laptop-mobile-event-RSVP-1.jpgDoes Event Management Software improve how Cape Town event planners organise, manage, control and host their events? While the title of this blog may seem a bold statement, actual research has been done on the subject to answer this very question, and, not surprising, the results of the research revealed that, yes, event planning software does improve the event planning experience. But the research also shows that an Event Management Software package needs to include certain features and functions for it to 100% optimise the event planning process.

 

How exactly has Event Management Software benefitted event planners in Cape Town?

According to the study done with five event planners in the Cape Town area, Event Management Software assisted them with automating their event registration processes and enabling them to send their guests bulk messages, either via SMS (text messaging) or email. This helped streamline their events’ overall communication processes. Research participants found that automating these manual tasks saved them a great deal of time, which they could then focus elsewhere.

Event management technology also helped event planners to reduce costs, as fewer staff were needed to perform certain administrative and design functions. An additional feature that was identified as beneficial was the storing of online data in one centralised database, which meant that information could be quickly and easily found. This had definite time-saving implications for event planners.

And where did research participants find room for improvement?

The event planners identified the following gaps in what Event Management Software had to offer them. They found that they:

  •  Weren’t able to customise communications between delegates and organisers as much as they would have liked
  •  Had trouble using the software to call up reports
  •  Found that the software had limited reporting features
  • Felt that the software needed to be more adaptable to planning different types of conferences

They also reported that the software had limited design capabilities, in that it couldn’t help with personalised designs, so many opted to design their artwork manually instead, both to work faster and create designs that were more specific to their needs.

How does the RSVP Agency’s Event Management Software address these identified gaps?

The RSVP Agency constantly updates its Event Management Software and tweaks its event services to meet the evolving needs of corporate event planners.

  • We offer a comprehensive design service that uses your business’ CI guidelines and event themes to create your personalised communications and electronic invitations.
  • Should you wish to use your own artwork or designs, these can easily be incorporated into all electronic communications. Our email invitation templates can accommodate any design to ensure that your guests are left with the best first impression possible.
  • Our online RSVP dashboard allows event planners to see live reports on guest responses to email invitations, and our software also allows you to track email invitation bounces or ‘out-of-office’ replies so that you know with whom you need to follow up.
  • We now offer our clients a custom-built reporting structure, with automated reporting, so that they can specify how often they want their status reports spooled and sent to them, and which information they want reporting on and by when. The backend of our online software system is directly accessible to our clients at any time, which means that they don’t have to rely as much on our services for checking invitation accepts or declines or to affect call downs.
  • Download our brochure for more information about our professional guest list management software solution for your upcoming corporate events.

Image Credit: pexels.com


latest-event-technology.jpegHave you ever watched a far-fetched Sci-Fi movie like The Terminator, or a Star Wars release, and felt relieved that the intelligent robots in these films were still a concept of the distant future? Not anymore. Ongoing advances in programming software are bringing devices with deep learning and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities right to our proverbial doorsteps – and these may be knocking on our doors (and changing how we run our events) much sooner than we think!

A quick overview of the latest developments in AI reveals that this tech is everywhere

According to a RoboCup 2016 press release, intelligent household robots – designed to help with domestic chores like vacuuming, for example – are just the tip of the iceberg of what’s to be expected from the robotic household assistants of the future. One such helpful robot, Jibo (pictured below), can sense, respond and learn from human interaction and is being marketed as a glorified personal assistant, babysitter and friendly companion for the elderly.

NAO Evolution, another humanoid robot, can recognise shapes, people and voices; To date, NAO Evolution robots have been used as stars in a choreographed dance show, competitors in a robotics world cup event and as multilingual concierges at a theme park hotel.

AI and intelligent robotics are mixing up customer services and a whole range of other industries

When it comes to customer services, according to one Marketing Week blog, web-based, intelligent virtual assistants are already used by Swedish banks to speed up the customer service process, while a tool called DigitalGenius has been developed to have human-like conversations with customers, via SMS, to walk them through the sales funnel until they are ready to speak directly with a dealer or sales agent.

An Information Week blog post details the continuous development and release of tools and systems (by companies like Nvidia and Google) to advance the capabilities of AI and machine networks. Here the focus is on enhancing security and surveillance, creating autonomous vehicles, improving healthcare and ultimately pushing the envelope of deep learning development capabilities.

How might AI effect event technology of the future?

