So Many Apps, So Little Time
So you’ve realized this event management thing needs a little help. Manually tracking calendars, venues, offers, settlements, financials and communications is taking up all of your time. Event managers know that organization is their best friend. It’s easy to get behind, miss important deadlines and tasks, or feel tied to the office.
Event management apps have flooded the market, hoping to tap into the demand for an easier way to manage events. It’s not always as simple as choosing one app. In fact, there are all kinds of categories, from ticketing and contract management to billing & invoicing and venue management. Some are mobile, some are web-based and others are installed. It can be confusing and an expensive experiment if you don’t know what you’re doing.
How do you choose which event management app is best for you?
What Do You Do?
Event managers run the gamut. They may plan weddings, conferences, concerts or any event worthy of a crowd. It takes people skills, organization, attention to detail, financial knowledge and connections. The thing with event management apps is that most of them do one thing but not another.
The key to finding the best event management app for you is to:
Assess where you spend the majority of your workday (and night)
An event manager’s day is rarely on a nine-to-five schedule, of course, not many jobs these days are. With events lingering well into the night, many event managers find themselves amongst the last people to leave the venue. They must settle up with all of the vendors who helped pull off the event, finalize tasks for the venue, and ensure all guests are gone.
Event managers may spend some of their days in the office, but much of their time is spent at the venue, meeting with vendors and even promoting the event. This requires mobility. If you know you are out and about much of your day, you want to find an event management app that has mobile and web-based functionality so you can work seamlessly no matter where you are working. This will give you the flexibility to be anywhere and get your work done.
Determine which tasks make up your job
No matter what kind of event manager you are, you do basically the same things: meeting with your client to get information about the event they want to host, developing a budget, booking a venue, hiring the vendors, and managing the paperwork for insurance, contract negotiations, and permits, if required. Wikipedia defines an event manager as “the person who plans and executes the event, taking responsibility for the creative, technical, and logistical elements. This includes overall event design, brand building, marketing and communication strategy, audio-visual production, script writing, logistics, budgeting, negotiation, and client service.” That’s a lot of to-dos.
How are you managing all of those tasks? What systems or applications do you depend on to get those tasks accomplished? Which of those tasks could be executed faster or better if you had a better system or app?
All of these tasks involve multiple people, requiring plenty of ongoing collaboration. If you’re using basic email or texting to manage these communications, you’re working too hard. Unless you’re highly organized to place every incoming and outgoing email into a proper folder, you’re going to be spending a lot of your time digging through your Inbox to find what you need. Email doesn’t make it easy to see conversation streams, either.
A good event management app will provide a collaboration capability where you and your team, plus any vendors or third parties you want to invite, can work together in one place. Tasks can be assigned with due dates and checked off when complete – and everyone can see the progress in real-time. You may even be able to use the tool to approve confirmations, challenges, budget adjustments, offers and settlements. Also, unlike email, there’s no risk for a message being missed, undelivered or routed to a spam folder.
Calendar Management and Settlements
What about calendar management? What tool are you using for that? Many event management apps will offer calendar management functionality directly from the app. Same goes for settlement. Many event managers have their settlement tools on their computers but not on their mobile phones. You want to find an event management app that gives you that flexibility we discussed to track and report adjustments, payout methods, additional costs and revenue when you’re at the event.
Revenue and Expense Tracking
A final note about tasks: one of the biggest tasks for an event planner is building a budget and tracking expenses against that budget. Find an event management app that has this component. You’d be surprised to know that many of them don’t. They require you to log into a separate financial system, ticketing platform and spreadsheets to pull your financial picture together.
A better option is to have this component built into your app. You can build your budget, link to your ticketing platform to automatically update sales in real time, track expenses in real time and see your financial health with a tap. This saves you time but also makes you more productive and informed to make better decisions as you always have your financials at your fingertips.
Get as Much as Possible in One App
All of this functionality should be in one app. If you want to gain efficiencies, boost productivity, enable mobile flexibility and reduce costs, you need as many of the tasks you do every day to be enabled in a single place. The more time you spend moving from one system to another, the less time you are spending booking events and building your client base. It can also increase the risk of errors. Mistakes happen and they are often due to an error in data transfer, a missed communication or a lack of data.
When you have all of your daily tasks in one place, mobile-enabled and integrated with other systems, such as your ticketing platform, you have access to one source of truth no matter where you are. What would that do for your business? For your productivity?
Avoid The Hype
Just as with any software product, you have to be able to separate fact from fiction. Before you choose an event management app, do your research. Does the app have all of the features you want in order to make your life easier? If not, you’re 96 percent more likely not to use it. Is it easy to use from a computer, laptop, tablet or mobile device? Does it have features you don’t need or want to pay for? Is it affordable?
Once you narrow down your options, it’s time to test it out. You won’t know if the app will work for you and your team until you give it a spin. Talk with the provider and see if you can test it out before you buy. At least, ask if you can see a demo. Get a list of what systems it integrates with to make sure the ones you use will be accessible directly from the app. Again, you don’t want to have to switch between apps or transfer data manually.
Check The Pricing
Be sure you understand the pricing model. Some apps have in-app purchases, charge per user or charge per feature. Some may charge a flat monthly subscription fee while others require an upfront purchase that renews annually.
Determine your budget, which features you know you’ll use and how many people you envision sharing this app with you. Talk with the vendor about how they price their event management app, what’s included, and then decide if their pricing structure jives with your usage and budget.
In the end, the event management app should make your job easier, more streamlined and more efficient. Don’t jump into buying the app until you’ve determined what exactly you need and how much you can afford. Your margins are thin enough. Don’t overspend. These apps give you superpowers and are worth something, but don’t get suckered into paying more than seems fair. Keep in mind the app is bringing together multiple systems you may be paying for individually and it’s helping you do your job better. There’s a value to that capability and can quickly end up saving you costs.