Category Archives: Event Management

10+ Fresh Ideas to Inspire a Successful Event Concept

Running a successful event usually involves growing a powerful idea and implementing it in a bulletproof concept. The thing is that inspiration is the truffle of our industry, very tough to find. Here are some brilliant event concepts guaranteed to inspire you.

Succesful Event Ideas

If you are a regular here at EMBlog, you are accustomed to these roundups and I am sure you crave for them. If you are a new reader, allow me to give you a bit of background about what I am trying to achieve with this article.

My mission is to inspire your concept design. In order to achieve it, I search in the most absurd locations of the Interwebs to give you a selection of new and disruptive event ideas.

The search usually takes a week. It encompasses running weird Google search strings, subscribing to awful looking (but definitely quirky) newsletters and reading hundreds of blog posts and magazine articles.

Despite the heavy research load necessary to write such an article, I am super happy when I finally click on “Publish”. In fact, you always reward my research by sharing the post with your colleagues or friends. That works for me.

How to Use This Article

I want you to think of this post as an electric stimulus to that side of the brain that involves creativity, innovation and emotion.

Event lovers are by definition obsessed with details. While such obsession is fundamental to deliver a spotless event, it can sometimes impact on creativity.

Therefore my mission is to make your event a little bit less perfect and a bit more innovative. After all great concepts carry a great deal of emotional involvement. I want you to embrace innovation to the full, surprising your guests. I bet a glass of wine they will forgive you for a couple of imperfect details.

The Ideas

Before delving into the selected events, I decided to highlight the core themes powering these brilliant case studies. This will help you to isolate the concept from the implementation so you fully grasp elements to apply to your event.

The main themes are:

– Collaboration
– Proper Marketing
– Secrecy
– Self Expression
– Immersive Experience
– Concept Fusion
– Forking
– Bottom Up Pricing
– Remote Audience Involvement
– Community Customisation

At least this the way I like to call them. In the following section I will present one or more case studies that will better explain the idea at the core.

The result, hopefully, will be an innovation injection to our industry :-)

Collaboration: Brooklyn Skillshare, OuiShare Fest

Communities getting together to share skills and expertise are not a new concept to this blog. Brooklyn Skillshare is taking this powerful concept to the next level.

The event is a mix between block parties and EdCamps. It brings together an entire neighbourhood to encourage skill and expertise sharing.

The effort is lead and organized by the community and it aims to deconstruct the idea of education as a commodity. Everyone is invited to contribute with a class, on the most disparate subjects.

Classes include: Japanese Bookbinding, Make Your Own Butter and Ricotta, Knitting 101: fingerless gloves in the round, Japanese Shibori dying techniques, How to order wine in a restaurant and so forth.

GOTTA LOVE IT!

Where: Brooklyn, NY, USA
Spotted on: Using Smart Google Queries (you’ll need to torture me to know which strings)
Website: Brooklyn Skillshare

Another interesting example is OuiShare Fest that uses the ‘40 year old concept of collaborative design‘ to co-create a unique experience.

The organizing committee used a collective action toolkit and tools like Trello to coordinate with volunteer organizers. The approach was particularly interesting insofar as each volunteer is in charge of developing a particular section of the event.

ouishare-fest

Where: Paris, France
Spotted on: Thanks to Bernie Mitchell on Twitter
Website: OuiShare Fest

Proper Marketing: Hero Conf

This is an example of a blog running an annual conference. No news there.

I happen to be a subscriber PPC Hero and they made a few articles about the conference. It really strucks me as an example of how you should market an event in a social world.

They took all the best practices and some of the coolest trends in 2013 and applied them with courage.

Take for example this post where they announce that sponsor opportunities will be allocated via bidding. It is a ridiculously cool idea. Some sponsorship packages started at $0.99 and sold for respectable amounts considering the size of the conference.

They also allow attendees to select the program of the conference by voting for their favourite topic.

This is what I call event marketing of the future, a perfect blend of audience involvement and crowdsourced sponsorship. Top!

Where: Austin, TX, USA
Spotted on: I subscribed to the blog – I was lucky
Website: Hero Conf

Secrecy: Secret Cinema, The Secret Garden Party

I feel somewhat attracted when I do not understand what an event is about.

It is the case of Secret Cinema. Attendees sign up for a view slot without knowing the location or the film they will actually experience.

Can you feel the curious child in you getting super excited?

Where: London, UK
Spotted on: I got to know about it in London
Website: Secret Cinema

Same goes for The Secret Garden Party. In this case the venue is known but after spending a good hour on the site, it is still tough for me to say what it is about. Some would call it lack of clarity, yet I can easily see why people attend. The theme for 2013 is Superstition. In the organizers’ words this is what it is expected from attendees:

“This year the Secret Garden will be asking all Gardeners to explore their affinity to the supernatural, the inexplicable and the irrational… to indulge the tussle between the left brain’s sober analysis and the right’s need to conjure its own reality. “

secret-garden party

In both cases the attendee reaction can be either very positive or very negative. Both events really push the boundaries of event participation, using secrecy as the main tool to stimulate involvement.

