Tag: data integration

How Data Integration Can Help Your Events with GDPR Compliance

Integration between your event registration system and other business solutions like your CRM can bring real value to your events. It can help you save time and boost your team’s productivity.  It can improve the way you share critical event information with key people across your organisation. It can also help with GDPR compliance by reducing the risks of a data breach and giving you the control you need to manage things like attendee consent, data deletion and Subject Access Requests (SARs).

Webinar: The Importance of Data Integration in a Post-GDPR World

What is Event Data Integration?

Event planners deal with so many different systems to capture and manage information around their events – from their event management and registration systems to marketing, sales, finance, membership and so on. Having an ecosystem where all these different solutions automatically talk to each other through the use of APIs (Application Programme Interface) is where data integration comes in.

If you haven’t dealt with APIs, then think of it as a piece of software that functions as a door or window.  It’s that mechanism that allows your event management system to share data with your event app.  Or your registration system to share new attendee details with your CRM. Or your event payment transactions with your finance system and so on.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen event planners doing some great things by integrating their data with check-in systems, social media tools and event apps.  However, what we’re seeing more of now is that same concept of data sharing being applied with big back-end business systems. At Eventsforce, we’ve seen a 40% increase in the number of customers working on integration projects over the past year – and we expect this trend to grow significantly as event planners try to improve the way they manage their data in a post-GDPR world.

Why Is Data Integration Important for Event Planners?

The ability to automatically share information between an event management or registration solution like Eventsforce and other business systems like your CRM, marketing, membership and finance can bring you a host of benefits:

Time Savings: Reduce the endless hours you and your team spend manually replicating event data from one system to another

Increased Productivity: Improve productivity by spending less time on admin tasks and focusing your team’s efforts on other aspects of the event.

Data Accuracy: Automatic updates between systems means you’re always relying on the most up-to-date and accurate data – less errors and inconsistencies.

Better Insight: Key people across your organisation have insight to important event data at all times – which helps in making more informed decisions around your events.


Want to learn more about the benefits of data integration? Find out how you can save time, improve data sharing and reduce the risk of a data breach by downloading your copy of ‘The Event Planner’s Guide to Data Integration’ – includes case studies from Schroders, Haymarket, Royal Statistical Society and the Lib Dems.


How Can Data Integration Help with GDPR Compliance?

The EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is coming into effect on May 25th 2018 and is set to radically change the way events collect, process and protect the personal information of people coming to their events.  What this essentially means is that event planners need to be a lot more aware on what personal data they collect from attendees, where this data is stored, who has access to it, what the data is used for and more importantly – how this data is kept safe.  They need to have a lot more control in the way this information is shared and managed across their own organisation – and this is exactly where data integration can bring real value:

Better data management: Integration between your event management system and CRM, for example, ensures any personal information you collect from registration forms and make changes to is automatically updated in your CRM too (and vice versa).  It will give everyone who has access to both systems insight into what personal information you hold from people coming to events, what consent you have and how their data is being managed and by whom – all of which are critical to GDPR compliance.

Read: How GDPR Will Change the Rights of Your Attendees

Improved data security: It’s important to remember that one of the key things that could get organisations into a lot of trouble under GDPR is a data breach.  Integration between your event management solution and other business systems will greatly improve the security of your event data by eliminating security risks associated with email communications, sending unsecure spreadsheets, manual transfers and having printed documents lying around.

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

To illustrate this in more detail, let’s take a look at a couple of examples:

Example 1: Integration Between Event Management System and CRM

Most organisations have some type of CRM system like Salesforce that manages all their data on their customers and contacts. Integrating your event management system with your CRM ensures the quick, accurate and seamless flow of data between the two systems where updates in one system are automatically reflected in the other.

  • When an attendee makes a change to their profile in your registration system or decides to withdraws marketing consent, the change is automatically updated in your CRM. This ensures your marketing department doesn’t continue sending them emails just because you forgot to inform them of the change.
  • New registrations can automatically be created as leads in your CRM if an attendee has given the right kind of consent – your marketing and sales team are always up to date on how this data can be used.
  • If an attendee asks you to delete all the personal information you hold on them, then any changes in the event system will also be reflected in the CRM (or vice-versa).
  • Data integration between the two system also reduces the risk of a data breach by eliminating the need for exporting registration data to an excel sheet and manually uploading attendee information into your CRM.

Example 2: Integration Between Event Management System and Membership

Most membership organisations, such as associations, use some form of membership system which helps them capture and manage all the data around their members. Integration between your event registration and membership systems means that any changes to records in one system is automatically updated in the other.

  • When a member makes a change to their profile in your registration system or withdraws consent in how you can use their information, the change is also automatically updated in your membership system (and vice versa).
  • Similarly, any renewals or new membership sign-ups are automatically recognised and updated in your registration system. If a non-member attendee becomes a member – then this could potentially change the legal basis for processing their personal information and the events marketing team need to be aware.
  • Membership teams can have real-time insight into the event attendance history of each member – also helps in managing Continual Professional Development (CPD) processes a lot more effectively.
  • If a member asks the membership team to delete their personal information or wants to know what information you hold on them, then all the relevant event-related information is already in your membership system. You also don’t need to export registration data to an excel sheet and manually upload attendee information into your membership data – less chance of data getting into the wrong hands!

Top Considerations for Successful Event Data Integration

If you feel that dealing with APIs and integration models may be somewhat technically challenging – don’t be discouraged.  Yes, your IT guys may be the ones who have to implement the technical aspects of an integration project. However, data integration is a business issue, not a technical one – with business objectives and consequences (like GDPR compliance) that can directly impact your events.

Whatever data integration project you decide to go with, you need to make sure it works for you and your events.  We would recommend you follow these guidelines that identify some of the most common challenges of data integration and outlines the key steps event planners specifically need to take to make sure their integration projects are a success. It includes things like getting all your stakeholders involved, thinking carefully about how you’d like to share event data between different systems, setting time and budgets, testing and so on.  Thinking about all these points will ensure that the whole process will be smoother and a lot more flexible for any changes you want to make in the future.

