How to Find the Best On-site Management Software
We interviewed Boomset—a leading event software—to discuss what you should look for when searching for the best event on-site event management software.
In this post you’ll learn
- How on-site event management software fits into your event technology stack
- What an event technology stack is and why its become so popular
- Why event management software is the cornerstone of event technology stack
- What you should look for when selecting an event check-in software
- Best practices for shopping around for event technology
Below is the transcript of the webinar. At the end of this post, we’ll review some of our key takeaways. Enjoy.
Brandon: Hello there everyone. Welcome to the Ultimate Event Stack Webinar Series. Today we're going to be talking about on-site event management software and how it relates to the event technology stack. My name is Brandon Rafalson, I am the content marketing manager here at Bizzabo and I'm really excited to in introduce you to our panelists. First, I am joined by fellow Bizzaboer David Epstein. Hey Dave.
David: Hi everyone. Hi Brandon. Thanks for joining today. I'm a marketing director at Bizzabo where I'm responsible for our go-to market strategy and I'm going to be talking about how event management software can help you to plan better and more successful events. Super exciting topic and look forward to getting to it.
Brandon: Thanks Dave. And, of course, our very special guest from Boomset, the on-site event management software specialist, Jinal.
Jinal: Hi. Thank you Brandon. Very excited to be here. I'm Jinal, I'm the Senior Sales Executive here at Boomset. I'm in charge of helping grow new business and bringing in new business strategies. So thank you both for having me on your webinar, very excited to get started.
Brandon: Thanks Jinal. And I just have to say again, we've been discussing technology, nerding out about it. Beforehand today, and then previously. And I really, really appreciate the perspectives you bring on technology and specifically, your niche, on-site event management software, and I think our listeners are going to get a lot from it.
Jinal: Yeah, very excited.
Brandon: Okay, so, the event stack. What's the big deal with it? Why is industry talking about it? In this section, Dave is going to lead us through basically a big overview of it. Dave?
The Event Technology Stack
David: Thanks Brandon. So, first let's talk about the numbers. And what we did here is we surveyed about 450 senior event marketers or event organizers and we asked them about a wide variety of topics related to how they plan events. In fact, we asked them over 50 questions and one of the questions we asked them was how their organization was performing. There were three categories: under-performing, performing as expected, and over-performing. And based on that answer we were then able to cohort the respondents and see how over-performers do things differently. And what we found is that there a few different aspects of the ways that over-performers strategize, when it comes to event planning, that really is a contributing factor to their success.
David: So, one of the things we found was that over-performers are more likely to increase their investment in event technology in 2018 than under-performers. That's 80% versus 54%. And then if you look at, specifically the respondents in red, we asked them a follow-up question, which is, "Okay, so you're going to increase your spending. How much do you expect to increase it?" Under-performers said $3,000 and over-performers said that they were going to spend $7500 which is $4500 more. So we see here that over-performers are more committed to their event tech stacks and to investing in them. And let's just remember that data point because we're going to come back to it in a minute.
David: So, if we move on. Next we asked what kind of tools these different organizers and planners were using as part of their event tech stack. And we're going to get into exactly what that means, but just so you can follow this slide: a tech stack is basically a collection of tools that, when they integrate with one another, they're incredibly powerful, and they're all working together. While they're achieving, they're doing what they do best but because they're integrated you get this kind of 1+1+1=10 experience. So, three types of tools that over-performers used way more than under-performers: event management software - 61% of over-performers are using what we call EMS as opposed to 32% of under-performers; marketing automation software - so an example of that one would be Marketo or HubSpot, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Pardot, again over-performers are using that technology more so; and then sales CRM, an example of that would be SugarCRM or Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics, again what we see here is over-performers have a better built-out event tech stack. And it's not just, oh, they enjoy technology, the reason that they do this is because it allows them to get better insight and visibility into their event performance and it creates more successful events which we're going to explain in a minute.
David: So, if we go into the next slide, we also asked, "Are you able..." The specific question was "Do you have trouble proving event ROI?" And I know for a fact that many of our listeners here today, and in general, struggle with this. So, how do you prove, to the dollar, whether or not your event actually delivered value for your organization, and I mean, in a meaningful, measurable way? Doesn't matter, by the way, if you're selling registration, you're still looking for a return on investment if you're planning an internal corporate event. And, in fact, if you can prove that to your stakeholders, you're going to find that your event budgets increase and that you get more latitude in planning the event strategy because people know, hey, what I'm doing is really going to pay off.