Where: Cambridgeshire, UK
Spotted on: Stumbled across them on Twitter
Website: The Secret Garden Party

Self Expression: Nowhere

Nowhere is the natural prosecution of Burning Man. It also combines a festival and art show element. The objective here is to set the attendee free by creating a platform where participants escape society’s norms.

nowhere!

There is also a strong participation element, making every attendee a volunteer.

Nowhere happens in the Spanish desert and features inspiring principles:

– Radical self-expression: The freedom to be yourself
– Radical self-reliance: Being responsible for yourself, in a harsh desert environment
– No commerce: Forget about money – there’s nothing to buy
– Leave no trace: Dust to dust – leave only footprints
– Participation: Get involved – Nowhere is what we make it!

This event is once again a divider. I can see some of you thinking that there is no actual learning in it. Well, you should read how attendees become strenuous advocates of Nowhere, depicting it as a once in a lifetime experience.

Allowing our guests to express themselves freely may positively impact on the perception of our event. As event professionals we cannot ignore that.

Where: Spanish desert.
Spotted on: Quora
Website: Nowhere

Immersive Experience: Geeks on a Plane

I always look to the startup, tech and geek community as a source of innovation for our industry. The most revolutionary event concepts of the last decade were born in these environments.

Geeks on a Plane is an invite only event where participants tour a country with all means of transportation. The mission is to find business opportunities, meet new contacts or simply learn more about a specific market.

geeks-on-a-plane

Startuppers and geeks do not work because they have to, they have the nerve and motivation to make their business an incumbent part of their life. The organizers fully grasped these values offering an immersive, 360 degree experience.

The travelling, the meetings, the networking are extremely demanding. Organizers are not scared to ask full commitment and attendees seem to love it.

Where: Around the World.
Spotted on: Quora
Website: Geeks on a Plane

Concept Fusion: Weapons of Mass Creation Fest

Maybe it’s the economic downturn, maybe it’s the thirst for the unexpected. Truth is that more and more events are mixing different formats together.

A great example is WMC Fest. The event features 20 Speakers, 20 Designers and 30+ Musicians. The thinking is that by mixing these diverse performers true creativity arises.

The fact is that running an event that defines itself as a conference, art show and music festival attracts a larger audience. An audience that will be extremely happy if coherence is granted.

This model is by no means new, as events like SXSW made it extremely popular but more and more events are reinterpreting it for new purposes.

A concept cocktail, if ingredients mix well with each other, is indeed an interesting proposition.

Where: Cleveland, OH, USA.
Spotted on: A friend recommended it.
Website: WMC Fest

Forking: 99U

For those not familiar with forking, Wikipedia describes it as:

In software engineering, a project fork happens when developers take a copy of source code from one software package and start independent development on it, creating a distinct piece of software.

In other words, take a concept, change what you don’t like and create a new one.

99u

In our case the original concept is TED, 99U is the fork.

Despite the organizers do not state it on the website, it is fairly obvious that they are positioning themselves as a TED prosecution. If in fact TED’s motto is “Ideas Worth Spreading”, 99U seeks ‘perspiration’ or idea execution.

The mission is definitely agreeable. It is common after watching a TED speech, to experience a feeling of inspiration mixed with a persistent voice that says ‘Now What?’ .

99U organizers fully embraced such feeling turning it in an event that takes TED a step further.

Where: NYC, NY, USA.
Spotted on: On my radar since 2009, first learned about it from a magazine.
Website: 99U

Bottom Up Pricing: Caravana de Emerxencia

The concept is fairly simple. Attendees decide what to pay for the event. No fixed pricing.

The simplicity of this approach is staggering, challenging, mind blowing. It can definitely make or break the event but it surely conveys a message.

The message being to give responsibility to our audience and treat them like adults. Another facet is to involve attendees to the extreme, to the extent that they decide the financial success of the initiative.

Of course this is not always possible. Some may see it as insulting to the profession or a way too risky approach to running events. Yet it is difficult to deny the disruptive power of such a simple message.

Where: Santiago, Spain.
Spotted on: On Springwise.
Website: Caravana de Emerxencia

Remote Audience Involvement: Hybrid Chocolate Tasting

This was a session I attended at BeConf, the annual meeting of MPI Belgium. The session was run by Ruud Janssen.

Different samples of belgian chocolate (yum) where sent around the world before the event to allow remote audiences to experience an hybrid tasting. It was a terrific experience.

You can learn everything about it together with super useful info on running hybrid events in the presentation below:

Where: Bruxelles, Belgium (and other cities around the world).
Spotted on: I was there.
Website: Hybrid Choc Tasting

Community Customisaztion: GLI.TC/H

As soon as you land on GLI.TC/H website you feel that your computer has been hacked. While I can ensure you that your computer won’t be hacked, your mind probably will.

GLI.TC/H pushes the concept of collaborative event planning to the extreme. The event is structured in conversations or threads as you would expect in an online forum:

“GLI.TC/H 2112 consists of four participatory “threads”. These threads will facilitate experimentation/conversation during the day and share “outputs” in the evenings.”

The event is customised by the community. The community decides how to make it happen.

Even the website can be seen in a user defined style. While the less nerd reader may not understand such approach, the message is very powerful: allow attendees to define what, where, when and how and allow the community to customize the event.