Existing AI systems could greatly enhance the latest event technology on the market. Among other things, this latest event technology assists event organisers with data gathering and analytics to improve their corporate event planning. As it stands, this information has to be digitally captured into a software system for reporting. The event tech of the future may well incorporate the use of AI to gather data in real-time. This could be achieved through event guest’s direct engagement with intelligent robots, or other AI interfaces used as interactive touch points placed throughout an event space.

  • Humanoid robots like NAO Evolution could be used to welcome guests at the event and answer any of their event-related questions.
  • Virtual, or web-based, assistants could be incorporated into existing online event registration systems, such as The RSVP Agency’s guest list management product, to build rapport with guests and talk them through the online event registration process.
  • The latest event technology could be combined with deep learning capabilities to improve guest experiences: using audio and visual sensors, robots could be designed to gather data about crowd responses to certain music, presentations, speakers, entertainment or catering options to adjust future event’s offerings accordingly.  
  • Existing event access and security systems can be augmented with humanoid robots and AI systems to  track guests’ whereabouts and observe their behaviour patterns around a product or brand experience.

A Smashing Robotics blog describes 13 advanced humanoid robots that are already for sale. Many of these are priced well above what any corporate event planning budget can afford (with some of them reaching figures as high as US $9600 per unit), so it will be a while yet before these humanoid robots enter mainstream services. But once they are more affordable, it will be interesting to see how their use at corporate events takes off.

For more information on the latest event technology and insights into how far guest list management software has actually come over the years, download our Event Technology guide

Image credits: https://www.jibo.com/ (Jibo)

 


Richard-Saul-Wurman-event-management-tips.jpgDid you know that the first Technology, Entertainment, Design conference (more commonly known as TED) was hosted as far back as 1984? This is according to a recent Fast Company long read by Michael Grothaus. Since then, the non-profit organisation has run over 50 TED conferences, which have all served to gather keen and like-minded thinkers for interactive talks on just about anything pertaining to the tech, entertainment or design industries.

The brain-child behind TED is Richard Saul Wurman, who chaired the popular TED conference from 1984 to 2002. Wurman later went on to develop the TEDMED conference for health professionals. Shortly after that, inspired to find a different and more cost effective way to run conferences, Wurman started the conversation-based WWW conference.

What was Wurman’s thoughts behind the WWW conference?

As Wurman explained in a video interview with Curiosity, the WWW conference aimed to gather intellectuals for unrehearsed conversations around all the ‘W’ words – war, the word, wit, the weather, the world. Wurman wanted to create a “meeting, gathering or dinner party, with 100 of the greatest minds in the world, having [unedited and unrehearsed] conversations, two at a time…with no time limit”.

And the cherry on the top? No one had to buy a ticket to attend this event, ever. In his video interview, Wuurman shared that, while he recognised the many risks to this venture and that there was “lots of possibility for failure”, he also had enough confidence in his ability to pull it off – and that, for him, was exciting.

What can event managers and professionals learn from Richard Wurman?

The following are a few event management tips that we feel can be gleaned from Wurman’s wealth of conference planning experience.

You’re never too old (or too skilled) to improve your craft

Wurman started organising conferences  in the 80s and has just kept going. In a YouTube video, he explained that, in continuing with honing the process, he’s been trying to figure out why something works and how he can create conferences that aren’t boring. By adopting a similar approach to corporate event planning – i.e. intentionally keeping corporate event experiences fresh, innovative and engaging – an event official can become the go-to specialist in their industry.

Risk-taking is worth it

Wurman’s first TED conference ran at a massive loss, but this didn’t stop him from organising the next one in 1985. Too often, we allow failure to discourage us instead of harnessing it for our learning. For Wurman, thinking out the box to explore new ideas and take risks was worth it. I know that this isn’t the most comfortable of event management tips, but, as event professionals, we need to take the necessary risks to push the boundaries and create event experiences that resonate deeply with our corporate guests.

There’s no need to blow the budget to impress your VIP list

It’s a common misconception that the flashier the corporate event, the better. What innovative ideas could you think up if you set yourself the task of planning a corporate event on half the allocated budget, for example? Scarcity often inspires creativity.

Wurman used subtraction principles to rethink his events: he subtracted all the conventional features of a conference (the lectern, long presentations, VIPs that were for face value only – all the pomp and ceremony of a conference) to create the 18-minute speeches that have made TED Talks as globally accessible as they are.

