75 Ways to Use Event Tech to Save Money

Event technology streamlines operations and by doing so can save event planners and clients lots of money. If you’re looking for ways to save in every aspect of your event planning, here is a mega list of ways technology can help.

While some of these solutions require an initial investment, the return is worth it as they will make you more efficient, simplify your tasks, and/or help you increase revenue.

  1. Staff Time. Customer service ties up a lot of resources but if you don’t provide it, attendees will tie up other staff members. Chatbots can help you answer the same old questions without a drain on your resources, plus attendees can access chatbots at anytime from anywhere they have an Internet connection. SXSW’s chatbot answered 56,000 questions at this year’s event.
  1. Swag/giveaways. Swag is fun for attendees but costly and some of it never makes it home. Virtual event bags can provide all the bonuses of swag and fun without forcing attendees to lug a bag around. Instead, codes can be issued and gifts can be obtained when the attendee is at home or at the office, making it convenient and ensuring they’re accessing your information when they can act on it – not in the middle of the event.
  1. Booth travel costs. Augmented reality (AR) can help exhibitors and sponsors to show off their products in ways previously impossible from a physical or economic perspective. Have a craft beer vendor that wants to show how their brewing process is different? AR can “transport” attendees to their brewery without leaving your event.
  1. Call for speaker process. You can burn a lot of man hours sorting through speakers. Instead, you can use software to create a short list based on things you’re looking for such as global applicants or weeding out items you don’t want, such as eliminating those who’ve given the same presentation at another location.
  1. Payment convenience. Many events have switched to allowing credit card payments but you want to ensure your use of such is portable. Don’t tie purchases down based on your credit card machine. Instead, give it wings by using a portable credit card paying option.

  1. Marketing. Creating a private online community will keep people interested in your event in between happenings. This will help reduce your need to remind people of your event before registration next year. You’ll still have to market but the marketing will come from a place of knowledge and top of mind recognition, rather than having to refresh their memories.
  1. Marketing with Gamification. Gamification platforms can also save you money on marketing because they drive desired action through motivation and improve attendee experience, which also means attendees are more likely to come back and refer others to your event.
  1. Attendee entertainment. Use Twitter to play a scavenger hunt, posting pictures at suggested stations or with people, and using a specific hashtag (or QR code). You can also run a scavenger hunt with an app designed for that.
  1. After-hours food. Need a quick food delivery but hate calling the kitchen for room service? There’s now an app for that too.

  1. Facebook Live. Reach more attendees and non-attendees to give them behind the scenes access with this free tech.
  1. Building buzz. Broadcast interviews with session speakers or road crew or anyone with a unique perspective on your event.
  1. Billing no shows. Use software that allows for automatic charging on no-shows.
  1. Post-conference evaluations. Use technology to increase participation and cull the information more easily and find themes in post-conference evaluations.
  1. Engagement. While it might be an initial investment, marketing automation software can save time and money in the long run plus increase engagement. A drip marketing campaign can help you stay in touch with attendees or fans and keep them aware of upcoming events.
  1. Engagement Using Devices. There’s tech that lets your session leaders share their slide decks with your audience via their phones. No more squinting to read a board or screen again. But the best part of this tech is that every interaction with the material is captured and it can be downloaded into a CRM giving you insights into your attendees’ activity, which you can then use to create a better experience and a more targeted marketing campaign.

  1. Software integration. Try event registration software that talks to your marketing automation software and you’ll never have to run those annoying import, exports again.
  1. Minimize mistakes. In keeping with the tip above, integrating all of your event software and tech with one database means data will never get changed in one spot and not updated in another.
  1. Session engagement. Use tech to crowdsource audience questions. Allow people to vote them up or down.
  1. Pre-event entertainment. No one likes to wait for an event. If you have people assembling before a program or event use tech to broadcast their tweets on a screen. They’ll be entertained and vanity will give attendees an increased interest in tweeting.
  1. Messaging. Use tech to run A/B testing on your site or landing page to ensure your design and copy are driving action.
  1. Crowdsourcing sessions. Make events more interactive by running polls or surveys. Then share the results or change course of your event based on the response for added excitement. This idea can be used to create pop-up topic sessions.
  1. Free content. Why recreate the wheel when conference vendors may already have created great resources that can be shared on a public drive or scheduled out through scheduling software. Ask session leaders to share an article in your online public space or create a deep dive file library and offer access as a special perk for early-bird registrants.
  1. Go paperless. Save money on printing costs by taking everything online or using an event app.
  1. Assignments. Use tech for assigning roles and responsibilities on your event planning team. No more lost emails or notes on cocktail napkins. Plus reminders will help get things done more efficiently and you’ll be able to see what’s been completed at a glance instead of having status meetings.
  1. WiFi. The event venue isn’t always the cheapest solution for WiFi. Check out other options before signing an agreement. If you find something cheaper, let the venue know. They may match the price.
  1. Podcasting for a broader audience. If you have a podcast, go live from the event. If not you, look for an influencer to do it. Podcasting live from your event will appeal to a different audience than you may currently be reaching and it may spark interest for them to attend in the future.
  1. Podcasting for engagement. Podcasting is also very popular with ages 18-34. Going live from your event could add a new dynamic and interest for that group and if they’re in attendance you could ask them to participate in some way.
  1. Podcasting for retention. Podcasting is also very intimate and people form attachments to the host. Not a bad thing for an event and if you keep it up throughout the year, it’ll help with event retention.

