Promotion and Email Marketing Tools
If you want to drive people to your event, you will need a strong event promotion strategy. It also helps to have the help of event technology that was built just for this purpose. These tools cover mission critical tasks like email list segmentation and social media leveraging that turns attendees into brand ambassadors.
CampaignMonitor: This tool has a dashboard with tabs like campaigns, automation, transactional, and insights. They also offer templates with drag-and-drop editing.
MailChimp: A popular option for email marketing optimization, MailChimp offers an extensive free version with many creative design options to choose from.
Bizzabo: As part of its all-in-one offering, Bizzabo offer organizers the ability to launch promotional campaigns via email and social media. It also integrates with marketing automation platforms like MailChimp, CampaignMonitor and HubSpot. Other event software may enable event organizers to tackles comparable tasks.
6. Live Surveys and Polls
Getting feedback from event stakeholders is made possible with the help of live event surveys and polls. These tools can be used before, during, and after your event.
Key Survey: Key Survey has a single integrated platform for collecting, managing, and analyzing survey data. They also have fully customizable templates.
Typeform: Typeform offers intuitive creator tools alongside interactive features like GIFs and videos.
Bizzabo: Bizzabo has been built from the ground-up with event feedback in mind. You can launch event surveys, gather feedback straight from the event agenda and draw conclusions from behavioral data. Other event software may enable event organizers to tackles comparable tasks.
7. Attendee Networking App
Event app technology helps attendees make the most of their experience. These apps in particular facilitate conversations, helps users arrange meet-ups, and generally increases collaboration.
Bizzabo: Along with its entire suite of event products, Bizzabo gives its users branded app capabilities with desired features like social media integration and private messaging.
Bizzabo's event app in action
8. Event Software Integrations
Software integrations are what ultimately create a seamless workflow for your event planning process. There are three main types: open API integrations, native integrations, and third-party integrations. Whichever kind you end up using, event software integrations ultimately aid planners with efficiently synchronizing multiple tools into one highly useful tech stack. Here's a look at a couple of third-party integration platforms:
Zapier: Zapier helps its users integrate programs and allow them to work together. They handle over 1,000 popular apps.
Mulesoft: This event software integration platform works with SaaS and enterprise applications both in the cloud and on-premise.
9. Event Analytics and Actionable Insights
Using KPIs to measure event success is necessary for measuring the impact of your marketing efforts. Event planning analytics help collect, organize, and create actionable insights from data that could unlock the answers to questions like event ROI and improvements that need to be made in the future.
Piwik: Piwik tracks data from event websites in a way that strictly complies with new regulations. Create user profiles, re-target on the fly, and integrate data with your CRM.
Activity Cloud: This tool is most effective for identifying when, where, and how event organizers can reach customers. They handle a wide range of things they can analyze including social media, marketing campaigns, usage history, and more.
Bizzabo: From the event website to the event app to trends on event ticket sales, revenue targets, and attendee feedback, Bizzabo is an event platform that prioritizes data clarity.
Bizzabo's event analytics in action
Event Technology Trends
1. Consolidation of the Market
This trend has become popular very recently. Soon after Bizzabo launched as an event networking app back in 2011, we realized the need to create a platform that solves problems that events face beyond event networking. Through acquisitions, we’re seeing a number of organizations do the same.
There have been lots of acquisitions in recent years, some more publicized than others. These include:
Eventbrite has now acquired over $200 million worth of similar event software.
In 2016, Vista Equity Partners acquired Cvent for $1.65 billion which in turn has acquired the event app company QuickMobile.
Etouches (now Aventri) was also acquired by the private equity firm, HGGC. Aventri then later acquired Loopd.
And, in September of 2017, the event app developer DoubleDutch acquired EventGrid and is now only recently finishing the acquisition.
What does this mean for you?
The good news is that, all across the event technology spectrum, we are seeing providers becoming more holistic in their offering. These acquisitions are driven by a real consumer demand for consolidated event technology. It used to be (and still is sometimes) the case that marketers would have a content management system (like Wordpress), an email platform (like MailChimp) and a separate CRM.
Today, just as marketers are now working with holistic event marketing solutions (think Salesforce Pardot, HubSpot or Marketo), event marketers are demanding an event marketing system that can provide comprehensive functions with robust integrations.
2. User Friendliness
As the competition within the event technology industry has grown, so too has the importance of providing easy to use tools for event marketers. As major players continue to acquire other companies and expand the power and depth of their offerings, more robust platforms have emerged. And, as a result, expectations around quality user experiences have too.
