Tag: educational institutions

Abstract Management: How to Source Great Content for Your Next Conference

Are you looking for great speakers for your annual conference?  Do you want your sessions to have memorable presentations with engaging content?  Of course, you do.  We all do.  Because at the end of the day, we know that great content is what truly matters to attendees.  Walking away from an event knowing that you’ve had a unique opportunity to learn or engage with something new is why people want to attend events in the first place.

If you’re an association or some kind of professional body hosting an annual conference, then you know that what stands at the heart of a great conference programme is your ability to source great speakers who will bring something new and exciting to the event.  And this comes through a well-executed abstract management process.

Abstracts Are Building Blocks of Successful Conference Programmes

To attract the right speakers, conference organisers typically ask members of their community to submit their presentation proposals so as to find the most interesting and relevant content for their event.  Once this call for abstracts (or papers) is sent out, the submissions are then reviewed by a team of reviewers whose aim is to select those presentations that promise to deliver a high-quality programme to attendees..

The abstract process is also important because it offers the opportunity to showcase new research in the event’s relevant field.  You wouldn’t want to attend the same conference each year where the same speakers present the same content.  By sourcing new and diverse research, you’re more likely to attract the right attendees and get them to come again the following year.

But getting the abstract management process isn’t easy.  Imagine asking one of your colleagues to give you feedback on a short document you’ve put together.  Sounds simple enough.  Give them a hundred documents to read and you’ll likely encounter some resistance. Now imagine asking ALL your colleagues to read a hundred documents and give you feedback.  That’s going to take some chasing. And how would you collate all their feedback?  That’s essentially the task the abstracts manager has to undertake.

Last time, we looked at the first stage of the abstract management process and some of the key things conference organisers need to think about when managing abstract submissions around their events – How to Manage Abstract Submissions for Successful Conference Programmes.  This week, we’re focusing on the next stage of the process – which is when the call for abstracts closes, and the process of reviews begins.

5 Ways to Improve Your Abstract Review Process

Once presentation submissions are made, the review process kicks off in order to find the most interesting content to present at the conference.  Yet deciding which abstracts to accept is likely to involve a pool of reviewers, with different experts needed for the various topics on offer. Some may be reviewed randomly and some be allocated to individual reviewers. There may be many rounds and stages of reviews, each with its own criteria and grading requirements. And all of this requires a lot of time and can be incredibly difficult to coordinate.

Have a look below at five simple tips that can help you get the most out of your abstract reviewers:

1. Be Selective with Reviewers – It is an obvious point but an important one, nevertheless. Make sure you assign the right reviewers to the right topics.  If the reviewer has expertise in the area they’re reviewing, then this will already save them an enormous amount of time understanding the content that’s been submitted to them. This also means they’re in a better position to score abstracts critically, which will have a more positive impact on the quality of your conference content. Be open with your selections too – don’t stick to the same reviewers year after year.  New ones can put a fresh perspective on things and bring about exciting new content from new speakers.

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2. Be Clear About Review Criteria– The clearer your instructions to reviewers, the less challenges you’ll have at your end. Clearly define goals, deadlines, expectations and review criteria. Not doing this will result in inconsistency and again, can have a negative impact on your content.  Have clear guidelines on the kind of criteria they need to follow in the abstract evaluation process. So, this can include things like ensuring the abstract provides audiences with new information on a topic, that it addresses important industry or academia issues, that it is appealing to the target audience and that it matches the overall theme of the conference.  Whatever grading system you use, it’s always a good idea to also leave an open text box for reviewers to put their own comments – they may have suggestions which can add real value to the content of your presentations.

3. Be Realistic About Timelines – To get the best out of your abstract reviewers, you need to be considerate about their time. Give them enough time to accept your invitation and plenty of notice if they can’t. Make sure they know what timelines you’re working on – when they need to be available, when reviews need to be completed by, details on print deadlines for abstract journals and posters and so on. If you’ve done similar conferences in the past, then you’ll probably have an idea on numbers when it comes to submissions across different topic areas. Make sure you communicate that information with your reviewers so they have some idea on scale and can plan their time accordingly.

