Author: alessandro

Eventsforce Survey Confirms Data Security Is a Growing Concern in Events Industry

80% of event planners put data security as top priority for 2016 – only 40% confident of policies

Addressing security concerns around event and delegate data was the key finding in a survey done by Eventsforce – the global experts in event management software.  The study, which was conducted across 50 organisations in the UK and the US, revealed that 80% of event planners marked data security as a top priority for 2016 yet only 40% felt they had the adequate security policies in place across their organisations.

“There have been a number of high-profile data breaches over the last year and though there have been no major incidents involving the events industry, it is something we need to prepare ourselves for.  Events deal with highly sensitive customer information, including names, emails, telephone numbers, employment information, disabilities and so on.  Ensuring this data is kept safe is critical – not just for delegates, but for those organisations storing this information,” said Steve Baxter, CTO of Eventsforce. “The survey exposes some key areas – like password hygiene, delegate payments and regulatory compliance – where event planners need to put greater attention to in order to prevent data from getting into the wrong hands.”

As part of its findings, the survey revealed that 81% of event planners do not change their passwords to their event management systems as often as they should (less than once a year) and a further 33% claim to have shared their passwords with other people.  This increases the risk of a breach and makes it difficult to accurately identify who has access to the system at any given point in time.

Another area that the Eventsforce survey investigated was security issues around delegate payments and PCI DSS compliance. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of requirements designed to ensure that all companies that process, store or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment.  Nearly half of those surveyed didn’t know if they were PCI DSS compliant, with 84% not being able to identify compliance requirements and a further 73% unaware of the fines for non-compliance (ranging anywhere from $5,000 to $100,0001).

Email communications was highlighted as another area of vulnerability. The survey found that 65% of respondents emailed their event data to third parties or other departments within their organisation after downloading the information from their event management systems. A further 36% admitted to emailing their API key – a form of authentication that allows third party systems like event apps access to data saved in event management systems. Sharing this key via email makes data more vulnerable as it is left exposed to anyone who has access to this key.

In addition, the survey highlighted how EU Data Protection regulations require extra security measures when dealing with ‘sensitive’ delegate data.  Personal information can include things like names, addresses and phone numbers.  However, sensitive personal data is any information relating to the delegate’s racial origin, political opinion, religious beliefs or mental and physical well-being.  The survey found that nearly 40% of respondents didn’t think race and religion were considered as sensitive and only 26% thought dietary requirements (which may indicate religious inclinations) as sensitive.

For a more comprehensive look at these insights and some of the other findings from the survey, please download the infographic below:

Infographic_How safe is your event data JPG FINAL

About Eventsforce

Eventsforce provides event management software that helps results-driven professionals deliver thousands of successful events each year. With offices in London (UK) and Denver, Colorado(US), our customers span 14 different countries and represent some of the leading names in finance, education, government, associations, PCOs and publishing. Our unique partnership approach and our highly customizable, modular software provides a complete end-to-end management solution that addresses every aspect of the event lifecycle: from event planning, marketing and registration, to abstracts and awards management, as well as post-event analysis and reporting.

For more information, please visit www.eventsforce.com

Media Contact:

Taline Jones

Content Manager

Tel: +44 (0)20 77856997

Email: taline.jones@eventsforce.com

 

1 https://www.pcicomplianceguide.org/pci-faqs-2/

4 Ways Technology Can Help You Run Better Awards Events

Technology can be your best friend when it comes to creating and managing successful award programmes.  From launching awards sites and managing submission entries to allocating judges, communicating with stakeholders, managing payments and selecting winners. But having all this information sitting across different systems makes the whole process of managing awards events a lot more challenging.

Whether you’re running employee recognition programmes, peer reviews or award evenings for staff, partners or clients – using a dedicated awards management solution that combines all these different elements together on one centralised, secure platform will give you the insight you need for event success.

