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The event managers best tool…an iPad mini.

Last updated December 9th, 2013

Most event managers are pretty organized. They have to be. If there’s one thing you can’t be late for it’s a live event.
More often than not there’s been no time to do a full run through before an event goes live (unlike a theatre or music production). It could be a business conference, fashion show, festival, wedding, brand experience, sports event…the experience happens only once. There are rarely second chances.
So what does an event manger rely on to ensure that everything goes as planned? Increasingly event production (and event training) is run from the thin but immensely powerful screen of an iPad…or increasingly the even more portable iPad mini.
Picture the scene 5 years ago… the event planner toiling under a shelf full of folders and notebooks, a constantly crashing desk top computer and some overworked printers smoking hot in an attempt to create the running orders, scripts, agendas, schedules, budgets, registration forms, call sheets etc that form the paper based production of an event.
Now we direct events from a single device that fits in your coat pocket and weighs less than your wallet… the iPad mini. How?
This article will look at some of the applications of the technology that an iPad can access as well as some of the very practical short cuts that this device can offer the event manger.

Pre Event

Typically at the outset there will be some sort of pitch or presentation process, whether to raise funds or to convince a client that you are the team for this project. What better way to deliver these creative ideas and their costs than on the clean, portable and accessible iPad mini? Give your client the ‘presentation’ to hold in their own hands and scroll them through it from your device… over a coffee.
Once you have the go ahead with the project you then have the task of marketing it. Even if this is for an internal employee audience they still need to be engaged beforehand. An iPad will enable you to integrate and continuously update all your marketing and social PR in the lead up to the event, as well as creating new content (photos, blogs and videos) which can drip feed into your marketing.
Another pre event process that used to be big headache was the registration and recruitment of attendees. Ticketing, billing and their administration almost needed a separate department… housed in a portacabin filled with unskilled volunteers rifling through envelopes of cheques and cash. Now apps and platforms such as Sign In, Eventbrite and Entry Manager do the job for you pretty much end to end. The joy of using a tablet, now welded to your finger tips, is that you can check sales and registration at anytime of the day or night, taking much of the risk and much of the stress out of the experience of delivering a live event. You can obviously achieve the same level of control with your budgeting. Better to check little and often than wait for the big shock when its too late to adjust.
The random unknowns of travel, logistics and weather have also opened up to a host of apps with which you can not only monitor but also manage and supervise the progress of your attendees to the venue. One of the best is Flighttrack which you can get real time flight itinerary updates. Similar apps are available for railtravel and for the road networks around most city venues and for weather. Check out WeatherPro, jetlagGenie or M25cams for travel busting tech.
Most events have some sort of ‘talent’ be that guest speaker, celebrity host, band, comedian, sportsman/woman. Finding and securing them can take time. Booking and managing them can take even more time. Yet now at least you can find them on both formal or social media channels and then keep them updated in the run up to your event date… minimising the danger that they will be off brief, late or even a no show on the day/night. Zwoor event allows you to create and share the event with others, manage their travel and time as well as giving restricted access to specific participants.
All the other attendees, delegates, guests, ticket holders can also be kept up to date as the itinerary or running order develops and changes. Again there are a number of apps that enable you to keep in touch and keep updating such as myguestlist, Bloodhound and twoppy but perhaps the most established and well integrated is Eventbrite which will take payment, manage attendees and post content.
No question the biggest challenge in the lead up to the event will be its project management. This is likely to be shared between a number of individuals, suppliers or even agencies…as well as the client. Co-ordinating this between different groups, time zones, languages and systems can be challenging. The best tools that we have used are Dropbox and Huddle for shared resource management and Trello, podio and Basecamp for more collaborative sharing. They are all worth investigating if you haven’t used them before but go for ‘dropbox’ for first time simplicity and Trello or Basecamp for the next level up. Google Drive is obviously another option.

The Event

Now the event is actually live. How can your iPad mini help you on site? Well even if Eventbrite has taken care of your delegate management, there are some nifty devices such as Sign in, At the Door, Square and Paypal that will allow you to actually manage registration and payments on the day. They are worth checking out if only because your iPad is a more lovely thing to interact with at the registration desk than a scruffy bit of paper and a bic pen. First impressions count…
Onto networking. Chimpadeedo is a great tool with a great name allowing individuals to share in real time on site, but many of the apps available for networking are based on the simple QR format in which you share your details with another, find a like minded fellow, congregate around a conversation or even facilitate a session. SpotMe, QRPager Gold and myguestlist are some of the front runners that your iPad would support.
Participating and sharing are perhaps the next most important considerations both for the event organiser and the participant. This could range from taking and posting simple photographs at a wedding or concert down to more complex webcasting at a conference or trade show. Eventcast and the better known SoundCloud will broadcast your content in different ways but PadShare and Projectorfy share any number of iPads and allow the users to do cool things like live voting or sharing content such as video or presentations.
Particularly for events that require remote participants at least to feel involved there are a range of tools that attempt to simulate the experience of actually being there. Again these tools work within any live experience, from weddings or fashion shows, conferences or sporting events. Google has it’s Hangouts, Skype is always an option, gotomeeting is another variant as is joinme. To be honest none of them really come close to replacing the experience of actually being there live, together. The live bit is why events exist and why we love them. But your iPad will at least allow you to bring others into the experience to some degree.
At Event Academy we often use individual (human) ‘hybrid angels’ on site at events to use their iPads to film content from a range of different angles or even in different spaces to enable remote participants to get in close to the action. It helps to make participants feel as though they have been there. Remote delegates/ticket holders can then use a device like a Twitter wall or Instagram image stream to feedback into the event. Again this can be controlled by your iPad.

Post Event

Your device is also a key tool to capture content from which you can create the story of your own event. This can allow the experience and the conversation to stay alive, to keep participants involved and to promote the next event.
Finally data captured on your iPad mini, through registration and online feedback (from apps such as Polldaddy, Quicktap Survey or Lilypad) can enable the ambitious event manager to measure the effectiveness of their event. From this you can then run some analytics which will ensure that the dodgy travel logistics, cold coffee, substandard washrooms and lack of heating that everyone complained about are sorted for next time!
As an event manager an iPad mini (and a bit of Love) is really all you need…

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