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The ultimate guide to planning tech-powered in-person events

Everything you need to know on how to empower your in-person events with the right technologies that will save you plenty of time and keep your attendees & sponsors coming back for more!

In-person events are back and here to stay! Are you ready to plan your next one? ๐Ÿš€

But before you dive straight into budgeting, venue sourcing, and all kinds of to-do lists, we want you to slow down, take one deep breath and read on. 

As much as we all crave to leave virtual events behind for good, the past 2 years of digitalization have shown how technology can enhance everyone's experience by:

  • Helping event organizers plan smarter events based on tangible analytics.
  • Offloading plenty of time-consuming tasks from event organizers' shoulders (e.g. reducing manual work to a minimum, streamlining ticket and registration to the absolute max, and much more).
  • Taking the guesswork out of networking and maximizing 1:1 meetings to the fullest with AI-powered matchmaking.
  • Boosting ROI for sponsors and providing them with plenty of leads.

So, from meeting the right person in one click to connecting sponsors directly with interesting prospects, the standards of the industry have changed.

And even as we're heading back to in-person, it would be too high of a risk not to incorporate all these precious technologies attendees and sponsors have come to love (and expect).

 

The standards of the event industry have changed.

"Event mobile apps have become the new standards of the industry, as well as features that enable matchmaking and networking," says Valentina Voronova, Team Lead of Customer Success at Brella. 

"Attendees and sponsors not only want them but also expect them as part of a good service."

This guide will walk you through the best tools on the market, and it will teach you exactly how to make the most of event tech to empower your in-person events like never before and work up to 3x faster.

From our team to yours, enjoy! ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’œ

๐ŸŽฅ But before we get started...

Here's a real-life example of what a tech-powered physical event looks like!

We were delighted to partner with CRETech London 2022, and in this video, you'll also hear what the CRETech team and attending sponsor representatives had to say about Brella's AI-powered matchmaking

HubSpot Video


We hope this video inspired you! Now, back to our guide...


Table of contents ๐Ÿ“š

Event organizers are busy folks, and we have a lot of ground to cover here.

Don't panic!

You can bookmark this page for later, and here below you'll find an index that will take you straight to the parts of this guide you want to read first.

  1. Work smarter and faster with these tech must-haves

    ๐ŸŽŸ Digital ticketing and registration: fast, reliable, and simple
    ๐Ÿ“ฑ Native mobile app: the tool your attendees crave
    ๐Ÿ’ป In-person event platform: create your event in 1 hour and collect plenty of data

  2. The power of AI & tech for onsite networking


    ๐Ÿค AI-powered matchmaking for the best in-person networking experience
    ๐Ÿ“ฒ Contact Scanning: the smarter and greener alternative to badges 
    ๐Ÿ’ฏ Networking metrics to foster engagement

  3. Secure more sponsorships with provable ROI


    ๐Ÿฅ‡ AI-matchmaking for sponsors
    ๐Ÿ“Š Analytics for sponsors, lead generation, and provable ROI

  4. Leverage event tech for sustainable events ๐ŸŒฑ

  5. An onsite & tech-fueled success story: TechBBQ ๐Ÿ†

  6. Unlock neverending engagement with your 365 Community


    ๐ŸŒŸ Your custom branded community

  7. Conclusion



Ready to leverage the full power of event tech for an unforgettable in-person event in no time? 

Let's take a deep dive!

1. Work smarter and faster with these tech must-haves

Technology can take your in-person event to new heights, from the ticketing experience all the way to the post-mortem where you'll be able to gather a ton of useful data to plan smarter future events tailored to your audience.

The best part?

We love in-person events, but we also know the struggle of juggling multiple tasks at once that can take up to days. Event tech is your ally, it will help you plan more powerful events and faster! 

"The right event platform does make a difference for in-person event organizers," says Valentina Voronova, Team Lead of Customer Success at Brella.

"It helps you automate the process and save an incredible amount of time!"

"The right event platform helps you automate the whole process and save an incredible amount of time!"

Here are three must-have features you should be on the lookout for and why!

๐ŸŽŸ Digital ticketing and registration: fast, reliable, and simple

Your attendees' experience with your event starts with ticketing and registration. It's in your best interest to make it as seamless as possible for your attendees, but for yourself as well.

