As someone who works in the event planning industry, I am always working to better understand the needs of event planners. A few months ago, a friend who was running an upcoming fundraiser asked if I would like to shadow her during the event to gain a better understanding of how she manages events. I gladly accepted.
The Big Surprise
I arrived at the fundraiser 30 minutes early. Upon my arrival, I was surprised to see my friend handing out printed copies of the guest list to event volunteers. I quickly began to sense her frustration with the preparation. The volunteers meant well, but had little knowledge of how to run a successful fundraiser. Afraid to leave the event logistics in the hands of the inexperienced, and lacking any form of event management software, she spent most of the night running frantically from one menial task to the next. I helplessly watched, unsure if I should lend a hand or stay out of her way. I finally decided to intervene after she snapped at one of her guests.
What I’ve Learned
I stayed around to help her with the clean-up after the fundraiser had ended. She was disheartened, to say the least. She apologized profusely to the guest that she yelled at, but he decided not to write his annual check to her organization. Her focus on event logistics prevented her from entertaining her attendees, which resulted in more than a few bored guests. If this wasn’t enough, she was forced to spend the rest of the night compiling a singular list of the guests who attended the fundraiser because she had five different copies of check-in lists.
My friend accurately described this fundraiser as a failure. While she is a seasoned event planner, this fundraiser failed because she forgot the most important rule to running a successful fundraiser: keep your attendees happy.
The secret of keeping your attendees happy is to realize that you can’t do it alone. My friend’s fundraiser failed because she allowed her ego to get to her, and assumed that she could manage the event on her own. She took event logistics into her own hands, rather than seeking help.
Why Technology Can Help
Even the most seasoned event planners can become overwhelmed without proper help. This is where technology comes into play. The issues my friend experienced in her fundraiser are very common. I have witnessed the inefficiency of event staff sifting through names on printed guest lists many times as well as the unnecessary time spent compiling a summary of attendees.
Event technology can solve these problems with streamlined guest check-ins through applications that allow you to search for guests by name, check them in with a single tap on your tablet, all while syncing these check-ins with each member of your team who is connected to the cloud.
Know Your VIPs
Thanks to the check-in process in the cloud, more value-add solutions are now available, for instance VIP notification features, which notifies your team upon the arrival of any flagged guests. The simple truth is, if you make your guests feel special you will raise more funds. Knowing your guests and what they talk about on social media is therefore relevant as well. Tracking of influencer activity is something event planners can’t just deploy to their community manager. Luckily there are now ways to measure social media ROI of your guests on Twitter and Instagram.
The centerpiece of this evolution are tablets. In the past three years, many event planners have built them into their daily routine. Thanks to this diffusion of innovation, another broken planning process is now rapidly moving to the cloud: the hand-selected seating of guests for dinners, shows and theatre-style events. It is a fact that the layout of the room and seating chart is subject to change even after doors open, so a dynamic seating chart allows you to easily rearrange the setup of your venue and move guests to a new or different table or row.
Event management isn’t easy, and failing to ask for help can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful fundraiser. Enlisting the help of a strong event tech software can simplify your event logistics and help you create the perfect experience for your guests.
The key is to select the right partner who provides you with a stable and reliable product. If your event tech is a failure it does more damage than you can afford. This is why it is important to select a provider that offers a cloud-system with apps that continue to function wirelessly even when local WiFi networks prove inadequate for high capacity turnover.
Since zkipster started in 2011, event organizations in more than 85 countries, including global brands like Sotheby’s, Sephora, and The Wall Street Journal, have checked in more than 5 million guests. Their easy-to-use guest list management software was adopted so successfully because they expanded their offering carefully while listening to event planners needs. My friend, who had the challenging and paper-fraught fundraiser a few months ago, used zkipster for her latest fundraiser. She did not regret it. Test them with unlimited guests and a free event today.