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Managing Meetings: Apps

Meeting and event planners have never had so many options when it comes to technology that helps them plan, oversee and manage their events, from massive, weeklong music festivals to an afternoon alumni get-together. Many of these options began as mobile apps designed to do a few simple tasks but have evolved into powerful Web-based and mobile platforms that can help organizers create events, set up websites and mobile apps, register attendees, accept payments, check in guests, manage speakers, change schedules and watch over their events as they happen.



Bizzabo is a platform, both mobile and Web-based, that meeting and event planners can use to launch events, manage them on the day of and evaluate how it all went afterward.

“It’s an all-in-one event success platform,” said Alon Alroy, Bizzabo co-founder and chief marketing officer. “It helps event organizers to do everything they need to plan a professional event.”

Bizzabo was originally launched as a mobile event app. It eventually became a mobile and social engagement program and, about six months ago, evolved into the all-in-one platform it is today, Alroy said.

To launch an event, planners can use Bizzabo to create an event website, open and manage ticket sales with multiple ticket types and prices, put together the agenda and create an app for the event to start building a community. To market the conference, planners can use Bizzabo’s contact management tools, email marketing options and social network features to spread the word. Bizzabo is heavily integrated with LinkedIn and makes sharing on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook easy. Participants can share when they register to attend a conference or post updates during the event, which “creates social buzz,” Alroy said.

During an event, planners can use Bizzabo to check in registrants, send out notifications about schedule changes and monitor real-time data about attendance. Attendees can use the Bizzabo-created event app to interact, engage and network with other participants, and Bizzabo integrates in-app surveys and polls that engage attendees and provide feedback to planners.

After the event, organizers can analyze data and reports about ticket sales and revenue, and review feedback on sessions. All that information, from attendee surveys to ticket sales, then helps planners promote their next event.

“The more data you have, the smarter you can be and the better decisions you can make,” Alroy said.


Eventbrite Neon

Eventbrite Neon has seen widespread adoption in the realm of music festivals, concerts and other box-office-type events, but it’s easily adaptable and accessible for meetings, conferences and conventions.

“Eventbrite [Neon] is used for our largest festivals with 50,000 people, but we see it at a talk with 30 people,” said Keiko Tokuda, director of product marketing. “It has that sort of flexibility and ability to scale up and scale down for different needs.”

The company merged two separate apps and added new features to create Eventbrite Neon, which launched in September. It’s a free mobile app for iPads and iPhones, although the company is looking at expanding it to non-iOS devices.

The app allows planners to get real-time event data, process on-site sales and check in guests. Although Eventbrite Neon has been used as a box office point-of-sales solution, “for the conference audience, there are a lot of different applications,” Tokuda said.

Before an event, planners can use the app to monitor their registration and sales. Eventbrite Neon allows for multiple registration options, such as early-bird or member pricing, and breaks that data down in the dashboard.

During an event, organizers can cut down on lines and wait times by using the app to check in attendees, either by scanning their tickets or looking them up by name or order number. Eventbrite Neon also allows planners to monitor day-of attendance, giving them the ability to make decisions on the fly, such as opening more registrations for walk-ups. Attendees can also use the app to register and pay online and pull up their tickets on their smartphones.

“We’re trying to make it easier both for the planner and for people who are attending,” Tokuda said.

The app has a card reader to process payments for registrations and merchandise, and it works with two different wireless printers to print receipts or tickets.



Boomset, like many other event management apps, began as one thing and became something else: What started as a booking app evolved into event management technology that helps organizers oversee and streamline conferences and events from the moment attendees walk through the door.

Boomset is an on-site event management system that offers different products to help organizers plan and execute their events, from 10,000-person conferences to 100-person alumni gatherings. Planners do most of the pre-event work on and most day-of management happens on the mobile app.

“There’s a lot of money that goes into these conferences, and you want to know what your return on investment is,” said Meara Ashtivker, Boomset COO. “How many people showed up? Did people really come to the VIP section? Did they really show up to the Thursday morning speaker? It’s giving event organizers data about what happened at their event.”

Planners can use Boomset to check in guests, including at self-service kiosks, as well as to print badges and wristbands on-site, manage schedules and monitor real-time attendance data. Attendees receive custom badges that allow planners to easily change schedules or welcome new guests without reprinting. Quick Response (QR) codes on each badge allow event staff to scan people into sessions or to know whether, for example, a guest is allowed in a VIP section. Real-time, in-app comments also help staff communicate about guests, i.e., who gets gift bags, who needs a VIP wristband, etc.

Although Boomset isn’t meant for attendees, organizers can use it to allow guests to manage their own schedules. At a recent hairstyling show and conference, attendees were able to go to an area set up with iPads and change their sessions from, say, a color class to a hair-shaping class while screens showed real-time availability for each session, Ashtivker said.

Planners can also set up exhibitors or vendors with Boomset, which allows them to scan attendees QR codes to collect all their leads during an event.