After all, why would you juggle different tools when you could have them all in one solution?

Now you can rely on one single digital space integrated into your main event platform, and where your attendees can purchase their tickets with one click, register for the event, and receive the invitation at the same time. 

The key word here is simplicity.

The right ticketing tool will allow you to streamline the ticketing and registration process to the absolute max. 

So, whenever you're considering an event supplier, make sure they offer a digital ticketing solution, but also look for a provider that delivers:

  • A ticketing and registration experience directly within the event platform with no 3rd party tools, apps, or subscriptions required. This will help you manage the whole ticketing and registration process from the comfort of a single admin panel. 
  • The possibility to set up different ticketing options like free or paid entrance (as well as different tiers) - or even better - the option to add discounts and coupon codes. 
  • Customization features to tailor the ticketing and registration page to your brand.
  • Purchase options powered by reliable solutions on the market.

 

ticketing and registration

Discover Brella's ticketing & registration solution!

๐Ÿ“ฑNative mobile app: the tool your attendees crave

It's finally time to say goodbye to video calls and virtual coffees!

The beauty of in-person events lies in the venue, engaging in casual chats with other participants, or diving straight into a buzzing networking area.

"For me, the networking area is the absolute heart of the event!" says Team Lead of Customer Success at Brella, Valentina Voronova. "It emanates a one-of-a-kind energy you have to experience."

However, attendees come to your event with specific goals in mind and these are typically networking opportunities and the content

Now, when it comes to a large-scale event with 2,000+ participants it can be way too easy to get lost or distracted. So, how do you help each and every single one of your attendees consume the content they crave and make the best possible connections? 

"An event app serves as a one-stop place for all event essentials: event info, agenda, attendees, meetings, sponsors, announcements, feedback, chat, you name it!", Valentina says.

TechBBQ - Brella (9)
Discover how our partner TechBBQ achieved 2,800 1:1 meetings with Brella's AI-powered matchmaking!

When choosing your next event supplier, make sure the deal includes an intuitive mobile app for your attendees and sponsors alike. 

Why? 

Through an intuitive mobile app, they can manage their meetings, customize their event agenda, check the event schedule, glimpse at the venue map, and receive real-time messages and notifications all in one single and neat digital space

Plus, a mobile app will save you from wasting unnecessary and messy paper (benefitting your wallet for good measure) and it will help you plan greener events - something else your attendees will appreciate and thank you for

Speaking of which, we're sure you know in-person events are way more pollutive than their virtual counterpart. The good news is that is now easier than ever to ditch the current wasteful practices, so we recommend you read our article on how to plan sustainable in-person events!

Most importantly, keep in mind that event mobile apps have become a new standard in the industry, they're what your attendees expect and a must-have for good service.

 

"An event app serves as a one-stop place for all event essentials." 

 

๐Ÿ’ป In-person event platform: create your event in 1 hour and collect plenty of data

What comes to mind when you hear the word event platform

Is the answer perhaps virtual events

We understand that, but we're also here to tell you that an event platform is much more than just a digital place to host virtual (or hybrid) events. An event platform can - and will - empower your in-person events while saving you a massive amount of time.


How? 

Here are a few examples among many:
  • Upload content, event agenda, speakers, and sponsors info in bulk: all you need is a CSV file and the right event platform will do all the work for you. Imagine the amount of tedious handwork this will save! We can guarantee you that this procedure will take one hour max vs. days of manual work.
  • Automatic table assignment: your job is to create the networking slots and input the number of tables (or seats) in your networking area, the platform will handle all the rest automatically assigning a table for each meeting booked.  
  • Widget: last-minute changes concerning the event schedule are a normal occurrence, but they can turn into a nasty headache the moment you have to make updates across multiple web pages and platforms.

    Here lies the power of widgets! Widgets are a time-saving tool that will allow you to make changes to the schedule in one place and have those changes updated across multiple platforms all in one go. 

Time efficiency and simplicity are probably the greatest benefits of relying on an event platform for your in-person event, but that's not all! 

Virtual events have proven the massive advantages of collecting event data, and now, you can do the exact same at your in-person event. 

With the right event platform, you can track your audience behavior, discover trending topics, and much more. Plus, you will be able to export all these metrics and reports to your event CRM to leverage your findings in your daily work.