David: So, we see that over-performers are much more likely to say, "No, I don't have trouble measuring ROI." Another way to phrase this that might be more eloquent is, "Yes, I can prove ROI." Whereas, under-performers have a lot of trouble proving that. So, again, if you draw a relationship between investing more in event technology, building out an event tech stack that includes EMS, marketing automation, and CRM, what you see, the fruits of that labor and investment, is visibility into your event performance. So this is kind of why you should care in the first place, because your peers who are over-performers have found a secret way to create better, more successful events, and now we're going to show you what that secret looks like.
David: So, let me introduce you to the PEER model, P-E-E-R. SO, PEER model is a way to think about your event life cycle. It starts with the Pre-event phase, then it goes into Event management and then Engagement and then, after Engagement, Brandon, what is the final letter? ROI and measurements?
Brandon: Review and optimization, which definitely could include ROI. And should.
David: Thanks. So there we go, Pre-event, Event management, Engagement, and Review and optimization are the four phases. We're going to walk you through what those look like but, quickly, to look at this diagram, what you see is, within each category, there are a few tools that you should consider using and implementing in each phase. So, for example, in the Pre-event phase, you're looking at an EMS software, you might consider using marketing automation, or a CRM. So that's when you're trying to generate interest in your event, you're trying to market your database, you're building an event website. These are the pre-event tools you might need.
David: Moving on to Event management. This is during the event, so what are you doing during the event? You'll notice on-site management software is a big component, and that's where Boomset comes in, and we're going to get to that in the second half. And in fact, there can be a very powerful integration there. Of course, event management software and event apps are also present here.
David: Then we move onto Engagement. This is the section where, hey, you know, what are you doing after the event to keep those people who you worked so hard to register and attend, to engage them and move them down your marketing funnel or encourage them to register for next year's event. And again, you're using similar tools you used in the pre-event phase.
David: And then, Review and optimization. That's where measuring event ROI comes in and proving that, in fact, the previous three phases of your life cycle worked to deliver something that was successful. And there you're adding in attribution software, or your data warehouse business intelligence and visualization tools. And we're going to get to what those things mean later on.
David: But basically, this is the framework you should have in your mind as we move forward. So, if we go to the next slide, briefly, we'll see the way that these tools can connect. I mentioned earlier the power of the event stack is when these tools integrate with one another because, if you're not using a stack, essentially, you're using a silent series of tools. You could be having an event app, and then an event registration tool, maybe you have a WordPress website built, or something built on another CMS platform. If these tools aren't talking to each other, there are a few things happening that are bad.
David: First is, you're spending a lot of time that you don't need to be spending in managing contracts, troubleshooting, and contacting different support people at each step of the way. And also your data is lost. Either that, or you're manually uploading spreadsheets to some other tool, in which case it's not secure. And also, let's say your boss or manager suddenly asks you for, hey, give me these numbers on this particular aspect of the event. It's in those moments that you prove whether or not you're truly an event professional and whether or not you can measure ROI in real time. And if they're not integrated, you need to export a spreadsheet and then check for duplicates. It's not a good outcome. So, this is the alternative, where you use a tool such as Bizzabo's interface and here, as an organizer, you simply select the tools you want to connect with and these are the pre-built integrations you have access to. And, literally, in a matter of clicks, you're connecting things so that, in real time, you're passing data back and forth. So Bizzabo integrates with, I think, it's over a thousand tools of different types to allow you to do exactly that - build the ultimate event tech stack.
David: And if we look at one particular integration, going to the next slide, you'll see the power of integrating an EMS tool to an on-site event management tool like Boomset. Here you see, in the circle closest to the bottom of the screen, that would be something like Bizzabo, an EMS tool, and there you can pass your event registration information to Boomset so that, during the on-site check-in experience, Boomset knows exactly who should be attending and you can seamlessly check those people in. It's a really fast and easy experience: no spreadsheets, no manual work, it's seamlessly integrated. And from there, Boomset has a series of super powerful functions that Jinal is going to get into in a moment. And then again, that two-way integration means that the data can be passed back as well and you can later analyze that. So this is kind of a visualization of building that on-site function of event management.
David: So, to quickly recap, there are three core benefits to building that stack, and for those of you who are really just curious about it, this is why event stacks are the new way of managing events. First, you're benefiting from a two-way integration in most cases, in which case, again, you're not having to worry about security issues or speed, it's in real time, and it's happening very quickly. Second, the data isn't just quickly integrated but you, yourself, are saving a lot of time by centralizing these functions in one tool, one user interface, one point of contact, one contract to negotiate, all of that. And then, of course, secure. Some of you have heard about GDPR regulations; there are other rules that you are going to want to follow as a corporate governance that might be in place within your company and I guarantee that simply downloading/exporting data onto your computer and uploading it somewhere else is the least secure way possible of handling really sensitive information. So you want to move away from that model. Those are three key benefits.