Where: Chicago, IL, USA.
Spotted on: Kickstarter.
Website: GLI.TC/H

In Conclusion

What should you do with the above list? Read it and look for inspiration, you won’t be disappointed.

The aim, do not forget, is to run a better event with a more engaging concept.

The idea at the core of your event should move audiences, disrupt, divide, unite and challenge old fashioned paradigms.

Don’t be scared to innovate as the only real risk is to keep things as they are.

 

Photo Credits: tomux | pepperlime | Kris Krug | aforonda


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The Best Posts in March 2013 on @EventMB

March is usually filled with great content and excitement – March 2013 was no different. Plenty of action on the blog and useful content.

For those who missed out. Here is our monthly recap of the most shared and read post over the last 30 days.

The Best Posts in March 2013

1. The Hashtag Revolution

Rumor has it that Facebook is introducing hashtags. This article gives you a brief overview of what hashtags are and how to use them properly.

2. Event Startups: Keep an Eye on These Up-and-Comers

Here at EMBlog we love event startups. This is our latest round up of the rising stars in event tech.

3. How to Ensure Speakers Diversity at Your Conference

Ensuring diversity in your speaker line up is a tricky one. Hopefully this calculator will help.

4. Event Discovery Is on Fire

There is a new breed of apps helping attendees to find an event near them. Here is how to make sure they find your event.

5. How Technology Creates the Time to Be Creative

Awesome guest post by William Thomson on the upcoming Event Tech Circus and how he planned it using technology.

Never Miss an Article Again!

If you are new around here, you can read the latest posts by subscribing to our RSS feed, via Email, on Twitter, Google+ or on Facebook.

If you wish to sponsor next month’s “Best of the Month” post on EMBlog, contact us.

 

 

Photo by Anne Davies


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Event Discovery Is on Fire

One of the most visible trends in event consumption is Discovery. Despite it may look as a tool for attendees, event discovery poses terrific opportunities for event marketers.

Event Discovery Apps

Let me start this post with a question: where do you search for events to attend?

I believe that the answer to this question will change the way we market events. While in, say, 2004 we headed to Google and entered our keywords, the scenario is quite different nowadays.

In fact event search turned into discovery. Discovery means a much richer experience. A smart quest made of serendipity, geolocation and relationships.

The urge to socialize and attend an event needs to be satisfied quickly and with relevancy. This is what event discovery is offering to those looking for the next event to attend.

A main difference between event search and event discovery is the role of the prospective attendees. While on search, she is bothered with adding keywords, filtering and adjusting results, whereas event discovery offers results to the user without any action. In fact potentially relevant events are worked out by the platform on the basis of elaborate algorithms.

The flip side of the coin is that event professionals and especially event marketers are now faced with the opportunity to optimize their event for discovery. As we follow SEO predicaments to better rank in Google, we are faced with new requirements to make sure we are discovered in what I like to call Event Discovery Optimization (EDO).

How Does Event Discovery Work?

Event Discovery is the fruit of cool geeks playing with data. In fact the human element is minimized to extremes.

Each platform features its algorithm to make the possible suggestion. Some common elements of discovery engines are:

– Organizers or attendees can submit an event
– APIs of popular platforms such as Eventbrite or Meetup are fetched to enrich listings
– Facebook is the social network of choice to make personalised recommendations
– There is a growing tendency in curation, some apps feature editorial teams to select the best gigs
– Location plays a crucial role for entertainment and leisure events
– Ticketing is also being incorporated by some apps either with their native system or by integrating with established vendors
– The most recurrent verticals are music events and conferences

Get to Know the Players

There is an incredible number of players in the sector. The most frequently mentioned on this blog are Lanyrd and Plancast, recently acquired and redesigned by Active Network.

These guys were the firs to grasp the power of the social graph applied to events, thus offering very relevant recommendations.

Lanyrd was also the first not to focus on Facebook, by leveraging mostly on Twitter and recently LinkedIn. That being quite a smart move for business events and conferences.

Also worth mentioning long time players such as ConferenceHound, very strong in the conference vertical.

The ‘new wave’ is made mostly by apps. The emphasis on geolocation is enormous and the use of Facebook+Mobile is gigantic when in entertainment verticals.

Therefore apps such as Gemster, Tonight or All Events in are those that attract most attention.

The new wave is also made of pretty cool competitors to the old guard. Among others I particularly liked Stublisher, lokalite, Vitapeeps (targeted at Meetups), but also interesting takes such as WannaDo (another project of Active Network) that introduces a bucket list component.

How to Optimize Your Event for Discovery: Become an EDO Master

Event Discovery Optimization (EDO) will be a quite in demand skill going forward. It should be a task for the event social media person/team.

EDO involves understanding how event discovery works to make sure that your event is more discoverable. In the same way you’d optimize your event website to be found on Google, there is a set of actions that need to be taken to ensure maximum visibility on the growing number of apps.

If you consider the above list of common traits I made, your task is to make sure your event responds to logic of how these apps were created.

