How (Great) Events Are Like Video Games

There’s a reason adults still play video games, and it’s not just because they don’t want to grow up or they like spending time with their kids. It’s probably not because they don’t have other things to do, either. And although today’s immersive experiences are evolutionary leaps from early home consoles in the 1980s, not much has changed regarding gameplay.

The idea today is the same as it always has been:

1. Identify a goal
2. Gather supplies along the way
3. Learn how to accomplish that goal

Great events are set up the same way. Most goals involved something specific — industry knowledge, networking, business deals. The supplies we acquire are social skills, new product tips, and even shortcuts from experts. To use those supplies, there are opportunities to practice along the way — morning meetings, hallway conversations, and walkthroughs in your hotel room.

8-bit Basement

What if we started treating these obviously event similar tasks the same way we do video games? Why not create accomplishments that allow attendees to record progress, prizes/supplies from vendors as rewards, and information from colleagues and peers to show us best how to use what we’ve learned?

Add Badges To Badges On Lanyards
To event professionals, the idea of walking around with a lanyard and badge holder adorned with stickers, ribbons, and buttons may seem overkill, but if those extras are worn as pieces of pride, we can see how they’d be fun to show off. Think of scavenger hunts (question based), side-event attendance (breakout sessions, off-site meals), and vendor collaboration (say LoopLogic and Infusionsoft presenting on tracking viewer engagement over time through video).

Publish Online Leaderboards
There’s nothing better than showing off accomplishments to the world, especially if traveling the world isn’t required. Online leaderboards listing top achievers at conferences are a great way to get people asking about experiences, if they should attend, and exactly what those achievements stand for.

While treating events like video games sounds cheesy, we bet it’s a heckuva lot of fun and great advertising. What’s the ROI on that?

Integration Points with Infusionsoft

EventDay offers two key points that integrate with Infusionsoft. There are other integration points as well, but these are the two main integration points.

Ticketing
Infusionsoft collects data easily with forms, payments, user data, and everything you need to know about who is coming to your event. Once you set up an EventDay Event, you can create a ticket and then, with that ticket, you can **IMPORT** contacts from Infusionsoft based on users with a specific tag. Then when the attendee checks into the event via mobile, web (with printers, iPhones, and QRCodes) the user will be automatically tagged with an “{My Event Name} Event Attended” tag.

Lead Generation
If you have sponsors for your event, this feature lets you securely grant access to the attendee data, to each sponsor. Instead of just handing over a list of all attendees, our system lets the attendee opt into each sponsor. During a conversation, the Sponsor (using Android or iPhone) can scan a QRCode on the attendee badge, and automatically have the attendee data injected into their own Infusionsoft account (and optionally start an action set, or apply a tag).

“Infusionsoft” and the “Infusionsoft logo” are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Infusion Software, Inc. in the United States and/or other countries.

Do we need Unpublished Session Titles?

We have a dilemma. A current customer with a 2500-person event has made a feature request that we’re not sure if we custom build just for them or add to our basic software configuration. While we know it’s not smart to build any software for one specific company, this feature could be useful to others.

In the above video, co-founder Scott Cate talks about an upcoming event product launch that is meant to be kept secret from the audience. The big reveal will be during the keynote, and the rest of the event consists of classes designed to make working with the client’s new product easier.

Ideally, they’d like to be able to set up speakers, sessions and tracks but NOT publish them until after the keynote. The programming to do this takes time, and we’re wondering how many event organizers out there would find this kind of feature useful. Anyone with an unconference (speakers/sessions are chosen the morning of the event), a product launch (the need for secrecy, obviously) or some kind of members-only information could use this.

Do you see yourself needing unpublished session titles? Is the ‘big’ reveal something your attendees would appreciate? Is the ability to add a bit of mystery to your event worth it?

Let us know!

Badge Design and Options

We’re particularly proud of our badge design philosophy. We’ve attended far too many events with sloppily written, stick-on name tags that fall off quickly and aren’t very legible.

Our badges can be designed to include any information you’d like, including large first names, QR codes, conference logos, perforated email tags, drink/raffle tickets and/or schedules.

While we recommend making badges for badge holders, we do use Dymo label printers to create stick-on name badges for one-day or shorter events. As Scott Cate mentions in the video, stickers tend to fall off easily, adhere poorly to fancy tops and tend to be disliked by women in blouses.

Let us know if you have any questions. Scott is always up to talk badge design and our many options.

Can you process your attendees fast enough?