4. Plan for the Unexpected – It’s quite common for abstract submission deadlines to be extended, so be prepared and communicate the possibility of this happening with your reviewers beforehand as this means they’ll have less time to complete their reviews. Equally, you may be in a situation where during your review process, you launch another call for papers on a subject matter that has just become topical (for example: scientific funding in a post-Brexit world). If it’s relevant to your audience, then it’s probably something you don’t want your conference programme to miss out on.  Lining up your reviewers for unexpected changes like this should always be factored into your review management timeline.

5. Monitor Progress– Stay on top of how many abstracts have been reviewed, which are incomplete and which of your reviewers are the most or least active.  This will identify potential problem areas and help you assess the best way of addressing them. For example, if you have a large number of reviewers who start the grading process but don’t finish it, it may indicate a lack of commitment.  So, you may need to get them replaced.  Or perhaps they’ve got too many abstracts to review and you have to reallocate submissions to other reviewers. A good abstract management solution can help you track this kind of data and provide you with the real-time analysis you need for making more informed decisions.


Your abstract reviewers are just as important as your sponsors, exhibitors and all the other partners you deal with around your conference.  Most of them volunteer their time to make your conference better, so it makes sense to make their jobs as easy as possible. Simply the process by giving them clear and defined goals.  Make sure they understand your deadlines, review criteria and expectations.   Offer support and guidance through open communication channels and never forget to thank them as you’re probably going to need their help again next year.  Following these best practice guidelines will put you in a good position in developing successful conference programmes.  It will also help you avoid what may otherwise be a long drawn-out and often frustrating process in managing abstract reviews.

Are there any other tips you’d like to add to this list?  Please let us know as we’re always keen on publishing your views!

The Eventsforce Abstracts solution can simplify the whole process of abstract management – from inviting and reviewing online abstract submissions to building agendas, managing conference invitations, registrations and payments. It also provides powerful tools to monitor, manage and communicate with everyone involved. Click here to learn more.

Why Events Need a Crisis Communications Plan

Terror attacks are now a constant threat to society and consequently, security has become top of agenda for many businesses – especially for those organisations involved in running events in big city destinations.  Knowing what to do at a time of crisis has never been more relevant.

As an event planner, you may already have your organisation’s own crisis management policy that you and your team have to follow. The hotels and conference facilities you use for your events will also have their own health and safety procedures that need to be adhered to.  What is equally important, however, is a carefully prepared crisis communications plan around your events.  Knowing whom you communicate with in a crisis, as well as how and when you do that communication can mean the difference between failure or success. And this doesn’t just apply to a terrorist incident, but to any crisis situation that has the potential to disrupt an event – from fire outbreaks and flooding to any other kind of emergency evacuation.

Getting crisis communications right is not an easy thing.  There are countless stories of how organisations got it wrong – from the BP oil spill in the US to the United Airlines passenger scandal earlier this year.  The ones that have done it well are usually the ones who were well prepared. So don’t leave it to chance and don’t underestimate the consequences. Think about it now and have it as an integral part of your overall event management strategy.

Have a look at these five fundamental steps for an effective crisis communications plan around your events:

1) Find Out Who Are Your Key Audiences

GlobeThe first step is to think about all the different types of people you deal with at and around each of your events.  In most situations, the stakeholders will include your attendees, on-site suppliers (security personnel, technology, staff, venue, catering), partners such as speakers, sponsors and exhibitors, as well as journalists and colleagues (on ground and off-site).

2) Identify Audience ‘Owners’

Once you have these stakeholder groups listed out, create your internal crisis team by assigning the relationship ‘owners’ for each of your audience groups.  You need to have these dedicated points of contact – you can’t have one person managing everything if you want to be affective with your communications. Each of these relationship owners should create contact lists for their audience groups, which can include mobile numbers, email addresses and social media handles.  Collate these lists from your event management systems and make sure they are regularly updated so that you have the most current information on the day of your event.