Therefore:

– Commit to post your event at least in the above apps.
– Wherever possible use platforms with popular APIs as they will be fetched by these applications
– Encourage RSVP on Facebook. In fact this could be one of the most crucial action you would want from your attendees.
– Perform outreach activities to editorial teams of popular apps
– Localise your event. Add the location of your event on as many platforms as possible.
– Set up a short and sweet hashtag

While it is tough to predict a definite impact of the above practices, reverse engineering would confirm some for positive impact.

A good approach would be to try one platform at the time and analyse results. This is often a good practice to test our audience response.

In Conclusion

Event discovery is a new wave of technology giving the attendees the power to make educated decision on the burning question “what event should I attend?”.

While the benefits may seem to be mostly on the attendee side, there are substantial opportunities to increase our event discoverability.

The wise event professional should familiarise with Event Discovery Optimization (EDO) and understand what actions need to be taken in order to increase the chances of being found.


© Julius Solaris for , 2013. |
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This Blog Coming Soon to an Event Near You

I will be around Europe and the U.S. quite a lot between Spring and Summer. If you are around, come and say hi.

Julius Solaris Speaking

Sometimes I forget this is actually a blog. Its first use was to be a diary, a web log of our lives.

It so happens I will be travelling to speak at some nice events in the next few months. I would love the opportunity to see you, dear reader, at one of these events and meet.

Some of them are free, some of them are paid for.

Event 13

This is a huge exhibition for the event industry in the Netherlands. I will be keynote there, thanks to the support of the amazing Amsterdam RAI – the true innovator in Europe when it gets to exhibition spaces.

I will be talking about trends for this year, giving a bit of an inside story on how trends are developed and what we can expect for 2013.

The event takes place in Utrecht and I am speaking on the 28th of March at 1pm. Details on the session here.

Event Tech Circus

I’ve mentioned this event a few times over the past few weeks. EMBlog is media partner and we expect it to be quite a good one.

I will have a session on what’s next for the industry. I will be around for the whole event to meet with startups.

The date is the 7th of May, in Amsterdam.

2013 Corporate Meetings Summit

Quite an awesome crowd and speakers’ line up, wisely put together by Cvent. This is an event for senior level meeting professionals and corporate event planners.

Looking forward to talking to you in Orlando, Florida.

The date is June 5-7, 2013 (US date format for obvious reasons :-) )

Tech Fest

Another cool event about tech, this time in London.

As a former Londoner, I am thrilled to finally go back in the Big Smoke and meet new and old friends.

I will tell my British friends everything I know about tech, social and events. Not to be missed.

Save the date: 18th/19th July 2013

IMEX America

Somewhere in October, I will join all the IMEX enthusiasts in Vegas. I had a blast in Frankfurt but I wanted to test the waters on the other side of the pond.

Nothing confirmed yet for sessions, but I am sure we’ll find a way to meet each other.

Date: October 2013

In Conclusion

Looks like Julius is coming to an event near you. With this post I achieved two goals:

1. It will push you to come and say hi. If you are shy just use the secret code “cobra”. I will know you’ve read it and want to meet.

2. I haven’t bugged you to death announcing them as they come.

Now go out and attend an event, the weekend is here :-)


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The Hashtag Revolution

#Hashtag means Event on social networks.

This post is a tribute to the hashtag, featuring some little known facts, a good dose of news and some predictions of what role hashtags will play on social media in the upcoming future.

use-hashtag-event

The reason why I am writing this post is the recent speculation that Facebook may introduce hashtags sooner than we think.

If this news will be confirmed, it will be good and bad news for the users. At the end of the day hashtags are a mix of the best and worst use you can do of my preferred social network, Twitter.

One thing for sure, it certainly will be good news for event professionals.

Hashtag, What?

So it all started with this tweet, from Chris Messina (co-founder of BarCamps and presently Google+ UX Designer):

There was a quest at the time to create groups on Twitter. It seemed like 100s of followers were too much to keep track of. Despite the initial idea of using it for groups, a new concept was born: identifying events.

Up until then, there was no way to quickly state what you were talking about on Twitter. If you, say, were attending an event called Conference234 and wanted to make a comment, in 2007 you’d tweet:

“I am at Conference234, and I am enjoying the speech by @tojulius”

after hashtags were introduced, you could easily write:

“Nice talk by @tojulius #conf234″

There is a heck of value in this change. First, the tweet is shorter. Find ways to shortening tweets has created standalone companies (see URL shorteners).

Second, when Twitter later decided to make hashtags clickable, they instantly became a promotional tools for events. In the above tweet, a third party could have clicked on #conf234 and learn more about the conference and who is attending.

Not All That Glitters Is Gold

So we have this amazing invention and the Interwebs embrace it. Great. Kinda.

Hashtags are almost 6 years old and they grew up not without controversy. To date they are the most hated and praised introduction of social networks.

Let me give you another example.

I am writing this at 10.51 am CET. Right now Worldwide trending topic (ie the most tweeted subject) is #LokiPayneFollowMe.

We are talking about fans of boyband 1Direction, asking the dog of one of the band members, named Loki, to follow them or in some cases stating they’ve actually been followed by the dog. Needless to comment all of the above.

But once again hashtags like #Egypt in 2011 were instrumental in creating awareness about the Arab Spring revolution.

