Whether you’re a concert promoter, events manager at a brewery, or owner of a yoga studio putting on events; you know that organizing and promoting events can be hugely time consuming. You need to carefully consider and use the best software tools for events you use. These tools, along with some productivity mental models will help you get more done in less time and less stress.
In this comprehensive guide to the best software tools for events, we will dive into what tools you need to become a more effective, productive event organizer or promoter. Each section is a deep dive into these topics and links to various other resources that should help.
Getting better at productivity is important for any career and it is an ongoing endeavor that never ends. There are always improvements to make and new productivity tools to use. But by putting in a concentrated effort, prioritizing productivity, and utilizing automation, you’ll find that you have more space to do the parts of your job that you love!
To make this comprehensive guide to productivity for event organizers, make use of this Table of Contents!
Table of Contents
- Importance of Software Tools for Events Planning and Promotion
- Event Management Software: Simplify and Centralize Operations
- Event Planning and Promotion Tools: From Start to Finish
- Comprehensive toolset for event planning and promotion
- Task management for event planners
- Internal communication for event teams
- Ticketing, payments, and registration for smooth attendee sign-ups
- Budgeting tools for events
- Event marketing tools for event promoters
- Vendor management for events and conferences
- Floor and stage layout tools for event planners
- Event scheduling software for seamless organization
- Virtual and hybrid event solutions
- Reporting and analytics for events
- Tools to streamline settlement and compensation for event promoters
- Comprehensive toolset for event planning and promotion
- Conclusion: Software Tools for Events
- Additional Resources
Importance of Software Tools for Events Planning and Promotion
Successful event planning and promotion require careful organization, efficient management, and effective marketing strategies, and juggling many stakeholders. In today’s fast-paced digital age, leveraging the right software tools can make a substantial difference in streamlining processes and maximizing the chances of event success.
Unfortunately for event organizers, there are no tools that perfectly tie together all these aspects of planning and promoting events.
Any tool that claims to do it all generally does a lot (but not all) of your tasks, but doesn’t do them optimally. There are trade-offs to consider when choosing software tools that claim to be all-in-one solutions. They are often very good at one or two things and then do the other things sub-optimally. The best solution is to tie together event planning and productivity tools that are right for the specifics of your event business.
Every promoter and organizer has slightly different needs, so you are the only one that can determine what tools and processes will work best for you.
I know we keep using event organizer and event promoter somewhat interchangeably. The difference between an organizer and promoter is somewhat nuanced and depends on the industry. We’ll do our best to use them where appropriate.
Event Management Software: Simplify and Centralize Operations
Event management software refers to software designed to assist event managers in organizing and executing events efficiently. These software tools provide comprehensive solutions that encompass a wide range of tasks involved in running events, offering a streamlined approach for event professionals.
Because each event organization is different, there is no one-size-fits-all event management software.
Also, your event management software is not the whole picture. Most of the time you will also need other productivity tools for the administrative parts of your job as an event planner or organizer and a totally different set of tools for event marketing and the promotion of your events.
But why don’t we start with event management software and go from there:
Key Features and Benefits To Consider
Firstly, you’ll want to think through the needs of your events. What do you need from a ticketing system, website, email list, notifications, check-in tool, and vendor management. Write everything down you can think of that needs managed.
If you’re already an event organizer, you should know these tasks very well. Think through your whole process for an event from start to finish. Don’t leave anything out. It’s often the little details that end up being repetitive and cost you a ton of time (and money).
Some common event management tasks include:
- Project management
- Managing budgets
- Creating a registration and information website
- Accepting payments from both vendors and attendees
- Tracking registration
- Sending out communications like invites, reminders, and updates
- Importing past guests to re-engage
- Creating floor plans and maps
- Tracking and managing vendors
- Managing and communicating with volunteers
- Creating and sharing schedules and set lists
- Checking-in attendees
- Selling tickets at the event
- Hosting virtual video access to the events
- Providing digital networking opportunities for attendees
- Reporting on financials, attendance, and marketing
- Streamlining settlement and compensation
- Duplicating information from one event to the next
Event marketing and promotion is sometimes included in an event management software, but often these solutions are too limited to address the real needs of public-facing events. We’ll dive deeper into event promotion tools in a later section.
Examples of Popular Event Management Tools
There are many popular event management tools that serve different segments of the event and entertainment industry.
