As you may have read recently, Event 360 is taking part in NTEN’s Nonprofit Technology Conference this week. The conference’s technology focus got us thinking about the tech tools we use all the time in event development and production.
Needless to say, technology for event planning has come so far over the past 10 years. Not too long ago, for instance, we’d travel with those giant, 400-page map books when scouting a site or planning an event. They were a pain to carry, and it could get tedious highlighting the event route across multiple pages!
Here’s a look at some key tech tools that allow us to do our jobs better and more efficiently.
Salesforce.com made its name in customer relationship management, but we find it to be a great tool for our work too. We store all kinds of event-related information in Salesforce.com, like details on prospective sites, vendors, orders and much more. We also post important documents there, such as maps, contracts and permits. It’s all available online for easy access no matter where we are. And because it’s a cloud app, we’re protected in case someone loses their laptop or leaves the company.
Basecamp is a Web-based project management and collaboration tool. Its ease of use first made it popular among small businesses, but more recently it’s been picked up by much of the Fortune 500. We use Basecamp in a project management capacity to assign tasks, track project status, etc. It also provides a great forum for knowledge sharing within Event 360, letting us do things like ask questions and share lessons learned.
In a blog post last year, our colleague Jake Geiger explained how he uses Google Earth in site scouting. No need to go into great detail here. But let’s just say Google Earth and GPS technology have dramatically shaved the time it takes to scout sites and plan race routes.
Processing event-related documentation, like applications and contracts, used to be so time-consuming. Filling out a form by hand, faxing it to someone for review, mailing it to someone else for signature. Fortunately, we went paperless seven or eight years ago. If you’re not using Adobe Acrobat or a similar tool to share documents and collect electronic signatures, make the switch ASAP!
Weather is always a big concern leading up to and during an event, so we’ve appreciated the advancements made in forecasting over the past few years. Back in the day, we had to rely on infrequent local TV forecasts for the latest updates. Now we count on apps like Wunderground, My-Cast Weather Radar and Lightning Finder to make sure we can plan appropriately for oncoming storms or extreme weather. And when we need to get the word out to participants, texting and social media (Twitter, Facebook) are indispensable.
Chips don’t necessarily make our jobs easier, but they make events more fun. We’ve partnered with ChronoTrack to introduce a chip system at MuckFest MS events, giving participants the option to share their experience via Facebook. As the chip is scanned at various points along the route, it automatically posts updates — including photos — to the participant’s Facebook page. It’s a blast for participants and helps us get the word out about a great cause.
One last note: Kudos to Charity Dynamics, whose Boundless Fundraising solution helps MuckFest MS participants fundraise more efficiently and effectively.
Did we miss any tech tools you use for event planning? Share your favorites below.
“Sarah and Slade’s Experience Hub” blog posts are featured monthly. Directors of production Sarah Coniglio and Slade Thompson each have many years of hands-on experience in almost every aspect of event operations and production.