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Feb 10, 2021 11:45:00 AM by Jordan Schwartz

How To Improve Your Conference Planning Process With Tech

How To Improve Your Conference Planning Process With Tech

With an excellent event team and a good strategy, you can plan and organize a successful conference for your organization. However, approaching conference planning with outdated methods can lead to a slow and exhausting planning process. 

Conversely, using the right event technology tools can lead to more effective and efficient planning. Technology helps to streamline the planning process and free up time and resources which can be allocated to other event needs. You will get your work done faster, in a more organized way, and with limited human resources. 

Whether you are organizing a virtual, hybrid, or in-person conference, the tech solutions available can help you improve your planning process and achieve greater conference outcomes. This article considers some of these solutions and how you can apply them in your event process. 

We will cover the solutions under the following topics. Feel free to jump into any section of your choice. 

Ready to learn more about upscaling your conference planning process? Let’s dive in.

Event Planning Automation

Before considering different areas of planning and relevant tech solutions, it is important to note that the planning process itself requires automation. This can be achieved using productivity and project management tools to optimize the process.  Let’s consider some examples.

Productivity Tools

In general, productivity and project management tools can help event teams and volunteers get more organized, especially regarding note keeping, sharing files, and schedule coordination. 

  • InitLive - Set tasks and schedules for your volunteers and staff members in order to accomplish various event efforts.

  • G Suite - This consists of Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Drive, Calendar, and other tools that are useful for team collaboration.

  • Todoist - Create daily or weekly to-do lists, and check them off as you accomplish each task. You can use this to break project milestones into smaller tasks.

  • Evernote - Create notes and save important information such as URLs and passwords. You can also use this solution to create to-do lists.

  • Otter.ai - Convert voice conversations to smart notes that can be shared with your event team.
  • Pocket - Store valuable resources to view them later (e.g. articles, webpages, videos, and more).

Project Management Tools

Planning and organizing a conference is a detailed, multi-faceted project. Therefore, using project management software can help you get a holistic view of your entire event from the planning to the execution stages. The tools can also help your team to better collaborate, set timelines, track speakers, organize vendors, acquire sponsors, and address other event logistics. Some popular project management tools include:

  • Trello

  • Slack

  • Asana

  • Basecamp

  • Monday 

Most tools allow you to run a trial version of the software to know which one is best suited to your conference planning requirements.

Venue Sourcing and Event Logistics 

Sourcing an event venue requires contacting different properties and conducting site inspections, which can be a time-consuming process. Managing the venue, mapping rooms, and allocating spaces is another set of stressful tasks. However, there are tech tools that you can use to lessen those burdens. Let’s consider a few.

Venue Sourcing

Web-based applications like Cvent or its alternatives can be used to send RFPs to multiple venues at a time. The app can generate spreadsheets compiling responses from different properties, and it also allows you to compare prices with the value offered by each property.

Virtual Site Inspection

Inspecting properties requires time and physical trips. Contact venues with 360-degree virtual site tours instead. These tours give you remote access to most of the things you would have wanted to see in-person. As a result, you can narrow your choices down to one or two top properties which you would like to visit in-person.

Venue Management Software

Leverage centralized software to manage floor plans, catering, exhibition, and other services that you might need for your conference. Such software can help you to fully optimize the capacity of your event facility. Examples of such tools include Blueprint, Planning Pod, Ungerboeck, and more.

Transportation Management

Manage flights, hotel reservations, and airport transfers through a central platform. Apps such as GruupMeet can be used for flight reservations and managing guest itineraries.

Event Promotion and Marketing

The whole marketing and promotion process can be fully automated. From creating an event website to social media campaigns and PPC ads, you can synchronize and manage each aspect of your marketing using the appropriate tools.

Email Marketing Automation

Automating your conference marketing campaign can help you optimize your process and create more personalized experiences for attendees. 

A more personalized approach to marketing yields better results. Aim to send your prospects email content that resonates with them at a time each recipient is most likely to read it. Also, strategically consider how to show your ads to your targets across the platforms they primarily engage with. This approach will certainly improve lead generation and conversion. 

Marketing automation can also reduce duplication of activities and help organize your tools from a single, centralized location. You can trigger an entire workflow across platforms with a single action on one platform. 

Whether your organization is small or large, you can find suitable tools to automate your marketing campaign on a budget. Below are some examples.

Small Organizations

  • Drip

  • GetResponse

  • Infusionsoft

  • Autopilot

  • OptinMonster

Large Organizations

  • Hubspot

  • ActiveCampaign

  • Marketo

  • Salesforce 

  • Mail-Chimp All-in-one Marketing Platform

Most of these tools can be integrated with your event registration platforms and websites, and you can export and use data across all the platforms. 

Event Registration and Credential Management

Automating the registration process will reduce staffing and the time required to process registrations. Thankfully, the activities involved in registration and delegate processing can be substantially automated. Below are some useful tools for managing registration and credentials.

Event Registration and Tickets

Registration of attendees and ticketing can be automated using popular tools such as: 

  • Eventbrite

  • Regpack

  • Fonteva 

Each of the tools above can be used for automated ticketing (with secure payment protection). They can also generate receipts, process refunds, create badges, and manage check-ins at events.

Data Integration/Migration

Some tools, like the ones previously listed, support data migration or integration to other platforms or CRM solutions. With such tools, you can easily move your registration data to a virtual event platform or mobile event app so that attendees can build their profiles, set a custom agenda, and start networking with other attendees before the conference begins. 

When choosing a registration platform, ensure that it has data security features that prevent data breach and keep attendee data safe.

Check-in and Guest Processing

Use tech tools to streamline conference check-in and guest processing. This can reduce queues at your conference, and can be a way to keep your event attendees safe. You can use a mobile event app for mobile check-in or RFID scanners and badges, smart wristbands, and passes. Some of these tools can also support cashless transactions during your conference. 

It is important to consider your budget when choosing tech solutions. While tech can improve your planning process, it shouldn’t lead to an excessive increase in budget. An ideal tech solution should have an amplifying effect and lead to an increase in ROI. The returns should be able to cover the cost over and over again. 

Guest Author- Jordan Schwartz

Untitled design - 2021-02-09T145417.451Jordan Schwartz is president and co-founder of Pathable, an event app and website platform for conferences and tradeshows. He left academic psychology for the lure of software building, and spent 10 years at Microsoft leading the development of consumer-facing software. Frustrated with the conferences he attended there, he left Microsoft in 2007 with the goal of delivering more value and better networking opportunities through a next-generation conference app. Jordan moonlights as a digital nomad, returning often to his hometown of Seattle to tend his bee hives.