3) Identify Your Different Communications Platforms

calcThe next thing is to determine how you will need to communicate with all your stakeholders. Quick, clear and frequent communication will be appreciated at a time of crisis.  It will also protect your organisation’s reputation on how well you manage the safety of your attendees. Social (especially Twitter) are very powerful communication tools, especially given the 24-hour information cycle we currently live in. However, it is important to note that social media does not guarantee mass reach. According to MarketingLand, about 2 percent of your Twitter followers see your Tweets. Similarly, AdWeek has stated that Facebook organic page reach stands at a fairly shocking 2.6%. Having said that, social media is key to providing information and access to media and key influencers who help amplify your message. In fact, journalists are the largest, most active verified user group on Twitter.

Aside from social media, you also have your email databases which can be created using the stakeholders lists you put together. You may have an event app, which is also a great tool to push notifications and update attendees on what they need to do.  You can also put up notices on your event website or screens you may have up around your venue.

4) Find the Best Platform for Each Audience

Notifications via event apps, emails and social media are usually the best option with your attendees. However, not all your stakeholders may be at your event.  Some may be offline and miss the notices you’ve posted online.  So think of other options too like text messages and phone calls. The management team of your organisation, for example, will probably need to be updated by phone.  Communications between your on-site team members may be better through group calls or messaging on mobile apps like WhatsApp or your own company app. Bear in mind that immediately after a major incident like a terrorist attack, mobile networks may be unavailable due to excessive demand. Sit down with your management team and identify the most appropriate crisis communications channels for each of your audience categories and have contingency plans for every situation.

5) Put Together a Communications Plan

Untitled design (32)Once you’ve identified your audiences and have a good idea on how you’ll be reaching out to them, the next step is to put together a communications plan. It’s difficult trying to figure out what you’re going to say if you’re not sure what crisis you’ll be facing. However, the last time you want to worry about on the day is putting some sort of plan together and chasing all the necessary approvals.  Have your crisis communications plan pre-approved and ready to go.  You could have a detailed plan for each type of crisis situation or you could have a more generalised one with clear action points.

Make a list of potential crisis situations – whether that be a terror attack or a power outage – and draft the key messages you want to communicate with each of your stakeholders.  Be personal, transparent and genuine and make public safety your number one priority. Explain what has happened, what actions need to be taken, what information is available and the contact details of each stakeholder ‘owner’.  Include what your organisation’s stance is on the on-going situation, as well as details on when and where they should expect another update. The more information you provide, the less chance of creating an information vacuum, which often causes unnecessary panic and false speculation.

Click to get in touchLastly, train your team members through life-like simulations of all the different crisis scenarios outlined in your plan. Make sure they don’t talk ‘at’ your audiences at a time of crisis without listening and responding to them first as this will undermine their trust in your organisation. Conduct these exercises annually or around each event.

Are there any other steps you’d like to add to the list?  We’d be happy to publish your views!  

Raconteur: Terrorist attacks are a constant threat for the events sector
Crisis Management Strategist: 3 Steps to Successful Crisis Communications
Meetings PR: Reactive or Proactive? 7 Factors for Effective Communication for International Meetings
Cision: 6 Social Media ‘Musts’ for Crisis Communications

Top 8 Considerations When Choosing a Payment Gateway for Your Events

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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?  Decisions about event payment processing, 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 considering event payment processing and gateways:

Untitled design (36)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.

3) How Do Event Management/Registration Systems Manage Payments?Untitled design (46)

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.

Untitled design (7)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.

Untitled design (13)7) Do You Need to Support Multiple Currencies?

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.



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Eventsforce offers quick and easy integrations of its software 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 event payment processing, please get in touch here. Alternatively, if you would like to read more about how we integrate with payment gateways, please click here.