Event Management Software
David: Cool, so we're going to quickly review this PEER model with the events cloud, Bizzabo events cloud, in this case, but, in some cases, it will apply to other solutions like us. And after that, we're going to talk about the on-site component and explain how the two can integrate. So, let's start with the first letter in the PEER model, the Pre-event. This example here is Universe, it's an event planned by GitHub, which is a social network of 4 million software engineers, and Universe wanted to plan an awesome user conference to bring all of these community members together in one place and they used Bizzabo to do that. So, what Universe, what the organizers of Universe, ended up doing, they used an event management software to build all of the components necessary to create that pre-event registration flow in one tool. So here this is a Bizzabo website, it's fully branded, it's fully compliant with the GitHub brand and the Universe sub-brand. Not only that, but the entire registration experience is also built on the same platform.
Brandon: Just real quick, David, we have a question from Aaron. It's "What's the difference between on-site software and event management software?" Now, I know we're going to dive into this in some great detail right now, but do you just have one or two sentences to set us up there?
David: Yeah, so thanks for the question, and glad they're coming in already. So again, ask your questions now, we'll get to them now or at the end but basically, the two tools are really tackling both very important competencies but they're different. So, an event management software is kind of like your one-stop shop for managing a few core components of an event: this pre-event phase of registering attendees, providing attendees with a networking app, measuring event performance. The on-site component is, okay, so once these people are there and they want to check into the event and you want to have various flows and you want to manage that attendee experience on-site. You want to use something like Boomset, which is built from the ground up to do exactly that. So they're going to provide the hardware and the support and the know-how to actually ensure that, once the attendee gets there, they have an amazing check-in experience. And then, you're going to use Bizzabo to manage the other components of that event, right, so this is the event app and the web-site and so on. And because they're integrated, you're getting the best of both worlds and you're capturing all of that data.
Brandon: Great. Jinal, did that seem like a decent little recap before we dive into your section.
Jinal: Yeah, I was going to jump in and say that was the perfect explanation on kind of where this partnership comes into play. Where it's like step one, step two, and then just keeping that same experience and that same impression for your attendees from start to finish. And, David, you explained it perfectly in sync.
Brandon: Fantastic. Cool. So, David, please continue on.
David: Sure, so we have this pre-event component of the event experience and this is where you're really trying to drive registrations. Right, so you're using an EMS tool to create an on-brand experience and to use marketing features to encourage people to register for your event. So, you're using EMS to potentially e-mail people about it, to target them on different ad networks, to capture their data if they begin registration, abandon their cards, and then you can re-engage them with tools that we offer, for example. And then, once that person registers, they're actually going to automatically be added to an event networking community that ties in with the event app. And again, this is why you want to use all-in-one because you don't need to push them to another place where they need to download a separate app and register for a separate community. This is a unified experience, much better for the attendee, it's going to mean much better event networking and event app adoption. And also, for you, if you want to change something on the event app, let's say the agenda, you want to make a universal change, you can do that in one place and it will automatically be updated across all of those different platforms. So, anyway, this is the pre-event component here, you're trying to drive registration and sign-ups.
David: Moving on to the management side of things, this is where that event community, event networking, and event app come into play. So, if you used one platform for registration and the same platform for the app, you have a rich thriving community, all of your event-goers are getting value from this event app. They can access it to review the agenda, engage with speakers or sponsors, communicate with one another, schedule meetings through messages and all of that. Again, its much more vibrant and thriving because it's all-in-one, and, again, you're maintaining a seamless brand experience because you're managing it on one drag-and-drop platform with awesome functionality and flexibility. So, again, during the event, you're providing that app experience and you're collecting all of that data as well.
David: If we move on to the engagement component, now we're in the third of the four sections. Engagement meaning after the event you don't want to just disappear, you want to maintain mind-share, you want your attendees to continue to engage with your brand. And, again, you can use an EMS tool to either run these campaigns through something like Bizzabo, or you can integrate it to a marketing automation or sales CRM through a native integration from the platform. One option is sending segmented e-mails, you can do that with smart lists that basically allow you to send highly personalized messages to various segments of attendees or you could push that information to your e-mail tool of choice. But there are other ways of engaging people as well: you could send them retargeting ads, again, which are perfectly integrated with your EMS tool, no need to upload a list or worry about managing the analytics as it relates to your event performance in another tool. And this, again, helps organizers to drive ROI because, once they register and attend the event, you can then either nurture those contacts down a marketing or sales funnel or you can engage them and motivate them to immediately register for your event next year.
Brandon: And, Dave, I just think this is really fascinating. We're working our way through the PEER model, but once again, we're seeing how event management software, depending on its capabilities can factor into every stage of this. Just one thing I want to point out to our listeners is that, while most event management software can take care of this, again, you do have your CRMs, your marketing automation softwares, is definitely going to play a part here. For instance, with your marketing automation software, if you want to send something to, say, a larger group of contacts, people that did not just attend your event, that'd be a perfect use case to send e-mails out through your marketing automation platform. Versus if you're just following up with people who attended your event, that would be a way to use the e-mail marketing functionality in an event management platform.