Have a look at the many ways awards management systems can help you boost submissions, save time and give you the real-time information you need to make decision on the go:

1. Build Attractive Awards Websites

You can engage with people from the very start and encourage them to submit their award entries with attractive, easy to navigate, information websites that can be customised to match your organisation’s own branding guidelines.  An awards management solution can help you create a unique look for each of your awards websites, branded with your own logos and the same look and feel of your organisation’s corporate website.

Custom templates, Content Management Systems (CMS) and cloning tools can also help you launch awards submission sites in minutes without the need for any html or web design skills.

2. Save Time Managing Award Entries

Having a user-friendly system that allows people to make their submissions online without any fuss is fundamental to the success of your event.  If your submission forms are complex, difficult and time-consuming to complete, then people will just give up and look elsewhere.

A dedicated awards management solution can create a much smoother experience for people when submitting their entries to your awards event.  Mobile-responsive tools will ensure that people can complete forms or make changes to submissions on any device. They can also save their work and submit their entries at a time more convenient to them.

As an event planner, an awards management solution can also bring a host of benefits that will help you save an enormous amount of time around managing the awards submissions process, including:

– Flexibility to set your own awards categories, submission parameters and deadlines

– Customised submission forms, helping you capture information in the format you want

– Integrated payment systems make it easier for you to manage payments people make around award entries – all directly linked to pricing categories, packages and early-bird discounts defined by you.


Are you looking after your attendee data? Learn more about the eight things event planners do that put their organisations at serious risk of breach!  Download your eBOOK now: The Event Planner’s Guide to Data Security in a Post-GDPR World


3. Make It Easy for Your Judges

This is usually the most arduous and time-consuming task when it comes to running awards events.  An awards management solution can help you allocate judges to specific award categories, while making it easier for you to communicate with them through personalised invitations and email alerts.

As with submission entries, a mobile responsive solution will encourage your judges to log-in to a secure online portal that can be accessed from any device at any time.  It can also help your judges do their jobs more efficiently with simple scoring systems and the ability to save their work and complete it later.

4. Make More Informed Decisions

An awards management system can support you with reporting tools that help you track progress on entries by categories, submitters and status. It can also give you insight on judges scores, comments and the whole selection process in real-time.  So at any given point in time, you’ll be able to see how many submissions have been reviewed, which of your judges you need to send reminders to, how close you are to making your final selection process and who to send rejection or nomination emails to.


Eventsforce Awards is a secure web-based solution that simplifies the whole process of managing award events, peer reviews and internal recognition programmes. For more information on how we can help, please get in touch with one of our team members at info@eventsforce.com

 

 

Event Planners – Look After Your Attendee Data or Face the Music

As an event planner, you will know how important the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been in raising the issue of data security.  In fact, a 2018 industry found that more than 75% of event planners believe that the safekeeping of their attendee data will be a much bigger priority for them because of GDPR.  But why should event professionals start taking responsibility for data security and what are the things they need to do to minimise the risks of breach?

What Event Planners Need to Know About GDPR and Data Security

Remember that GDPR is all about protecting the rights of individuals over organisations. It is an important piece of legislation that ensures that organisations dealing with personal information (and the events industry is no exception here!) are doing so in a transparent and secure way – and always in the individual’s best interests.

We’re already starting to see how GDPR is changing the way companies market themselves. After Facebook’s recent data breach scandal with Cambridge Analytica, the social networking giant has run an extensive advertising campaign promoting its security credentials.  We’ve also seen others like Barclays and the NHS using radio ads and billboards to assure customers that the safety of their personal information is a priority for them as an organisation.  This is only the beginning.

Read: Is the Facebook Data Breach Scandal a Wake-Up Call for the Events Industry?