Conclusion

If you’re not sure where to start, then talk to your event tech provider. Ask them how they can support you on an integration project and how it can help in meeting GDPR requirements.  While many of them provide APIs for their software, many like Eventsforce also have established partnerships and API integration capabilities with tried and tested software solutions. This is helpful as you’ll be able to get things up and running without investing the time and money into any coding work that allows data to be shared between two systems. And if these API relationships don’t exist, it’s not a big deal. Just make sure they understand what it is you want to achieve and that they’re able to support you with the necessary recommendations and workflows that will make your integration projects a success.


Eventsforce offers a comprehensive set of event management solutions, services and expertise that can help support the event planner’s journey to GDPR compliance – from audit trails and consent management to anonymisation of personal information and data security.

For more info, please click here or get in touch: gdpr@eventsforce.com

For more information about Eventsforce and its data integration services, please click here.

 

 

 

How to Choose the Right Payment Gateway for Your Events

So you’ve taken the decision to charge people attending your events. You need a payment gateway that will allow you to process payments on your event website but aren’t sure where to start. Or perhaps you are hosting an international event and the payment gateway you are currently using doesn’t support the currency of the country many of your delegates are coming from. Or maybe you’re just not happy with your current provider and would like to make a change.

There are many different options for you to choose from when looking at payment gateways. The big names include the likes of Sage Pay, Worldpay, PayPal and Stripe but there are dozens of possibilities out there. So how do you know which is the best fit for your organisation?  The decision, more often than not, is something that is usually headed up by finance teams.  It is worth noting, however, that there are a number of important factors that need to be taken into consideration when choosing a payment method around your events. And the role of the event planner is key to ensure these requirements are met.

Have a look below at some of the top things you need to think about when selecting a payment gateway around your events:

1. Is Your Organisation Already Using a Payment Gateway?

The first thing to do is to find out if your organisation is already using a particular payment gateway for other parts of the business.  You may be required to use the same one as part of your company policy. Payment gateways can take time to set up and will be subject to security checks and audits from your bank. There may also be different levels of bureaucracy and hierarchy regarding approvals within your own organisation.  Going through this timely (often complex) process may not be worthwhile if there is already an existing deal with a gateway that your organisation is happy with.

Payment gateways aren’t the only thing you need to think about. You also have to think about the merchant accounts, which is essentially where your attendee payments go into (different from your regular business accounts). Some payment gateway providers offer just a payment gateway and require you to have your own merchant account. Other payment providers such as PayPal offer a combined payment gateway and merchant account. What you decide on really depends on what kind of existing arrangements your organisation may already have in place.

2. Can the Payment Gateway Be Used with Your Registration System?

The next thing would be to check which payment gateways are supported by your current registration or event management software.  This can significantly narrow down your choices. Choosing one that already integrates with the system makes it a lot more convenient and saves you time – it also means you may not have to spend additional money on development time.  Ask your event tech provider what they recommend – they have a lot of experience in this and can provide good advice on which gateways are better suited for certain types of events.

Like we mentioned above, your organisation may want you to work with a specific gateway solution.  In which case, you will have to work with your event tech provider in building the right type of integration between the two systems in exchange for a fee. Each gateway solution has different versions of the product – with different features and functionalities. Bear in mind that each one of these will have their own type of integration. For example, your organisation may use the ‘Worldpay Corporate’ integration, but your event software may only support ‘Worldpay Business’. Again, this will require additional investment in development time, so make sure you factor all these things in when making a decision.


Are your events ready for GDPR?  Get your copy of ‘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 NOW to get ready for the May 2018 deadline.


3. How Does Your Event Management/Registration System Manage Payments?

The other thing you need to take into account is how your registration systems takes payments details from your event attendees.  There are two options here.  Does your system support non-hosted payment payment gateways? This is when your attendees are able to enter their card details without leaving your event website. Though it is the smoothest check out experience for your attendees, it is also the least secure. To take payments onsite you typically need an SSL certificate and you will also have to comply with PCI-DSS requirements. It’s worth taking a look at this article that gives good information on PCI-DSS compliance and what it means when dealing with delegate card payments. The fines for non-compliance can be hefty!

The alternative is to use a hosted payment gateway which redirects users to a ‘hosted’ payment page.  Once a payment has been made then your attendee will be returned to your website and the payment will be confirmed. It will likely be the case that your event tech provider may only support these ‘hosted’ payment gateways so that they don’t have to take responsibility for PCI-DSS compliance.

4. How Quickly Do You Need It Up and Running?

Setting up a merchant account and payment gateway can typically take anywhere around 3-4 weeks – although providers like PayPal and Stripe let you sign up without a merchant account so you can get started straight away. On the other hand, set up can also be a long and complex process – particularly if you’re a new or ‘high-risk’ business.  For example, banks can sometimes be reluctant to approve merchant accounts to event organisations because of the ‘interval’ between the time delegates make a payment and the event itself. In which case, you may be requested to provide detailed application forms so that the bank gets a better understanding of your business.  This isn’t a big issue but you need to bear it in mind and find a gateway that can support your specific needs, as well as meet your event deadlines.

5. Don’t Forget About Your Cash Flow

Once a delegate payment has been processed, it typically takes a few days for that payment to be settled into your bank account.  However, these payment timings can vary significantly from one provider to another. Gateways that are also merchant accounts generally sit on your money for a lot longer. This can slow down your cash flow and has a real impact on small businesses (think about the payments you need to make to venues, caterers and other suppliers).  Other providers on the other hand can settle your funds as quickly as the next day, while some may also only pay out funds on set days. Ideally, look for a provider that pays out every day.