Same goes for events.

Sometimes event hashtags are used to share valuable information, pictures and videos. Some other times hashtags are used for twomiting.

After all hashtags are just tools, they can be used for the good, the bad and the ugly.

Google+, Pinterest and Instagram

Despite hashtags have been a Twitter thing for a while, newborn social networks adopted them instantly.

Instagram is a great example of that. Hashtags have been present from early days on this platform. Users immediately understood how to use them. As in fact most Instagramers like to share their pics on Twitter, adding hashtags on Instagram works seamlessly and that is super cool.

Same goes for Google+ (obviously, as the inventor of hashtags now works on it). Hashtags were imminently added to the platform. Using hashtags in Google+ updates is seen as a very powerful way to help Google Search identifying relevancy with keywords.

Pinterest was another very powerful network to immediately embrace the pound sign as a way to categorize pins.

The cases of Pinterest and Instagram are quite obvious as they used Twitter login as one of the key drivers to grow subscriptions, therefore an immediate integration was quite expectable.

It is more surprising in Google+’ example, as it was born (and it still is) a standalone and non-integrated social network.

Flickr

Two days ago, Flickr joined the party and added hashtags to its iOS application.

It is still a very basic addition. For the time being it translates into being able to search relevant pictures. And it is limited to the app.

In fact the main site is still hashtag free (nerd explanation: existing hashtags used as Flickr tags are not clickable).

This was a reaction to the real news we heard this week…

Facebook Introduces Hashtags

First of all this is just speculations. Nonetheless, it has been suggested by the Wall Street Journal, therefore it comes with a bit of authority.

I don’t usually like to comment on speculations, but indeed this could potentially be significant for the event industry. Let me tell you why.

The largest impact will be in terms of event discovery, hence promotion.

If in fact Facebook Updates (not counting tweets or Instagram photos sent via FB) feature clickable hashtags, your event will be immediately discoverable by a few hundred million users more than what we can count on today.

If you compute that into the opportunities coming from the upcoming Graph Search, the introduction will impact on most online practices of the rest of us.

Your Hashtag Strategy

As event professionals we have an advantage. Our product is an hashtag by definition. Hashtags have become a way to define an event in the making, a dynamic action. They are not great for static products or services.

Having an hashtag strategy will be the primary concern of event marketers in 2014.

Why? Well, looking at the information above it appears quite obvious. If you pick an hashtag and you define a wise use of it, then it will pretty much spread the word about your event across the whole Web.

It’s the universal currency in our fragmented social media world.

There will be no other action, text or element so universally accepted online. While in fact some social networks may decide to make a link clickable or not, hashtags will indeed be clickable almost everywhere.

The benefits will be also tangible for measurement. If in fact you like to measure your social media efforts (and I hope you do), setting up a universal hashtag will help you to fetch rich information from across the Web.

No wonder why nowadays some event professionals pick an hashtag as the actual name of the event, rather than its social alias.

In Conclusion

The recent news of Facebook and Flickr joining the hashtag movement reinforces the importance of a correct use of “#”.

It looks like the pund sign will conquer the Internet and offer event professionals a simple tool to amplify and measure their event online.

Setting up a short and sweet hashtag and making it iconic will guarantee an instant presence on all social networks.

So how are you going to call your next event? ;-)

Photo by cogdogblog


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How Technology Creates the Time to Be Creative

This is a sponsored post by Event Tech Circus.

Gallus Events are managing two Event Technology events in the next few months. Event Tech Circus in Amsterdam and Tech Fest in London. Head Honcho William Thomson explaines a little bit about the technology he uses to support these technology events.

This is a great case study for other event organisers because William has pieced together free tools and paid-for technologies. He also uses contra deals and pulls in the odd favour to ensure that technology supports his events as much as possible. He demonstrates that being smart with technology allows a small event company to manage large events and crucially frees up time to deliver more value to participants.

creativity-event-technology

Running your own events company and staying on top of the events you run is, putting it mildly, a challenge. Being based in Barcelona and running events in London and Amsterdam hardly makes things easier. But of course running events has never been an easy way to make a living. I’ve been in the industry for fifteen years and I’ve seen events become so much more complex and ever more challenging. In my opinion the only way we can stay on top of our events is to adopt, understand and use more event technology.

Gallus Events use seven primary bits of software to keep on top of our events. The first four help us manage our events with minimum time and resource and the remaining three help us increase the number of people who attend our events.

1. Event Manager Theme

The WordPress event theme we use is fantastic. It took us a few hours to have our Event Tech Circus site up and running. One day from registering the domain name to have an all singing and all dancing site. Following the launch of Januas (the multiple event version of EMTheme) in March the theme has taken things up a notch by allowing many events to be housed together on one site.

We use the single event theme for Event Tech Circus. Thankfully as Event Manager Blog is actively supporting our aim of bringing the Event community together in Europe they have provided the theme for free. However at $99 each, these themes offer a bargain website that small to medium sized event businesses should certainly consider using to their advantage.