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Why Video Is a Big Deal for Marketing Your Events – Part 2

Untitled design (43)We all know how important it is to create a feeling of excitement around your events as it makes it easier to convince people why they should attend in the first place. We know that if we do this successfully, people will share their experiences afterwards and come back year after year. And video is a great way of doing this.

Last week, we talked about why online video is one of the most practical uses of your marketing time and budget (Why Video is Becoming a Big Deal for Marketing Your Events – Part 1). In this post, we’ll focus on the key things you need to take into consideration when putting together a video strategy, as well as some creative ideas on how to use videos when promoting your events.

Get Your Video Strategy Right

Untitled design (42)Start by identifying your target audience(s) and the message you are trying to convey to them. The most common mistake is trying to cram too much in or making it too sales-y. Don’t try to target everyone, otherwise you risk losing them all. Set your key goals and identify how your video content is going to help you reach those objectives. So if you want to attract last year’s attendees, then maybe make them the focus of your video. If you want to attract more delegates from overseas, then focus your content on who they will meet and what they can do in the city you’re hosting your event in.  And never end the video with a blank screen – always provide some sort of call to action, whether that’s registration, an offer or links to related material or content.

Make sure your videos are mobile responsive.  According to Cisco, mobile video traffic accounted for 55 percent of total mobile data traffic in 2015.  This figure will increase 11-fold by 2020, accounting to 75 percent of total mobile data traffic, globally.  If you’re targeting millennials, this is even more important as they are three times more likely to watch videos on their mobile devices.

Distribution is another important thing to think about.  It used to be enough to make a video, post it on your website and YouTube and that would be the end of it.  But these days, you have to think about distribution across different social media sites that can help maximise your reach. Each platform has its own creative constraints and this may mean ‘tailoring’ your content for each site. Facebook, for example, supports any length of video, while Instagram has a limit of one minute.  On the other hand, both Facebook and Instagram can play videos silently in the timeline, so you may need to think about adding subtitles to ensure your message comes across. Also, don’t forget to share your video content with other third parties involved in the event so that they can use it for their own marketing and promotional activities.

Finally, don’t forget about tracking metrics.  The success of your video campaign can easily be measured – whether it is sent via email, posted on your event web page or on social media.  You can track all sorts of meaningful data including the time spent watching the video, time spent on the page, click through rates and the number of viewers who followed through with your intended action.

How to Use Videos Before Your Event

7 Practical Ideas to Use Videos to Promote Your EventsFor some practical ideas on how to use video content to promote your event, have a look at the list below:

1.Save-The-Date Videos: This can be a great way of letting people know about your upcoming event and mark it in their calendars.  Share the video via email with your delegates, post it on your event website and on social media.  Make it fun, short and snappy.  The video-sharing service, Vine, is a good tool for this as it allows you to easily record and edit short looping videos.

2.‘Event Highlight’ Videos: If you’ve hosted your event in the past, then you’ve most likely filmed it. Have a look at this one from last year’s Sports Technology Awards. It highlights what happened at their event with plenty of B-roll footage of people chatting and having a laugh. It also includes testimonials from the many different voices and personalities. Use old videos to make totally new videos. Swap out the soundtrack and voiceover, add some new stock footage and you may be surprised with how good it turns out!

3.Video Testimonials: Again, this assumes you’ve hosted the same event in the past. Collate testimonials from different people talking about why the event was valuable for them, including some from your speakers, volunteers and staff. Going back to our earlier millennial stats, almost 70% find video customer testimonials helpful when making a purchasing decision but two in three lose interest when a video is too promotional.  So keep it simple and don’t oversell.  Focus on your attendees’ experiences and make it fun and personable.