  1. Cashless event. Many event planners are already embracing RFID bands and cashless payments for their events. While it may not help you save money, it certainly entices people to spend more as you remove the pain of payment. Plus, 32% of attendees ages 18-34 think a cashless society is the future.
  1. Self-service design. If you haven’t checked out design software recently you should. Drag-and-drop features have replaced a lot of the software precision designers use making it easy for the rest of us to create impressive visuals using templates. Sure, you won’t win any design awards but you can save money doing it yourself.
  1. DIY website creation. Content management systems (CMS) have made web designers out of us all. We can now create websites or landing pages quickly and easily, with no coding background.
  1. Problem Solving. Everything you want to know about what other event planners are doing is a quick search away. Using the Internet to do research on what your ideal attendee wants, or better yet polling them, can help you offer them exactly what they’re looking for. Best of all, it’s free.
  1. Analytics. There are free analytics tools out there that can help you see what your most popular content is, how many people are coming to your page, and more. You can save money by eliminating what isn’t working for you.
  1. Site visits and travel. Video conferencing can save money on travel. Is it necessary to visit the site three times or can some of those trips be done virtually? Video conferencing can help bring teams and geographically-scattered decision makers together too without the travel.
  1. Site visits and Planning. Virtual reality allows you to visualize the setup of your design, cutting travel costs and the time it may take to rearrange something that wasn’t working once it was set up.
  1. Easy program changes. With an app, program changes can be done effortlessly and with no cost to you other than the time it takes you to update the info once and it will be pushed out to everyone.
  1. Paperless networking exchange. Badges no longer service attendees. There’s technology out there that lets you passively exchange information. No more badge scanners required. No more printing badges. Ditch business cards because this tech cannot only capture info for you but keeps a record of where you’ve been and who you’ve been with.
  1. Increased sponsor and vendor interaction. Tech now exists that lets you monitor from a data perspective the types of interactions your vendors and sponsors are having with attendees. Is booth traffic good? Are networking events well attended? This tech can give you those insights in real time when you can do something about it. Ensuring your vendors and sponsors are happy makes you money. It also protects against making a costly mistake because you can monitor things as they happen, saving you potential lost revenue.
  1. Payment Security. RFID cards are all the rage but some people still don’t feel comfortable adding their credit card information to it. Now there’s a solution that uses cell phones and either credit cards or RFID cards to pay. It just takes a quick tap and you don’t need any other tech like scanners.
  1. Entertainment: photos. Part entertainment, part swag, event photos are wildly popular. There are apps out there where you can create custom, branded event filters that are similar to Snapchat. It increases engagement and helps with word-of-mouth marketing, which saves money on your traditional marketing spend.