Can-You-Process-Attendees-Fast-Enough

Artwork drawn by BigRedApe Company

You’ve spent months planning the perfect event, meeting, or conference. Now everyone is planning to show up at the same time, and you have to check them in as fast, and as accurately as possible. No matter how well you plan, no matter what expense and no matter how much time anyone spends planning an event, there’s always one moment where nothing goes exactly to plan. In that moment, the most prepared staffs will thrive.

Professional event planners, like yourself, will do their best to avoid that moment at all costs. When thousands of people show up at your event when you planned for only 500, or when you have to process more people than you have registration space for, our approach can absolutely help.

Here are a few tips-and-tricks we rely on to process a lot of people in a limited amount of space and time.

Single Queue
Provided your event doesn’t have personalized material, having a single queue decreases processing time immensely. Having the badges printed on demand allows every terminal to handle every customer. Airlines and Banks are finally doing this. Everyone stands in the same line, and then is processed by the next available rep. This avoids anyone line from getting backed up, because of a single complex issue.

Check-In Stations
The number of check-in stations you setup, should be determined by the number of attendees, the avg time to process a check-in, and the time allotted for check-in. If you have 1000 guests, to be processed in an hour, and it takes you 11 seconds per guest, you need to process about 17 guests per minute. (17*60 = 1020). So now the question is, how many stations do you need to process 17 guests per minute? With EventDay, we would set you up with 5-7 stations, leaving about 20 seconds per guest to process. We would leave one or two stations open for complex cases, while the other 5 or 6 would be scanning registration tickets, and lighting up the Badge Printers.

(Side note) You may be asking, why we would ever need to process 1000’s of guests/attendees in a single hour. If you have a large multi-day conference, you probably have more than an hour for check in. But we’ve processed dinners and large single day events, where everyone shows up at the same time, and has a very limited time to get processed, and into the venue.

Automation
File>Print>Press Return>Print seems like only a few clicks or keystrokes, but when you’re processing a crowd, every movement counts. Our technology automates the entire print sequence, allowing you to move on to the next in line as quickly as possible. We so wish every event planner did this, as it’s as annoying to watch someone click away on their computer, making that line longer and longer. Image a check-in system with no typing? Scan a barcode on the attendee ticket, and the badge prints. Distribute material, and you’re done. Of course the exceptions here (which take the most time) happens when the attendee doesn’t have their printed confirmation (about 15-20%) and/or need a name correction.

Fast Lookup
If you don’t have barcode or QRCode scanning technology, then manually looking up attendee names, can be enhanced as well with our Live Search. Attendees with common first or last names take longer to find in a traditional check-in system. Our Live Search (filters the attendee list as you type) process requires only a few letters, and those letters can be the for someone’s first name and or their last name, company, or email address. This always let’s us find what we need in seconds. Either way, typing out entire names is completely unnecessary now. Your fingers will thank you.

Badge Printers
Most printers take a while to warm up, a while to process a print request and too long to actually print. The seconds add up quickly the longer a queue gets. We swear by badge printers that print in a matter of seconds (yes seconds). Other options are available, but if you’re looking to get through a line fast, there’s no better solution.

Preprinted Badges
If you must pre-print, print shells, and then print-on-demand the names and attendee information during checks in. A little forethought here might let you design and purchase enough badge blanks to use for next year. With printing, you’ll find that the cost difference between 1000, 2000, and 5000 might be almost nothing. Avoid printing the year on your badge, and reuse the assets next year. Especially on the lanyards if you’re having them customized.

Name Correction
Names will always be spelled incorrectly. An assistant, or friend, signed them up, or just a plain typo can easily happen. When you print a badge, it’s nice to be able to easily correct and reprint the badge. This is a nice touch that goes a long way, and is 100% lost, if you’re pre-printing badges with attendee data.

 

(Click to watch drawing)

Mobile Notifications: In App or SMS – That is the question

When thinking about a mobile offering, it doesn’t take very long to get to a point where notifications come into play. You want to tell the user “Hey – something you’re interested in just happened”. Each mobile platform offers stronger Pros over Cons for using In App Notifications over SMS.

SMS Costs money for the sender, and may or may not cost money for the receiver based on their current data plan.

With In App notifications (on IPhone, Android, and Win Phone 7) you can offer a popup (similar to a received SMS), but additionally can include directions for the application to do something.

So in the end, for notifications, we’re tending to lead towards native In App notifications. Do you agree that we’re on the right track?