6. The Kind of Events You Run Will Determine the Fees

The fees you pay for the payment gateway and merchant accounts can include monthly fees, fixed fees per transaction (whatever you are charging attendees for), variable fees based on a percentage of transactions, as well as other fees for things like payments from international cards.  So an organisation running one major international event can have complete different requirements to one that hosts several local events with a greater number of attendees.

Make sure you get a good overview of fees and ask to see a full schedule of charges before committing to one provider. Don’t forget some payment providers (not all) have been known to lock organisations into lengthy contracts – so make sure you understand what you’re signing up for.

7. Do You Need to Support Multiple Currencies for Your International Delegates?

If you are hosting events across different countries and need to take international payments or have a large number of international delegates – you should check whether the payment gateway offers international and multi-currency payments or even an interface with multiple languages. The APAC region, for example, only accepts payments through specific gateways and some global systems like Worldpay aren’t actually accepted all over the world. You should also check whether there are any additional fees for accepting multi-currency payments or payments from other countries and whether you will need to have a merchant account in a specific country.

8. Your Events Can’t Afford Downtime.  How Important is Reputation?

The short answer is very.  If you are processing payments from your attendees, you’ll want to work with a provider who has a good reputation in the industry and one that won’t let you down if things go wrong. Some payment gateways have had problems with outages and others have blocked merchants’ money unexpectedly without cause. Look at providers who take PCI-DSS compliance seriously and who provide a good level of support.  Find out how responsive their support service is, where their support team is based and whether or not they work the same hours as you. Do you need to pay extra for this support? Be sure you to do your research thoroughly before signing up with one.  Read reviews and get recommendations from organisations you can trust and use comparison sites which highlight the key features of each gateway.

Eventsforce offers quick and easy integrations with a number of major payment gateway providers, including Sage Pay, Worldpay, PayPal and many others.  If you’d like to have a chat about which gateway is best for your events, please get in touch here.


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Ask the Experts: The Next Big Thing in Event Tech 2018

This past year was definitely an interesting one in the fast-evolving world of event technology.  We saw the arrival of AI-enabled chatbots with events like SWSX and the Wimbledon tennis championships using the technology to create more engaging and personalised event experiences. Apple changed the rules around branded event apps while Facebook made VR technology more accessible for our industry with the launch of Oculus Venues.

But what application of event technology really stood out in 2017?  And what should we expect for 2018?

EventTech Talk spoke to some of the industry’s well-known tech experts to find out what they felt was important in 2017 and what they think will be the next big thing over the coming year.

Have a look at what they had to say:

Adam Parry, Editor, Event Industry News

Facial Recognition for me really stood out.  Tech companies, Zenus and fieldrive went out and proved that it is viable and practical for our industry.  The two companies worked together to successfully check-in attendees at a number of events this year.  Speaking to other technology providers, they are also heavily looking in to facial recognition as a way of providing and personalising information to attendees – even as far as getting live feedback and sentiment on what they think of speakers and sessions.  It will be really interesting to see the applications this type of technology will have on our industry over the next two to three years and I am sure it will be a mainstay of the industry.

As for the next big thing, that’s the million-dollar question! It’s so subjective, to be honest, as events all have different needs and their attendees all want different things. One thing is for sure, and that is the interest, adoption and investment in technology by our sector will increase. Integration will become more apparent, enabling us as organisers to get a clearer picture on our event data.

Follow Adam Parry on Twitter: @punchtownparry

Sue Pelletier, Editor, MeetingsNet

If I had to pick one, I’d say the big game-changer in event tech is attendee intelligence technology that enables host organisations to track behaviour and personalize every interaction with individual participants from soup to nuts. There’s a giant heaping mound of data available now; the challenge is finding ways to harness it and make it work for you so you can create truly individualised marketing campaigns, onsite and online offerings, as well as follow-up actions and content that will really ring with each person the meeting organiser ‘touches’. It’s pretty cool, albeit ironic, that cold, hard data now can help us provide that human touch that all too often is lacking, but there you go.

Follow Sue Pelletier on Twitter: @spelletier

Brandt Krueger, Speaker & Consultant, Event Technology Consulting

This year was all about audience engagement, in all its various forms. From in-app polling and surveys, to stand-alone apps, to the continued use of throwable microphones like the Catchbox, it seemed like every show I worked on had an emphasis on getting audience feedback. When the CFO of a major financial company looked out and saw the traditional two mic setup, he asked from the stage, “Hey don’t we have one of those throwable microphones?”

As for 2018, it feels like this could be the year that virtual and augmented reality start to take the spotlight. While I was initially quite sceptical of these technologies, I’m starting to come around and see their potential – for attendees, planners, and venues. You’re also going to be hearing the words “AI” attached to almost everything, for better or worse. My personal wish list is to see greater creativity and use of projection, screens, and displays, but that’s my wish every year!

Follow Brandt Krueger on Twitter: @BrandtKrueger


How ready is the events industry for GDPR?  Find out what other event planners are doing by taking part in this 2-minute survey and a chance to win a £50 Amazon voucher!


Michelle Bruno, Publisher, Event Tech Brief

Chatbots were the highlight of 2017 for me. They are one of the most understandable applications of artificial intelligence, which has been heavily discussed and dissected for the past year. There is no learning curve unless you have never sent a text message in your life. Plus, they are platform agnostic and will only become more intelligent and more useful as the technology matures.

What’s next? I believe that Blockchain technology will be a very popular topic in 2018. There are already a few event-related applications built on the Blockchain and the intense interest in Bitcoin will drive curiosity. That said; it is a technology that runs in the background (much like cloud software) and excitement about it is likely to be somewhat restrained.

Follow Michelle Bruno on Twitter@michellebruno

Tahira Endean, Author & Event Producer of #BCTECH Summit/BC Innovation Council

What stood out in 2017? No one application of event tech – this was the year of integrations. Digital marketing and remarketing, website to mobile meeting schedules, beacons and wearables all in play; all providing reams of useful data. Content delivery using emotion-evoking, scaled technology for events, entertainment, sporting and life experiences is our new norm – mixed with touchable, human elements; a formidable design combination.