Let passion inform your event planning process

If you are organising events that you wouldn’t set foot in yourself, then something is amiss. Here’s the last of this blog’s event management tips: you need to have a passion for what you are doing, and this is only possible if your interest is piqued. Don’t be scared to add a personal touch to your corporate event planning that provides inspiration for you when the going gets tough. Don’t be scared to stretch yourself and explore the boundaries of the corporate event management world.

Other event management tips include keeping your finger on the pulse of event technology and being sure to keep up to date with the latest trends in Guest List Management Software. You may enjoy our event technology guide. You can download it here.

Image Credit: pi.tedcdn.com


stress-management-techniquesLet’s be real – corporate event planning is more than just stressful. It taxes all of your internal and physical resources and stretches your administrative ball-juggling skills to the max. It challenges your ability to stay cool, calm and collected and sometimes even makes you really (really) long for a large, alcoholic beverage – well before midday!

And the beauty of it all? That would be the ‘rinse and repeat factor’ of event planning, of course. If your company is quite intentional about their corporate marketing and networking activities, it’s likely that before you’re even done with pulling off that memorable product launch or raved-about business seminar experience, you’d have started organising your next event.

Despite all of this stress, we know that you do actually enjoy your job. You do. Sometimes corporate event planning can just push you to the edge of your Zen Garden (and beyond) – and we understand that too.

Have you ever considered process automation as a viable stress management measure?

There already exists on the internet a plethora of information on stress management techniques for busy corporate event planners, but has anyone ever mentioned how process automation can do wonders for dialling down your stress levels?

While you may treat your ring-binder file like it is your event bible – and it’s probably good that you have it at hand in the event of a power failure or a technical malfunction (which you should plan for anyway) – only you and a select few can access and decipher the file’s contents when needed. This doesn’t really help if you find yourself unexpectedly unavailable to answer questions or orchestrate event activities. This can cause a bottleneck in the event planning process or send your team into a mild panic on the day of the event.

There are many stress management benefits related to process automation

Process automation software is handy for event planning and stress reduction as it:

  • Makes information readily available and shareable across devices
  • Regulates access to confidential information through access and data security controls  
  • Increases visibility and control over the entire event planning process
  • Can be used to orchestrate both your event planning team and the information and documents needed for the event planning process

When it comes to stress management techniques, using process automation is ideal. It mitigates human error in data collection processes and safeguards you against the loss of valuable event planning data.

Sophisticated software can automate your guest list management

Because corporate events are about people and their experience of your brand, you want to ensure that every point of contact with your guests are positive. Process Automation Stress Management Techniques (PASMTs) kick in here in the form of guest list management software that streamlines processes.

Getting responses from guests you have invited to your event can be a tediously drawn-out affair. Corporate people are busy, and getting back to you about your event is just one of many things on their ‘To Do’ list. With that in mind, imagine automation software that sends out personalised email invitations to guests on your database, tracks their responses to your invitation and reminds them to actually send a response.

Picture a software tool that helps you collect all the data you need from your guests (such as their dietary preferences, itineraries, contact details and the likes), and sends them SMS reminders and Calendar invitations so that they don’t miss the big day. Being able to track this entire process from one centralised point is another plus that comes from using guest list management software.

If none of this sounds like your cup of tea, there are always more old-school stress management techniques for you to use

Process automation may not be for everyone, we know, which still leaves you with other stress management techniques to keep your blood pressure levels stable. Take a brisk walk, keep hydrated, power-nap, or work on bettering your time management skills to keep cool and collected. For the rest, however, we would recommend coupling these above methods with a healthy dose of PASMTs.

Download our Event Marketing Guide  to find out how to turn your events into marketing gold. 

Image Credit: cdn2.hubspot.net/


He’s cute, he’s round, he’s furry and, when put in his hamster wheel, he gallops along at high speed until he’s completely exhausted. While our hamster may be getting some much-needed exercise at the time, he doesn’t really get anywhere, does he? Once done, all he has left to do is fall off his wheel and collapse into a panting heap at the bottom of his cage. Poor guy. It’s the same for us when we get too busy at work. We become the proverbial hamster in a wheel, caught up in an incessant spin, with emails, tasks, calls and urgent requests coming at us from all directions. We move from task to task, chased by our anxieties. But, despite our mad flurry, we don’t really get anywhere. At this point, we need to slow down, take some deep breaths, and implement a few time management skills to ease the pressure from our day.

