The Event Technology Playbook for 2021

Cassy Aite
August 18, 2021
The Event Technology Playbook for 2021

Event technology has played a pivotal role in the spread and adoption of virtual and hybrid events. Whether you’re hosting a virtual lunch and learn session or organizing a large scale expo, you need event technology to streamline the planning and execution process.

In this event technology playbook for 2021, we'll give you an introduction to event technology and explain how you can build an event tech stack. Along the way, we'll also share our favorite event technology tools and cover three major trends that will shape event technology in 2021.

Let’s get started!

What Is Event Technology?

Event technology consists of an assortment of software applications and equipment that help organizers manage the event lifecycle from the planning to the execution phase.

Examples of event technology include event platforms, registration platforms, video conferencing tools, marketing automation software, CRM tools, chatbots, mobile apps, messenger apps, website and CMS builders, social media management tools, and more recently, event experience platforms.

The collection of tools and technologies that organizations use to manage events is typically referred to as the event technology stack, event marketing technology stack, or an event MarTech stack.

Why Is Event Technology Important?

Although event marketing tools have been around for years, the pandemic was a catalyst, driving rapid adoption of event technology as virtual and hybrid events became the mainstay. COVID-19 also fueled the network effect — creating an ecosystem of software services and tools for the events industry.

A survey report from last year found that 92% of the 500 marketing professionals surveyed believe that event technology makes it easy to achieve business goals.

Here are three key reasons you need event technology.

1. Automated Event Workflow

A robot holds hand tools representing automation

Managing the event lifecycle manually — adding new registrations, managing communications, following up with prospects, updating the website, and more — can be time-consuming.

Event technology platforms take out the grunt work, automating workflows and, in general, making life easier for marketers. For instance, you can set up event triggers on your website or CRM to initiate a certain action when an event takes place. A simple use case would be sending out automated email confirmations or text alerts when users register on the platform.

2. No More Human Errors

With so many loose ends, something is bound to fall through the cracks — forgetting to send a reminder, failing to process a payment, etc. Errors increase the manual work and have an adverse impact on the event experience.

With automated workflows, you no longer rely on manual effort. Attendees can register on their own, payment gateways automate payment processing, and the marketing automation software helps you scale your marketing communication efforts.

3. Better Data Analysis

Tools from your event technology stack also capture data points that help you make more informed decisions. You can track the performance of your marketing campaigns and onsite audience engagement, collect and analyze survey results, and so on.

This can surface granular insights to measure the outcome of each element or process in your event marketing campaign. For example, when evaluating onsite engagement, you can view the sessions that enjoyed the highest engagement. Using this information, you can focus on those topics in your content strategy and interview audience-favorite speakers to attract more eyeballs.

How To Build a Technology Stack for Your Events

Choosing the right tools for your event tech stack can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Answering the following questions will help you determine the best-fit tools for your event needs.  

1. What Type of Event Is It?

Is the event in-person, virtual, or hybrid? Once you know the event medium, decide on the event type. Here are some commonly hosted events:

Each of these event types requires unique capabilities. For example, you can host a webinar or workshop with limited features such as live video streaming and audience engagement modules. On the other hand, a virtual trade show will require additional features like a virtual lobby, breakout rooms, networking lounge, virtual cart, and exhibition hall.

The one thing every event on this list needs is event experience solutions. An ideal add-on or best-of-breed should play well (offering integrability) with multiple event platforms from virtual trade show platforms to webinar solutions.

Hoppier’s event experience suite offers a wide spectrum of use-cases and integrations with all major event platforms, including Bizzabo, Hopin, Hublio, Zoom, and more. Create unique event experiences, tap into spend analytics, and bring people, payments, and policies together on one digital platform.

2. What Are the Event Goals?

What are you trying to achieve through the event? Is it to:

  • Drive brand awareness
  • Generate leads
  • Generate revenue
  • Build better customer relationships
  • Boost customer retention

Understanding your event goal and its respective KPIs and metrics will help you determine the tools you need to manage the event. For instance, webinars are powerful lead generation channels, whereas large-scale conferences and expos are designed to be more salesy. Each of these event types calls for a unique set of features and capabilities.

3. What Tools Do You Use in Your Tech Stack?

Chances are you are already using some MarTech tools that can lend themselves to your event stack. Applications like marketing automation, CRM, social media management, chatbots, and so on, are versatile and can fit seamlessly into your event tech framework.

Once you’ve determined the tools you already have, make a list of tech gaps in your event stack. When shortlisting vendors, evaluate their integration capabilities. When using a landing page builder, check whether it can be integrated with your CRM so that new leads are automatically transferred.

Also, decide whether you’d like to opt for a consolidated solution or work with an assortment of tools. If you’re organizing a large-scale event, a consolidated solution is ideal because there’s minimal integration required, and all the information you need is in one place.

