Planning events is a big job. Whether you’re hosting a small dinner or a large fundraiser, your goal is likely the same across the board—you want to engage your members and build community. More so than fundraising or making a name for your association, using your events to build community is the most important investment you can make.
But how can your association plan events that consistently excite guests? It’s exhausting and unnecessary to reinvent the wheel every time, but you also want attendees to know you’re putting in the effort to give them a great experience.
That’s where event software can help. Whether you leverage auction software or a Salesforce event app, these platforms have plenty of features to enhance your events for every attendee. Let’s explore ways that quality event platforms can help you give your guests the best experience possible!
1. Make it easy to register and check-in
Your attendees’ experience doesn’t begin with the event itself. It begins from the moment they decide to register! You want to ensure this process is smooth from the get-go so signing up for your event is easy for guests.
The simplest way to give your audience a positive experience is to use apps that streamline registration and check-in for both you and your guests. These apps offer features like:
- Notifications. Your event attendees will be on the go, making connections and juggling the schedule of your event. You can remove the pressure to check the schedule by using an app with notifications that keep them on time and alert about what’s next.
- Networking features. Most event-goers don’t have time to exchange phone numbers with everyone they meet or attend every breakout session they’re interested in. Using an event app opens up possibilities for attendees to create a profile and use messaging and in-app meeting features to further connect.
- Interactive maps. Nobody wants to wander around a venue trying to find the item on their schedule when they could easily use an app to help them navigate to their next location. Give your guests peace of mind that they won’t miss a session or meet-up with interactive maps of the event site.
- Forms for surveys and feedback. Rather than sending a survey a week after the event, allow your guests to provide feedback in real-time, when their thoughts are fresh.
Each feature will help you welcome members and guests to your community from the moment they sign up to attend an event. You want your audience to know that they’re not just guests at your event, but that they’re being cared for before, during, and after.
2. Let guests participate from anywhere
Life happens—sometimes well-meaning members can’t attend your event despite their best efforts. Letting guests join from the comfort of their homes and still have the full event experience can greatly enhance the success of your event.
The best way to prepare for this scenario is to choose event software that enables you to shift an event to a hybrid or virtual format when necessary.
For example, if you’re hosting a silent auction, there are online auction platforms that enable guests to browse and bid on items from anywhere with these key features:
- Online auction catalogs. With online bidding, guests can browse your full catalog of auction items and have a seamless visual experience. On some platforms, your auction app can even be customized to match your branding, which gives you the freedom to adapt your fonts, colors, and more.
- Mobile bidding. Mobile bidding is a simple way to boost auction participation and provide an exciting bidding experience. No more waiting around to bid or keeping your guests in limbo when they wish they could enjoy their evening—they get to do what they want with their phone, in-person or remotely. Notifications ensure your guests will never miss a bid, and you’ll raise more money because of it.
- Livestreaming. Use a native livestreaming tool so remote guests don’t have to worry about lag time or needless extra steps. They simply use the app to watch the event, bid when they want, and enjoy a seamless experience.
Hybrid events give your association and your guests the best of both worlds: the quality of an in-person event with the flexibility to attend from anywhere. This leads to more accessibility for your audience and engagement from every attendee.
3. Set up an event microsite
You want your members to have somewhere to go when you send marketing emails and promotions before the event. The easiest thing to provide is a microsite or landing page that serves as a one-stop shop for all of their event questions and needs.
Your microsite should be optimized to serve your guests, and the right event software can help you easily create a custom event page that includes all the information guests need, such as:
- Informational flyers
- Registration links
- An FAQ section
- Contact information for guest questions
- Photos of last year’s event
A microsite isn’t just a promotional page—it’s the place where all of your event information will live, and it serves as your guests’ first look at what they can expect from the event. Be sure to share your microsite across your marketing channels to reach as many people as possible!
4. Keep guests engaged with push notifications
It’s a no-brainer that remote guests need to stay engaged throughout your event—they have so many distractions that could pull them away. But you might be surprised at how easily in-person guests can become distracted too.
With in-person bidding at an auction, for example, guests have to wait in lines to write down their bids, walk around auction tables, and do all the mental work required to keep up with the items they’ve placed bids on. If they get swept up in a conversation with a friend or distracted by a speaker, their best bidding intentions could go out the window. Event software like mobile bidding platforms can keep these problems at bay for both remote and in-person guests through gentle push notifications that let guests know when they’ve been outbid.
Take a look at this example that illustrates some of the features a mobile bidding app provides:
In this example, guests are provided with a snapshot of all the information they need to know about an item so they can quickly make informed decisions. They can understand exactly how much time they have before a bid closes and can see an overview of their status.
Without an app like this, your guests are tasked with tracking every item they’re bidding on, rather than enjoying their time at your event and placing bids on their favorite items through the simple reminder of a push notification!
5. Streamline follow-up communication.
The success of your event day is extremely important, but much of your association’s work will continue afterward. You need to maintain your event’s momentum and keep members involved far beyond one event.
Thankfully, many event platforms come equipped with marketing automation features that simplify communication for your staff and members. Specifically, these features help you send relevant, personalized follow-up messages that round out attendees’ positive experiences.
Some things you can do in these messages to show appreciation and provide valuable information to your guests include:
- Thanking every attendee personally
- Recognizing donors for their contributions
- Asking for feedback on how you can improve the next event
Lastly, sending out a quick post-event survey gives guests a chance to feel personally involved and appreciated. Remember that while you want your survey to yield practical and helpful results for your association, you really want to ensure that your association members have a voice. They’re paying to be involved in an association that understands and hears them, so make sure they see tangible results.
What’s next for your association is to evaluate different event platforms and then determine the best fit for your needs. No matter what platform you choose, event software opens up a world of possibility and success for both your association and your guests. From mobile bidding and remote capabilities to post-event surveys, you can create a seamless experience that leaves guests saying “I can’t wait to do that again!”