Event data tells you an in-depth story of your whole event and based on these numbers, you can measure your goalsupgrade your event strategy, and prove your ROI capabilities to sponsors.

And remember that measurement doesn't start and stop when your event does - with an event platform, you can measure what happens before and after too. This helps paint a three-dimensional picture of your attendees' journey.

 

 

Event data tells you an in-depth story of your whole event.

 

2. The power of AI & tech for onsite networking

Things haven't changed since 2020, and 86% of your audience still attends your events to find meaningful connections.

In-person events are the perfect place for spontaneous chats that might lead to great life-changing encounters, and that's amazing!

Yet, some of your attendees might not have the luxury of gambling on serendipitous encounters, so why not give them the right tools to make the absolute most out of their limited networking time?

Here are the tech must-haves to foster new connections and facilitate communication amongst attendees and sponsors onsite.

๐Ÿค AI-powered matchmaking for the best in-person networking experience

At Brella, we've had the absolute pleasure of creating millions of intent-based connections at in-person, virtual, and hybrid events and we are very aware of the power of AI-powered matchmaking

What is AI-powered matchmaking?

It's a precision tool that relies on a powerful recommendation engine. The AI can analyze thousands of data points and connect top matches in a matter of seconds based on their networking interests. The same applies to event sponsors and partners that can connect straight to their qualified leads.

AI-powered matchmaking is a guaranteed time-saver and the best way on the market to secure high-quality meetings. Plus, it will help you foster engagement and ultimately improve your NPS.

Plus, many attendees have experienced the benefits of intent-based matchmaking, and they're not settling for anything less than that. So, consider providing them with this opportunity at your next in-person event!


Find out more about AI-powered matchmaking

Bizclick media

"Matchmaking is the standout feature of the platform!" Read the full success story of our partner BizClik Media Group!

๐Ÿ“ฒ Contact Scanning: the smarter and greener alternative to badges 

As your attendees bump into new interesting connections at the venue, how do you picture the exchange of information in 2022?

Business cards and badge printing are a thing of the past and it's now time to rely on new handy digital solutions.

For this, contact scanning will work like a charm!

With the contact scanning feature, your attendees and sponsors can easily scan a unique QR code to connect with interesting leads, prospects, and meeting partners in seconds. All of this directly from their mobile devices.

Bonus points?

The contact scanning isn't only a practical tool for your attendees, it's also a cost-effective and eco-friendly alternative to printing expensive badges that will end up in a trashcan at the end of the event. 

Here below you'll see a real-life example of Contact Scanning in action:

new contact scanning

Discover our Contact Scanning feature!
 

๐Ÿ’ฏ Networking metrics to foster engagement

So far, we've highlighted how networking is the most important aspect of any event, but how do you quantify your networking strategy and maximize engagement

Event platforms are a goldmine for valuable event stats and numbers but, as you're considering the different options on the market, pay close attention to what event networking metrics youโ€™ll have access to and how reliable they are.

Here are some of the top event networking metrics you need to track in order to assess your networking strategy and adjust your approach:

  • Total number of meetings & users with meetings: more meetings (and users with meetings) mean more attendees networked at your in-person event.
  • Average engagement per user: this number takes different data into account (e.g. the number of accepted meetings, meeting requests, chat messages, and more). 13 is the average score based on our extensive portfolio.
  • Engagement before & during the event: these metrics show you how active your attendees within your platform were before and during the event.
  • Meeting requests: when many meeting requests are accepted it generally means your attendees are engaged and use your tool actively.
  • Interests & intent data: by tracking your attendees' interests you will be able to assess the top-trending topics, while intent data will give you better insight into what are your attendeesโ€™ networking goals to plan better future events tailored to your audience.

If you want the full list of all the networking metrics you should track for maximizing your attendees' and sponsors' networking experiences at your in-person events, we recommend you check this in-depth article on the Top 10 Event Networking Metrics you Should Track

 

3. Secure more sponsorships with provable ROI

Sponsors are a key part of your event planning and production, and they come for your attendees.

After all, meeting the right participants can accelerate their business.


Our research has demonstrated that: 
  • Thanks to AI-powered matchmaking, nearly 2 in 5 sponsors meeting requests are accepted compared to only 2% of cold email requests.
  • Sponsors are demanding more accurate reporting and numbers to prove ROI.
  • 3x more sponsors come back after having a successful 1:1 meeting.