  1. Attendee experience. Make everyone feel like a million bucks with a minimal investment. There’s tech that works through a smartphone to project information on a screen that is tailored to the smartphone owner. It uses beacon technology but can make guests feel like they’re walking the red carpet.
  1. AI for conversation commerce. Along with chatbots, conversation commerce is taking hold. Everyone with a smartphone has a “virtual assistant” who can make things happen by you simply asking them to. Using this AI technology to help your attendees can mean fewer employees that are there just to answer questions and direct flow.
  1. Attendee learning. With virtual and augmented reality you can now bring things to sessions and exhibits that would’ve been extremely costly to do before. You can also teach sessions from the other side of the globe. Events can attract the top speakers, even those who have been dead for centuries, by incorporating holograms.
  1. Fan participation. Continuing on with VR, you can create an immersive world for fans that is much less expensive and labor intensive than erecting it. You can populate it with their favorite stars or sports legends without paying the enormous salary for a live appearance.
  1. Free data. Siloed data has inhibited event planners. Tech now exists to integrate all of the data in a central place making it much more actionable and gaining meaningful insights into attendee behavior.
  1. Real-time data. Event planners often used data the way they did post-event survey results as a tool for performing an event autopsy. Now there are data tools being used during the operation of the event to recognize people who are not engaged or even use facial recognition, to personalize an experience as it’s happening. This saves money by being able to implement solutions on the fly not revisit opportunities after they’ve passed.
  1. Decor and projection mapping. Holograms and projection mapping can be expensive but when you use it in small targeted ways it could save you money. For instance, you could use it to create stunning centerpieces that don’t block guests from seeing one another. Plus you could reuse them with a few tweaks, unlike your normal floral arrangements.
  1. Decor and lighting. Along those lines, the price and abilities of lighting are also coming down. You can transform a room with lighting for a lot less than what you can do with real objects and materials. LED lighting offers very intense colors that easily evoke emotion. Plus there’s the technology to make it intelligent and responsive. As the price of this becomes more affordable, cost savings on this tech will increase.