As for what’s next in event technology, I would say cognitive meetings, where we create an ease of access to information and use data to enrich the human experience. This means for each event, a unique combination of AI (artificial intelligence), chatbots, social wearables, augmented reality, robots and machine learning true integration with personal devices will create more useful, worthwhile, transformative, memorable experiences. You can read more about the many ways technology and human experiences can be integrated in this book, titled Intentional Event Design, Our Professional Opportunity’.

Follow Tahira Endean on Twitter@TahiraCreates

George Sirius, CEO, Eventsforce

There has been a growing focus on event data this year as it starts to take a more prominent role in the way organisations plan, market and manage their events: from website traffic and social media to registration and attendance.  From on-site engagements and the quality of attendees to feedback and evaluation.  From the revenue generated to conversion rates and sales leads. Putting all this data together to get any meaningful insight is not as simple as one would hope and as a result, many organisers are now making it a priority to have a clear strategy of what data they want to collect from tech systems and how this data is going to be used.

This is also driving a push towards integration – and not just between the different systems used around events but with other back end solutions too. We are starting to see a lot more organisations integrate their event data with CRMs like Salesforce to help them better understand their attendees and make it easier to track and attribute things like sales deals to events. We expect this trend to continue well into the next year.

As for the next big thing – I think the main focus will be around GDPR compliance. The EU General Data Protection Regulation which is coming into effect in May 2018 is probably one of the most important changes facing our industry today.  For event planners, it will change the way they decide what data needs to be collected from attendees in things like registration forms and apps and how that data is used for marketing and personalisation. It will change the way attendee data is shared with other third-party organisations like venues, sponsors and tech providers.

The regulation is also going to force planners to play a bigger role in securing all the data they collect from attendees, as well as making sure that third party suppliers like agencies and event tech suppliers are also compliant to GDPR, as not doing so can result in big fines.  And that is one of the big things about GDPR.  Compared to current data protection regulations, non-compliance comes with serious financial consequences so event planners need to be prepared.

It will be a challenging time ahead but it’s important to note that GDPR will also bring about some big opportunities for our industry too. Those that can show they’re dealing with personal data in a transparent and secure way and have respect for the privacy of individuals will succeed in building a new level of trust.  And this will be key in deciding which organisations people choose to deal with in the future.

Follow George Sirius on Twitter: @georgesirius


Are your events ready for GDPR? Get your FREE 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 event planners need to take now to get ready for the May 2018 deadline.


Paul Cook, Writer & Researcher, Founder of Planet Planit and Head of Global Events at Hansal International

There is a lot of good technology around that can be extremely helpful for clients and delegates. However, this year I saw a lot of technology that stood out for the wrong reasons. Technology wasn’t used to its maximum as some organisers had not taken account of how delegates would use it at events. For example, an exhibition organiser that wants everyone to use their show app to understand all that is going at their event faces several challenges. Not everyone will want to add the app to their phone and not everyone will have the time to set it up before the event.

Too often it seems to be all or nothing when it comes to technology at events. Some people just want a simple printed floor plan and education schedule.  One exhibition I went to had just a piece of A4 paper with a schedule printed out which was stuck to a post. There was nothing else in terms of a hand out. The only way delegates could understand what was going to happen throughout the day was to take a photo of the piece of paper. This became a challenging task when delegate numbers started to increase.   If you are investing and using technology at events, I think it’s worth having an understanding of the behaviour of users to ensure that your tech becomes integrated and is a success.

As for the next big thing, it will be technology that can be used to help with GDPR requirements. For example, A CRM or project management system that has GDPR embedded in it will be valuable. Helping organisations remember what they need to do to be compliant will overtake those systems that haven’t moved on. It’s not a fad, GDPR will impact almost every organisation. How a tech provider helps clients will be important.

Associated with the data protection issue is that of Wi-Fi connectivity. Encouraging people to immediately access a network because it’s free will have to reduce. The key question to venues from organisers will be how secure is your network. The catalyst for this will be the risk of hacking and cyber-attacks which is mentioned in detail in the GDPR requirements.   Whilst these risks are with us already, the highlighting of them in the forthcoming regulation will accelerate their importance for many organisations.

Follow Paul Cook on Twitter: @planetplanitbiz or contact him at http://paulcook.co.uk/gdpr/


Do you agree with these trends?  Are there any you’d like to add to the list?  Get in touch as we’d love to hear your views.  You can also sign up to our weekly EventTech Talk newsletter for tips, updates and research reports on the latest technology issues shaping the events industry today.

 

 

4 Ways Corporates Are Using Event Data

Do you want to know what is event technology’s biggest benefit?  Event data.  Actually, it’s actionable event data.  Data you can use to bring real value to your organisation. In fact, according to a new report from the Trade Show News Network, of all the different things that technology has done for event planners over the years, perhaps the most important is generating data they can act on. The report also goes on to say that what is needed now is understanding what that data means and how event organisers can use it to improve their events and attendee experiences.

The Growing Importance of Event Data with Corporates

The focus on data in the corporate events sector is bigger than it’s ever been.  And like the report suggests, this trend is largely due to all the different technology systems we are now using around events – from registration systems and mobile apps to engagement tools, social media and so on. For those of you interested to know which of these tools are having the biggest impact on our industry, have a look at this infographic here:  Ten Most Popular Data Collection Tools for Event Planners.

These tools are helping organisations collect and analyse data in ways that was once unimaginable.  Yet the amount of data we now have in our hands can be overwhelming, to say the least.  One of the most common complaints you’ll hear is that there simply is too much of it. In fact, a recent Eventsforce study found that 33% of corporate event planners felt the vast amount of data they have in their systems meant they didn’t have the time nor resources to do anything useful with it.  The study also found that more than half of event planners found it difficult to consolidate their data as it was spread across so many different systems.  Consequently, 72% of corporate event planners are now planning to make improvements to their data strategies.  Which isn’t surprising.  As the significance of events continues to grow for corporate organisations, so will the importance of managing all the data around these events.

