Looking to upgrade and optimize your event planning? An event planning app may be the answer. Choosing to use an event planning app can increase attendee engagement by up to 33%, increase sponsorship sales by 13%, and alleviate printing costs.* There are several different types of event planning apps, but we’ve focused our attention on apps geared towards small to mid sized corporate events, trade shows and expos (although some of these apps can also be used for weddings).
Event planning apps can be broken into two categories, though there is a fine line between them: Operational (planning, registration-integration, etc.), and Networking (Attendee community-building, audience engagement, and social media integration).
Event planning professionals can opt to have their own app developed, but there are many low-cost or free options to consider before spending time and money to create your own. Before choosing a pre-existing app, write down what capabilities you would like the app to include. If you don’t carefully choose your solutions, you risk your app not being used by staff or attendees. Lucky for event professionals, there are many apps available that offer a variety of features for various types of events. The following apps were chosen because they are scalable, flexibile, and easy to use. Most offer free or trials plans.
Best all-around event planning app
Jake Vago, co-founder of EdTech Europe, describes Bizzabo’s platform as “giving attendees a seamless experience from ticket purchasing to relationship building.” The app has been used for over 5,000 events. What Bizzabo does:
- Build an event website
- Sell your event tickets
- Foster event community
- On site check-in
Bizzado also includes the ability to run reports, polls, and send push notifications. Many services offer similar flexibility and features, but Bizzado goes the extra mile with stellar customer service. Check out their resources page, which includes white paper studies, webinars, and great articles. They have positioned themselves as not only an app provider, but also an event planning hub.
Price: Packages are custom-fitted to your needs.
OPERATIONAL APPS for planners
The following apps are great for operational use like internal staff communications and task scheduling and planning.
Redbooth is a project management and collaboration platform that unites teams with shared workspaces — no matter where they’re located. With Redbooth you can create unlimited projects and task lists around your event, assign tasks to individual people, and stay up-to-date on progress with chat and online meetings.
- Project management
- Task management
- Online meetings
- Desktop, Windows, and iOS apps
- Advanced reporting
- Integrations with Evernote, Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, and more
Redbooth lets you schedule meetings, share files, and get out of email so you can be laser-focused on planning your next event.
Price: Price starts at $5/user/mo for small teams, and scales for business and enterprise plans.
Trello is a fairly simple brainstorming board. If you have a large team with diverse skillsets, Trello is ideal. While there are other similar brainstorming apps, including: Evernote, Basecamp, Wunderlist, and this list of Mind-mapping tools, we found that Trello is the most effective and user friendly cloudbased brainstorming tool. Trello gives you the option to create “boards” based on your project. You can share ideas listed on your Trello board with fellow collaborators. To see examples of how people use this service while planning a wedding, see this article on the Trello blog.
Price: FREE. Plans are available with the most expensive at $45 dollars a year. Trello offers a Business Class plan for those who have large uploads.
This handy app integrates registration, check-in, and multi-session entry for your event. Some features of Boomset include:
Guest list editing
Integration with other event planning platforms
Wristband and badge creation
Price: FREE (up to 25 guests). Pricing is unique for every event and client – speak with a Boomset representative for more information.
NETWORKING APPS for attendees
Most of the following apps have a CRM system included for a subscription or fee. You might find the operational apps discussed earlier make good supplements to these networking apps. In some cases, these apps can serve as the only technology you will need while planning your event.
BusyEvent is an extremely flexible app. Overall, it is a great networking app but also includes over a dozen different features to enhance your attendees experience. Planners can upload exhibitor and speaker directories, integrate social media, and implement a fully-branded experience for app users. There is also the capacity to request session and event evaluations or send event-wide alerts. If you’re planning a small or very large event, BusyEvent has the ability to take your event to the next level.
Price: Free up to 50 users. Plans tiered based on user accounts.
Holding an international event? The app Topi allows users to message each other in more than 60 different languages. The average set up time for event planners is about an hour. This app not only allows social integration, but also a main page of ongoing conversations by event attendees. The entire philosophy behind Topi is networking. If you’re looking for an app with a high user adoption rate and fantastic social integration, Topi is the best choice.
Price: Free if you have no sponsors or exhibitors/app customization. Pricing plans for fully-branded events, sponsors/exhibitors, or non-profit organizations.
Post-event candid photos can be difficult to aggregate. Capsule is an easy to use app that allows your staff, vendors, and event attendees take photos, which are captured in one place. This handy app not only aggregates your photos, it allows participants to purchase prints through its marketplace as well. Forget simply using an Instagram hashtag to wrangle your event photos. Capsule is a separate app for mobile devices, but also integrates with Instagram by capturing photos with a specific hashtag.
Last but not least, Whova gives event attendees a fresh networking experience, as you can use it to access event information and personalize own schedule, view other attendees’ profiles and plan meetings or get-togethers in advance. Whova also includes a business card scanner. Simply take a snap of any paper business card then the app automatically transcribes the image digitally offering you many additional insights (e.g. the contact’s photo, bio, social links, etc). The app also allows you to receive instant notifications from organizers, engage the speakers/panelists, send messages to other attendees, and many more.
Many brands like TEDx, Stanford University, MIT Technology Review have used Whova as a event networking tool. If you’re looking for a solution to elevate attendee networking and engagement, the Whova app is the best choice.
Price: Prices vary on the size of the event and number of attendees.
Your social media tool of choice
For any event, social media is key to networking. Choosing your social media tools is crucial to tracking, interacting, and monitoring your event. Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Buffer, or Tagboard are just a few social media tools which offer free plans to help you manage social media networking. The main factor for your event’s social media networking success is creating a plan and then sticking with it. Be sure to test your plan beforehand with your planning staff. During your event, set your social media station and have someone continually monitor it.
Sources: Frost and Sullivan
What are your favorite event planning apps? Let us know in the comments.