David: Awesome. Thanks Brandon.
David: And then, if we move on to the final section of the PEER model before we go into the on-site component. Remember when I mentioned ROI and being able to measure that? Well, that's where this comes in. So, this is a GIF of the Bizzabo dashboard. There are a couple other components here. But again, it's about collecting the data, having it in one place, and then that means you can measure your event ROI whether it's related to attendee satisfaction or attendance or actual revenue from the registrations or deals closed as a result of touching leads and nurturing them by attending events. And then the best part about this, which we're releasing this quarter, is cross-event analytics. So, if you want to benchmark yourself, you can see how similar events performed in one awesome dashboard. And that's how you really measure ROI in real time and how you shine within your organization by proving that events are effective. And you can only do this if you're integrating your tools together to build an event stack.
Brandon: Alright, David, thank you so much for that overview of event management software and how it fits into every stage of the PEER model. Again, its very cool to see how event management software has developed over the years, whereas you used to have, use multiple platforms, you would use MailChimp to send out your e-mails and an event registration platform in order to register. Now you can do more of that within one platform, however, there are still limitations to event management software and Jinal, this is where Boomset and Boomsets offering an in-general on-site management software comes into the picture. Really excited to dive into that, but we have a question from Kimberly, and I believe, Jinal, you could probably take this.
Brandon: So, Kimberly asks, "Bizzabo has an on-site event management features on its platform?" It does, but there is definitely a limitation to that. Jinal, could you speak on that?
Jinal: Yeah, absolutely. While, yes, Bizzabo does have an on-site tool, Boomset's whole suite of offering gives you more catered tools for on-site tracking, on-site credentials, on-site validations, security measurements, being able to validate information. So, we offer a larger suite of tools for not only your attendees but also for vendors and exhibitors, so that way you can have a more robust and catered experience based on what you need. So, more options with your check-in: self check-in versus staff check-in; more options with credentials; more options with on-site management with tracking your guests, where they go, seeing access control take into play and that security element of does this credential validate you to enter a particular session versus not. So, we really do build a whole suite of tools that will help you monitor the on-site experience. And, I think as Brandon was saying, we built it bottoms up and this is sort of our bread and butter, our specialty, and it's our focus, and that's our prime, so we have lot more offerings for the on-site tools and the reporting afterwards. There may be some other pre-registration systems may not fully encompass.
David: Looks like we have another question here from Charles, asking "Are these kind of tools for small businesses or big businesses?" And I'll just take a shot at this so we can move on. But it's a great question and it's a fair one. The way that I think about the event stack is it's really not about a particular size of business, it's about the types of events you're running and the kind of functionality you need. It's certainly going to, the pricing model is going to be much more customized for your needs, so it's not a case where you just look up pricing and that's the kind of, you're paying as you go or per registration or something like that. It's more tailored to exactly what kind of solution you need and that's really the beauty of the event stack, right? Because, usually using some off-the-shelf solution that is going to give you a siloed answer to one component of the event planning process is actually going to be much more expensive in the long run.
Brandon: So, for example, if you're using solely a registration tool and you need an event website built and then you have to deal with hiring people to manually check-in attendees. If you look at the total investment required there, it's very likely that that's actually going to be greater than an "enterprise" or more sophisticated tool. And if you start adding in your time to manage those solutions, again, it most likely is going to be the case that an event stack, or investing in an event stack, is going to be more cost-effective in the long run.
Brandon: Anything to add, Jinal?
Jinal: Yeah, and to that point, when you're shopping around, there's not one size that fits all. There are things that, you know, perhaps, for example, name badge solutions, maybe the software that you're using doesn't quite offer the name badge on demand function for example. And you're going to end up with a lot of items, a lot of name badges that maybe you don't have a lot of attendees that show up; you anticipated 2,000 and then there's a smaller chance there's a lot of waste and there's a lot of manual reprint that has to be done on-site. And, in the end, the long-term use of that software will be more costly for these unforeseen challenges that could arise from the event.
Brandon: For sure, yeah, there definitely are a lot of variables that can come into play. I'm sure our guest could definitely speak to experiences where some last minute changes, be that with badges or, hopefully not, but potentially, a speaker not showing up or showing up late, etc.
Jinal: Exactly, exactly. And the last thing you want to do, as the organizer, is have to scramble around at registration because there's definitely a lot more going on in the event. And to have to figure out how to quickly produce new credentials for guests or unexpected guests as well.