For meetings and events, there are three important reasons why data security is now more important under GDPR:

  • GDPR makes ‘Privacy by Design’ a legal requirement, which means privacy concerns and the security of attendee data should be a consideration from the offset of all your event planning activities – and not just an afterthought.
  • GDPR requires you to take responsibility on how your third-party data processors (hotels, venues, agencies and event tech suppliers) are also looking after your attendee data.
  • GDPR makes it compulsory to notify authorities within 72 hours of discovering a security breach – it is therefore important for event teams to understand what constitutes a breach and what they should do if data is compromised.

eBook: The Event Planner’s Guide to Data Security in a Post-GDPR World

You may think that the whole issue of data security is something that needs to be dealt with by your IT, legal and operations team.  But the reality is that there are many day to day things that you may be doing as an event planner that could easily put your organisation under serious risk of a breach. Things like sharing system passwords and emailing delegate lists.  Not briefing freelances properly, losing devices and using open Wi-Fi networks.   These are just some examples but there are many more.

A new eBook from Eventsforce titled, ‘The Event Planner’s Guide to Data Security in a Post-GDPR World’ investigates some of these common data security vulnerability areas for meetings and events and offers readers some practical advice on what they can do to look after their attendee data. It also provides some useful information on how to identify a data breach and what steps to take if attendee data does end up getting lost, stolen or compromised.

Event planners can also use the two checklists that are included within the eBook. One is for event team leaders and the other for individual team members, to ensure everyone follows the same processes when it comes to data protection and the safety of attendee data.

The eBook follows the publication of the ‘Event Planner’s Guide to GDPR Compliance’ which looked at the impact of the new legislation on things like event marketing, data management and event technology – along with some practical steps on how planners can prepare for the new GDPR requirements.

Conclusion

If there is one thing that GDPR has achieved it is that the ownership and responsibility for data protection and security now rests on everyone.

The volume of personal information we collect in our industry is staggering. And doing things that minimise the chances of this data getting into the wrong hands will give your attendees confidence that you are on the case and looking after them properly.

Doing this all the time will boost your reputation, generate more confidence and ultimately bring you more business.  After all, why would people want to work with organisations who are doing as little as possible to safeguard their personal information?

But it will, however, require a shift in thinking.  Some of the ways in which event planners operated in the past will need to be changed.  But those who embrace this change will be the ones who stand out.  By making data security a priority around their events, they will be able to show attendees that their organisation can be trusted with their most valuable asset – their personal information.

You can download the ‘Event Planner’s Guide to Data Security in a Post-GDPR World’ here.


Eventsforce offers a comprehensive set of event management solutions, services and expertise that can help with data security and support the event planner’s journey to GDPR readiness. Get in touch by contacting one of our team members at gdpr@eventsforce.com.

 

 

 

 

New LinkedIn Tool for Event Networking and 4 Other Stories Event Planners Should Read

In this month’s round-up of top tech stories, we look at how LinkedIn is finally making its mark in our industry with new tools that allow people to connect with one another at conferences and events. We also look at how event marketers can engage better with younger audiences through long-form videos on Instagram – as well as a new ticketing solution that virtually eliminates touting and ticketing fraud by using the revolutionary blockchain technology. Finally for a bit of fun, we look at some of the latest gadgets and gizmos out there that can make the life of a travelling event planner a whole lot easier!

Have a look at the top tech stories you don’t want to miss:

Social Media Today: LinkedIn Rolls Out QR Codes for Individual Profiles

This is a very interesting development from LinkedIn for our industry. The company this month has launched their own version of QR codes for profiles, which makes it easier for people to find user profiles and connect with them on-the-spot. It follows a similar move by the social networking giant when it unveiled its ‘Find Nearby’ tool, which uses Bluetooth technology to help people find and connect with others around them at conferences, events and other places within proximity.

The latest feature means LinkedIn is now the latest social platform to add a QR option, despite the fact that QR codes have never really seemed to catch on.  Or have they?  According to The Economist, QR codes are hugely popular in China and Japan.  That could be why social platforms see such opportunity in the option – so even if western markets aren’t as interested in QR codes, but there are huge markets of people who are, and those trends could translate across over time, making it a more significant consideration.  Read more.

Business Insider: Instagram Launches Long-Form Video

Interesting update from Instagram for those of you running events targeting millennials – the company has just announced that it will increase its video time limit from one minute to 10 minutes in an attempt to lure young viewers away from YouTube. Instagram accounts with large audiences will be able to go as long as an hour.