Not only that, but event tech customers have also seen an increased need for tools that can match their own pace of growth. For example, Teach for America now includes over 55,000 alumni and corps members across the entire country.
At any given time, the company has a variety of events going on in different locations that cater to diverse audiences. Through their own admission, Teach for America credits the help of event technology for making their efforts streamlined and effective despite the gargantuan task they’ve been faced with.
3. Event ROI Clarity
Many event organizers still struggle with proving event ROI (51% according to the 2018 Event Marketing Benchmarks and Trends Report). This means that working towards event ROI clarity is a high priority task for many planners. And it makes sense: the better you understand your event performance, the more effective your events will be moving forward.
Some of the main questions to consider include how to define ROI and the identification of events that drive ROI the most. Data collected and organized from event tech software helps solve both of these issues.
4. AI + Personalization
Today, just 15% of enterprises are using AI. But 31% said it is on the roadmap for the next 12 months, proving it’s a powerful digital trend. In addition to increasing labor productivity by 40%, organizers will be able to use artificial intelligence to efficiently allocate and spend their time.
In interacting with a SaaS platform, users create data that can be leveraged by the provider to improve their experience. For example, on e-commerce platforms like Amazon, the shopping experience is tailored to the visitor. And sites like Spotify and Netflix provide users with tailored entertainment experiences. We now see the same changes are coming to events.
AI is a term that is getting a lot of buzz, but what people often refer to AI is often automation. True artificial intelligence that not only automates processes but contributes new information that has the power to radically change the way that events are run.
The more organizers can understand an attendee, the better they can optimize their events to satisfy attendees and drive business goals.
How to Find the Best Event Technology
Event Technology Reviews Sites
Event tech review sites often help curate peer-driven testimonials and ratings based on a variety of factors tailored to the purpose of the software itself. They usually offer an even analysis of pros, cons, and special insights you won’t find on the product’s main website.
G2 Crowd: G2 Crowd gives out prestigious innovators awards for a variety of SaaS products. Their rubrik is typically broken down into four main categories: Leaders, Contenders, Niche, High Performance. Any product found on their award chart deserves a second look.
Capterra: Capterra is a good example of a user review site. They break categories down into most popular, most affordable, and most user-friendly.
Software Advice: This professional database allows event organizers to retrieve detailed search results alongside in-depth buyer’s guides for further assistance choosing the event tech that’s the best fit for your goals.
Event Technology Considerations
No matter what site you choose, there are 5 key things to keep in mind when researching event technology:
Give Sales Reps a Challenge. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions about uber specific product features or about the industry as a whole. A sales rep who is willing to share information about their competitors in a positive light is one who is looking out for your best interests.
Get a second (and third, and fourth) opinion. Besides reading review sites, cross check with your network, and ask sales reps to put you in touch with their current customers. Leave no stone unturned.
Read event tech guides. New reports and benchmark comparisons are just as important (if not more so) than reviews because they’ll add some figures to those facts that you otherwise might not have assumed existed.
Create an assessment for each software. Base it on your specific goals and strategy to make it worth your while. Event technology assessments help you generate awareness, manage registrations, and measure your success.
Choose software that aligns with your business plan. It’s good to keep the big picture in mind. As with your goals, reference the goals of the company at large to see if the software you choose aligns with what you’re all really trying to achieve.
Wrapping Up: Event Technology Takeaways
Besides providing event planners with data-backed insights, streamlined workflows, and increased attendee engagement, event technology has become a staple for modern productivity.
And in addition to that, interesting trends like AI automation and ROI measuring have led to attendees having better and better experiences. So much so that they’ve come to expect that event technology will play a role in their event experience.
To wrap-up, here are some main ideas to keep in mind:
Choose wisely. There are many types of event software, each with its own set of strengths and weaknesses. Create a tech stack based on your goals and the compatibility of those corresponding technologies.
Consider market trends. As companies continue to join forces and AI dominates the landscape, you’ll need to keep these changes in mind as you evaluate event technology. Especially if you expect it to serve you for the long term.
Sort through the noise. In general, review sites serve as a great starting point for sifting through the many options available at your fingertips. Be sure to take your time when evaluating and consider the software from every angle before making an official purchase.
The power of event technology gives event organizers freedom to continue improving their craft through effortless tools that take guesswork out of the equation. Unlock the potential of your next events for 2019 and beyond with the help of this guide and the event industries many transformative technologies.