Brandon: For sure. Well, I think this is a great opportunity to sort of segue into on-site event management software. And I know we just talked about specific aspects of it based on some questions, so let's dig in. So, we talked about event management software but what are some particular challenges, or pain-points, that event marketers, event organizers, might experience, which would draw them to on-site event management software?
On-site Event Management Software
Jinal: So, working with events globally, I hear from all of our event organizers. This first challenge is probably the most common of needing to choose one solution to solve all the pain-points at registration and the experience at registration. And this can encompass, as I was saying before, anything between having to do manual guests, having to train staff with a software that's easy to use, they're seeing it for the first time, temp staff plays a large role in that. Having to pre-print, sift through badges, and then that ends up going to longer lines, which brings me to a second challenge of large quantities of guests coming through to the event. How do you encompass ten thousand, twenty thousand, thirty thousand attendees that are coming through at a quick and efficient way? And the sort of solution on how do we tackle these challenges is this value of automation.
Jinal: So, if we can, there we go. So, with the value of automation, it will allow you to dedicate your resources to higher value work that makes your event more meaningful. And this is the same automation that's going to enhance the attendees' experience but also giving our clients, the event organizers, more meaningful data. And this is not just information and numbers but actionable intelligence that's going to influence your future events, which is why we've created our guest list app. This is your first opportunity and it's the first value point that you can see in this two-way sync in the event stack at play on-site between Bizzabo and Boomset. You can see your guests flowing through with the check-in data from on-site pushing back to pre-reg and then, you can flip your guest list and then have it be an attendee-facing experience; this is our kiosk check-in. This can also…
Brandon: Jinal, could I just jump in real quick. So, you mentioned the guest list app?
Brandon: And, just to clarify, for some of our guests, we already have attendee and networking and engagement apps, but how does... You already spoke on some of the value of it. But how would this fit into event organizers? How would it differentiate from these apps?
Jinal: Yeah, yeah. So this is the app for the event organizer, this is not for the attendee or for the vendors. This is for you as the organizer to see your guests come through, to monitor the check-in, to be able to actually check-in your guests application. This is your, the actual tangible tool that you're using on-site to collect that data and then see you attendance reports.
Brandon: Wow, cool.
Jinal: Yeah. And then, as I was mentioning, you can flip that guest list, and, going back to one of our attendee's questions, you can flip this and now the guest list app can be a kiosk mode to enhance the experience and the attendee experience. This is your first opportunity where you can impress your guests and set the tone for the rest of their event journey. The guest has this opportunity to self-check-in and have more of an interaction with your brand, and it's your opportunity to showcase the aesthetic of this event and kind of set that tone once again, which, then, in turn, we offer this simultaneous process of checking in and printing, so now you can provide your guests with a tangible experience instantly. Name badges and credentials, they are a very easy way for you to once again sell your brand and leave that imprint on your guest and it's, I feel like, very often sometimes a little overlooked as an opportunity to kind of put that image out there.
Brandon: For sure, and that goes back to the problem that you cited earlier, that sometimes you don't have enough name badges, etc. And you printed them and you ordered them from a service and, it seems like, in this case, if you have the equipment on-site, boom, very flexible, easy to get past that issue.
Jinal: You can redo your badges and you can quickly provide credentials for any unforeseen, and that's what we try to help with, any of the unforeseen elements of the event. And then, you know, now that this attendee has this kind of custom credential, you can then take it a next step further and track and measure, in real time, session attendance. So, where are your guests going throughout the event? Are they validated to go to these areas. And then you can use this comparative data against previous years in order to make more strategic marketing decisions for future events. Was this panel successful? Did we have a lot of buzz for this keynote speaker? Did the sponsor get their return on investment for, you know, the breakfast that they were serving and VIPs could only attend? So, this'll really help you bring that comparative data back to the event spectrum.
Jinal: And then, going into, not just the attendees but we also offer a tool for your vendors and your exhibitors and not to leave them out. With our Lead Retrieval application, they can maximize their time and their investments to your show and they can actually nurture their prospects through the application and then turn leads into sales a lot faster.
Brandon: Cool. I mean, obviously, that's a huge, huge thing to keep in mind for people in the B2B space and at B2B conferences, events. Our sponsors are in many ways the pillars of these events, they're what allow them to happen. And being able to prove ROI to them... Just something as simple as giving sponsors and vendors the tools, just here you go, scan away.
Jinal: Yeah, and the great part about this is that the other kind of a challenge that I hear from event organizers is that they are kind of tired of having to deal with kind of clunky equipment, and this really kind of streamlines that opportunity for the sponsor. It's handheld, it's in their hand, it's in the personal devices. They have the power and they can have these leads and these potential to grow business at hand at any point.