2. Eventbrite

Eventbrite made collecting payments easy, almost mind boggingly easy! It took ten minutes to set up Event Tech Circus. We originally investigated using and setting up our own merchant account and a payment gateway: both are needed to collect credit card payments independently. But unfortunately the world of banking hasn’t quite caught up with the dynamic needs of our industry.

Thankfully Eventbrite was on hand and using their payment gateway we avoided a month long wait for our own gateway and a serious cash flow pinch. We of course have to pay a few euros per transaction and we don’t receive our funds until after the event but this is a small price to pay to be able to collect electronic payments and have the system allocate invoices. And by being listed on Eventbrite we have already generated a few attendees! A fantastic added bonus.

3. Podio

This is a fantastic project management tool. It is app based and incredibly flexible. Podio allows you to allocate and monitor tasks as well as store information on sales, venues, speakers and almost every other aspect of an event. You can invite work colleagues and external guests. At the moment we are using the basic offering and it is free. It has been tremendously useful for Gallus Events and we expect to upgrade to the $9 per worker per month in the summer.

4. Eventsforce

Eventsforce “powers” Tech Fest and we really will be using it to power all of our events going forward. The system collects payments (similarly to Eventbrite) but is more cost effective for larger events (if you can manage to get over the payment gateway and merchant account problems). Linking the payments to the other aspects on the platform allows us to have more visibility and control of our finances.

It does a whole host of things for us including providing a website as the front end to the software. Eventsforce is ideal for an event company that run more than a dozen events and have more than a 1000 attendees. Our use of Eventsforce is included in our overall sponsorship agreement for Tech Fest but for the ideal company as described earlier you will only be talking a few thousand euros per year.

5. Dotmailer

This is a fantastic emarketing tool. Incredibly flexible and really easy to use. The reporting functions, the spam testing, the triggered campaigns and the automation are all great features and make this a great all round email marketing tool.

Owing to the success of Mailchimp and other initially free email system providers, paid for email marketing systems have really had to raise their game. For the additional benefits Dotmailer isn’t very expensive, perhaps costing around €3000 a year for a medium sized company. We are very lucky that owing to a long standing relationship we use the system for free as long as we don’t email too often!

6. Conferize

Conferize are one of our start-ups at Event Tech Circus. Conferize is a system designed to help organisers gain attendance at their events by leveraging social networks and by using the skills of Conferize staff to place advertisements and list your event.

It is available for free to all of our users. We will be using the basic system for Event Tech Circus and the premium one for Tech Fest (as part of our sponsorship agreement). It will be really interesting to see the value from the premium service and to see if the investment is returned in an increased awareness and attendance at Tech Fest.

7. Hootsuite

We use Hootsuite to schedule and generally control the release of our Social Media content around Tech Fest and Event Tech Circus. We are tweeting across a couple of Twitter accounts and we link to Facebook and to LinkedIn through Hootsuite as well.

We use the basic free offering and it is a massive help. We will be investigating our options in the summer as we believe paying a monthly fee may be justified but at the moment the free system is doing wonders for us. Content marketing is crucial in both our events and a tool such as Hootsuite is crucial.

In Conclusion

It would be possible to run our events without using most of this event technology but we would be working harder and I would need a bigger team. But crucially the technology we are using allows us to do two very important things. This technology allows us to raise the income from our events (and certainly above the level of the actual cost of using that technology).

Hootsuite, Dotmailer, Conferize and Eventbrite add a lot of value to our event by helping us raise awareness of Tech Fest and support our content marketing strategy. Secondly using Eventsforce and Podio helps us run our events much more efficiently.

Put simply, technology runs (and in some cases “powers” our events) creating the time for us to run the experience.


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Event Startups: Keep an Eye on These Up-and-Comers

What’s new in the event startup scene? Things are moving fast. Here are some of the cool kids changing the industry.

Event Startups Rising Stars

By looking at Twitter, it feels like a new event startup is born every day. That is a great feeling.

It is also the reason why we are supporting Event Tech Circus, the first event in Europe specifically designed for event professionals and startups.

This feeling of new ideas, new solutions and tools is a breath of fresh air to our industry.

I’ve celebrated innovation in the event and meeting industry multiple times and I am by no means tired.

I’ve collected a few interesting products and services that can help you run a better event. In the end, it is all about that. If a startup does not help easing your tough job, it’s worthless.

Here they are.

VolunteerLocal

Volunteer management is not an easy one. There are a lot of dynamics involved in managing those who decide to work for free. Medium sized and large events need to structure motivation and make it become a mechanism that works.

VolunteerLocal solves the issue of signing up and managing communication with volunteers. Interesting features include volunteer check-in, a custom sign up website to register and easy job and shift allocation.

VolunteerLocal price is zero for small events with straight forward requirements. The pricing for larger events is flexible and based on a per-event basis, a good choice for our industry.

Zime

I’ve got a thing for to-do and calendar apps. Zime made me want to replace my iPhone with an Android based phone, just to try it out.

OK, features are not revolutionary. I simply loved the 3D visualization of tasks and schedule.

When it gets to productivity apps, the design significantly impacts on the actual effectiveness of the app. At least for me that is. I am a fan of the eye candy and Zime creates a new visual experience. If you are on Android, test it out. I am envious.