Here are some examples of popular event management tools and what industry they serve:
- Eventbrite (Entertainment and Small-to-Medium Events)
- Wild Apricot (Membership Organizations)
- A2Z Events (Large Conferences and Events)
- Bizzabo (Business Conferences and Communities)
- Cvent (Corporate Events)
- PlanningPod (Conferences and Venues)
- Whova (Conferences and Corporate Events)
- Prism.FM (Live Event Venues)
- Opendate (Live Music Venues)
- iVvy (Stadiums and Large Venues)
- Momentus (Stadiums and Pro Sports)
- Master Tour by Eventric (Touring Artists)
- Gigwell (Booking agents and talent)
This list is just a sample of the most popular event management software tools. They all are all-in-one solutions or try to be all-inclusive.
In the next section, we’re going to break out some more specialized event planning and promotion tools. You may notice some of the event management tools repeated because they are particularly strong for specific uses, but may fall short as all-in-one solutions.
Event Planning and Promotion Tools: From Start to Finish
When it comes to organizing and promoting successful events, having the right set of tools can make a world of difference. As discussed earlier in this guide, breaking out tools into specific tools for each stage of the event planning and promotion process can help make sure you events go smoothly and with optimal results.
In this section, we will explore essential event software tools that you can utilize throughout the entire event lifecycle. We’ll delve into task management solutions that help streamline the coordination of various event-related activities, event scheduling software that ensures seamless organization, event registration tools that facilitate smooth attendee sign-ups, and event ticketing software that simplifies the ticket sales process.
By harnessing the power of these tools, event professionals can enhance their efficiency and effectiveness, leading to memorable and successful events.
Comprehensive toolset for event planning and promotion
Previously in this guide, we discussed creating an list of all the tasks that need to be performed in order to organize and promote an event. You may have additional tasks that are specific to the way you plan and promote your own events.
From the ones we listed early, they can be wrapped up into the following stages and use cases:
- Task management
- Internal communication
- Ticketing, payments, and registration
- Marketing and promotion
- Organizing vendors (if applicable)
- Floor and stage layout planning
- Schedules, set lists, and call sheets
- Virtual/hybrid event solutions
- Reporting and analytics
- Settlement and compensation
This list is pretty comprehensive and may include portions that are not applicable to your events.
Task management for event planners
Task management software comes in many shapes and sizes. Often it is built into a event management software. But if not, or you are looking for something more efficient, consider some of these alternatives.
- Trello (Most simple + free)
- Asana (Comprehensive free tier + scales well)
- Click-Up (Great internal communication add-ons)
- Wrike (Built-in templates + team task distribution)
- Basecamp (Great free plan)
- Active Collab (Includes invoicing and team budgeting)
- Monday.com (Most adaptable)
Our team at Vesta uses a combination of Asana and Google Calendar to stay coordinated and productive.
Kristen Lau-Grover, Director of Marketing & PR at Hawaii Food and Wine Festival, shared in a podcast with us that she uses Asana. Their team uses it to coordinate with other members of their festival team to make sure important information gets between departments when it is needed.
As and aside on productivity tools, time blocking on Google Calendar can be a great way to make sure you’re actually giving yourself enough time in the day to get everything done. Especially in the entertainment and event industry where we can be inundated with meetings, it can be incredibly effective to block off actual time on your calendar to get specific work done. If you have a team, it can boost their productivity to encourage them to do this as well (and respect those time blocks by not scheduling meetings during them).
Speaking of teams…
Internal communication for event teams
Communicating with your team via text messages, calls, and emails can get super chaotic.
Which email did I sent that to again? Oh. That was in a text. Hold on, I need to scroll for ages to get back to that message.
Instead, using a internal communication tool can help you keep track of your conversation and important information.
Here are some of the most popular internal communication tools you should consider for your event team:
- Click-up (Combines well with task management)
- Slack (Easy-to-use + lots of automations)
- Microsoft Teams (Integrates to other Microsoft products)
Slack in particular is such a popular tool for software companies that there are a ton of automations and integrations. That means Slack works well with other software you use like your task management software, email, file storage, and even your payment software.
A fun, motivating Slack automation to setup is a notice every time a payment is received (or ticket sold). This can feel very motivating to a promotion team as they see their work paying off with real people buying tickets.
Oh look! Another smooth transition:
Ticketing, payments, and registration for smooth attendee sign-ups
One of the most controversial event software tools is ticketing.
Just take a look at this list of event ticketing platforms. That only scratches the surface.
Most event organizers get hung up on the fees when considering an event ticketing solution. This is important, but you’ll find that most event ticketing companies charge similar fees. Also, there will always be credit card processing fees; there’s no good way around that.