Like every skill, time management is one that can be honed and perfected

In her recent Forbes article, Lisa Quast suggested the following tips for improving your time management skills:

  •  Document how you spend your time each day and every day, for a week, to find out which activities get most of your attention and energy;
  • Plan your week ahead of time, ranking activities into urgent, important and least important, so that you know which ones to focus on first and to prevent  unnecessary tasks or distractions eating into your time;
  • Decide what time each day you will dedicate to checking and following up on emails and then discipline yourself to stick to these times.

In another Forbes blog on time management, we are recommended the following time-management techniques for reducing spin and stress in your work week:

  • Finish up every meeting by first attending to the tasks that you have been given in that meeting. Don’t put these tasks off for later;
  • Set reminders for items that need to be checked on or seen to in your day;
  • See to personal action items first so that they don’t hang over your head and worry you throughout the day;
  • Unsubscribe from distracting newsletters or distribution lists – the amount of time we spend on deleting emails we’ll never read eventually adds up. Plus, these emails just clutter up our email inboxes.

As far as possible, automate what you can to save time and reduce those stress levels

While not a time management skill per se, implementing process automation wherever possible is a really effective way of keeping the hamster wheel at a manageable spin rate. Event Management Software automates the management of event invitations, responses and registrations, and frees event managers up to focus on other key activities involved in organising their corporate events.

Download our Event Marketing Guide for some more time-saving tips. These include using Big Data to target the right guests for your next corporate event.

Image Credit: cdn.projectsmart.co.uk


electronic-invitation-and-software.jpgMelanie Rossouw has been working at The RSVP Agency as our in-house designer for the last 10 months. During this time, she has designed more than 20 professional web invitations. Melanie has a major in Interactive Web Design and Development from the Open Window Institute in Gauteng, South Africa. This means that she can design for both web and digital, with the end-user in mind. She is also able to programme, develop and support user-centric, digital products like websites and mobile applications. Yes, she is cool that way.

We thought we would catch up with Melanie briefly for some pointers on how to create winning electronic invitations for corporate clients.

So, Melanie, tell us a bit more about your role at the RSVP Agency:

The RSVP Agency has designed hundreds of electronic invitations over the last four years. As the in-house designer, I am responsible for the design and development of web invitations, name tags for the events, and any collateral items that the event requires – such as booklets, programmes or agendas.

The client generally designs the look and feel of an invitation and then I do adaptive artwork for them by creating the elements required by The RSVP Agency’s software system. I also assist The RSVP Agency with improving the user experience for all of our own digital products.

How do you choose the various design elements for your invitations? What influences your choice of colour, layout, tone, look and feel?

Most of our clients are corporate clients with strict corporate identity (CI) guidelines that they are expected to follow. Before they make contact with us, clients generally have a clear look and feel in mind for their electronic invitations. My job is to blend their CI requirements with the specified artwork or tone. I use the CI guidelines for the specific colours that must be used in the design. I also look at the colours of the company’s logo to see how to incorporate these.

My next step involves an online visit to Shutterstock to search for a good quality image that portrays the right message. I first place the images and then design the layout for the invitation, according to these image placements and the style of fonts I choose.

What do you think are the ideal elements of a winning invitation design?

“Every picture tells a story,” so goes the popular adage. I believe this to be true. Good quality imagery that adequately portrays the message that the client wants to communicate is key for designing great electronic invitations. Good fonts are also important. I use a maximum of two different fonts in the electronic invitations I design. The amount of copy (text and information) included in the design also affects the invitation’s look and feel. Too much copy makes the invitation look too cluttered, and too little copy makes the invitation feel sparse and empty. Designing using different typography also makes for an interesting invitation.

Who have some of your most memorable clients been?

I had the most fun with designing SAMRO’s electronic invitation. Here I had to design an invitation for one of their board dinners. I have a music background, so it was fun to be creative and use various musical elements in the invite. 

If a client were to approach The RSVP Agency for help with design work and creating an electronic invitation, what information, or artwork, would you need from them?

If the client requires us to design the invitation and all of the other elements, we require all of the event information from them – such as the time, date, venue and so forth. If a company has a strict CI guide, we require this from them before the design process begins. This is to ensure that we use the correct fonts and logos in our design. If the CI guide stipulates that we use an unknown font, then we need the fonts from the client and a PNG (an image without a background) hi resolution logo to work from.

