Hosting events is like growing a small business. You start with a shoestring staff and limited tools, but as your event gets bigger, so do your needs. More team members come aboard to handle the load, more technology and tools enter the fray, and what was once a straightforward task becomes a never-ending cycle of interlocking problems and solutions.
To make matters worse, events face market competition just like any other business. Attendees buy only so many tickets every year and events that fail to innovate may quickly find themselves underattended and out of the limelight. But how do you innovate if, like so many event teams, you’re bogged down by daily operations? Many in the industry have found that using technology to automate more tasks can increase their efficiency and can keep them focused on the long game as they grow their events.
In this blog, I’ll cover three ways that automation can help move the needle and grow your events to their fullest potential.
Why Automation Matters
Before automation tools were commonly used, teams had to manage everything themselves. Social media ads, marketing campaigns, and content management all required multiple team members to track, log, and execute. A few disconnected solutions eventually hit the market but the burden still fell mostly on event teams to pick up any slack.
Today’s tools offer event coordinators the firepower they’ve always wanted. Event professionals can now take advantage of APIs—application program interfaces—without learning to code or hiring their own engineering staffs. APIs can customize the way each piece of technology communicates with the others, streamlining processes and making automation what it was always supposed to be: automatic.
APIs operate by connecting two unrelated applications without requiring developer intervention. Take workflow tool Zapier: Event professionals can create “zaps” for their specific needs and synchronize movement between applications (e.g., automatically adding new contacts from your CRM to your engagement platform—and saving your team countless hours of manual labor). This eliminates a time-consuming administrative task, freeing event staff to focus on creative ways to keep attendance up and maintain steady growth.
Automate to Make Your Event Great
Like a small business, every event has opportunities to become more efficient.
Here are three automation-based areas to experiment with:
1. Web Scheduling
The bigger an event becomes, the more budget web development demands. Attendees want to see personalized content, but when it comes to automation, personalized doesn’t have to mean customized. Automate event publishing so that staff members can schedule events ahead of time. By handling the administrative work behind the scenes, automation software frees staff to work on the most pressing tasks first. This maximizes efficiency and ensures that nothing goes live until it is vetted and approved. Check out a tool such as Sched, which enables event coordinators to control session availability while allowing attendees to create their own schedules.
2. Social Media Marketing
Every event needs great marketing in order to remain relevant in attendees’ minds. However, the more time marketers spend organizing email lists and scheduling posts, the less time they have to create engaging, attention-grabbing content that brings eyes to an event.
Automate noncreative aspects of event promotion to let marketing staff spend their time on more valuable pursuits. Use your engagement platform to help free up your creatives’ minds by scheduling nurture campaigns and advertisements in advance.
3. Customer Service
Attendees and customers are the driving force behind the success of most events. If they’re not happy, the event won’t last long. As mentioned, customers respond better to personalized communications, but manual personalization takes an unreasonable amount of time to achieve.
Instead of spending thousands of dollars on unnecessary labor hours, automate data exports and outreach programs. Take advantage of the latest app technology so attendees can customize their experiences. There are programs to replace printed programs and create a closed social network, to streamline scheduling and communications, and to empower attendees to share their schedules and locate one another on-site.
Small businesses and events both operate in a world where the person who spends the least time in the administrative weeds tends to come out on top. Don’t let manual processes overwhelm staff and hinder your event from reaching its full potential. Instead, follow these tips to automate processes, eliminate redundant work, and position the event for success.
How have you used your engagement platform to further automate event tasks? What tools from this article might you use to free up some more time for your team? Tell me about your plans in the comments.