So, if you’re stuck paying for a ticketing software, it’s best to make sure you’re getting the most additional benefits out of it!
Some important things to consider in a ticketing software solution are:
- customer support (for both you as an event organizer and your attendees who buy tickets)
- additional features (mobile ticketing, check-in ticket scanning, ticket transfers, waitlists)
- user experience (mobile-friendly, number of steps to purchase a ticket, clear ticket fee pricing)
- integrations with other software tools (check out some of these Zapier automations)
- data and analytics
Eventbrite is one of the most dominate ticketing software solutions out there that has a ton of integrations with other software. We actually thought they might be losing their footing in the industry, but a recent report from our team might show they’re actually gaining ground because of all the new features they’ve added for event organizers.
Overall, your ticketing, payments, and registration software is one of the most important software decisions you’ll make. Don’t be afraid to switch, though, if you aren’t getting what you need.
Budgeting tools for events
Budgeting is a crucial aspect of event planning, and having the right software tools can significantly simplify the process. Budgeting tools for events offer features that help organizers track expenses, manage costs, and allocate funds efficiently.
Honestly, for most organizations a simple shared Google Sheets document and QuickBooks or Stripe will do the trick.
The nice thing about QuickBooks, Stripe, and Google Sheets is that they are powerful but can be light-weight if needed. Because they’re also popular budgeting tools used by many industries, there are a ton of automations for them as well!
Thera are more advanced tools for more advanced organizations. These tools provide a centralized platform for creating and managing budgets, enabling event professionals to set financial goals, monitor spending, and make informed decisions to stay within budget. With real-time visibility into financial data, automated expense tracking, and customizable reporting capabilities, budgeting tools empower event planners to optimize their financial resources and ensure the financial success of their events. By leveraging these software tools, event organizers can streamline their budgeting processes, minimize financial risks, and ultimately deliver successful events.
Some specific budgeting tools for events are:
- Cvent Event Budget Management
- Planning Pod
Seriously, for most people, just use Quickbooks.
Event marketing tools for event promoters
Event marketing tools for event promoters is our favorite topic.
That’s because we saw a need for specific event promotion tools and we built them!
But we’re not here just to talk about Vesta. Effective event marketing will take a suite of tools to make your promotions as efficient and successful as possible.
If you want to know what marketing channels are most important for events, check out our 2023 Event Promotion Trends Report. It is full of data and answers from professional event organizers and the marketing channels they are using most effectively for event promotion.
Effective marketing channels for event promotion in order of ranked importance by organizers:
- Social media
- Email marketing (Event email marketing best practices)
- Online listings (community event calendars, AirBnB experiences, etc.)
- PR and news outreach
- Search Engine Optimization (Learn more about how to get your events to the top of Google)
- Online paid advertisements (If you’re a non-profit, you can get $10,000 in free Google Ad credits)
- Print flyers and posters
- Local influencers
- Radio, television, other traditional advertising
- Print mailers (yes, people still do those and they work!)
- Text marketing
- Direct message outreach
- Referral and affiliate programs
- Word-of-Mouth and dark social
That’s a lot of marketing channels, we know. That’s why being as efficient as possible with your event promotion can make sure you and your team are productive enough to keep up.
We’re working on a more comprehensive guide for event promotion tools, but to get you started here are a few you should know about:
- Vesta (Automate posting to local community event calendars)
- Loomly (Social media scheduling for teams)
- Buffer (Tried and true social media scheduling tool)
- Use your ticketing solution for email (so it automatically integrates with tickets sold)
- Vesta Email Boost (Reach new email subscribers that have opted-in to hear about events)
- ToneDen (Automated social media ads)
- Canva (Design and print in one application)
- SimpleTexting (Affordable text marketing tool)
Vendor management for events and conferences
Vendor management can mean a few different things depending on what kind of event we are talking about. The term vendor means slightly different things for conferences, weddings, and concerts vs festivals and fairs. That can make finding a vendor management software confusing.
There are different terms commonly used to differentiate between the types of vendors in the context of events and venues. These terms help specify the nature of the vendor’s offering and distinguish between service-based vendors and vendors selling goods. Here are some commonly used terms:
- Service Providers: This term generally refers to vendors that offer specialized services related to event production, logistics, or management. It encompasses various service-based vendors such as sound and lighting providers, stage construction companies, security services, and catering companies. Service providers are hired for their expertise and skills in delivering specific services required for the event.
