As anyone who's ever googled "Event Management Software" can tell you, there are literally hundreds of similar-sounding event technology companies out there, many claiming to be "the all-in-one" platform that can do anything and everything for your events, no matter how big or small, whatever your goals or strategy.
Peel back the curtain a bit, though, and the reality is much less reassuring. Almost every event tech company out there falls into what we call the "Reg Pub" bucket – tools designed to help you publish event websites and register attendees.
That's all well and good. Registration is a challenge. If you're running a sprawling multi-day event with multiple ticket types, discount codes, room blocks and onsite check-in, you've got plenty of registration woes to worry about. Even if you've got a super simple event, with just a networking hour and a couple of speakers, you still need to a registration flow that's seamless, mobile and social. Either way, registration is a challenge. We have a lot of respect for those event tech companies out there who make registration easier to manage.
But as any event manager can tell you, registration is a far, far cry from the one-and-only challenge to planning a great event. In fact, registration isn't even relevant if you're just sponsoring or exhibiting at the event!
And therein lies the problem – almost all event tech is meant to register attendees, and yet, there is so much more to managing an event than just registration.
Problems solved by "Reg Pubs"
If you're hosting an event, you should definitely get a Reg Pub. There's way more to do than a single coordinator can handle with general purpose productivity tools, like email and spreadsheets. Let's take a look at the typical set of problems solved by a Reg Pub:
- Registration including ticket types, discount codes and payment processing
- Publish event website or landing page, with an editor to customize design
- Email invitations, confirmations and promotions
- Analytics to track website visitors, registrations, revenue and email opens
Now let's go a bit further and observe what an "Enterprise" or fully-featured Reg Pub might have to offer:
- Event App for attendees to check schedules, floor plans and facilitate networking
- Onsite Check-In to check in attendees on arrival
- Badge Printing with an editor to customize design
- Venue Search to discover, compare and manage RFPs from hotels and venues
- Floor Plans to diagram attendee seating and production staging
- Hotel Room Blocks to incorporate hotel booking into the registration flow
That's quite a long list already... can you imagine managing all of this through just email and spreadsheets? I shudder to think how all this was done before Eventbrite, Cvent and other Reg Pubs came along. Thank goodness for Reg Pubs!
And, yet... we haven't even gotten to any features that actually help to plan the event... the preparation of the agenda, finding the right dates on the calendar, setting the budget, designing (not just building) the event website, etc, etc... Where does all that work go?
Problems not solved by "Reg Pubs"
Peel back the curtain a bit more and you'll see that Reg Pubs only address a small part of event management.
Let's take a look at all of the logistics problems not solved by Reg Pubs:
- Budgets to plan and track expenses, including payments to venues and vendors
- Briefings to communicate schedules and expectations to execs, staff, speakers and VIPs
- Calendars to manage and share all of the team's upcoming events
- Contacts to keep track of all the agencies, customers, speakers, sponsors, vendors and VIPs
- Contracts to centralize legal obligations to agencies, venues, vendors and sponsors
- Event Requests to receive and process requests from the team to sponsor or host events
- Inventories to track collateral, equipment and swag
- Schedules to fully plan the days of the event, including travel
- Shipments to track booths, collateral, equipment, staging and swag
- Surveys to capture post-event feedback
- Staff Reporting to understand the time and effort spent by staff and opportunity costs
- Tasks to manage logistics with a spectrum of loose-knit collaborators
- Travel to plan, book and track the costs of flights, hotels, restaurants and ground transport
Phew! And you thought the Reg Pub feature list was long.
The amount and variety of work that goes into planning even just a small event is impressive. There's so many moving parts and people. There so much pressure. The show must go on, whether or not the shipments are on-time, the budget is running over or the keynote speaker's stuck in airport traffic.
It's easy to see why most Reg Pubs, who are already busy solving the problems of registration workflows, don't even try to solve these other "harder" parts of the event.