Four Ways Corporates Are Using Data from Events

Event data is incredibly valuable.  The more you make of it and the more you share it across your organisation, the more valuable it becomes.  Have a look at the top four ways event data is being used by corporate organisations today, according to the findings from the How Important is Your Event Data’ study:

1. Measuring Event ROI – A vast majority of 76% of corporate event planners agreed that measuring success was the number one reason they collect data from events. The source of this data varied from registrations and attendance numbers to engagement levels and revenue.  Unsurprisingly, feedback from attendees, sponsors and exhibitors topped the list of metrics corporates are using for measuring event ROI.  Analysing and reporting this kind of data across all the different stakeholders within their organisation helps corporate event planners figure out whether or not the event met expectations and if it was in line with the company’s overall goals and objectives.

2. Planning for Future Events – After determining whether or not an event went well, our study found that 62% of corporates are using the data to identify key lessons and takeaways to determine goals, activities and content for future events.  For example: Organisers are increasingly analysing how their attendees are engaging with sessions by tracking check-in and check-out times and whether or not they used the live polling feature on the event’s mobile app.  This helps them assess popular topics and speakers for their next event. In the same way, knowing that networking was the main reason people came to their last event may push them to introduce a networking tool or have meeting rooms available to facilitate conversations with like-minded attendees.

3. Building Attendee Profiles – Personalisation is also driving a more data-driven approach to the way organisations plan and run events as attendees increasingly expect both the communication and the live experience of the event to be tailored to them in some way. So, it’s no surprise that our study found that 40% of corporates are starting to use data they have on their attendees to create more powerful and targeted events.   Using registration forms to capture attendees’ views and opinions can be a quick and cost-effective way of personalisation. For example, you can ask attendees what topics are of particular interest to them at your upcoming conference. You can then share this information with your partners and ensure the right kind of offer is included in the right delegate pack upon checking-in at the event. This is a lot more personalised than including offers from all your partners as you will almost certainly include things that are of no interest to them.


Looking for an easy and cost-effective way of personalising your attendee’s event experience?  Have a look at this article for some quick ideas: 7 Easy Ways of Using Your Registration Process to Personalise Event Experiences.


4. Generating Leads/Sales – Almost 20% of corporate event planners said they use the data collected from events to generate leads and sales for their organisations.  They know who showed up, what sessions they attended and who they engaged with – all of this data helps their sales teams stay up to date with important lead information. Some corporate organisations are taking a step further by integrating their event management systems with their internal CRM solutions so that the data is automatically updated in real-time across both systems.  The integration allows sales teams to have accurate and immediate insight into who is attending their events and how often they’re engaging with the organisation. It also helps them assess what value event activities are actually brining to the business.

Conclusion

The study results highlight the growing importance of event data in the corporate sector as it brings them new opportunities to engage more closely with customers, prospects and partners – as well as generate new leads for their organisation. With more of a focus on data collection and analysis, it becomes even more important for these organisations to have a clear strategy around data management when it comes to events – one that outlines exactly what data needs to be collected and how it will be used.  Not doing this effectively will almost certainly be a lost opportunity.

Are there any examples you’d like to share of corporate organisations using the data they collect from events?  Let us know – we’d love to hear your views!


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Industry Insight: The Growing Importance of Data in Events

We all know how important it is to collect and analyse data from our events.  For one, it helps us measure success by analysing things like attendance, engagement and feedback. It helps us figure where we need to make improvements and map out goals, content and activities for our next event. It helps us profile attendees and run more effective and personalised marketing campaigns. It also helps us generate leads or memberships for the organisations we work for.

Yet managing event data is probably one of the most challenging issues that the events sector is facing today. In fact, our study last month revealed that 84% of event planners are finding the whole concept of data management an on-going challenge – with another 70% planning to make improvements to their data strategies over the next year:

  • 30% want to invest more time and resources in data analysis
  • 18% want to merge data by integrating their event tech systems
  • 14% want to invest in new data collection tools
  • 14% want to involve other organisational stakeholders for better data planning

With this in mind, EventTech Talk spoke to some of the industry’s well known event experts to find out what data management trends they’re currently seeing in the market and whether or not data is taking a more prominent role in the way organisations plan, market and manage their events.

Have a look at what they had to say:

Adam Parry, Editor, Event Industry News/Event Tech Live

I do agree that organisations want to start taking a more data-driven approach around their events.  But are they currently? Not entirely.  Our findings are that there is more data available to organisations than ever before – the problem is that there is a challenge to turn this data into action. Some of this is caused by the sheer volume of data.  The data is also being siloed in different locations without the ability to combine it for a top down overview.

There is certainly a trend towards more research and learning being done by organisations to better understand how they can take a more data-driven approach around their events.  We’re also seeing many event tech providers investing in APIs that allow their data to flow into an organisation’s chosen platform in order to get better insight.

Follow Adam Parry on Twitter: @punchtownparry

Tahira Endean, CMP/DES/CED – Event Producer, BC Innovation Council

Are organisations taking a more data-driven approach around their events? Slowly but surely, yes. We have to. Our stakeholders are looking for more quantifiable results. For marketing in particular, we now have so many tools which are both visible to the potential attendee and which work in the background to drive results in terms of registration and ticket sales. It just makes sense to use what is out there. Planning and running is very dependent on the organisation’s overall structure and technology evolution – if you are part of a larger organisation, it’s likely you have systems to tie into as well as use, and your appetite for technology spend will be higher than a boutique agency. Simple economics.

Will this change over the coming few years? Yes – as the ability to integrate more systems becomes less cumbersome and the world becomes ever more data-driven, so will our industry. As organisers demand things like real-time reporting, video fly-throughs of their events before they happen and analytics that prove the value of investment, it will require technology to tell this story in a meaningful way. They will be the ones who will continue to push these trends -and those who are not keeping up will be passed over for someone (or some organisation) who can do more than make a room look good.