Speakeasy

Speakeasy is a marketplace that matches party organizers and party goers. The service is definitely invading the Facebook Events arena and we are quite supportive of the David/Goliath battle.

The site looks slick and the features are intriguing for both, hosts and attendees.

What makes a difference in these services is adoption and it looks like Kevin and team are doing great with 200+ events, 2000 registered users and a seed funding round back in August. Let’s see what happens.

Buzz.IO

Imagine a large screen at a festival or large event. Now imagine a game being displayed on the screen. Think about attendees playing the game with their smartphones, competing against each other.

If you can’t imagine it, watch it.

This is what Buzzy.Io can recreate for your event and I love it.

Flowh

Flowh is the Twitter of Events. Flowh also looks like Twitter. And that can be a good thing.

The concept is very simple. You can follow and share events. Once again the concept is not incredibly new but I like the way it has been implemented. Putting too much into a platform can in fact impact on adoption and effectiveness.

As a Twitter junkie, I immediately get what Flowh is about. I am curious to see if more events will start to use it.

Eventholler

Eventholler does ticketing. I usually do not include ticketing providers in these round-ups. What I liked about them is the link with promoters.

In fact they count on a network of “hundreds of promoters in your city”. Despite the generic claim, the ideas is really good. Effectively Eventholler offers a platform for promoters to register and advertise events in their networks.

This affiliate system is very promising and definitely attractive in time of crisis. Also loved how they allow access to the promoters network for free to non-profit events.

Sponsorhive

Sonsorhive is a maretplace for sponsors. In 10 Event Trends for 2013, I told you that this is the year when Sponsors look for Events.

Sponosrhive is a new player in the sponsor marketplace arena. Still in private beta, it asks for 10% cut on all sponsorship generated to the host. It promises full control to brands looking for event sponsorship opportunities.

Ohanah App

This is an amazing Joomla extension for event management. Created by Beyounic and Nick Balestra, Ohanah impressed me for the caliber of the features available and slick design.

If you decide to use Joomla as your Content Management System, look no further. Ohanah ticks all the boxes. You have everything you need, from venue management to registration.

Super cool!

QuickTapLead

The idea is simple. This is already a great premise. QuickTapLead is a tablet application for iOS and Android that lets you collect leads at tradeshows and exhibitions.

It works offline and it features integration with Salesforce, automatic emails and customizable interface. QuickTapLead is an easy solutions for all those willing to save some money while presenting prospects a slick interface.

Prices are based on a per lead basis and start at $0.25 for a 100 lead credit top up.

Tweetwall

It’s been some time since I covered Twitter visualization services. Tweetwall is not a new startup. It’s actually been around since 2008 and with a quite impressive client portfolio.

The reason why I am mentioning it here is the slick design but also innovative features such as leaderboards. In fact with Tweetwall helps you to identify in real-time users tweeting about your event, ranked by influence, number of tweets or engagement.

Prices are not disclosed, which usually means we are on the expensive side of the river. Get in touch with them to find out more.

Sphericam

Startup does not necessarily mean apps and software. The kickstarter founded Sphericam is definitely a nice piece of equipment I can see at different events.

It is a 360 degree recording camera. It combines 4 HD cameras that record in high definition. This is an amazing piece of equipment to record your event and then upload it to your Youtube channel or for amazing live stream .

See it in action:

Januas

Event Manager Blog is a startup itself. Therefore with no shame for a plug to my company, we introduced Januas last week. Januas is a WordPress Theme built to feature multiple events in one website.

As biased as it may sound, it is quite a remarkable effort and I am very proud of it. Adoption is great and customers are loving it. Check it out.

In Conclusion

The event startup scene is hotter than ever. The above services and products deserve your attention and definitely help the way you plan, manage and sell events.

As always, if your startup has been left out, hit me up on Twitter or use the contact section.

If you are an event professional, support these bright ideas by sharing this article. It can make a big difference.

Photo by Thomas Hawk


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How to Ensure Speakers Diversity at Your Conference

Often times women are misrepresented in certain types of events. Here is a interesting tool to ensure diversity at your event.

Diversity Calculator Conferences

Having attended a lot of tech events, I can confidently state that there is a growing problem in that sector. Speakers are usually men.

This is the case also for other industries. And it is not a good thing.

While reading my Twitter timeline, I stumbled upon this interesting update:

I decided to dig further.

Enter the Conference Diversity Distribution Calculator

Aanand Prasad created an interesting tool to calculate the fair representation of a given gender depending on the audience diversity. In fact this seems to be the usual counter-argument given by those who superficially allocate speaker slots. As Anand puts it:

Tech conference speaker line-ups frequently contain few or no women at all. I believe, as many others do, that most conference selection processes are biased towards the dominant demographics—male, young, straight, white, able-bodied, cisgendered—and that addressing and removing this bias is an important part of the battle to increase diversity in the industry at large.

I sometimes encounter the argument that speaker line-ups that fail to adequately represent women are not the product of systemic discrimination, but rather an inevitably frequent occurrence in an industry as male-dominated as ours. On the face of it, this makes intuitive sense.

Human beings, however, are notoriously bad with probabilities.

This probably says it better than most of my previous words. Therefore he decided to create a diversity calculator.