Why is Instagram doing this now?  It seems that many believe that long-form video sharing works and will continue to grow.  While ‘medium-form’ videos (lasting between 5-20 minutes) have gotten relatively little attention, short-form and long-form videos have switches places in terms of the proportion of time people are willing to allot to one or the other. Just two years ago, users would spend about 26% more of their time on videos under 5 minutes long – but they’re now spending 16% more of their time on videos longer than 20 minutes. Read more.

Read: Why Video is a Big Deal for Marketing Your Events

New York Times: The Tech You Need to Travel Better

While no product can guarantee a seat upgrade or make your delayed flight arrive on time, a few smart investments can make your next trip as a busy event planner more comfortable, more relaxing and less stressful. Some interesting suggestions include a Tile Bluetooth Tracker which can slide anywhere inside your bag and pairs with an app on your smartphone to let you know how far away your bag is at all times. Another is a simple USB travel scale like the Balanzza Mini USB scale which lets you weigh your bag on the go.

If you have trouble sleeping while travelling, a white-noise machine may just make the difference. The article recommends the Lectrofan – which is a stand-alone device that masks out barking dogs, snoring roommates or other mysterious hotel sounds.  Other suggestions include noise-cancelling headphones and streaming sticks, like Google’s Chromecast, which makes it easier for you to choose what you want to watch on the hotel TV.  Read more.

BBC News: Facebook faces £500,000 fine Over Data Breach Scandal

Facebook faces a maximum penalty fine in the UK after the country’s privacy watchdog said the recent data sharing scandal that involved Cambridge Analytica broke the law. The company had failed in protecting people’s personal information and had also failed in being transparent on how this data was being used by other third parties. Not only did the whole incident shake up people’s trust in the way organisations manage their personal information, but more importantly, it has made it apparent to everyone why we need tighter data protection regulations like GDPR.

As an event planner, you may easily think that the whole issue of data protection and security as something that needs to be dealt with by your IT, legal and operations team. But the reality is that there are many day-to-day things you may be doing that could easily put your organisation at serious risk of a security breach. Things like sharing system passwords and emailing delegate lists to hotels and venues.  Not briefing freelancers properly and using open Wi-Fi networks. These are just some examples but there are many more. Understanding these risk factors and doing things that minimise the chances of personal data getting into the wrong hands will give your attendees confidence that you are on the case and looking after them properly. Which can only be a good thing.  Read more.

Read: Quiz – Is Your Event Tech Ready for GDPR?

Exhibition News: Ticketing Solution Talks Up Blockchain Revolution

Blockchain technology has been one of the hottest buzzwords on the planet in recent years, and for good reason. It has already revolutionised the currency market and now it looks like it’s making its mark on the events industry. New start-up Aventus is seeking to revolutionise the way tickets are bought and sold using a blockchain-based system, which virtually eliminates ticketing fraud and the scourge of unregulated touting.

The live events space has numerous problems with ticket resale, scalping, and mass purchasing from bots. These are issues that blockchain can solve: Aventus assigns a unique identity to each ticket, which is checked against every computer in the network. This means each ticket is encrypted and cannot be replicated or faked. It also means organisers can keep an accurate record of who owns each ticket, and resale prices can be capped to eliminate scalping. An interesting development – though only time will tell whether this new technology could be as disruptive to our industry as it has been elsewhere. Read more.


Enjoyed reading this article? If you would like to get similar monthly round-ups on all things event tech, along with some expert advice on how to make the most out of your technology investments, then please sign up to our weekly EventTech Talk Newsletter here. 

 

Infographic: The Power of Event Data

Event data is incredibly valuable – the more you do with it, the more valuable it becomes. However, the abundant use of data collection tools like registration systems, event apps and networking tools also means our industry now is collecting more data than ever before.  The more data we collect, the more important it becomes to understand exactly what kind of data is needed and how it’s going to be used – as not doing this effectively can be a real lost opportunity.

