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Plan your next big event online
Published Wednesday, December 31, 1969
by Monique McKenzie, For The Charlotte Post

Truth be told, planning an event is a headache for most business owners. If you do it on your own, you spend a lot of time recreating the wheel, not knowing if there is a more efficient way to get a task done.


On the other hand, hiring a professional can make you feel like you’re in a black hole because you’re essentially unaware of how things are going until the big moment. If the event is a success, that’s great. But, if the event flops, your planner will run down all of the reasons why it wasn’t her fault as she submits her invoice. No wonder event planning is so frustrating.

Fortunately, the internet offers an interesting substitute. Web applications such as www.eventbrite.com, www.amiando.com, www.eventsbot.com, www.madeit.com and others help users manage, organize and plan events online. For many professionals, this type of event planning can be a godsend.

“For small business owners who don’t have a person in house, an internet event planning application is a more affordable alternative than using an independent contractor,” says Felecia Harris,Ed.D, owner of Educational Enhancement Inc., a company that provides training and consulting for people and organizations in the areas of diversity, and professional and leadership development. “If the goal of those applications is to get people to an event without the business owner having to get bogged down with all of the details then that’s not a bad deal.”

The benefits of online event planning are wide ranging. For the most part, web-based applications track attendees, collect data through surveys, allow users to set-up a customized web page for the event, and provide management of free as well as ticketed events. Where fees apply, the companies typically allow a percentage of the ticket price as a handling charge. Google merchant and PayPal are the most common methods for managing payments but there are applications that support other payments options such as wire transfers, credit cards, invoicing, and checks.

Applications differ according to the level of sophistication, the promotional tools offered, and the extras. For example, MadeIt has a pretty straightforward approach to event management but the program’s lack of bells and whistles is also a weakness. The application doesn’t allow comp tickets, for instance. Alternatively, Eventsbot has an extensive selection of payment choices.

Added features, though unnecessary for a successful event, almost make the planning process enjoyable. Amiando is heavy on the bonuses. The application has a more interactive approach than its competitors by allowing attendees to add photos as well as comments. Both Amiando and Eventsbot provide email templates for invitations. Eventbrite’s planners will appreciate the application’s user-friendliness, ability to develop attendee badges in a PDF format, and strong cross-promotion capability. On the flip side, Eventbrite charges a higher commission than its counterparts.

So which planning software is for you? It depends on how easy you want the process and how much you want to pay. The good news is that choices for internet event planning software are as varied as your needs.

“The biggest thing with event planning is making sure that you have warm bodies in the seats without having to spend an enormous amount of time on the logistical stuff,” Harris says. “It’s just not possible for many of us to stand out on the corner passing out postcards.”

Monique McKenzie is the owner of Small Business Boot Camp (www.smallbusinessbootcamp.biz), a Charlotte-based consulting firm to entrepreneurs. Log onto her website to hear The McKenzie Business Forum talk radio show on Thursdays at 3 p.m.


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