4. What Level of Usability Does the Tool Offer?

The technology you choose should be easy to understand and use. Evaluate the products on usability, i.e., the apps should have an aesthetic user interface (UI) and intuitive user experience (UX). Your team will be using these tools every day. Make sure these apps make the process more efficient and effective.

Your website or landing page, registration form, onsite event app, etc., will also be used by your attendees. Therefore, keep attendees' tech-savviness in mind when assessing your options.

5. What Kind of Customer Support Do They Offer?

A customer service rep offers support for an event technology platform

Customer support should play a key role in your purchase decision. Regardless of how good your software is, technical glitches are inevitable. Round-the-clock customer support will be a big part of the solution.

Evaluate your potential vendor’s customer support channels. Are they available via call, live chat, email, or social? Each vendor will have a different support structure for each pricing tier, i.e., the highest plan will come with priority support and a dedicated account manager.

Note that you don’t need priority support for every tool in the stack. Choose the highest tiers for tools like the registration platform, event apps, and the CRM, which hold the most importance because they're customer-facing tools.

6.  What Level of Scalability Does the Tool Offer?

Hybrid events are the future. So, although you may be building your event stack for virtual or smaller events, it’s always helpful to plan ahead.

The applications you choose should be scalable so that whenever you go big, you don’t have to worry too much about adding new tools to the stack.

7. What Else Do You Need to Consider?

Here are three essential considerations to keep in mind when evaluating a software app:

  • What is the average downtime of the software? Go for software apps with a server uptime of above 99%. Also, check whether the product has gone down in the past. If so, how long did it take to troubleshoot?
  • Is the app brandable? A brandable product allows you to highlight your brand and customize the interface (with your logo, brand name, colors, fonts, and more) on various forms of content such as surveys, live streams, apps, etc.
  • What are the personalization options? The software should allow you to customize your marketing campaigns, offer unique coupon codes, and segment the user base for better insights. Certain event tech should be customizable for attendees as well. For example, the attendees should be able to create a tailored learning path based on their goals.

9 Event Technology Tools To Have in Your Stack

Now that we've laid the foundation, let’s look at the top nine categories of tools you need in your event technology stack.

1. Website Builder

Whether you are building a website for a trade show or a dedicated landing page for a webinar, you can do it using a website builder.

An easy-to-use website builder lets you design the website interface and customize it to your requirements. You can add pages, change the interface according to brand guidelines, embed an event schedule and venue maps, and integrate it with your registration platform, analytics tool, and CRM.

The simplest website builder is a content management system that allows you to build pages through a simple drag-and-drop interface.

We Recommend: WordPress, Squarespace, Wix

2. Registration Platform

Registration platforms have matured over the past few years, here are some of the must-have features:

  • Online registration
  • Payment processing (debit and credit cards, check, bank transfer, cash, etc.)
  • Mobile-friendly
  • Tiered pricing
  • Customized registration (where attendees can customize their learning track, and register and pay only for those)
  • Discounted pricing (early bird, group discounts, giveaways, and coupon codes)
  • Automated confirmation and reminder emails

We Recommend: Eventbrite, Cvent, Eventzilla

3. Sales CRM

A CRM application serves as a database of customers and prospects, and enables you to communicate with them on an ongoing basis. A CRM is a data goldmine. You get to understand the demographic, geographic, and psychographic characteristics of your customers, segment them based on various criteria, and target the most relevant audience.

During the event lifecycle, you can add the details of people registering for events and downloading gated content to the CRM.

We Recommend: HubSpot CRM, ActiveCampaign, Freshworks CRM

4. Marketing Automation Software

Your marketing automation app will serve as the central hub for communicating with all attendees. It enables you to run email campaigns, manage social media campaigns, send texts, and create a chatbot, among other features. Some of the most comprehensive apps also let you manage digital advertising campaigns.

You can use the marketing automation software to keep in touch with attendees via email. You can also create automated workflows that send new content, such as speaker interviews, downloadable content, podcasts, and more to attendees on a regular basis.

We Recommend: HubSpot, Marketo, Mailchimp

5. Video Conferencing App

Video conferencing and live streaming apps enable you to broadcast sessions live for your attendees at home. Using these apps, you can host talks, presentations, workshops, seminars, keynotes, and even live performances.

Several video conferencing platforms also let you create breakout rooms that you can use to facilitate group discussions or networking. These platforms offer integrations with other event management platforms to further improve the event experience for attendees.

We Recommend: Zoom, GoToWebinar, Brightcove

6. Gifting and Catering Apps

Event experience has become a key differentiator for virtual and hybrid events. Leading event organizers are doubling down on virtual happy hours, parties, and creative icebreakers to make virtual events more fun. One way you can set yourself apart is by introducing branded virtual credit cards from Hoppier.