- Merchandise Vendors: Merchandise vendors are specifically focused on selling event-related products, such as T-shirts, posters, CDs, or other memorabilia. They set up merchandise booths or stands at the event where attendees can browse and purchase items. These vendors are often associated with artists, bands, or the event itself, and their primary business is selling physical goods.
- Food and Beverage Vendors: This term refers to vendors that specialize in providing food and beverage services at events. They offer a range of food options, snacks, beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic), and sometimes full catering services. Food and beverage vendors ensure that attendees have access to refreshments and sustenance during the event.
- Retail Vendors: Retail vendors are vendors that sell a variety of products directly to event attendees. While they may not be exclusively associated with events, they set up booths or stalls at the event to offer their goods for sale. Retail vendors can include a wide range of products such as clothing, accessories, artwork, or other retail items.
- Sponsors: While not really vendors, sponsor relationships need to be managed somewhere. This could be your vendor management software or CRM. If you want to learn more about how to get and manage sponsors for your event, check out our Ultimate Guide To Event Sponsorship.
These terms are commonly used within the event industry to differentiate between vendors based on the type of offering they provide.
With that out of the way, what vendor management software is out there?
For managing booking, communication, and coordinator of vendors these are some of the best options:
- Event Essentials
- Cvent Event Management
- Planner Pod
Often vendor management is also wrapped into all-in-one event management software or CRMs.
Floor and stage layout tools for event planners
Many event planners have already embraced the use of event floor plan apps to streamline their processes. These apps, accessible on various devices, simplify and accelerate floor plan design, a crucial element of event planning. This may be more critical for certain types of events than others.
Event floor plan apps not only save time but also serve as valuable tools for pitching services to clients by providing mock-ups that help visualize event setups and instill confidence in the chosen venue. By keeping teams organized and on the same page, these apps free up time for other essential tasks such as marketing, logistics, and vendor management.
Here are some of the top floor plan apps for event planners:
- Social Tables
- Planning Pod
- Figma Jam
These apps for event floor plans are standards in the industry, especially for fairs and conferences.
For concerts and entertainment, you might be looking for a stage plot software like:
- StagePlot Guru
- Napkin Sketch
- Figma Jam
- Pelix Stage Plot
Often the stage plot will be given to you by the performers or their managers, but it’s always good to have the stage design apps in your back pocket to be prepared.
Event scheduling software for seamless organization
Coming up with the event schedule and moving things around until the day of show (or lets be honest, in the middle of day of show too) can be a lot to manage. It’s a critical part of planning a successful event.
The type of event scheduling software that is right for you will also depend on the type of event you are planning.
For entertainment events, we’re generally looking at a lineup or performance schedule. This may be easy to track in a speadsheet for smaller events but can become more complicated for bigger events.
Most often entertainment and concert event schedules are managed through the event management software, especially those that are specific to the industry like Master Tour, Gigwell, and Prism.fm.
For a conference, business event, or fair, an event schedule is a list of activities and sessions. These are often overlapping and happening on different “tracks” throughout the duration of the event.
Again, these are often either managed in a speadsheet or through the event management software like Cvent event management software, Bizzabo or the others listed before. One specific scheduler is called Sched event scheduling software.
Virtual and hybrid event solutions
The past few years have seen a huge rise in the adoption of virtual and hybrid event formats for obvious reasons. They aren’t just for conferences anymore either. Even concerts and music festivals are making their entertainment more accessible with hybrid events.
A virtual or hybrid event solution refers to a comprehensive set of technologies, platforms, and tools that enable the planning, organization, and execution of events in a virtual or hybrid format.
Virtual events are entirely online, allowing attendees to participate remotely from anywhere with an internet connection.
On the other hand, hybrid events combine both in-person and virtual elements, catering to both physical attendees and remote participants. These solutions typically include features such as live video streaming, interactive chat and networking capabilities, virtual exhibit halls, event registration and ticketing systems, and analytics to measure attendee engagement and event success.
Virtual and hybrid event solutions provide event organizers with the means to deliver engaging and interactive experiences to a global audience, transcending geographical limitations and offering flexibility in event delivery.
Sometimes hacking together multiple software solutions might be the best (and probably most affordable) to host virtual or hybrid events. However, there are some full-fledged software tools that allow you to host virtual and hybrid events mostly in one platform.
Some of the leaders in virutal and hybrid events are:
Most of these virtual event solutions provide “lobby” waiting areas, the ability for attendees to connect with one another, and other activities to make they highly engaging.
Reporting and analytics for events
In event planning and promotion, data is powerful.