Jinal: So, and then to kind of delve into, we've been talking and discussing this whole automation and how it's going to build efficiency and how it's going to build your event stack. And then this RFID management actually gives you even less of a manual process with a higher level of automation to kind of strategically collect the attendee information, and then you can have more impactful data and actionable data for your attendees. And, I know, you Brandon, and David, as well, very eloquently had said earlier, you can attest to the importance of the data collection and the event stack and how these components can better the event. And just going through some of the earlier points that David had brought up, it kind of all comes together in this ebb and flow between the integration of Bizzabo and Boomset.
Brandon: For sure, and Jinal, just for some, for a guest who might not be as familiar...RFID, what is it? I mean, this is another thing that you hear a lot about, particularly we recently saw a lot of posts about event trends and technology that is shaping the future of the industry and RFID was there in some of them.
Jinal: Yeah, yeah. So, RFID - very buzzy word - like, what is RFID? How do I...It's this kind of like mystery technology that everybody loves and wants at their events. Well, with RFID, there's, to kind of explain a little bit better, there's two types and, depending on your event's needs, you can kind of delve your way into one or the other. You can do passive scanning and tracking for your attendees - they can walk past sensors and they'll pick up their RFID chips; it will account for their attendance and it will acknowledge that this guest, or these guests, have come through and can track those numbers to be able to see, once again, the success of the different points that you're hosting at the event. There's also elements of like cashless payments and voucher redemptions, where you can load information into an attendee's profile. And they can go out through the event and be able to, you know, tap simply to get more information about an area or tap to provide their information for follow-up so they can pay with their wristband. RFID gives you this technology to build your profile and not have to have so many, I guess, tangible items, in terms of like, credit cards or having to carry around name badges and things like that. You can kind of go through with this higher level technology all in this one simple wristband on your wrist.
Brandon: Very cool. And again, it seems like this is another technology that, while it's very useful for event organizers and event marketers, something that could be extremely useful for sponsors and vendors.
Brandon: If, all it takes is an attendee to tap or walk by a kiosk in order to interact or get more information about a certain product or offering.
Jinal: Exactly, and with RFID, I know a lot of the trends is to incentivize, right? That a lot of your sponsors want to incentivize the attendees to go to their booths or to visit their sponsored event. And there's a lot of different options that you can build upon there like gamification to offer points and incentivize your guests to be able to go to different access points and to gather that data. And, as you said, I know sponsors find that incredibly useful to know, hey, even if they're just tapping, I'm still going to follow up with them, there's something about this area that they were interested in, and they took that second to provide their information.
Brandon: Very cool. Okay, so I think we just ran through all, some of the biggest features of on-site event management software specifically offerings that Boomset has. I'd like to turn it around to David and you, Jinal, right now just to sort of speak on, you know we have our guests here right now, they're looking for solutions, be that with Boomset and Bizzabo or other solutions. What should they look out for? And that's kind of an open-ended question, maybe Jinal, would you like to start us off?
What to Look for When Shopping for Event Software
Jinal: Sure. I think one of the best questions to ask yourself when you're looking for features on-site is the why. Why do you need a session-tracking tool? Or, why do you need a self-check-in? What is this? Every tool should have a purpose to help solve a problem or to help make something more efficient, right? So, for example, with session tracking, do you want to use RFID because you like the look of it or do you need a more secure purpose so people aren't passing back their badges to attendees that are not showing up. You can deactivate name badges with RFID tags and you have the secure element. So, I think a large question that you should be asking yourself when shopping for different tools is, why do you need this tool and what is it going to help solve and what is it going to improve at your event.
Brandon: Awesome. Yeah, I think going back to the whys is pivotal with any technology, right? I mean, there's no shorter of tools out there for event organizers to use but it's just a matter of why do you need to use it, right?
Brandon: We have a question from Jessica - "What would Bizzabo and Boomset offer in terms of exhibitor management?"
David: I'll start, and then I think it, like the flow, and then Jinal, if you want to follow-up, the flow will match the way that the event tech stack would work in real life. So starting from pre-event, Bizzabo has a variety of features to help you, as the organizer, add value to exhibitors' sponsors, which in turn, should make it easier for you to retain those relationships by satisfying those contacts and to gain new ones because you can do a few things through Bizzabo alone and then, by integrating the two tools, again, you're getting something more powerful. So, from the start, through the pre-event experience on the website and the during event experience on the networking app and through the networking community and throughout the life cycle, you can actually create exhibitor profiles that can be featured on all of those different channels and that feature things like, you know, ways for event attendees to get in touch with those exhibitors, tracking links, an ability offer discount codes. These are all digital experiences that are highly measurable for you as the organizer that you can then show value, or prove value to exhibitors or event sponsors.
