"If you build it, they will come" does not apply to events.
Not unless you are One Direction or have a similar following of millions, watching your every move.
Allow me a short rant.
In the past few months I have personally experienced:
- A major conference sending me an emailed invitation a week before the event - no website, not even a programme! Who books to go to an event without knowing the topics/speakers?
- A invitation to a seminar, with an "email us to register" (aaargh!). Doing so results in a "mailbox full" bounce-back. You won't believe it, but this is the second time this has happened with the same organiser (I use the word with a big pinch of salt). Think how many more delegates they would have, with an efficient online booking system.
- No social media presence whatsoever for an event - a conference about innovation, no less. No website, no Facebook page/event, nothing. I heard about the event via the grapevine, went looking... nada!
- An event organiser's website with contact details that don't work and links to pages that don't exist.
(While I was writing this blog post, an email arrived for an "advanced PA" masterclass, full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Ummm.. no, thanks. Not very professional.)
The mind boggles.
How do these people stay in business? How badly is their bottom line affected by this inefficiency and lack of insight?
A few years ago, I went to a concert by two internationally acclaimed guitarists. Fantastic show! There were 6 of us in the audience. Why? Because they didn't advertise at all. They assumed people would just come. But the people didn't know.
Don't make the same mistake.
Market, market, market - tell your audience, then remind them a couple of times. Make it easy-peasy for them to book a seat. Don't expect them to repeatedly phone you for information - ensure it's available online.
This isn't rocket science.
It's basic common sense.
Which as we know, isn't that common :)
Tweak your website!
Not everyone knows how to create a website.
Most conference and event organisers have someone else create their site, and do most of the content editing.
But nearly everyone knows how to use Facebook and Twitter.
(You've probably heard a lot about using social media to drive traffic to your website. But you can also use it to make your website look fresher and more interesting.)
So here's a quick "hack" for your next event... ask your online service provider (hopefully us!) to insert a Facebook feed, or Twitter stream, into your website.
We can also help create the social media account for you - then all you need to do is post updates and photos there.
And here's a bonus hack.... ask us to set up a mailing list for you, with an option for delegates (or even better, potential delegates) who are viewing your website to subscribe for event updates.
We've made two little changes to our online registration system that we think you are going to love!
We've moved the "Toggle Actions" button to the page header... so when you've scrolled down the page to find a delegate, you don't have to scroll all the way to the top again to toggle actions. It will always be visible in the top banner.
You can now sort registrations any way you please! Just click the column header to sort ascending, and again to sort descending. Very useful for checking if someone has registered twice, or for sorting those who owe money to the top - we are sure you'll find many uses for this function.
Small tweaks, but we hope they will save you big time! :)
If you have ideas for other tweaks, let us know!
You just want the basics?
So last week we announced the "lite" version of our abstract management system - for conference organisers who don't want to go all the way ;)
This week, we are rolling out our exhibition bookings manager in a "lite" version.
Here's why: although it's really easy and convenient to have the exhibitor book his own stand online, not all organisers want that. Perhaps they are picky about who they allow to exhibit, or they are a bit techno-phobic, or for whatever reason they want to do the booking themselves (sometimes that reason is that they don't want to make staff members redundant!).
Whatever the reason, they agree on this much:
- they want their clients to have up to the minute information, easily
- they need to avoid duplicate bookings and inaccuracy
- their team members need to be working from the same page/floorplan
So we've removed the functionality that would allow the client to book a stand - but he can still see the up-to-date, interactive floorplan. This means he's not going to phone the organiser with a series of questions about where others have booked, what's still available, where the entrance/buffet/stage is, and so on. He can see for himself, even at 2am on a public holiday! YAY!
Have a look. Here's the DEMO.
To summarise the difference between the FULL version and the LITE version...
|Function||Full Version||Lite Version|
|Organiser can view floorplan online||√||√|
|Exhibitor can view floorplan online||√||√|
|Floorplan shows stand sizes, pricing, availability||√||√|
|Can be accessed via browser or mobile device||√||√|
|Organiser can edit floorplan||√||√|
|Organiser (and internal team) can book stands||√||√|
|Ability to download bookings to Excel||√||√|
|Can link to a fully-fledged registration form||√|
|Exhibitor can book stand himself||√|
|Exhibitor can pay online (optional feature)||√|
|Price per floorplan, as at April 2015||R3000||R2000|
Recently we attended a seminar on "Innovation".
And an idea that came out of that was that sometimes you don't need to upgrade, add to or improve your product. You need to make it simpler.
We realised that we sometimes have calls from clients who want to use our software - but only part of it. They don't need all the functionality, they just want the basics.
So, we have released a series of LITE versions of our event tools!
Here's the first one - our much-loved abstract management system:
|Function||Full version||Lite version|
|Authors can submit online||√||√|
|Systems checks for errors and standards||√||√|
|Secure storage on online database||√||√|
|System is available 24/7||√||√|
|Conference themes are accommodated||√||√|
|Supporting documents can be allowed||√||√|
|Download of database to Excel||√||√|
|Publish "Abstract Book" to Word||√||√|
|Abstract text can include HTML||√|
|Reviewers can be assigned to themes||√|
|Notifications of abstracts sent to Reviewers||√|
|Abstract scoring done online||√|
|Ability to accept/reject submissions||√|
|Bulk mail authors||√|
|Handles multiple rounds of review||√|
|Pricing per conference (as of April 2015)||R 3500||R1000|
(next lite version will be our exhibition stand-booking system)