  1. Engagement on autopilot. Social schedulers save you time and resources while they help you engage your audience. Set a series of tweets or posts to occur during your event. Many of them are free and can help you stoke conversation, invite people to pop-ups, and engage without you being “available” at that moment.
  1. Smart panels. There are tech panels that work like chatbots in assisting with questions but in addition to being voice activated, they can also “see” what you’re doing. If an attendee flashes a badge, it can read it and have full information about that attendee. The panel will also give you insights into what that person asked, what information was provided, and how they were directed. It gives event planners info about who they need to follow up with and what they’re interested in. Again, this decreases the need for staff to do administrative work or answer more questions about the bathrooms.
  1. Increased food sales. For events that sell food and concessions, there’s now technology that allows attendees to self-identify their needs. No more waiting for the beer man to come your way. Now attendees can make their needs known and concession vendors don’t have to waste time walking back and forth. They know who’s interested.
  1. Understanding social sentiment. A lot is said with GIFS and emojis now. There’s technology that lets event planners understand and respond automatically to emojis and GIFs in the same way you would “listen” to social media. Emojis convey emotion in a lot less space.
  1. Check-in with connectivity. Apps are great except for battery drain and what’s missed without connectivity. Now there’s technology that allows you to send messages using “smart tones” received by your phone. It’s like texting but without tired thumbs. This tech has now found its way into ticketing. The smart tone ticket can be used to check in at events without WiFi.
  1. Check-in virtually. Lengthy check-ins cost you both in time and interest for attendees. Very few lines are pleasurable. (Although one event did offer old-school video games to distract attendees from long check-ins). Consider virtual check-ins or self-service kiosks.
  1. Crowd differentiation. Event planners can know at a quick glance who is a newbie and who’s celebrating a milestone of attendance with wearable tech. The Country Music Association Awards used this tech last year. It helps event planners gather and sort information about attendees while attaching it to them through a wearable device that can be color coded for different classifications. It can also receive texts that can be delivered to subsets of attendees.  
  1. Parking assistance. It’s a bummer trying to find parking at events but now technology can help with that too. There are apps out there that can be embedded on your event website that allow guests to look for parking in real-time, avoid construction and road closures, and reserve parking in advance. This may not save you money but it improves the experience, which means they’re more likely to come back.
  1. Geofilter targeting. Many social media platforms have these now and if you’re hosting an event where you want a group of people from a particular area to attend, you can set geographic limits so that only people in a particular area are notified. The reach is generally high and the cost to do these are low. As low as $5 depending on the area and duration that you want it in place.
  1. Painless networking. There are apps now that work like dating sites but for networkers, removing clients and event planners from making introductions but still facilitating them. An attendee reaches out to another attendee, and the networking prospect can swipe to show interest. If both parties are interested, the introduction is made and conversation can flow through the app until the parties feel comfortable exchanging contact info.
  1. Smart business cards. Most business cards are a waste these days, but not all of them. There are cards out there that contain helpful resources much like you would save documents on a USB. These cards can include brochures, ebooks, schedules and more. The information is accessed by tapping your card to your phone. This can save large amounts of money on printing and is a lot less cumbersome to carry around than a tote bag full of paper.
  1. Increased third-party revenue. Ever notice how when you buy a trip on some travel sites they make suggestions of other tours and things you can purchase? Now you can do this for your event as well. You can tie materials, city tours, restaurant deals to your event with technology making the purchasing a one-stop shop from ticket to interests. Some of these apps will even give you a portion of the sale.
  1. Last-minute help. Don’t go understaffed anymore. There’s tech out there that can place a last-minute order for staff (as close as an hour before a shift) to ensure you’re working with the optimum people on your team and assist in last-minute call outs, making you more efficient.
  1. Audience engagement. Using augmented reality to create a treasure hunt for attendees is engaging and becoming more approachable from a cost perspective. There is tech that allows planners to offer virtual treasure chests from the event much like the Pokemon Go game. This spurs engagement and word-of-mouth marketing and gives people something to do when waiting in line or during down time.
  1. Seating assistance. Give up post-it-notes and place cards, tech can help. There is free software out there that can help you create complex seating charts, manage floor plans, timelines, and guest lists. Mechanizing these tasks can save you time and money. Plus, you needn’t worry about misplacing your seating chart or last minute changes.
  1. Surpass file folders. Ditch your file folders for events and use integrated event planning management software. Some plans allow you to manage multiple events no matter where you are. You always have access to files and can manage the multiple projects within an event easily. Many of them integrate with your existing CRM, email clients, and more. Make your planning paperless.
  1. Balloting. Surveys and polls are nice but when you need a secure voting platform, there’s technology for that. Awards shows to associations, don’t let human error cost you money.
  1. Increasing attendance. Drive more ticket sales by employing retargeting in your marketing efforts. Depending on the platform, and the limitations you place on it, it can be inexpensive to do. Reappearing in front of someone who visited your site but didn’t register for the event or buy a ticket can increase sales. As they weigh the decision of attending and go about their day, you’re staying in front of them with your branding and message for greater conversion once people leave your website.
  1. Help sponsors. If you’ve had a successful event, chances are you have a pretty valuable list. What do you do with it next? Use technology to run digital campaigns on behalf of sponsors to create a new source of revenue for your event.
  1. Easier session and speaker management. Every touch costs you money. The more you can automate, the less you’ll spend. There’s no reason to perform speaker management on paper. You can use technology to request speaker proposals, inform speakers who were chosen, give them needed information, find out preferences, upload resources and materials, and manage comments and questions. No more countless calls and missed connections. Make it more efficient and save money and time.
  1. Increase sponsorships. You can now use technology as a matchmaking service to find event sponsors that fit your event and demographic. You select the type of the event and provide the details and market served and the software will do the rest.
  1. Crowd management. In really large events it’s hard to anticipate flow. Yet, not doing so can cause unsafe conditions. With technology, you can now virtually envision how the crowd will move and flow through an event space. This can save you a potentially life-threatening situation, especially in concerts and sporting events.
  1. Ultra security. Today’s event planners need to think about crowds from more than a flow perspective. They need to give thought to the security threat crowds pose. Security cameras and ground personnel are what we’ve relied on in the past, but now there’s facial recognition and feedback that can be analyzed from multiple cameras at once. The software is even tolerant of changes in lighting. Worrying about security upfront can save you an enormous amount of money and can save lives.
  1. Fundraising. If your event involves raising funds, there’s technology that can help streamline your efforts as well. Use technology to enable peer-to-peer fundraising, one of the most effective kinds out there. Leaderboards can help motivate guests to make requests. Competition and public recognition drive action.
  1. Interaction and social marketing. Photo booths have come a long way and include instantaneous ways to share pictures socially, automatically assigning hashtags, and allowing for prints produced right there at the event in seconds. Booths can be branded for maximum marketing power.
  1. Popular trends. You can also use traditional entertainment technology like video games to tie into your event theme for more engagement and to create a unique experience. At HUBweek attendees built hospitals of the future in Minecraft.
  1. Online merchandising. There used to be a small table of merchandise at events. Today, it’s all online and you can create links within your ticketing platform to drive more sales. You can also link products so if someone shows interest in one a “You might also like” suggestion pops up. Ads can be used in apps to suggest merchandise as well. Plus, you can offer merchandise online so attendees can purchase it even after the event has ended.
75 Ways to Use Event Tech to Save Money

In Conclusion

While not every technology piece mentioned here will help save you money from day one, almost all of them will save you time and result in increased revenue for your event. When you can increase the number of attendees and get them more engaged, you can increase the likelihood that they’ll attend the next event or tell their friends about it. And that’s just as good as pinching pennies, right?

 

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Julius Solaris
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