David: And, of course, Bizzabo has a contact management system that allows you to classify different contacts in different ways and a very cool kind of hidden registration flow so that you can register and track those exhibitors and make sure that you're on top of them. And measuring the data around, you know, how many exhibitors did you attract? From where? From what industries? And then, you know, what was the outcome for each one? So, those are some of the things that you could do with just Bizzabo alone but then, if you add in Boomset, and you start thinking about that on-site experience through RFID scanners and the on-site process, it can get even more sophisticated, and there, you're kind of merging online and offline. So, I'll hand it over to Jinal and she can discuss that second component, the off-line interaction.
Jinal: Yeah, absolutely, and to kind of touch upon that's... This whole organization that you're doing for your exhibitors on the Bizzabo platform, that's the power of the integration because, once you do that and you connect the two platforms, Boomset's pulling all of this pre-event organization over for you. And on-site, your exhibitors will be able to easily access their own accounts with the application; to then scan the attendees on-site and they have the tools on-hand to be able to quantify their leads and to take comparative notes on the conversations that they've had. And, let's say, that you, as the organizer, have asked important questions in registration to your attendees; you can actually manipulate that data that is then passed on to the exhibitor when they scan the guest. So, you can actually cater, from your registration page, the endpoint in what your exhibitor will be receiving so that way, they're getting the most relevant information to be able to follow up with these leads.
Brandon: Great. Thank you two. We have a couple more questions I just want to ask. I think this relates to you Jinal.
Brandon: But Charles asks, "I'm from cold Canada. Do you have support here?"
Jinal: Yes, we do. We've done a few events in Canada. We have done events pretty globally, I mean, we've done events in Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe. So, if there is an event in need, we'll be there and we can definitely support you. We offer, we really pride in our customer support and we can definitely help you with the on-boarding process as well as the on-site process, and kind of hand-held you for your first time and for your first experience with Boomset, especially if you are in cold Canada. We can definitely help you even where, even if it's very cold out there.
Brandon: Great. And then Charles had one other follow-up question that's about printing equipment. I know that one of the things that Boomset does is it bridges, you know, that off-line gap that David mentioned and part of that is using all the different equipments. What about it?
Jinal: So, the hardware, there's quite a few different items and once again, going back into the why of like, why do you want this type of badge or for this kind of badge? That will manipulate the type of hardware that you receive on-site. Do you want plastic cards? Do you want paper badges? Would you like wristbands? We typically work with tablets, iOS and Android, and then the badge printers on-site will be determined based on the style of badge that you want because there's a few different varying models that we work with. And then, in terms of RFID and things like that, we have very small styled sensors to kind of pick it up. So, what you're looking at at a typical event is a tablet and a specific badge printer; if you can imagine your desktop phone, they're pretty small and pretty mobile for the hardware on-site.
Brandon: Great. Thanks, so we have couple more questions, but before we get to those, Dave, Jinal just shared some of the best practices for looking for on-site event management software.
David: Yeah, so I'm happy to share a few as well. The first, and it was already mentioned briefly, but, you know, you want to start with the goal, but one thing that I've noticed in talking with organizers is, you know, because there are so many things happening at one time, right? You're responsible for the on-site experience and for the reporting and then for managing anyone whose going to be at the event and speakers and, I don't need to go into it, I'm sure our listeners know this much better than I do. But because you have so many different things coming at you at different directions, it's very easy to kind of put your head down and muscle through like, "alright, this isn't perfect but nothing's perfect and so I'm just going to work with this broken solution that I have." Until essentially what happens is, a disaster strikes, and it no longer works for whatever reason because you lose someone on your staff or the event grows much bigger than you thought it would and then you're scrambling to find a solution.
David: So, what you should do, is basically, in between planning events, you know, when you have a couple weeks of downtime, think and actually index your time. How many hours did you spend doing, managing different tech solutions, right? And are you actually willing to invest whatever that amount of time is in managing all of these different silo tools? Because my guess is you're going to find your using your time slightly differently than you had hoped and it's very easy as hard-working event marketers and organizers to just say, yeah, it's not perfect, but this is working for me. In reality, what you want to do, is you don't want to settle for something that's just working because that's not going to make you an over-performer.
David: What you want to do is create the most optimal solution you can find and work with that because the example that I like to give is: right now, you could be using a flip phone and it's going to do everything a flip phone could possibly do, and that's all you need, right? But then, someone is going to have an iPhone and, suddenly, you have all of this functionality that you didn't realize you needed or all of these tools are actually in one place and you didn't realize that was going to be helpful. And, suddenly, your life has changed. And your professional life really can be changed if you build a tech stack that is similar to the one that we're describing today. Again, it's not about using these tools, we're not trying to force a solution on you that's not going to be appropriate. What we're trying to do is kind of open your mind to a possibility where your working with a few tools that are integrated with one another and that give you that kind of visibility and free you up to be a more creative planner who focuses on the things that tech can't solve for, which is attendee experience and planning and so on.