4.Video Conferences: These can be a good crowdsourcing tool to use in the run up to your event to connect with your attendees and do some research on the kind of things they would like to see or experience at your event. A study from Eventsforce found that 62% of event planners use crowdsourcing tools to determine things like agendas and session topics, speakers and dining preferences. Though it may be quicker to do this via registration forms or other crowdsourcing platforms, a face to face informal video discussion with a select group of delegates can create long-term loyalty around your events.

5.Video Ads: This is probably the most popular form of video content used around events. It highlights the key sessions, provides details about your speakers and focuses on what delegates should expect at your event, including things like transport and accommodation.   If you are going to feature your organisation, make sure the video presents someone who is actually going to be at the events as it makes the person more approachable on the day.

6.Video Blogs: Make your promotional videos more interesting by producing informal blog-style videos. This can be things like venue tours or a list of the top ten reasons why your event will NOT be a waste of their time. It can be a list of some of the best places to relax at the end of each day or even a list of quirky places they can visit at your event destination. Ask your suppliers and see what they can provide. By focusing on their event and personal experiences, you will establish more trust with your attendees from the start of your campaign.  And by having this trust, you are far more likely to get them to read all the other content you send their way.

Click to get in touch7.Speaker Videos: Video is also a useful tool to woo your speakers. Show them videos of your last event and speakers. Perhaps send them amusing thank you videos after they’ve accepted your invitation to speak. Give your viewers a ‘sneak-peek’ into your event by creating videos of your speakers talking about things they’ll be covering at the event and the sessions they’re interested in attending themselves.  Get them to ask viewers what topics they would like them to cover or ask them a few questions about recent trends that are relevant to your industry today.





7 Easy Ways for Personalising Event Registration

Creating personalised experiences is something that companies tend to do very well in the online world.  Just take a look at companies like Netflix and Amazon, suggesting personalised recommendations based on what they already know about their customers. The likes of Cadburys, Starbucks and Marmite have also been getting in on the act over the last couple of years.  And it’s safe to say that personalisation is now finally making its mark in the events industry. Why?  Because it works.

In the same way marketing targets different messaging for different audiences, event planners can use personalisation to deliver content, offers, event experiences and networking opportunities based on what they already know about their delegates. Sophisticated data capture tools – from event registration systems and RFID to online surveys and event apps – are helping event planners collect and analyse valuable delegate information to create more powerful and targeted events.

This month, a study from Eventsforce found that personalisation was a key priority for 82% of event planners, with 97% believing it would have a positive effect on a delegate’s perception of their brand and event. Despite these claims, however, many felt that the lack of time and resources posed as the biggest barriers with only 27% consistently using it as part of the marketing efforts around their events.

Though it has its challenges and can vary in its effectiveness from one event to another, personalisation doesn’t have to be as complicated as one might think. Most organisations today use some form of automated system to manage registrations around their events and it is good starting point for any kind of personalisation you may want to do around your events.  Why?  Because it acts as the first point of contact for your delegates and lies at the heart of all your communications in the run up to your event.

Have a look below at seven easy ways you can use your registration process to personalise events:

1. Personalised Event Invitation

Untitled design (27)Personalising invitations is simple and effective. By tailoring them as much as possible to the invitee and their specific business sector, you massively increase the chances they will attend. Our study showed that 38% of event planners break down their attendees by type when deciding on marketing activities around their events.  So if you know that your delegate list is made up of corporates and academics, then it makes sense to create two separate versions of the same invitation with each one outlining the sessions that would be of interest to them.  Remember – both audiences have a vested interest in attending your event but they have very different goals and very different ideas on why your event matters to them.

2. Create Different Landing Pages for Your Event Website

Untitled design (33)In the same you can tailor the content of your invitation, you can also tailor your event website for different audiences – our study found that 21% of event planners are already doing this and we expect this trend to grow.  For example, an event site that provides information on peer reviews, abstracts, a list of research fellows and referenced publications may be more interesting for your academics.  Whereas your corporate audience will be much more interested in seeing commercial ideas that the event aims to address, a list of other businesses that are going to attend and who they’re going to meet when they are there.  You may use the page to promote an early bird rate to an academic but may not bother for a commercial audience as academics are more likely to book their places months in advance due to budget allocations at the beginning of the year.