Any event which has an app is already using data to create a more personal experience as participants explore their agendas, exhibitors and activities to determine how they will craft their experience. Incentive events which offer a range of reward options allow the ever- important choices and can use this data year over year to create more unique options. Understanding the trends around health, wellness and health apps and tying this into events is making it more personal and these can be woven into the overall experience. Following social media and allowing your event “stars” to be heard and seen is using shared data to make it more personally rewarding through social influence. Many are doing this based on earned knowledge and these are the events that will continue to be strong.

Follow Tahira Endean on Twitter: @TahiraCreates

Corbin Ball, Meetings Technology Speaker/Consultant/Writer, Corbin Ball Associates

Yes – finally, event technology companies are getting up to speed when it comes to the importance of data. The newer, more nimble cloud-based event tech tools are built with robust APIs and can work together more easily. Therefore, data collected from multiple sources can be combined and then sucked back into the attendee (client) profile history to better serve them in the future and improve events in general. Consequently, many companies are building out their analytic tools to more easily manage the data collected.

I think technology companies are especially good at using data effectively to run better and more personalised events. Some examples include Cisco’s Live events, Salesforce’s Dreamforce Conference and the MC2 Conference.

Follow Corbin Ball on Twitter: @corbinball


Would you like to take a more data-driven approach to the way you plan and manage your events?  Learn how organisations like Schroders, Haymarket, The Royal Statistical Society and The Liberal Democrats are making better use of their event data with this free eBook: The Event Planner’s Guide to Data Integration.


George Sirius, CEO, Eventsforce

Aside from performance measurement, the trend for personalisation is also driving a more data-driven approach to the way organisations plan and run their events. Attendees are increasingly expecting both the communication about an event and the live experience to be tailored to them in some way. And this is now possible through the endless choice of data capture tools that help organisations collect and analyse valuable information on their attendees – from registration systems and mobile apps to chatbots, social media and other more sophisticated event management tools.

It is important to note though that the more data you collect from events, the more essential it becomes to have a clear and defined strategy around data management – one that outlines exactly what data needs to be collected and how it will be used. Otherwise it’s a bit of a lost opportunity as you’ll end up with too much data and no time or resources to do anything useful with it.

Another important consideration is data integration.  We’re seeing a number of organisations integrating their tech systems together to consolidate their event data in one place. In fact, we’ve seen a steady increase in the number of customers working on integration projects over the past year and we expect this trend to continue as event planners try to automate their processes and make better use of their event data.

Follow George Sirius on Twitter: @georgesirius


Want to stay up to date on all the latest news and trends around event technology?  Sign up to the weekly EventTech Talk Newsletter here!

 

 

 

How to Collect Valuable Data from Events

At a time when budgets are squeezed and downsizing has become commonplace, having a quantifiable return on events has never been more important.  And technology plays a key role here. Event tech systems help organisations collect important data around their events (registration forms, surveys, apps) and create all sorts of reports that help in measuring event success.  In fact, according to the results of a new Eventsforce study, calculating ROI and measuring success is the number one reason why organisations are collecting data from events.

The problem, however, is that the amount of data generated around an event can be overwhelming: from website traffic and social media engagement to registration and attendance.  From the quality of your attendees to their feedback and evaluation. From the revenue generated to conversion rates and sales leads. Figuring out what tools you need to measure the data that matters is not as simple as one would hope.

11 Effective Data Collection Tools for Events

There are a number of data collection tools that helps organisations gather and analyse valuable information around their events. But which ones should you use?

Have a look below for a list of some of the most effective event data collection tools based on feedback from more than 120 senior event planners:

1. Registration Systems

Most organisations today use some form of automated system to manage registrations around their events. And for good reason too.  Our study found that registration systems were seen as the most effective data collection tool for measuring event success. As well as default information like names, addresses and contact details of your attendees, registration systems like Eventsforce allow you to collect more personalised data by segmenting your audiences into different categories (attendees, sponsors, exhibitors, speakers, VIPs etc.).  For example, you can find out what proportion of attendees cite education as the primary reason for coming to your event or see which specific sessions your VIPs are most interested in attending. This kind of information can give really valuable insight in the way you plan, manage and evaluate the success of all your events.

2. Online Surveys

Post-event surveys often provide the most meaningful feedback for organisers.  They can help you gather important information on many aspects of your event – including feedback on your speakers, sessions, catering, prices, exhibitors, sponsors, accommodation, travel and more.  Not only does this information help you make any necessary improvements, but more importantly, it can help you figure out whether attendees found value in your event and whether or not they would come again the next time round.

3. Event Management Software

These systems have evolved so much over the last few years that they now sit at the heart of most matters concerning event data.  They act as centralised systems that help you capture, track and report on important real-time information on multiple events, including registrations, attendance, session selections, payments, revenue and profits etc.  Some systems like Eventsforce also do a good job of integrating (or sharing) their data with other business systems like CRM, finance, marketing and membership solutions.  This means event planners can use their event management system to access any relevant data stored in some of these other solutions.  For example, event teams will be able to access all the outstanding attendee payments recorded in their organisation’s finance system, which helps them stay on top of their revenue and cashflow forecasts.


Find out how companies like Schroders, Haymarket, The Liberal Dems and the Royal Statistical Society are using data integration to save time and money around their events. Get your FREE copy of ‘The Event Planner’s Guide to Data Integration’ eBook here.


4. Mobile Apps

Event apps have made the whole process of collecting data at events a whole lot easier – from facilitating live polls and Q&As to networking tools that can give insight on who your attendees are meeting with at your event. The analytic tools on these apps can help identify how attendees are engaging with your event and what they find of interest based on their in-app actions. For example, you’ll be able to see exactly how many people showed interest in certain speakers and sessions, or which exhibitors generated the most buzz.  This will help determine interest areas across different types of attendees – it will also help in things like assessing speakers and deciding whether or not to bring them back the following year.