So how are event planners using all the data they collect from events?  And what value is this data actually bringing to their organisations?  Measuring event success is the most obvious answer. Data like feedback from attendees, registration numbers, attendance rates and audience engagement during sessions are all key metrics that help prove ROI to stakeholders.  However, there are a number of other ways event data can bring real value.

Have a look at the infographic below highlighting the top four ways organisations use event data today:

 


Enjoyed reading this article? If you would like to get monthly round-ups on all things event tech, along with some expert advice on how to make the most out of your technology investments, then please sign up to our weekly EventTech Talk Newsletter here. 

8 Tips To Choosing Event Management Software

The impact of technology on events is huge and though it can make jobs easier, it can also cause complications.  It’s important therefore to choose an event management solution that makes sense for your events. But with hundreds of companies offering you different ways of cutting costs and driving value for your events and attendees, how do you make the right choice? How do you manage the tender process when shortlisting potential providers?

Have a look at the eight fundamental steps you need to take to help you make the right decision for your organisation:

Step #1: Answer the Fundamental Question – Why Do You Need to Change?

The first question that you need to answer is why. Why do you need to change? If there is nothing wrong with your existing solution do you really need to change? It can be easy to become distracted by all the latest bells and whistles but you cannot afford to be tempted by them. Unless of course the benefits they are likely to bring will significantly impact your results.

Maybe the software no longer meets your expectations, maybe the support service isn’t reliable, or maybe your event needs have changed and you are looking for functionality that your existing provider cannot support.

It is vital that you understand the drive behind the change and the reasons to undertake a process such as this.

Step #2: Decide Who Needs to Be Involved in the Project  

Having decided that you do need to change, now is the time to gather all the people that need to be involved in the tender process. You need to have people on-board right from the start as this will alleviate problems of gripes and grumbles.

The clearer you are about what you want to achieve, the more you will be able to identify who needs to be involved in the project.  As well as your finance, IT and procurement teams, who else needs to be involved?  You have to understand what functionality you want and what makes sense and get the right team members involved.

The other important factor is good communication with all team members throughout the duration of the tender process. This involves ensuring that there is ‘buy in’ for your project from everyone involved; from the executives in the different departments within your organisation to the techies who will be carrying out the roll out of the project and the events team whose work will be using the system on a daily basis. Everyone needs to understand what it is you are trying to achieve and why. You will be in a better position to identify potential problems and avoid last-minute surprises.

Read: 3 Ways to Help Your Team Adopt New Event Technology

Step #3: Do Your Market Research

Now it is time to roll up your sleeves and do the hard work of finding out what is available. There are after all, many options in the market.

The event tech market has matured over the last few years.  Have a look at guides for event management software (ex. The Good Event Management Software Guide from EventMB) where you can see a quick shortlist of key features. You need to go from hundreds of suppliers to say just ten.

Read articles in the trade press, go to tradeshows and investigate testimonials. As much as looking at the product you will also need a sense of the company culture as well.

You have probably spoken to the suppliers’ sales people, made enquiries and looked at product videos.  From this you will have gathered a first impression. What is your instinct telling you about the supplier? Remember first impressions count.  Who made it on your list?

After this process, you should finally have a list of ten providers (or whatever number you decided on – this is your long list).  From your long list you can now move to the next step.

Step #4: Shortlist Your Suppliers

From your long list you will need to make a shorter list of around three suppliers, which you will do a lot of assessment work with.

These are the suppliers who you will involve in the tender process. You need to look into key reasons why you shouldn’t start a conversation with some suppliers. This may seem counter intuitive but it is important to keep examining where the potential problems with them could be.

Look at things that really matter for you. This could include:

1) Data security & compliance

2) Delivery of support services

3) Speed of support

4) Integration capabilities (APIs etc)

Of course, it is up to you to determine the key criteria that is right for your organisation.

Following this exercise, you should have your shortlist of three suppliers.


Is your event management software ready for GDPR? Get your eBook: ‘The Event Planner’s Guide to GDPR Compliance’, and learn what impact Europe’s new data protection regulation will have on event marketing, data management and event technology – as well as what steps to take to get ready for the May 2018 deadline.