3. Use Unique Registration Paths for Different Attendee Categories

Untitled design (28)Personalise the registration journey by creating different registration paths for each type of attendee.   Some registration systems support this functionality so it doesn’t have to be complicated.  Before starting the registration process, find out the category your attendee falls into – whether that be a delegate, sponsor, exhibitor, speaker and so on. Or you may also choose to categorise by industry – like academics or corporate as mentioned in our earlier example. Each attendee will then be led through a set of registration questions that are specific to their selected category.  For example, exhibitors may get asked about stand sizes, whereas journalists may be asked to upload accreditation documents. Members may be able to select special discount options, whereas a VIP may get asked if they’ll be attending the VIP cocktail party at the end of your event. Having a unique registration path for your VIP guests will ensure their questions aren’t visible to other attendees – and more importantly, it will make your VIP feel that the questions were ‘personalised’ for them throughout the whole registration journey.

4. Find Out What Your Delegates Want

Untitled design (29)Our study found that 62% of event planners are personalising events by using crowdsourcing tools with their attendees to determine things like agendas and session topics (44%), speakers (24%) and dining preferences (18%). Using your registration form to capture your attendees’ views and opinions can be a quick and cost-effective way of personalising their event experience. For example, you can ask your delegates what topics are of particular interest for them at your motor show. Are they interested in the servicing side of the business or electronics?  You can then share this information with your exhibitors and ensure the right kind of discount offer is included in the right delegate pack upon checking-in at the event. This is a lot more personalised than including discount offers from all your exhibitors as you will almost certainly include things that are of no interest to them.

You can also use registration form to ask more ‘personal’ questions like what is their favourite coffee and offering them a personalised free coffee offer as part of their delegate pack.  You could capture information about their hobbies or thoughts and include that on their delegate badges – a great icebreaker when attending networking events.  The more people network, the more business occurs and the more likely they are to come again.

5. Use Delegate Networking Tools

Untitled design (30)Almost 20% of event planners are using delegate networking tools to personalise experiences around their events. By integrating ‘meeting planner’ tools as part of your registration process, delegates will be able 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. These tools are quite good in that they don’t allow delegates to schedule meetings that clash with other meetings or sessions that they’ll be attending at the event.  Or if the system knows if the delegate is leaving a day early, it won’t allow them to accept invitations for meetings on the next date.

6. Personalised Email Communications

Untitled design (31)In the same way you’re able to personalise the invitation, the event website and registration form for different attendee categories, you can also personalise all your email communications in the run up to the event. Let’s look at an example of a delegate who has requested a Kosher or Halal meal at the event.  Typically, this meal is almost never served with the main event buffet so the delegate has to liaise with the catering staff or event planner to locate it on the day.  This isn’t a great experience for your delegate and it is also inefficient as it means the event planners has one more thing to think about at a time when they are very busy.  Instead, send the delegate a personalised registration confirmation email that will include details on where they can pick up their meal on the day of the event.

Again, some registration platforms will support this through an integrated mail merge service, which collates all relevant delegate information in an automatic confirmation email.  And it makes no difference if you have 50 people attending your event or 50,000.  The process is quite simple and takes very little time. It also makes more sense to include this kind of ‘personalised’ information in your delegate emails than details on the weather or the nearest taxi firm (most of this information is instantly available to anyone with a smartphone or an internet connection these days).  Again, remember that you only have a limited time to capture your delegates’ attention – the more information on your confirmation email, the more likely they will jump through some of the more important things like the start time of the session they want to attend.

