Starting a new event and looking for tools that can set you apart from the crowd? Dissatisfied with your current event registration system? The event fundraising marketplace is releasing software at a quick pace and there are many new technology offerings in the event registration space. With so many choices, vendors have an imperative to innovate and differentiate themselves as their products evolve to meet the changing needs of nonprofits and others who might buy them. This means that there have been some important developments in this area, notably in how these products look, and the way they leverage communication consistent with the latest trends in social media.
At Event 360, we’re constantly monitoring this marketplace to deliver the best and most appropriate solutions for our clients and our own signature events. So it is essential to the work we do that we evaluate numerous registration and event program management offerings that are accessible for startup events or potentially address issues not fully supported by the more established enterprise solutions. The good news about the evolution in registration systems is that you no longer have to just tolerate tools that support transactions. You now have a lot of options in choosing an event registration system that will build your event brand and engage your community in relevant ways that enhance the real-time experience.
The presentation component of web-based event management systems used to be mundane at best, and somewhat clinical at worst. Once drawn to visit a site, potential registrants and donors would encounter a series of generic questions and forms. The user experience was unadorned, with basic functionality designed to get and present required information in a largely non-branded format.
Increasingly, however, solutions for the “storefront” of an event are offering the opportunity to deliver your brand in a smartly designed environment. This means you can now use the information gathering and registration process as place to give users a better sense of who you are. Easy-to-use design tools and image use provides individuals a visceral sense of what you are about, motivating them to act and pass on your story to others. Whether you want to get across concepts such as classy or fun or, in fact, straight up and to the point, there are systems that afford this important branding/marketing option. Currently, we are impressed with Splash, among others.
A second critical development in registration systems has to do with the integration of social media communication. Whereas such systems used to primarily act as standalone efforts that would serve as a pure transaction between the user and your organization, newer versions are “linking” the process with social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and others. They understand that people communicate and acquire information differently than they used to and allow activity—signing up, making donations, reading stories and other content—to be shared so it can have an exponential effect by reaching the friends and followers of those who come to your site. Given that one of the compelling elements of live events is the interaction among the crowd, these developments bring this communal experience forward into the pre-event experience. In this area, we are impressed with StayClassy, Artez and Kimbia, but, again, there are other good examples out there in the marketplace—for example, Fundly, RallyBound, DonorDrive, RedPodium, and so on. You have options.
Like the changes we mentioned regarding presentation capabilities, the marketing and promotion implications of this social media development are not only vast, but also critical to engaging your audience in a way that we are all now accustomed to. There are great advantages to seizing these opportunities. The registration system is now approximating the best parts of the event experience with stunning visuals and community development techniques. It’s worth investigating. You have options.
Next month, we’ll take a step back a review some of fundamental elements to look for when choosing a system, and point out a few more newer elements that are cropping up to help you stay competitive in the mindpsace of potential donors and participants.
“Jim’s Tools of the Trade” blog posts are featured monthly. Jim Grohman provides project teams and managers, leadership and guidance to ensure flawless delivery. A former Major with the United States Marine Corps, Jim is a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and is certified as a PMI Project Management Professional.