So, how do you secure your sponsors with meaningful connections with qualified leads and provable ROI

You guessed right, event tech!

Here are two crucial features you can leverage to retain and attract more sponsorships deals at your next in-person event! 


๐Ÿฅ‡ AI-matchmaking for sponsors

As with your attendees, AI-powered matchmaking will help your sponsors connect with the right people in a matter of seconds.

Plus, by accessing the event platform (or mobile app) your sponsors will be able to browse a list of qualified leads and reach out directly to schedule 1:1 meetings, generating positive ROI even long before your event begins.

Our event experts at Brella, recommend opening your event platform 14 days before the start of your event which gives attendees and sponsors plenty of time to start filling their schedules with intent-based 1:1 meetings. 

Want to learn exactly how much AI-matchmaking can benefit your sponsors?

Check this article on how to book 635x more meetings with your event sponsorship!


๐Ÿ“Š Analytics for sponsors, lead generation, and provable ROI

How do you provide probable ROI to sponsors and not just an estimate?

With robust event analytics!

"The most crucial ROI metrics for in-person sponsorships are leads, meetings, and traffic analytics," says Team Lead of Customer Success at Brella, Valentina Voronova.

"Thatโ€™s why the chance to pre-schedule and report the numbers of meetings is paramount for sponsors and exhibitors."

At an in-person event, a sponsor may have a rough estimate of how many meetings they had - if they took time to keep count, that is. And as long as they remembered to scan the badge of every booth visitor, they'll have a mostly accurate list of leads.

Moreover, prospective clients might miss an interesting sponsor booth at a crowded venue. Do you know what they won't miss though? 

A virtual sponsor booth on their event mobile app! 

And what happens when a prospect can't make it to the onsite booth but checks the virtual booth through the event app? The system tracks the lead and brings it straight to your sponsors. 

Thanks to the event platform you can let your sponsors know exactly how many meetings they had, together with a list of leads through traffic to their booth, and the segment of your audience who selected that they were interested in the sponsor's offerings.

Now you see how the right event platform will deliver massive value to your event sponsors!

sponsor data

Discover our advanced event sponsorship features! 

 

4. Leverage event tech for sustainable events ๐ŸŒฑ

In a recent article, we talked at length about how the right event tech will help you plan more sustainable events that both your attendees and our planet will love!

Studies have reported the average in-person event wastes between 15%-20% of the food it produces, while a 3-day conference for 1,000 attendees not only can create up to 5,670kg of waste but can also lead to 530 metric tons of CO2 emissions.

There's still a lot of room for improvement, and with the current state of the climate crisis, itโ€™s time event professionals move sustainability all the way to the top of their priority list.

Virtual events are unanimously seen as a greener alternative to onsite gatherings, however, hereโ€™s the good news: planning sustainable in-person events is now easier than ever with the help of technology.

We mentioned a few practical examples throughout this guide, but you can find more effective strategies right here!

One Planted Tree 12

Did you know that Brella has pledged to plant 100,000 trees in 2022? Read more on our partnership with One Tree Planted! 

5. An onsite & tech-fueled success story: TechBBQ ๐Ÿ†

TechBBQ is the largest startup and innovation summit in Scandinavia with the ultimate mission of strengthening the Nordic startup ecosystem by building communities of like-minded professionals, and most importantly, connecting startups looking for funding to suitable investors.

The minds behind TechBBQ know that one right meeting can completely tip the scale for a growing startup, and they also know that no networking opportunity should be left to chance.

โ€œNetworking has to be efficient. The attendees donโ€™t want to waste their time, they need to know who theyโ€™re going to meet and when.โ€
Mikkel Bendixsen, Head of Events at TechBBQ

In 2021, TechBBQ came back stronger than ever with a 2-day in-person conference attended by 4,500+ attendees.

Read how Brella helped them plan a phenomenal return to in-person!

The Ultimate guide to empowering in-person events with tech (1)

Learn how TechBBQ empowered in-person networking with AI-Matchmaking!

6. Neverending engagement: your 365 Community ๐ŸŒ

Communities have become the hot topic in the event industry, but before we dive deeper into communities, there's a key distinction we must make. 