7. Don’t Forget About Reporting

Untitled design (32)The kind of personalisation you offer delegates will be determined by the kind of data you decide to capture and the reports you produce. The earlier you do this when you’re setting up the registration for your event, the more effective your personalisation efforts will be. Think about it from the start as opposed to when you NEED the data because that will probably be the time you’re at your busiest and data structures are unlikely to change the closer you get to the event.

Think about the reports you want so that you can figure out the right questions you need to put across to your delegates. Think about how you want to slice up the data so that you can get the reports you want and collate the analytics that will allow you to personalise your events.  For example, you may decide to create a report that will collate all the delegates attending a particular session.  Some event planners may share this list with all the other delegates attending that session.  But you can do more. Break it down by company type, interests and goals and share the list with your session speaker.  He or she can then use this information to tweak the content of their presentation or personalise it with content or examples that are more relevant to the audience.

Click to get in touchBreaking down your delegates by type will allow you to create the segregated reports you want.  Knowing that 70% of your delegates are female, love coffee and their primary objective is networking can give you the intelligent data you need to help you personalise their experience. So if you’re hosting an event in London and you know that a large part of your attendees are coming from overseas, you may opt for ‘fish and chips’ as your lunch menu as international delegates prefer local cuisine.  Or if you know that most of your attendees will be leaving early on the last day of your event, it may be a better option for you to offer them a packed lunch that day instead of a buffet and ask them in advance about their sandwich preferences.

If you require a registration process that can personalise your attendees’ event experience, speak to our experienced team today.

 Written by Paul Harris, Eventsforce. 




INFOGRAPHIC: Are you Personalising Your Event Experiences?

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Personalisation is seen as one of the hottest trends in the events industry this year with delegates expecting both the communication about an event and the live experience to be tailored to them in some way.  Data capture tools – from event registration systems and RFID to online surveys and event apps – are helping organisations collect valuable information on their delegates which can be analysed to create more powerful and customised event experiences.

But as good as it all sounds, how many of us are actually doing this?  Last month, we conducted a study with over 160 senior event planners in the UK and the US to investigate the current uptake of personalisation in the industry. The results have been very interesting.

The study revealed that though personalisation is a key priority for 82% of event planners, only 27% are consistently using it as part of the marketing efforts around their events. When asked why – it seems the biggest barriers are lack of time, resources and cost.

Registration systems are a good place to start for any kind of personalisation you may want to do around your events.  Find out how by reading this blog: 7 easy ways of using your registration process to personalise events.

We also looked at the kind of marketing tools organisations are using to personalise their delegate experiences.  Personalised email communications came up at top at 68%, followed by unique registration paths and personalised educational content.  Online surveys were the most popular data capture tool at 65%, followed by event apps (44%) and social media tools (42%). Surprisingly, new technologies such as iBeacons and wearables were only used by 3% of event planners.

For a more comprehensive look at these results and some of the other findings from the Eventsforce ‘Personalisation: Creating Tailored Event Experiences’ study, please download the infographic below:

1300 Eventsforce Infographic UK

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.

Change Careers and Become an Event Planner

Untitled design (21)When work isn’t working for you, switching careers and becoming an event planner can seem like a good prospect, especially if you like working with people and enjoy extending your skills in a variety of contexts. However, like most life decisions, this career change is one which does need a little bit of thought, not least to make sure you are choosing a move into event planning for the right reasons.

The Right Move

Being an event planner can be a complex and demanding role, so ensuring it’s the right move for you means considering whether:

  • You are truly ready for not just a change, but a new challenge.
  • You have a suitable set of transferable skills and experience which will benefit a career in event management.
  • You are ready for a second career. Even being in your 40s and beyond is ideal, as many event professionals came into the industry after successful careers in other sectors, bringing the joint benefits experience, maturity and a thorough knowledge of working with people!
  • You have the potential to work freelance later on if required – many freelance event planners carve successful niches for themselves as a result of working for agencies and move into working for themselves instead of being directly employed by one company.
  • Your skills lie beyond being good at administration and organisation, after all, Personal Assistants are competent in these areas but that doesn’t necessarily mean they would be successful at event management: an event manager also requires a keen eye for detail and brings considerable creativity to the role.