Event software tools with analytics provide valuable insights into attendee behavior, campaign performance, and event success. Analyzing data helps organizers make informed decisions, improve future events, and understand attendee preferences, registration trends, and ROI. This data-driven knowledge leads to better outcomes and increased attendee satisfaction.
However, it’s important to note that marketing, especially event marketing, often loses activity to untrackable dark social channels. While there are ways to track dark social and word-of-mouth, some activities remain untraceable. Cutting activities that build brand awareness and encourage word-of-mouth can harm revenue.
Many event management software solutions and in-particular ticketing solutions offer built-in analytics and reporting. These can be a good start, but won’t give you a full view of your analytics.
Apart from the built-in analytics provided by event management software, event organizers can utilize various additional tools to track their analytics effectively. Some recommended tools include:
- Google Analytics: A powerful web analytics tool that offers detailed insights into website traffic, user behavior, and conversion rates. By integrating Google Analytics with event websites or landing pages, organizers can track visitor data, measure engagement, and gain a comprehensive understanding of website performance.
- Social Media Analytics: Popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn provide analytics dashboards that offer valuable data on post reach, engagement, and audience demographics. Event organizers can leverage these insights to evaluate the effectiveness of their social media marketing campaigns and adjust strategies accordingly.
- Email Marketing Analytics: Email marketing platforms like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, or Sendinblue provide analytics features that allow organizers to monitor the performance of their event-related email campaigns. These tools offer metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates, helping organizers assess the impact of their email communications.
- URL Tracking Tools: URL tracking tools like Bitly or UTM parameters enable event organizers to create custom trackable links. By appending specific parameters to URLs shared through different channels, organizers can differentiate traffic sources and measure the effectiveness of each marketing channel in driving website visits and conversions.
- Heatmap Tools: Heatmap tools like Hotjar or Crazy Egg provide visual representations of user behavior on event websites or landing pages. These tools track mouse movement, clicks, and scrolling patterns, helping organizers identify areas of interest and optimize the website layout and user experience.
By leveraging these additional tracking tools in conjunction with their event management software, you can gather comprehensive data, gain actionable insights, and make informed decisions to improve your event strategies.
Tools to streamline settlement and compensation for event promoters
The process of calculating payments to artists, vendors, and the venue after an event is commonly referred to as “settlement.” It involves reconciling the financial aspects of the event, such as ticket sales, merchandise revenue, and expenses, to determine the amounts owed to each party involved. The settlement process ensures that everyone receives their agreed-upon compensation based on the terms outlined in the contracts or agreements.
The settlement process is a well-known headache because of how complicated yet critical it can be. You don’t want to be the event organizer or promoter who messes up compensation. Usually it happens at the end of the event too. That means it is at a time where you’re probably burning out and not always able to think clearly.
A simple spreadsheet could work. If your event isn’t too complicated you could try to use a Google Sheet template.
For more complicated events or where you need something more professional, look to a dedicated event management software that includes an automated settlement process. Prism.fm has an excellent automated settlement process for concert venues. OpenDate is another that automates the settlement process. It would be worth asking these companies for a demo before committing to their software to make sure they meet your needs, especially for a task as critical as settlement.
Other event management software solutions like Cvent offer the ability to pay vendors through their platforms. As long as you have everyone setup as vendors, it should be doable to manage settlement through those platforms. It can be more complicated when you have a box office split equivalent for your event.
Conclusion: Software Tools for Events
Organizing and promoting events can be a time-consuming and challenging task for event organizers and promoters across various industries. However, by embracing software tools for events, professionals can significantly enhance their efficiency and effectiveness in managing these endeavors. Throughout this comprehensive guide, we have explored the importance of the best software tools and shared valuable insights on becoming a more effective and productive event organizer or promoter.
From streamlining event planning and execution to optimizing marketing strategies and maximizing attendee satisfaction, event software tools offer a wide array of benefits. By leveraging these tools and adopting productivity mental models, event professionals can accomplish more in less time and with reduced stress.
It’s essential to recognize that improving productivity is an ongoing journey that requires continuous efforts and exploration of new tools and techniques. By making a concerted effort to prioritize productivity and staying abreast of the latest productivity software tools and strategies, event organizers can create more space to focus on the aspects of their job that they truly love.
So, whether you’re a concert promoter, brewery events manager, or owner of a yoga studio hosting events, investing in the best event software tools is a key step towards achieving successful and well-executed events. Remember, productivity is not just a means to an end but a lifelong pursuit that can transform your event planning and promotion career. By embracing productivity tools and prioritizing productivity, you’ll pave the way for more impactful and fulfilling experiences in the events you create.