The general definition of a community is a group of people who share a common cause or interest. However, when we talk about communities that surround a brand, business, or event the definition goes far deeper than this.

Thriving communities that truly serve the needs of your organization, partners, and community members are a central location for insightful discussion, meaningful networking, and valuable content in an exclusive branded space. 

In the events industry, communities for events-first organizations are akin to an afterparty that doesnโ€™t end.

But here comes the million-dollar question: as an event organizer, how do you start your own branded community? 

We have several resources that can help you follow the steps of giant brands like Apple, Supreme, and Atlassian and learn from them.

And if you'd like to learn more practical tips and strategies from professional community managers and experts, we recommend you download a free copy of the Community Management 101 Guide


community guide

Download your free copy of the Community Management 101 Guide!


Ready to start your community? Read on! 

 

๐ŸŒŸ Your custom branded community

Online communities are the most impactful way to gather your audience in one place and engage them between events.

That's why your community platform should work as a central location for discussions, networking, information exchange, and fun until your next event. 

When choosing your community platform, you're faced with several options like a free social platform or building your own community from scratch.

Additionally, you could also rely on multiple tools, which is something we don't recommend. 

We witnessed the struggle of manually juggling multiple non-integrated tools to engage and track community members across different platforms (which have their own distinct rules and quirks).

We also watched the struggle of generating a steady stream of content on free social platforms hoping that the algorithm would pick the posts over thousands of competing voices and brands. 

It doesn't sound like the optimal solution to engage your audience all year-round and provide them with valuable content and meaningful connections, does it?

If it's your goal to build an exclusive and self-sustaining space that attracts selected members with plenty of valuable content and exclusive networking opportunities, a fully owned platform is the right solution for you

Plus, an advanced owned platform will also provide you with many added features and benefits like:

  • Intelligent content discovery
  • Community-managed and on-demand content
  • Intent-based connections for effective networking
  • Monetization features for your business and partners

The cherry on top for event-driven organizations? 

A community platform that not only offers all of the benefits above but is also fully compatible with your event platform from the ground up.


Build and scale your custom branded community 

HubSpot Video
Say hello to Brella Communities!

Conclusion

The digitalization of the event industry has shown the game-changing power of event tech.

So, even as we're heading back to the good old in-person events, the standards of the industry have changed, and event organizers who aren't tapping into the power of tech will soon be bested by the ones who are. 

Tools like an event platform, event mobile app, AI-matchmaking, and contact scanning - to name a few - will not only help you plan better events for your attendees and sponsors, but they will also make your job a lot easier, smarter, and faster (up to 3x times faster, to be precise). 

If you selected one specific chapter, here's the index that will take you wherever you want to go next - but we recommend you scroll further down for some quick parting words!

  1. Work smarter and faster with these tech must-haves

    ๐ŸŽŸ Digital ticketing and registration: fast, reliable, and simple
    ๐Ÿ“ฑ Native mobile app: the tool your attendees crave
    ๐Ÿ’ป In-person event platform: create your event in 1 hour and collect plenty of data

  2. The power of AI & tech for onsite networking


    ๐Ÿค AI-powered matchmaking for the best in-person networking experience
    ๐Ÿ“ฒ Contact Scanning: the smarter and greener alternative to badges 
    ๐Ÿ’ฏ Networking metrics to foster engagement

  3. Secure more sponsorships with provable ROI


    ๐Ÿฅ‡ AI-matchmaking for sponsors
    ๐Ÿ“Š Analytics for sponsors, lead generation, and provable ROI

  4. Leverage event tech for sustainable events ๐ŸŒฑ

  5. An onsite & tech-fueled success story: TechBBQ ๐Ÿ†

  6. Unlock neverending engagement with your 365 Community


    ๐ŸŒŸ Your custom branded community

If you made it this far, thank you for sticking with us! ๐Ÿš€

We hope this guide helped shed some light on why event tech is a must-have for your in-person events and how it will not only make your life much easier but will also add massive value to your attendees and sponsors. 

So, where do we go from here? ๐Ÿค”

We'd love to continue this conversation face-to-face and tell you more about leveraging the power of event tech for your next in-person event.

Schedule your free consultation call with our event experts by clicking the button below. We can't wait to talk to you soon!

Talk to an event expert

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