The interface of Hoppier's event technology platform that lets users build branded virtual credit cards

You can assign a credit card to every attendee with a preloaded amount. They can use these cards to buy gifts, breakfast, lunch, and drinks. You get the option to pre-approve the vendors or add new ones based on your guests' preferences.

The interface of Hoppier's event technology platform that lets users select vendors for event engagement

You can set an activation and deactivation date for the cards so that they can only be used during the event. You can top-up the cards whenever required, and the unspent money left on the cards after the event will be credited back to you. Hoppier also enables you to track spend metrics, so you get visibility into how attendees are using their allowances.

We Recommend: Hoppier (That’s us!)

7. Event Engagement Apps

Event apps serve as a digital agenda for attendees. Attendees can see the daily line-up, network with fellow attendees, participate in different activities, and post social media updates.

For organizations, these apps enable you to engage with your participants. You can set up polls, Q&As, and surveys to reinforce information covered in your event sessions or to ask for feedback. This information provides deep insights into what the audience thinks and how you can work toward their expectations.

By combining this data with analytics and feeding it into your event management platform, you can get deeper insights into the audience and event.

We Recommend: Slido, EventMobi, Hopin

8. Event Management Platform

Event management platforms are a composite of all the tools we have seen in this section. Many times, these platforms serve as the foundation for the event MarTech stack and act as an intermediary between various tools.

If you are just starting out with building an event stack, start with the event management platform and add on solutions that the event management platform doesn’t offer. Generally, a platform comes with the following features:

  • Event website builder
  • Ticketing and registration
  • Session management
  • Live streaming and on-demand videos
  • Onsite audience engagement and networking
  • Breakout rooms and networking lounges
  • Virtual booths
  • Customized branding
  • Analytics

We Recommend: Bizzabo, Hubilo, Cvent, Splash

9. Collaboration Tools

Collaboration tools help you stay on top of everything when it comes to managing events. Here is a list of collaboration tools to add to your workflow:

  • Messenger Apps: Emails and calls can get too formal. Messenger apps enable you to communicate with your team on the go. (We Recommend: Slack)
  • File Sharing Apps: These apps enable you to organize, share, and backup files without hassles. (We Recommend: Google Drive, Dropbox)
  • Project and Task Management: This tool serves as the home for your event planning. You can create, assign, and manage tasks through this app. (We Recommend: Asana, Trello, Airtable) Alternatively, you can use spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.

Top 3 Event Technology Trends in 2021

We expect these three event technology trends to take shape in 2021.

1. Gamification

A woman holds a video game control, representing gamification in event technology

Virtual event organizers have been struggling to keep audiences engaged. The lack of in-person experiences and digital distractions are the key causes.

Gamification has been around for a while, but 2021 is the year when it becomes integral to the event experience. Gamification incentivizes user behavior — organizations can set rewards to boost survey participation, networking activities, and engagement in general.

We see contests, games, and challenges becoming more common as hybrid and virtual events continue to be the delivery models of choice.

2. Hybrid-Ready Tools

Designing an event experience that caters to both the in-person and virtual audience has been a challenge. Different environments demand different activities, and event management platforms have had a tough time catering to them.

With the rise of hybrid events over the past year, organizations are preferring tools that cater to both event types. However, event management platforms have been adapting to new trends as the industry evolves. With the help of hybrid-ready event platforms, you can provide a coherent event experience to both audiences simultaneously.

3. Micro-Experiences

It's relatively easy for in-person events to deliver an amazing event experience. All you need is one major wow factor. It could be in the form of a stellar live performance or an industry influencer delivering the keynote.

For virtual and hybrid events, organizations need to create a series of micro-experiences. And event tech will play a major role in it. From the registration through to post-event feedback, seamless micro-experiences will define the overall event experience.

Activities that combine the digital and physical, such as virtual lunches or live performances, will become key to delivering these micro-experiences.

Let Your Event Tech Lead the Way

With virtual and hybrid experiences being the future of events, event technology will serve as the key facilitator of a stellar event experience. From hosting online workshops and meetings to creating full-scale trade shows online, event technology has accelerated the growth of virtual events.

We hope this guide has armed you with all the necessary information about event technology. If you have any questions about using Hoppier to improve your event experience, sign up for a free demo.

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
arrow point to CTA

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
arrow point to CTA

Get our best content on culture management
in your inbox 2 times a week

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
arrow point to CTA

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
arrow point to CTA

Get our best content on culture management
in your inbox 2 times a week

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
arrow point to CTA

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
arrow point to CTA

Get our best content on culture management
in your inbox 2 times a week

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
arrow point to CTA

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
arrow point to CTA

Get our best content on culture management
in your inbox 2 times a week

Easily provide lunch for all your virtual attendees

SEE IT IN ACTION

Related content

Make Hoppier your unfair advantage today

Loading...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Our team will support you, to make your event a success

Amazing customer service

Average 4 minute response times

International coverage