The traditional approach to event planning involves too many spreadsheets, too many emails, and too many minutes wasted. While event professionals might be tempted to dismiss event tech as yet another challenge, it can actually go a long way to making event management itself more efficient. Event technology isn’t just about virtual event production — some of it is designed to streamline and simplify every stage of event planning.
Event planners who are feeling overwhelmed with their current workloads might look at event tech as an added challenge they simply don’t have time for right now. It’s an understandable outlook given all the emphasis lately on live streaming tools — and even futuristic visions of the metaverse. For many planners, all the bells and whistles of new tech might seem unnecessary, since the core logistics of event planning can be covered with a tried and tested toolbox. After all, it may feel second nature to juggle multiple Excel files and chase down speakers, sponsors, and staff with email after email. That’s just part of the job, isn’t it?
It doesn’t have to be. There’s a whole subset of event tech dedicated to making event management easier. In fact, the more complicated an event is, the more reason there is to lean into the technologies that are now available. If you’re juggling even more responsibilities dealing with a back-log of in-person events that are now scheduled back to back, it’s time to start thinking about event tech as an efficiency hack rather than as another problem to tackle. Here are six key ways that event tech can play a powerful role in streamlining processes and avoiding unnecessary work.
1. Enable a Collaborative Approach to Content Development
Plenty of events focus on fostering a spirit of collaboration among attendees on-site — co-creating sessions or hosting group workshops, for example. However, true collaboration is largely absent from the planning stages of an event. Sure, copying 15 people on every email might seem like a collaborative approach to curating a program, but ultimately, that old-school approach leads to mile-long email trails and impossible searches for the latest version of a spreadsheet.
Allie Magyar, chief product officer of Notified, knows those challenges all too well from her days as a meeting planner. Magyar founded Hubb — which was recently acquired by Notified — to achieve the dream of streamlining communications and reduce the head-spinning number of messages that volley back and forth among event teams. The most important piece of the puzzle is the content — who’s speaking, what they’re talking about, and which topics are going to resonate with the audience.
“As a meeting planner, the first thing we have to do is think about the content,” Magyar says.
Notified’s Event Cloud platform eliminates the need for all those emails in the content development phase by assigning graders to review, edit, and approve sessions in one centralized place. With the ability to include specific questions about relevance of the content, the platform acts as a regularly-updated portal that can show the progress toward a full program of sessions and speakers that will matter to the audience.
2. Streamline Input From Speakers, Sponsors, and Exhibitor
It’s important to note that an event’s content isn’t limited to your own team. Your speakers have a crucial role to play, too. Ideally, speakers should be able to collaborate with your content experts — and event tech can help here as well. On the Notified Event Cloud, for example, you have the option to give speakers visibility into feedback from session graders.
It’s also no longer necessary to update your event website manually every time a session is added to your agenda. Once a session is approved on the Notified Event Cloud, all those details that your speaker submitted will automatically be added to your event website through an API. The sooner you can promote it, the sooner you can see registration numbers rise.
In addition to bringing your speakers into the mix, your exhibitors and sponsors have plenty of content they need to share and manage. Again, a well-designed event platform will allow exhibitors and sponsors to fill in their own company details, with your role simplified to a matter of providing final approval — not coordinating the entire process from point A to point B via multiple emails and file-sharing services. From including a floor plan that allows exhibitors to self-select their specific booth to guiding sponsors through a step-by-step process to upload all their promotional resources, the Notified platform lets you give some of the most important stakeholders a bigger role in making sure their brand presence looks exactly the way they prefer.
Besides saving you a logistical headache, this approach improves the exhibitor experience. And the easier it is for them to work with you, the more likely they’ll want to continue to invest in your programming in the future.
3. Eliminate Attachment Overload
What about all the attachments in that mountain of emails? Event planners have to track down loads of assets for a program including speaker headshots, PowerPoint decks, run-of-shows, PDF handouts, exhibitor logos, sponsor branding, contracts, and more. This is where a single source of truth can really transform the process. While eliminating the need to sift back through emails to locate all those files is an obvious benefit, there’s another issue that event tech can solve: the need to get your entire ecosystem of vendors, partners, sponsors, and speakers to follow file guidelines.
Notified’s platform includes the ability to force the appropriate file. That means no more follow-up emails requesting a .PNG instead of a .JPG. There are no more did-you-receive-my-file inquiries, followed by a maybe-the-file-was-too-big request to resend. Instead, anyone uploading a new resource will get an automated message if there are any issues with their file specifications.
4. Break Free From the Desktop
We book flights, read the news, and solve crossword puzzles from our mobile devices — so why shouldn’t we be able to plan meetings from those on-the-go devices, too?
“Thinking about how people get their work done is really important,” Magyar says. “This site is mobile-responsive. So, if someone is on a train and wants to grade their content, they’re able to do that.”
Consider these telling data points from Google: 75 percent of people say their smartphones help them to be more productive, and 60 percent say that those devices help them feel more confident and prepared. As planning an event gets into crunch time, being able to finalize details wherever you are is an essential component of success. Forget waiting to get back to the computer to update that session title or approve an exhibitor’s profile submission. All your changes can be made just as easily as sharing your favorite photos to Instagram or browsing new podcast episodes.
5. Make Schedule Management Easier
If you’ve been feeling the pain of not having enough workers to handle the traffic at your event, you’re not alone: A recent Skift Meetings survey revealed that 33 percent of event managers are struggling with staffing shortages. Those challenges don’t look like they’re going away anytime soon, which makes it even more critical to make the most of the staff you do have. The right event technology can do wonders for streamlining your staff booking system, allowing you to maximize productivity and eliminate confusion.
“When I’m managing large events, I have to figure out who’s going to work the registration desk and who’s going to work five different information desks,” Magyar says. “Our staffing portal allows you to come in and create different work groups with locations, shifts, and break times for people. Instead of spreadsheets and emails, it will automatically send meeting requests to every person on staff and allows you to make changes in one place.”
Shift details are all automatically added to your staff’s personal calendars, with any subsequent updates carried over in real time.
In addition to helping your staff make sense of their responsibilities, event technology can simplify logistics for your C-suite by allowing their executive assistants to approve meeting requests for their calendars.
6. Stay In Control
You might worry that embracing collaborative tech means accidentally enabling a free-for-all among vendors, partners, and staff members. After all, technology can bring up visions of robots taking over and automation enabling processes you never approved. And even if you aren’t worried about what technology will do, you might be worried that it’s too confusing to implement with your next event. Skift Meetings’ most recent State of the Event Industry report revealed that event professionals are actually becoming less comfortable with tech.
As you compare event technology platforms, make sure that efficiency hacks still come with complete control. For example, Notified Event Cloud includes a range of permission-based access throughout the backend. Limit what speakers can view and edit. Set a pending approval notification for exhibitors and sponsors so you can make sure that their profile language isn’t too over-the-top with its promotional messaging. Restrict who can see the other grades that have been assigned to sessions. You’re in the driver’s seat, and you’ll have the final say over what sessions appear on the program, what language appears on your website, and what experiences will greet attendees when they arrive.