Step #5: Take an Objective Approach

At this point the management of the tender process should be handed over to an outside person (ex. procurement manager) and you contribute to that as a subject matter expert.

Procurement managers are good at keeping distance.  If you do not have one, then work with someone quite closely who can help you remain objective.  Get someone else involved, talk your thinking through. Make sure you cover everything: security, culture of your organisation, budget and functionality.  Continuously make notes.

Set up a number of tender criteria and rate the supplier. Functionality may be the most important factor (so 30-40% of score come from that).  Money could be the next biggest issue, say 30% of the overall. Then you need to rate for other aspects such as data security, compliance, support, SLAs, hosting etc.  This scoring system will help you narrow down your choice to two suppliers.

You may have a preferred supplier at this point in your head.  It might be self-fulfilling prophecy where you like an organisation more than the other two. This can impact your views and that is why it is crucial to remain objective.

Ask the suppliers to address functional scenarios to show how their software works. Create meaningful situations. What are the common problems areas around events? How does their solution help you solve your problem?

At the end of this stage, you want one or two suppliers left.

Step #6:  Test the Working Models

It is essential that you see and test the working models that the suppliers have put together for you. Have a think about who needs to be involved at this stage. Clearly you will need some users in at the meeting to raise any issues but also for them to get used to a different system.

It is imperative that you record any changes needed as you are getting ever closer to making your decision on the supplier to go with. You want to make sure that everything that was previously discussed will actually work.

Be honest with your suppliers. Explain that you in the proof of concept stage with another supplier too.  This is when it becomes very real. This is the last chance for the supplier to really prove what they have said and show how interested they are in getting the right solution for your organisation.

Read: Why Onboarding is Critical When Investing in Event Tech

Step #7:  Evaluate your Service Expectations 

Service expectations will be hard to evaluate as so far no service has been provided. But service is a critical factor and you will need to make an assessment based on your teams’ experience of dealing with the supplier(s) to this point.

Do they really understand what your organisation needs?  Are they actively listening?  Are they just doing a sales job or are they trying to help provide a solution that is right for your events.

Ask yourself can you work with this supplier?  Are there any communications problems?  Check the compatibility of your working relationship as well as the functionality of the solution.

And of course ask to speak direct to customers of the supplier to find out how their experiences have been.

After that well you need to make your choice and then move to contracting.

Step #8: Get the Contract Right

Getting the contract right is the final last step and it is such an important one. This is the stage when people fully commit.  The Legal team have to sign off contract.  Your IT team might sign off IT security and support arrangements.  Your Finance team need to sign off.  This part can take some management.  It’s a small stage in terms of time, it’s big in terms of consequence. If you’ve done the process right up until this point, you should go through it quickly.

Allow plenty of time for the contract to be reviewed. Allow enough time for the back and forth as you can be sure there will be plenty of it. A legal person will comb through every statement. Allow time for this.

Summary

There you have our right steps to help you in choosing the best event management software for your organisation. Do not rush the process, remain objective and involve the right people and you will find it goes a lot smoother than you thought possible.

Choosing event management software is rarely a simple process! Find out how Eventsforce can maximise your technology investment through a personalised ‘partnership’ approach that covers onboarding, training, dedicated account management, support and a customer-led software development programme. Learn more by getting in touch here.

QUIZ: Is Your Event Tech Ready for GDPR?

With GDPR in place, event planners today have a much bigger role in managing and securing all the personal information they collect from people attending their events. And that includes ensuring all the technology vendors that process data on their behalf are also fulfilling their legal obligations.

With registration tools, the responsibility goes even further as these systems collect and process huge volumes of personal information – from attendee names, contact details and employment information to gender, disabilities, dietary preferences and so on.  As well as making the necessary checks to ensure their registration providers are complying to GDPR requirments, event planners should also look into how these system can support them in managing things like attendee consent, data deletion and Subject Access Requests.

Take this quick quiz to find out if your registration system is ready for GDPR!