I believe it is an interesting tool.

Taking it Further

The calculator Anand created is a scientific reply to a weak argument. It is a very valuable answer to those stubborn decision makers who believe only to numbers.

We all agree, I hope, that this is just the tip of the iceberg. The iceberg being a medieval (just to avoid saying “utterly idiotic”) way of running events.

I believe, my dear friends, that our mission is to bring change through live experiences.

Choosing a 98% female based speaker line up for a 98% male audience does not mean jeopardising your job. It means bringing change, it means pushing boundaries, it means doing our bit to level up what has been unfair for too long.

Of course such decisions are not always easy to put in practice, alas discriminatory selection shouldn’t be as easy.

Maybe after reading this post, I will lose a bit of the readers who can’t really accept such logic. Well, I am quite happy with that.

In the meanwhile, happy International Women’s Day to all the brave women making this industry great.


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Introducing Januas: A Multiple Event WordPress Theme

The mission at Event Manager Blog is to make your event professional life easier. The way I have done this as the editor here is by sharing tips, advice and inspiration on the blog. Everyday, thousands of readers share, comment and engage with the content. Last year I took this mission a step forward by announcing the Event Manager Theme, a WordPress Event Theme designed specifically for event professionals.

Today the development team and I are proud to announce a new product. It is a multiple event WordPress theme. We’re calling it Januas and it starts selling today in our store.

Since launching Event Manager Theme, I consistently received requests for 2 features: multiple event management and advanced scheduling.

Januas is the answer to these requests.

Januas means “door” in latin. This event WordPress theme is meant to be a portal for associations, venues, event management companies, training course providers or meetup organizers.

How Is Januas Different?

Januas is very different from Event Manager Theme and any other premium WordPress event theme. While current themes are meant to handle only one event, Januas is a a portal that handles several events in one website.

The home page is a clear evolution of Event Manager Theme, it features event specific watermarks (sold out or ended) and different layout options.

Multiple Event WordPress Theme - Januas

As a team, we built Januas with event professionals in mind. One of the most requested features was advanced scheduling. Each event in Januas has a custom schedule with multiple tracks and locations. Attendees can quickly filter the schedule according to their track preference or venue/location. Quite slick, eh?!

schedule

Each event is fully customizable. You can add pictures, video, a Facebook Like Box, Twitter Widget, Slideshare presentations and Livestream. You can move around boxes in respect to different times of the event. You can push up videos or pictures once the event is over, easily remove registration and or the map. We hope you love it!

event-page-januas

I also responded to your other feature requests. Januas comes in 5 different color combinations and in 5 languages (English, German, French, Spanish and Italian).

As always, the theme is responsive. That means that it adapts to the screen it is being viewed in. Try opening the demo with your smartphone or tablet.

For all you geeks out there, Januas is not based on any framework and it is plugin-free. All the code has been custom developed for this theme.

We’re sure you are going to love Januas. You can learn more about it and purchase it here.

F.A.Q.

On How Many Sites Can I use Januas?
As many as you want. Januas is perfect for agencies. No extra cost.

Do I need WordPress skills to run Januas?
I recommend an intermediate knowledge of WordPress (you have run a WordPress site before). There is a comprehensive guide, guiding you step by step on how to do things. The guide comes with visual references and soon there will be video tutorials.

I am not sure which theme I should purchase?
Get in touch, I’ll be happy to help.

What is the main difference between Januas and Event Manager Theme?
Event Manager Theme is a website for one event. Usually a large conference or meeting. Januas is for those running multiple events per year.

I have already purchased Event Manager Theme. Can I import my data in Januas?
Unfortunately no, Januas and Event Manager Theme work in completely different ways.

I have purchased Event Manager Theme. Do I get a discount?
Yes, you get 25% off Januas (Theme Only) – Send me your order ID and I’ll issue you a voucher


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The Best Posts in February 2013 on @EventMB

It was a busy month. Welcome to the 10,000 new readers that stopped by in February. We hope you like it around here.

This month we talked Slideshare, Facebook and improving on the event atmosphere.

Honestly, I can’t think how you could miss such incredible flow of useful content.

Here is the roundup…

The Best Posts in February 2013

1. 10+ Awesome Presentations for Event Professionals

This article is a collection of the most useful knowledge about events in form of slides.

2. 10 Steps for Achieving the Perfect Atmosphere at Your Event

Great guest post with 10 ready to use tips to improve the atmosphere of your event.

3. Cultural Events and Social Media: A Powerful Match

This post looks at an interesting report, downloadable at the link, on how Social Media add value to noprofit and cultural events.

4. Facebook Testing “Buy Tickets” Feature for Events

Facebook is rolling out a new Buy Tickets feature. Here is what you need to know.

5. New Conference Roles: Enter IdeaDJs

For your monthly dose of inspiration, this post presents the Idea DJs, individuals capable of resuscitating the most boring conference.

Never Miss an Article Again!

If you are new around here, you can read the latest posts by subscribing to our RSS feed, via Email, on Twitter, Google+ or on Facebook.

If you wish to sponsor next month’s “Best of the Month” post on EMBlog, contact us.

 

 

Photo by psd


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