By David Kramer & Kari Johnson
Throughout the year, we’ll be presenting our top ten tips for improving event production. We first visited this topic in 2012, but we have learned so much since then that we have even more to say. The first tip we presented back then was to leverage technology, and as everyone is extremely aware, technology is changing at lightning speed. So, let us show you how we use technology today.
Event professionals can employ all kinds of technology to be more efficient and create a better event. The event planning process has evolved so much that the idea of laying out a site plan using fax communication and pictures printed at the photo shop or sent via the postal service is unfathomable. With the variety of software and hardware that our team uses it’s impossible to list them all, but here are a few of our favorites:
Tools for Working with Your Team — Internal and External:
- SharePoint and related applications, Basecamp and Slack, Acumatica, GoTo Meeting, Skype, teleconferencing tools, digital document signatures
- Real time collaboration and project management eliminates wasted time and energy, creating efficiencies previously unseen for us and our clients.
Site Scouting and Mapping Programs:
- Google Earth, Google Maps, Visio, Google Sketch
- We are big fans of using Google Earth to scout sites and Visio to scale and design site plans.
- Supplier websites for online ordering (Uline, Amazon), supply management software (Excel is our most common, Acumatica helps track items ordered and received), package tracking including delivery service apps (UPS and Amazon send alerts to track packages), receipt management and expense tracking
- Purchasing is a critical part of the event management process and having the optimal tools in place ensures each event is prepared accordingly. When things go awry, we want to be as informed as soon as possible to make the necessary adjustments.
- Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and whatever the kids are using these days
- In the production realm, we use social media channels to relay event information, recruit volunteers, monitor public information for accuracy, and provide real time updates such as weather alerts or nearby emergencies.
- Find your audience where they are at. Depending on your participant demographics, they might be mostly on Facebook, or maybe it’s Discord. Don’t know? Ask them!
- Apps including Tripcase, flight trackers, airlines’ and hotels’ own proprietary apps, and of course apps for ridesharing and dockless mobility.
- Keeping track of the team’s travel is easy when using the available tools to stay updated. Making changes on the fly can be as easy as opening an app from your airline or hotel property. We use TripCase for tracking comprehensive information but have found the apps created for each particular airline or hotel property are better for last-minute needs.
- We also provide our frequent travelers with lightweight laptops and wifi jetpacks.
- On the ground, we take advantage of any transportation method available, whether that’s an easy pickup using Uber or hopping on a nearby scooter to assess the parking status at an off-site location
- Routers for sitewide wifi create levels of access so the event priorities are met first.
- Client-based software for processing donations on site, and the hardware to match.
- Registration apps allow last-minute participants to register on their way to the event site or while waiting in line for bib pick-up.
- Barcode scanners for credentialing and access (e.g. you can scan in participants who have printed their credentials at home and brought them to the event).
- QR codes for quick access to event information for volunteers.
- Provide GPS for staff and volunteers to navigate routes more effectively. We like to create pins for specific locations like water stops, off-site parking lots, and related critical sites.
- Weather apps – Dark Sky, Wunderground, and Accuweather are some of our favorites (though we often find ourselves in heated debates about which is the best!)
- Text messaging event participants with tools like Hustle or Textcaster with last minute updates (who reads emails these days?).
- The technology right in your pocket: your phone. Use it to take photos to document deliveries/incidents/damage, access paperwork and contracts, post to social media, and text your staff with live event updates. Utilize apps like Instacart for those last-minute shopping needs. Seamless and Postmates can help you keep the team fed.
At the end of the day, we want technology that works for us. We need it to be efficient, easy to learn, and to improve our work. Take time to sort through the plethora of options and try them out for yourself. Consider your needs, cost, ease of use and customization options available to help create the memorable event experience you’ve envisioned.
As technology improves, we continue to adapt. We are looking forward to the future of event technology and all that will improve the event production lifecycle, improve our communication across all channels, and help all of us create the memorable experience that leads to continued growth in fundraising and organizational support.
We also look forward to sharing the other nine tips we have about how to improve your event production this year!
Kari Johnson has been working for 15 years with Event 360. From planning to execution, she uses her passion for people, experiences and details to produce events from start to finish. She is skilled at thinking on her feet and adapting to anything that comes her way. When Kari is not in event mode, she is seeking out her next Disney adventure or finding her way to see a Broadway show.
David Kramer has been a part of the Event 360 team for over 15 years focused on event planning & production. He’s currently excited about improving corporate operations that run adjacent to the production processes & to continue delivering impeccable event execution for a wide variety of clients. When not overseeing event operations he can be found at home in Northern Virginia enjoying time with his growing family, exploring the local food & beverage scene and enhancing his local community.