The Wrong Moves

rain_man_2Having good reasons for feeling you’d be successful in event management is one thing, but knowing the wrong reasons for seeking to make the change is also important. Common misconceptions about a role in event panning include:

  • Assuming it’s an easy job – after all, you’ve planned a couple of parties! Professional event planning encompasses a myriad of tasks which amount to so much more than the actual planning. The role also includes a significant element of engaging with people and working with individuals with their own ideas (good or bad) about the event they want or how much the budget should stretch to, so managing others’ expectations is another aspect of the role which can be less than easy!
  • Thinking it just looks like fun! Of course event planning is fun, but not all aspects of the role and not all the time! We all have tasks which regularly sink to the bottom of our to-do lists because we don’t really enjoy doing them and a big reality check comes when you realise that event planning means facing a daily list of tasks, some of which you don’t actually enjoy and which can certainly be less than fun. Having a lack of understanding about what’s really involved in event planning and having the wrong expectation can quickly result in disillusion and dissatisfaction.
  • Seeking a job with a high salary. Although sought-after event professionals can command high salaries (especially in the corporate sector), the best paid roles are not generally accessible early on in a career in event management. Initially you may need to prove yourself within the industry, including possibly starting off in low paid position, such as an intern or apprentice in order to gain experience or manoeuvre into a position within a specific type of event management (such as in the media, festivals or arts sectors).
  • After giving up an existing role due to ill-health. Working in event management means you have to be in good physical shape. The role is mentally and physically demanding and can also mean long days, especially in the last few days of bringing an event together and running it.
  • Assuming that you can just walk into the job and pick it up as you go. Event management is one of the fastest growing professional sectors and it is just that – professional. There are now industry standards, codes of practice and professional guidelines so, as competition for roles is fierce in this exciting industry, having relevant training and experience is the right approach for landing a role and succeeding in it.

One last key way to avoid going wrong at the start of your career swap into event management is to not think only about the practical levels of what you can do without considering what you actually want to do. Event planning may look appealing and you may have the physical capabilities but you also need to consider whether it will offer you the emotional fulfilment you desire from your daily grind.

Great Expectations

Thinking that you know what to expect from a career as an event manager is a sure sign that you need to find out more about the role because if ever a career meant daily doses of the unexpected, then that’s career management for you! However, you can prepare for the unexpected by researching appropriate training and volunteering opportunities, preferably before you give up your existing career.

How to Make the Change

shutterstock_73043920Taking a qualification in event management can be a positive step in both finding out more about the role of event manager and in feeling confident about the new career path you’re planning.

Training will help you to identify those transferable skills which are vital to the role – including those which you already have, those which you have yet to build and those skills which are underused in your current role but will be useful in event management. Having good technology skills is a good example. It’s difficult running a good event these days if you’re not good at technology.   At least understanding what technology can do for you. From simple registration systems to sophisticated event management tools. From social media and event apps to new technologies like iBeacons and augmented reality.

Whilst you are weighing up your career change, taking up opportunities to volunteer and complete on-the-job training in work placements will also give you a chance to revise your CV to reflect the core competencies you have and how these directly relate to a career in event management.

Similarly, volunteering and work experience will also allow you to build a portfolio of events you have been involved with, something which can add to your competitive edge when it comes to applying for event management roles.

Click to get in touchFinally, to pave your way to a successful transition into becoming an event planner, be prepared to try temporary roles in different sectors, such as by taking in-house roles as opposed to working solely on agency projects: try corporate events as well as charity events, gain experience in entertainment events and compare this with planning education and training events. Being versatile to start with will help you to identify your ideal niche as well as help you to build a network of contacts for when you are ready to settle into your brand new career as an event manager.

Find out more about event management career opportunities at Eventsforce by contacting us here.