The client’s involvement includes guidance on what the electronic invitation’s design, look and feel should be. Our clients have final say on the imagery we  use and the style and tone of the invitation (i.e. comedic versus corporate, or edgy etc.)

And what happens if the client wants to design their own invitations and elements, but use The RSVP Agency software solution to automate their event registration process?

We require the following from these clients to automate and build their electronic invitation:

  • Web invitation – max 600px wide
  • Web headers – max 600px wide, and between 150 – 300px high
  •  Invitation header
  • Accept header
  • Decline header
  • A web footer – max 600px wide and max 150px high

Buttons needed from clients include:

  • Accept
  • Decline
  • Back
  • Next
  • Submit

How many RSVP Agency invitation templates do clients have to choose from for their professional invitation’s design? Do you make custom invitations?

Each event has a custom design, and each event has different requirements and a different message that needs to be communicated. The RSVP Agency has four different demos we normally show clients so that they can see the process and get an idea of what the invitation and all of the electronic invitation elements will look like at the end.

Clients use these completed electronic invitations to communicate to us what they would like their own electronic invitations to look like.

For more information on The RSVP Agency’s Guest List Management Software and invitation design solutions, download our brochure.

Image Credit: www.dojiggy.com

 


Emerging-Technologies-and-industry-treands-in-Guest-list-management-softwareHaving automated your company event registration process with professional Event Registration Software, you should now have some free time to turn your attention to the more exciting ‘stuff’ of events management – like exploring what’s hot, and what’s not when it comes to emerging technologies. Better still, instead of merely catching up with industry trends, why not spend some time trying to discover the next ‘big thing’ in event tech and networking software as you dream a little about your upcoming event experience?

One way to become an industry trendsetter is to find yet-to-be-explored technologies to see how applicable they might be to the events management industry and its processes

Effective project management and team communication processes are crucial for pulling off successful events. There are many free online software solutions that you can use to automate and initiate event planning, delegate tasks, and track the project’s progress. The following are some emerging technologies to explore and consider:

Slack is a messaging app for team communication. Download it as a desktop, iOS or Android application and use it to create numerous channels for team conversations. It allows users to upload links and drag and drop files, documents, and images for sharing. Private channels can also be created in Slack for discussing more sensitive subjects. Multiple teams can also be run on your Slack account, making it ideal for overseeing several projects at a time.

While Slack can be used solely for your event management team communications, it could also be pushed as a communication channel for your upcoming events. Guests can be added to Slack channels for general chats with each other and to receive information from your side. Your event guests are bound to enjoy being introduced to a new communication tool like Slack.

Trello-is-an-Emerging-Technology-to-help-high-level-planning

Trello is a software product used for high-level planning. It runs on Android and iOS as an app, and is also web-based, making it ideal for access from just about any device. Trello uses a system of Trello ‘boards’ and ‘cards’ that can be used to set up specific lists of tasks, to which people or teams are then assigned. Progress for each task can be easily tracked, either by direct messaging or alerts within the card, or by moving cards along a specified project management path on a board.

Links can be added and images and files attached within Trello boards and cards to help an events management team with the easy sharing of resources.

Ongoing shifts in the types of event experiences being offered provide a great challenge for event managers to stay ahead of the curve

According to a recent Gartner blog, ambient user experiences are soon to be the next big thing in events. This relates to the use of the internet and emerging technologies, such as digital devices, to foster “close and constant social contact and communication”, says dictionary.com.

It’s the device mesh, also discussed in the Gartner blog, that is making this ambient user experience increasingly viable. This mesh consists of an “expanding set of endpoints”, which people are using both to interact with each other and access information and their applications. The idea is that, soon, our devices won’t operate in isolation of each other. Our mobile devices, wearables, home electronics and automotive devices will all eventually ‘speak’ to each other, making it possible for experiences to seamlessly flow across touch points, as the user moves along and changes environments, even.

How are you going to take advantage of emerging technologies to dream up fully immersive and ambient event experiences for your guests?

It’s up to event managers and their teams to figure out how to incorporate emerging technologies and concepts into their corporate event planning –  before the competition does it first. For more ideas on event technology to wow your guests, download our Event Technology 101 guide.

The guide will also give you an idea of some of the event technology essentials that you should already have in place – Guest List Management software, for example –  before introducing more of the up-and-coming tech into your event experiences.

Image credit: Techno Unlimited