5. Social Media Tools

Event planners can really maximize their social media outreach by using analytic tools that measure engagement numbers on their social networks, like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.  Using tools like Hootsuite, Oktopost or Mention, you can do things like see which platforms are the most effective, find out what content your followers are sharing with their own networks, what is engaging with them emotionally and what is more educational and so on.  You can also assess conversions such as registrations, sign ups to newsletters, eBook downloads or anything else you want your followers to do.

6. On-Site Systems

Knowing exactly who turned up at your event and what sessions they attended is something every organisation wants to know. The information helps figure out popular topics and sessions. It also helps profile attendees.  On-site systems like the Eventsforce on-site app allow event planners to have instant access to this kind of information at the event itself, which can be very useful. For example, the app can tell you that 30 people have already checked-in to a session and that another 10 are expected to show up. It also shows that the room capacity for that particular session is 50 people.  You can use the information to encourage more people to attend by promotions through digital signage, social media or direct notifications on the event app.

7. Audience Engagement Tools

Solutions like Glisser promote engagement and audience participation at events through the use of smartphones. Using the event app, attendees can put questions across to speakers during sessions, rate other questions and see any presentation slides in real-time. The tool allows you to collect and store all the data for post-event analysis, which can help in identifying topics your attendees are interested in – as well as determine the success or shortcomings of your speakers and presentations.

8. Web Analytics

Understanding how people are interacting with your event website is important. Without this understanding, you won’t know the potential problems your event’s online presence is facing. You also won’t be able to make any meaningful changes. Tools like Google Analytics can help you gather important data that tell you whether or not your marketing efforts are actually turning into results. This can include things like detailed demographics on who is visiting your website, where your visitors and registrations are coming from, which content and pages on your website are the most/least popular, conversation rates and the point at which people are abandoning their registrations.

Read: Why is Google Analytics So Important for Event Marketing

9. Networking Tools

Networking is seen as one of the main reasons why people attend events so it makes sense to facilitate this as much as possible for your attendees. Tools like Meeting Manager are usually incorporated within the registration process or event app and they allow attendees to personalise their agendas, see who is attending that may be of interest to them and set up meetings with people they want to meet.  The data helps planners get insight on how much ‘networking’ is being done at their event and the kind of people, exhibitors or topics your attendees are most interested in.

10. RFID/NFC Tools

Solutions using these technology platforms are doing particularly well at trade shows as they don’t depend on Wi-Fi technology but can track real-time data around visitor footprint on the show floor. One example of this is Poken, which allows attendees to use smart badges to virtually swap business cards and instantly collect any event collateral. It helps exhibitors track exactly who is visiting their booth, which is great in measuring the ROI of participation. It also gives planners insight on how attendees are moving and interacting around the venue – so you can quickly identify hot and cold spots and adjust your marketing and promotional activities accordingly.

11. Chatbots

Chatbots like Concierge EventBot are relatively new in the industry. They let attendees have conversations with event planners (via their artificial intelligence surrogates) using platforms like the event website, Facebook Messenger or the text-messaging feature of their smartphones. Last month, South by Southwest used its own chatbot to provide attendees with automated concierge-style assistance on demand.  More than 16,000 app users submitted 56,000 questions to the bot, asking things like ‘What time is Joe Biden speaking?’ or ‘What hip-hop artists are playing on Wednesday?’ and ‘Where can I find Tacos?’.  As well as personalising the attendee’s event experience, all interactions and notifications on the chatbot are logged and available for analysis and reporting. Standard reports include usage by messaging channel, unique users, messages grouped by topics, notifications, external link clicks, human assisted requests and conversation updates.

Conclusion

All the tools mentioned in this article can be useful for different reasons.  The most important consideration you need to make is figuring out from the very start what data you want to collect from your events and how that data can bring value to your organisation.  Whether that’s the number of people who registered for your event compared to the actual number who attended.  Whether they used your app for engagement or networking.  Once you know the what you want to measure, create a plan that outlines your data strategy and identifies the tools you can use to track, manage and report the data that actually matters.

Are there any other effective data collection tools you’d like to add to this list?  Please share and let us know – we’d love to hear your comments!


Want to be a tech savvy event planner? Sign up to our weekly EventTech Talk Newsletter here and get updates on all the latest technology trends, discussions and debates shaping the events industry today.

 

 

Ask the Experts: The Next Big Thing in Event Tech for 2017

shutterstock_506853283This past year was certainly an interesting one in the world of technology and events. We saw some very impressive use of pyrotechnics, lighting and 3D projection at the opening ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. We saw how video has become a very important marketing tool for event planners with new live streaming tools like Instagram and Facebook Live making their mark in the industry. We also saw the use of new kinds of engagement tools that are radically changing the way people experience events – not to forget some much-anticipated applications of AR and VR technology.

But what really stood out in 2016?  Which event technology made a difference?  And what should we expect for 2017?

EventTech Talk spoke to some of the industry’s well known event tech experts to find out what they felt was important in 2016 and what they think will be the next big thing over the coming year.

Have a look below to see what they had to say:

Michelle Bruno, Publisher, Event Tech Brief

michelle-brunoMost of the technology that I have observed over this past year represented incremental changes to existing apps and platforms or the use of existing and familiar technology to address new markets. There was clearly one exception: chatbots.

For those who are unfamiliar with conversational bots, picture Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, both machine interfaces with which to carry on a dialogue, make requests, or ask for information.

A chatbot works on the same principle, but instead of speaking to a device, the user texts commands and questions to the bot using a smartphone. The bot replies with answers, menus, or links to information.

The technology stood out for me because of how it works and what it represents. There is virtually no learning curve. It is as easy as picking up a smartphone and texting the word hello. After that, an attendee can begin asking questions like, where is the session on human anatomy? How do I get validation for parking? Are there vegetarian options on the lunch buffet? These are all simple inquiries that cannot be addressed as quickly or at all by the mobile event app.

