What makes a good conference? Your perspective as an attendee may differ from your perspective as an event organizer. However, the thing that makes an attendee want to return to an event year after year is the thing you’ll want to replicate. Informative, fun, focused, are all common ways to describe successful events. The question is, how can you bring those things your event’s guests? Technology can help make your events more efficient, which oftentimes is the catalyst for a successful event.
Technology and Event Planning
One of the more important things that technology can do to make event planning successful is communication. Communication is important while planning the event, during the event, and after the event.
Communication while planning an event allows people in different locations to stay in touch with each other. Whether you’re trying to find a venue, working with presenters, or trying to determine a date, constant contact with your team is a must. It prevents double-booking, and accidentally reaching out to the same venues and presenters twice.
During the event, different things will happen that could have a negative effect on attendees if presenters and attendees are not informed. Electricity or wireless will go out in a room. How will you get the message to the people who are scheduled to present in that room? Will they show up too late to change rooms? What if you can’t contact someone to fix the problem? Will you just go without that space? Technology can help you make an informed decision rather than hoping you do the right thing.
A conference Twitter account can let attendees know when changes are made as they occur. With quick and seamless communication with technology, fewer people will be frustrated because of last minute snafus.
A big expense of a meeting or conference can be printing off a ream of paper for every attendee with all of the requisite handouts. Then the attendee has to lug all of that paper around—no one wants to carry a bunch of paper around. If all the printouts are put online, your attendees can follow along during meetings with their tablets, smartphones, or laptops. If they choose to, they can print the documents off at home which saves you a pretty penny in printing costs.
Scheduling software makes it much easier to organize groups of attendees. Using technology schedulers almost eliminates the chance of double-booking a room! With humans making the schedule, mistakes are easier to make. Using scheduling software, you will be warned that a presenter is scheduled to be in two places at the same time, or that an attendee has registered for two events with conflicting schedules. You can fix the problem, or let the guests involved know via email.
Have you ever wondered how 1,500 high school students get scheduled for 7 to 10 classes each semester without double-booking? Or how 20,000 college students end up in the right place at the right time? These scheduling programs do a great job of ensuring people get where they need to be when they need to be there.
Another benefit of technology is registration tracking. People don’t go to conferences to stand in line when they register. A scanner can mark that a person has arrived. The guest can be given a badge that gets scanned when they go to workshops or breakout sessions. The same badge may give them a rebate if they stay at the event’s co-sponsored motel. It may entitle them to free meals. All of this scanning lets the organizers evaluate when people arrive, what they do when they’re there, and when they leave.
By using data from a scanned badge, you can learn if people show up at 8am or 10am. Do they stay at on-site accommodations, and if so, will that get you a rebate for renting the space? Do people go to the meetings, or do they stay in bars and go golfing? These are things that will inform you about whether people appreciate your event because of what they learn.
Technology can make any event more efficient, but just as importantly it can help save money. Use tech so you can find out what people like and don’t like about your event so you can make better choices in the future, and hopefully see your event grow into a sustainable industry must-attend meeting.