Connect, Organize, Manage and Collaborate.
Planning an event can be a complicated affair. There are many different aspects that an event planner must keep track of simultaneously and they all must run like clockwork if you want to pull it off successfully. Luckily, advances in technology have brought event planners many useful tools to help with organizing, disseminating information, tracking registrations and so much more. Unfortunately, many of these tools are complicated to use and they might not go well with a tight budget. So we decided to put together a list of the 6 must have tools for event planners on a budget that are simple to use. Don’t worry! Just because these tools are budget-friendly doesn’t mean that you are forced to compromise on functionality or features; quite the contrary. Best of all is that most of these tools can be configured to connect with each other, they also offer a free version that makes it even easier to try the tool out for yourself before making a big, up-front investment.
There are many different kinds of events, but they all have the same things in common: people, partners, sponsors, speakers, exhibitors, staff and, most importantly, attendees. In this article, we will discuss six must-have tools for event planners to work and/or engage with the most important part of any event, the people.
Google Drive is a free Cloud based file sharing, management and storage application. After creating a free Google account, you can start using Google Drive right away to share and store your important event files. You can easily share files with other members of your team and anyone else connected to your events. In fact, it is so simple you can securely create a file link to allow anyone with that link to download and/or access a file that you have stored on Google Drive. Furthermore, it is also very easy to stay organized by creating a folder hierarchy and then sharing only specific folders as needed so that other people can update and add files too.
Google Drive keeps a version history of your files for thirty (30) days so you can always go back to a previous version, if necessary. In addition, Google allows you to use the files offline when you aren’t connected to the Internet, you just need to setup offline access, sync and away you go. The file synchronization is automatic so you always have the latest version of your Cloud files ready to access when you need them.
Need to access your files from a mobile device? No problem! Google Drive files are conveniently accessible from your mobile devices including iOS and Android using the Google Drive app.
With all of these great features, Google Drive not only enhances an event planner’s ability to collaborate, organize and share files seamlessly, it also ensures that you can monitor and manage changes made by other people and revert back to a previous file version if there’s a need to recover data or information that may have gone missing. It also virtually guarantees that everyone has access to the latest version of the file when collaborating.
Once you have Google Drive, you also have free access to other Google tools such as Sheets, Docs, and Slides. For the event planner the other must have Google tool is Google Sheets. It’s a Cloud based spreadsheet application stored on Google Drive that allows you to easily share your spreadsheets with other people so that everyone can simultaneously update the same sheet. As updates are made, it automatically saves each revision allowing you to easily revert back to a previous version, as well as reference an older revision if data has gone missing or was removed accidentally. As people access a Sheet, you can see who has opened and which cells are being accessed and updated in real time. You can restrict which people can just view, edit or leave comments on a specific Sheet. You can also restrict how other people share your Sheets, if you allow others to share them at all. You are in full control of your data.
For event planners Google Sheets is a must have tool to track all types of event information including lists of registered attendees, exhibitors, sponsors, and so much more while also giving your event team easy, trackable and secure access to specific sheets for the ease of collaboration.
No event is complete without an attendee registration and ticketing tool. That’s why we’ve included Eventbrite as another must have tool for your next event. It’s a free Cloud based event registration tool that gives you the ability to create professional event ticketing and registration pages in minutes. Once your event registration page is setup you can easily share the page in social media, include links in emails, and promote your gathering in many other different ways.
It’s quite amazing that Eventbrite offers such great service for free. It remains free as long as you don’t charge your attendees a registration fee. If you do charge your attendees, Eventbrite still has you covered by charging a nominal fee per registration so you don’t have to worry about large up-front costs to get your registration site up and running.
Eventbrite caters to events of any size and is available in many different countries and languages. The Professional version includes a great analytics reporting system that allows you to adapt the content of your event so you can meet the needs of your target audience. The Premium version even offers features like RFID technology and 24/7 Customer Support.
Zapier is a very easy Cloud based tool that connects your other favorite Cloud apps. You can connect two or more apps to automate repetitive tasks without complex coding or relying on developers to build the integration. It virtually eliminates the need for manual data entry from one app to another. Thanks to Zapier the days of importing and exporting data such as CSV files from one platform to another are over.
Do you want a Google Sheet to be updated every time a new attendee registers on Eventbrite? No problem. In just a few clicks you can create an automated task called a “Zap” that takes care of this for you.
Best of all, Zapier is free to connect many apps including Google Sheets and Eventbrite. Of course, the free version comes with some limits such as the total number of zaps allowed per month. Also, zaps are limited to 2 steps and not all of the 1000+ apps are available to connect to. For a nominal USD 20/month fee Zapier will let you connect any of their apps and allow 3+ steps per Zap for more complex tasks. They also buffer any unsuccessful Zaps due to downtime or other connectivity issues and then reconnect them once the app is available again so you never miss any data.
When you start planning an event it can be hard to figure out how many people will be likely to attend. One of the most efficient ways to solve this is to plan what is called “Social Media Pre-Events” using Facebook Events.
Planning an AMA (Ask me anything), a preview of your event, or networking sessions for your attendees might be unrealistic for your budget. The Facebook Events platform lets you plan and host virtual events for free. This will give you a better idea of how many people are interested in your content. Gathering and reviewing their feedback before your event will save you a lot of the guesswork involved with planning your event. Plus, Facebook Insights (their advanced metrics platform) can allow you to go the extra mile by finding out more detailed demographics and behavior about your attendees. It is organized in a simple-to-use, interactive analytics dashboard.
The best part is that most people are on Facebook already which makes it very convenient for your attendees since they will receive reminders from their usual social channels.
Most attendees have come to expect an event app when they register for an event. Event apps allow participants to prepare for an event by facilitating schedule creation, broadcasting news updates, and finding information on the event such as the agenda, exhibitors, sponsors, and so much more. For event planners, an event app provides great benefits such as eliminating waste and cost by not needing to print conference guides and the ability to make last minute changes that get updated immediately.
The Velocevent Event App is another must have tool that is available for free for events under 100 attendees. If you’re hosting larger events, Velocevent’s transparent 2 tier transparent pricing model makes it easy to stay within budget without the surprise of hidden fees and costs for additional features and functionality.
Velocevent is surprisingly simple to setup and configure. Based on Google Sheets and Drive, event data can be easily maintained and imported into your event. As new attendees register on Cloud based sites such as Eventbrite, Eventzilla, and TicketBud, the participant registration data can be automatically saved into the Velocevent’s Attendee Google template using Zapier and then imported in 2 clicks.
In addition, not only is it easy to publish your event app, but automatic synchronization ensures that your guests always get the latest updates when changes are made to event information. Plus, with support for iOS, Android, mobile web and desktop web, your attendees will be able to get all the information about your event on virtually any device.
Branding your app is as simple as uploading your event’s logo and banner and setting matching colors. Velocevent takes care of the rest. There’s not enough space to list all of Velocevent’s features here, but suffice it to say that you definitely get more than your money’s worth with this must have event tool.
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