Brandon: Great. Thanks, Dave. We have a question from Diane that I think is really relevant to what we're talking about here today is, "How do I go about integrating my platforms?" Right? We talked about this event stack and all these different platforms that comprise it. I know we've talked a little about integrations but I'd love to hear a bit more detail.
Jinal: Sure, I can kind of start on that point. Diane, if you actively have Bizzabo account, for example, how to go about integrating it is actually incredibly easy. Once you have your Boomset account and you have an event set up, there's an option where you can import a guest list and Bizzabo is the top-listed integration. You just click "connect" and you find your event and you import it and that's, those are all the steps. It's very, it's very easy. Once it's connected, Boomset automatically syncs your data for you. It's a daily sync, it syncs every thirty minutes before the event, the day of your event it's a real-time sync. So if you have last minute guests registering, if you have on-site registration that you're taking with Bizzabo, that will pull through immediately with our webhooks, and it will immediately pull through into the Boomset system. So, in terms of connecting the two, it's really almost a three step process and then you don't even have to worry about it because we pretty much do the rest for you.
Brandon: Very cool. So, you know, that speaks to the integration between Boomset and Bizzabo and it sounds pretty painless. But for other platforms, Dave, perhaps you could speak onto integrating with the wider management network.
David: Sure. Yeah, so, what Jinal just described is, you know, a native integration, right? We, our two companies built this integration together and, you know, out-of-the-box it's going to work very well, there's really very little that you need to do as the user to make these two tools function together because they were built from the ground up to do that. Now, there are other examples where you're going to want to integrate tools that may not integrate out-of-the-box. So, in that case, you have a couple options; it depends on what the tool itself offers.
David: One option is, if both tools have something called an open API, you can build your own integration but you'll need the help of a tech person. And there, basically, an open API means this tool is designed, kind of, the door is unlocked, right? So, you can write code that will say, "hey do this in this tool and then take that information and put it in this tool in this way." But again, you need to kind of bridge that yourself and build that connection. So, it's doable but you'd only want to do that if you know you're going to be investing, you know, and using these two tools on a regular basis for a long time period.
David: If you don't want to do that and the open API exists in both tools, then you could use a third-party integration which is basically software that's designed to integrate software. I know it's a little kind of meta, but that's the whole purpose of a tool like Zapier or MuleSoft or a product, you know, a function like webhooks, where these two things, these intermediaries are designed to connect software together. And they will work for you as long as an open API exists on both sides. So, talking about questions to ask when shopping for event software, you want to know the integrations available when you're looking at a tool. And you should probably have the other tool you want to integrate with in mind because you can request documentation on that specific integration and, remember, if a salesperson says, "Oh yeah they integrate, we have an open API," the real answer for that is you need to build that integration yourself. So it's kind of, you need to listen closely when you're talking to some vendors because, technically, that's true but the reality is it could take some time. So, you'll try and look for something with as many pre-built integrations out-of-the-box as possible that function reliably.
Brandon: Great, thanks so much, Dave. I think that covers a lot of ground there in terms of integrations. We're pretty much at time, so I just want to go through two things real quick. One, I know there's some questions we didn't get around to answering during this webinar, but if you have any other questions that pop up sometime after the webinar takes place or maybe you're going through the recording sometime in the future and you're like, "Oh, I should have asked that question." Feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com. You can also reach out to Boomset at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jinal or one of her colleagues will be able to get back to you with some more answers there.
Brandon: Finally, if you're curious to learn more about this event technology stack concept that we've been talking a lot about today, you can download our Event Tech 2018 e-book. It kind of goes through and really breaks down, using a lot of visualizations, how this, all these technologies fit together. So, if you're, again, if you're looking for a bit more granular but still digestible overview of these technologies download our Event Tech 2018 e-book.
Brandon: That's a wrap. Thank you everybody for all of your questions and contributing to the conversation today. It covered a lot of ground in terms of event technology. David, thank you, I'll see you for some coffee later today. And, Jinal, thank you so much for joining us.
- The majority of marketers from overperforming organizations are leveraging event technology stacks to drive their event strategies
- Event technology stacks are groupings of technologies that integrate with one another, starting with event management software
- Event management software is pivotal at every stage of the event technology lifecycle
- While event management software may provide event check-in and other on-site features, dedicated on-site event management software like Boomset can provide additional value
- The primary advantages of using on-site event management software are a personalized and customized event check-in experience, session registration, lead scanning, RFID integrations and on-site badge printing
- When shopping around for event software, make sure you understand how—if at all—it integrates with other platforms e.g. native integrations, third-party integrations or open API.
- Also, consider the why behind your purchase as this will help you determine the functions that you are looking for.