Big tech for smaller workshops or seminars

Is big technology reserved for large conferences and trade shows? Tim Stackpool says no. He has uncovered ways to elevate smaller workshops and seminars with software.

Conference organisers appear to be constantly tapping info into tablets, scanning delegates’ entry passes, counting people walking in the door and forever solving issues with lost registrations or late RSVPs. As such, a huge industry has been built around creating software systems to make the job of managing delegates and guest speakers less onerous and far more productive.

But similar systems are available for smaller events that can be deployed by the EA charged with organising a larger than usual sales seminar or supplier showcase.

Event apps

These should be the first item on your shopping list, although limited versions are available at no cost. Your options are generally determined by the number of delegates. In fact, if an off-the-shelf app doesn’t meet the needs of your unique event, you can actually create your own app using services such as fliplet.com.

These allow you to create a customised one-stop delegate app where attendees can discover all the information they need about your event, from the conference’s agenda to online registration and check-in, networking and messaging features, practical information about accommodation and leisure options. Participants can also use the app as a digital library for reference after the event, depending on the features you build-in. And you don’t even need to be a computer programmer to build your app. Other event apps include attendify.com, whova.com and pathable.com.

Where is everybody?

Trade shows with an adjacent conference often see the ‘surge-flow’ effect where the show floor suddenly becomes abuzz as attendees take a wander between keynote sessions. Attendee tracking allows you to follow, in real time, the position and lingering of delegates as they move between trade booths and conference sessions. Major organisers such as cvent.com integrate such technology into access control.

Other suppliers like aventri.com install customisable pods equipped with an NFC reader —the same style as public transport cards—to track and control access. An attendee simply taps their badge to the reader in order to be granted or denied access. One staff member can monitor several pods, cutting down on the number of staff required to man handheld scanners. While not a conference tech company, solarwinds.com employs a different technique.

Originally developed to monitor the efficiency of wi-fi networks, their technology can now be adapted to track wi-fi emitting devices (such as smartphones) and map their movement throughout a venue. While not being able to identify the actual users, it remains an effective tool to properly see access restrictions and where delays may be occurring within an event.

Just the ticket

Online event ticketing services have multiplied over the past decade, so there’s no lack of choice or competition when it comes to finding an appropriate (or free) option. While convenient, it’s worth noting the various privacy statements between each one, so that the consequences on invitees doesn’t come as a surprise.

Ticketers such as eventbrite.com make managing RSVPs for one-off or small events a breeze, requiring minimal set-up and knowledge of ticketing. Floktu.com, eventbookings.com and ticketebo.com also provide similar services, and some come with mobile apps making on-location management less of a headache.

Humanitix.com.au covers all the same bases but with a social conscience perspective. For paid events, Humanitix redirects ‘booking fees’ into providing meals for the homeless, refuges for women escaping domestic violence, furthering Indigenous education and more. They’ve created an ethical alternative for event organisers where your event can ‘change the world’ by simply using Humanitix for your ticketing and RSVPs.

The author:
Tech expert Tim Stackpool is the technology writer for Executive PA Media. He can be heard on talk radio in Australia and is a tech presenter who speaks at conferences and trade shows about technology’s impact on work and lifestyle.

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