In the absence of a bot, attendees have to walk to registration, call or email show management, and/or waste a considerable amount of precious time getting a response.

Chatbots allude to the next big thing for 2017 – personalisation. The accumulation of data will intersect with a number of technologies, including chatbots, beacons, and networking applications. For example, chatbots powered by artificial intelligence and supported by cloud storage can learn attendee preferences and begin to anticipate their needs.

Beacon receivers can detect wearable technology and cause devices to react to them (digital signage with a personalised welcome message). Networking applications and devices can bring two specific attendees together (at their mutual request) based on their profiles, stated preferences, and proximity.

 Follow Michelle Bruno on Twitter: @michellebruno

Brandt Krueger, Speaker & Consultant, Event Technology Consulting

brandt-kruegerOverall, 2016 was an evolutionary year, rather than a revolutionary year. A lot of the technologies simply evolved, rather than anything really jumping out and being new and exciting. That being said, we’re finally, after decades of promises, seeing VR and AR solutions that actually make sense in events.

From promotional materials, to 360-degree site visits, to product launches and game stations, VR is coming of age, and AR will be right behind it. Audi has been investing heavily in VR, creating dynamic group experiences at their events, so it’s not all about going into your own little world anymore.

I think 2017 is the year to re-evaluate your tech. For those who’ve been waiting to incorporate technology, now’s the time. Event apps, audience response systems, registration and event management software, livestreaming and hybrid events – all these technologies are mature and ready for you to implement.

For those of you who’ve been on the leading edge and are ready for the next big thing? Time to start moving forward with attendee-tracking and interaction technology using beacons and smart floors, augmented reality and virtual reality. “AI” and “IOT” will be the buzzwords of tech in 2017, and we’re already starting to see them being attached to the latest #EventTech startups!

Finally, keep a close eye on security. “Soft targets” – hotels, convention centres, festivals and the like – are going to be the favoured targets of the malicious, both physical and digital. So once again, it’s time to re-evaluate your security and protect your attendees/guests!

Follow Brandt Krueger on Twitter: @BrandtKrueger


Want to be a tech savvy event planner? Sign up to the EventTech Talk newsletter here and get weekly updates on the latest technology trends, discussions and debates shaping the events industry today.


Adam Parry, Editor, Event Industry News/Event Tech Live

adam-parryWhat really stood out and I saw proof of in 2016 was working with Konduko at Event Tech Live (ETL) to outfit each exhibitor with touch-to-collect points. This turned lead generation into a two-way street between exhibitors and visitors. It also allowed us to capture data for speakers, which has been invaluable to them.

Around 66% of leads generated from ETL came from the interaction between visitors and exhibitors using Konduko – this is a real game changer for expos.  And as deployment costs come down, I can see this filtering in as a standard to all types of events, both big and small.

Looking at event tech trends for 2017, it is hard to say for sure as there is so much “industry” technology being developed as well as external technology which can then be used for events. I think we will see the Internet of Things (IOT) take a larger role in the delivery of content at events, based specifically on the attendee.

An example of this would be digital screens that we already see at most events and shows turning into more “connected” screens, which can display content that’s relevant to each attendee. This can be based on time, sessions they have attended, their network of other attendees and even their preferences on food, music etc.

Follow Adam Parry on Twitter: @punchtownparry

Marin Bright, CEO & Editorial Director, Smart Meetings

marin-brightPoken was our biggest event tech win for 2016. It’s an innovative platform of tech tools for event professionals to use to organise and manage their events and create unique, engaging experiences. It allowed our attendees to check-in, network and collect information all in a fun, gamification-style format that our attendees loved. It truly is a complete event engagement experience.

With today’s attendees needing to feel engaged more than ever, event tech solutions like Slido will really take flight in 2017. Slido lets you crowdsource the best questions from your audience and keep your guests engaged with live polls. We’re excited to see the level of audience interaction skyrocket and what new event attendee opportunities will be introduced.

Follow Marin Bright on Twitter: @marinbright

Paul Harris, Event Technologist, Eventsforce

235fy_m2_400x400As the significance of events continues to grow for organisations, so does the importance of managing the data around these events. We’ve seen event planners doing some great things by integrating their data with check-in systems, payment gateways and event apps. However, this same concept of data sharing is now being applied with big back-end business systems, like CRMs and finance solutions.

In fact, we’ve seen a 40% increase in the number of customers working on integration projects over the last year and we expect this trend to grow significantly as event planners try to automate processes and make better use of their event data.  If this is something you’re considering, have a look at this industry ebook that gives a good introduction on the topic and whether or not it’s something that makes sense for your events.


More time, less work and better data sharing around your events?  Find out how by getting your FREE guide to data integration here.


We’re also seeing some interesting trends around event apps. The concept of having a fancy-looking event app is slowly dying. Event planners want mobile apps but only if it benefits their attendees. Attendees want apps but only if the features really help them achieve their attendance goals. When they do, native event apps are very popular and successful.

However, planners no longer want to spend thousands on designing apps and re-keying data. Either the app works well with their existing data or its considered an expensive luxury. Event programs change. Sponsors change, agendas change. Event apps that are not integrated with other event systems don’t reflect the latest information and are obsolete to attendees.

Aside from data integration, I think custom packages will be another focus area for event tech in 2017. Offering attendees a selection of pre-defined package options for your event is a lot like a restaurant offering customers a selection of set menus.  Both are easy to set up. Both offer the same set of choices to everyone.

Yet registration software has the ability to help attendees personalise their own packages. In the same way that a restaurant can offer both a set menu and an a-la-carte option, event planners are going to increasingly use their registration systems to offer attendees the option to pick and choose what they want to ‘consume’ when registering for an event.

Follow Paul Harris on Twitter: @PaulHEventProf


If you would like to learn more about what Eventsforce has to offer, take a look at a few other blog posts listed below or get in contact with out friendly team.

Call us on 0207 785 6997 or get in touch here.