This post will help you run events more effectively by explaining the types of software available and pointing you to the best event platforms.
We cover the following areas which you can jump down to using these links:
Ingredients of a well-run event
You need an interesting event idea and an attention-grabbing event listing that you can easily publicise.
To streamline your admin, your event management software needs to make it easy for people to book online. You may need to be able to customise the information you require from people.
As the day approaches you need to keep tabs on who’s coming, keep them updated with any changes and prepare things like name badges or delegate packs. Your online event platform should offer an easy way to export lists of attendees.
On the day of the event, you need to be able to record attendance and probably enter this data into your CRM for future references. If your event management software is part of your CRM this can make life a lot easier.
After the event, you will want to gain feedback from attendees to help make your next event better. If your event booking software allows you to easily send emails or questionnaires following up well is much easier.
Analysing attendance, feedback and revenue can help you learn and improve. Look for software that offers easy-to-view reports for these things.
Unless you pay a one-off fee to have some custom-software built for you, event management software is usually priced on the commission of ticket sales, a flat monthly subscription fee or a combination of the two.
If you only run free events and they are not central to your operation then commission pricing can be a great option because it will be free. If you run paid events then commission pricing can quickly become a more expensive option.
The alternative pricing model for event software is monthly subscription where you pay a fixed amount each month irrespective of how many events you run, how much you charge or how many people book.
This is a great option if you run lots of paid event that are an important part of your operation because it means you can budget your overheads more easily and it often works out cheaper.
Whatever event booking software you choose you will likely pay card processing fees on event bookings of 1-2%. This fee goes to the card processor and not the maker of the event software and is a standard cost of offering online booking.
Different types of event management software
Unless you are considering creating some custom event management software by piecing together different systems like a website CMS with event booking plugins, there are two main types of event management software:
CRM software with built-in event tools
Choosing CRM software that has built-in event management tools is often the smart choice for organisations that run paid events on a regular basis. The pricing model is usually a monthly subscription, and often zero or low commission on transactions. More importantly, the data about attendees is stored in a much more powerful way. With the booking process driven directly by your CRM all data about attendees is stored in the right place for you to review, analyse and act on.
A CRM software platform with built-in event management tools will allow you to review bookings, attendees and revenue in the context of all your other activities. You’ll be able to more easily cross-reference a person’s event-based activity with other activities such as enquiries, volunteering or donations and build a richer picture of activity.
You can often email segments of people (eg. attendees of an upcoming event) from directly within the CRM software. This eliminates the need for separate emailing software and avoids the confusion that easily arises when you have slightly different lists of people in multiple software tools.
White Fuse is a membership and event management software platform that brings all the essential tools you need into one place with a flat monthly subscription fee and no commission on bookings.
Stand-alone event management software
This option is often selected by small organisations getting started with their first few events. The software is often easy to use and free if you run free events. Costs increase steeply with usage so can be a less attractive option as you grow.
Here are some of the most popular options you can get started with today.
Eventbrite is the most popular option on this list but also one of the most expensive (around 6% on a £25 ticket on their basic package). It offers commission-based pricing so free events are free to run.
Although some CRMs can integrate with EventBrite to pull attendee information across it’s worth checking out the details of these carefully because they are often quite limited, for example in relation to email list opt-in.
TicketTailor is an EventBrite alternative based in the UK that is used by a number of charities, nonprofits and other organisations we work with. The interface is clean and easy to use.
TicketTailor has a monthly subscription model starting at £19+VAT per month and charges no commission, though as always you have to cover the payment processing fees from their provider Stripe. Registered charities get a 20% discount. As demonstrated by the comparison tool on their website, in almost all situations an organisation will find TicketTailor cheaper than EventBrite.
EventHQ targets those who run conferences, training courses and workshops. Like TicketTailor, Event HQ is a UK based system. The system has a uniquely simple payment structure of £1.80 per completed booking, all-inclusive.
Eventzilla also has commission based pricing but their default approach is to pass fees onto the people booking events. Fees are even higher than Eventbrite (around 12% on a £25 ticket). Although this increases simplicity for the event organiser, this kind of hidden-fee structure can easily annoy your audience.
Eventzilla offers a 25% discount to registered charities and nonprofits.
Regpack pitches itself as a tool for registrations more broadly. So rather than a focus on events, it supports customers who need to accept registrations for courses, workshops, training, summer camps, etc. This focus is built on a high level of form customisation at the heart of the product.
Regpack has a monthly subscription model with pricing that starts at $89 per month plus 1.5% payment processing charge.