The Top Four ‘Off-The-Shelf’ Event Applications

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Building bespoke event software certainly isn’t the cheap and easy solution – it’s always going to be a major decision for any company. The time and cost involved in developing it must be justified, verses using one of the many off-the-shelf products that may provide adequate support for your event.

So how do you work out whether “going bespoke” is the right option for you? Knowing the limitations of the products that are out there is a great first step, so we’re going to review the top four in the industry (in our opinion, of course).

We could write pages and pages on each of them, so we’re going to focus on six areas which we think are most important when evaluating events software:

  1. Customisation Options
  2. Ease of Use
  3. Contact Management
  4. Reporting
  5. Integration
  6. Pricing

Eventbrite

Eventbrite is an easy-to-pick-up tool popular with many small and medium events.

Customisation – Customisation on Eventbrite is super easy through use of a WYSIWYG editor. You can customise sign-up forms, including using conditional logic. Customisation is quite limited when it comes to the overall look of the event page, however.

Ease of Use – Eventbrite is very intuitive. Just name your event, set the date, set a capacity, set ticket prices, add your payment details, and go. It’s just as easy on the customer side too, and it has a great mobile app. They also have 24/7 customer support over phone and email.

Contact Management – Your email marketing can all be done through Eventbrite, and on the day you can use the mobile app to easily register guests or print off an attendance list. You can also export data or integrate the tool with your existing CRM software.

Reporting – Eventbrite offers a full range of reports which you can run before or after the event. As soon as your ticket sales launch, visit stats and conversion rates can be calculated. You can also integrate tools such as Google Analytics, as well as export data in a variety of formats.

Integration – Eventbrite has full Facebook Integration and good links to other social networking sites, and it’s also simple to embed on your website. Eventbrite itself also promotes events through the rest of the site and several partners. Eventbrite also links in with hundreds of other tools such as Mailchimp and Salesforce. Payments through Eventbrite can be managed through PayPal or through their built-in Payment Processing tool.

Pricing – Starting at free! Eventbrite charges a percentage of ticket sales, which means if your events are free to attend, the app is free to use. If you’re running a paid event, you can actually even pass the cost on to your attendees. To be specific, Eventbrite charges 2.5% + £0.99 per sale, with an additional 2.5% for payment processing if you don’t use PayPal.

etouches

etouches is split into 15 modules, each focusing on a different aspect of your event – adding tons of functionality to your event software.

Customisation – Bucket-loads of customisation here – you can customise pretty much every inch of your event. However, website templates are limited and creating a bespoke template requires full coding skills.

Ease of use – The 15 modules, while giving you tons of options, means that the backend can be a little cluttered and confusing. Using etouches to its full potential can be a bit of a minefield for the not-so-techy. Etouches makes up for this with a 24/7 support team, which you will definitely be using.

Contact Management – A specific module called eMarketing can be used to manage emails to customers. There are various check-in options too, so whatever level of sophistication you want your registration to have, etouches can cover it.

Reporting – Like many other aspects of etouches, the quantity of reporting is on steroids! The only issue you’ll have with reporting is an overload of information, meaning your important data can get swallowed up by noise.

Integration –  It’s easy to create a mobile app through etouches – one of their modules is devoted to this exact purpose. A handful of other services, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Salesforce, also integrate with it. etouches integrates with a variety of payment gateways including PayPal.

Pricing – Pricing is per registration, and will drop as registration volume increases. Minimum of 1000 registrations per year.

Cvent

Cvent is the most popular event management software out there, and it has one of the widest arrays of features.

Customisation – Whatever you want to customise, Cvent has it covered. Like the other tools, it is template focused, and this naturally results in some limitations, but the Cvent team are happy to work with you to find workarounds.

Ease of use – Cvent is easier to use than etouches, however the sheer scope of the tool means that it is a little unwieldy to use, with a sharp learning curve and a few UX issues. Customer service, which is 24/7, really is top notch because of this.

Contact Management – Cvent’s contact management is excellent, with tons of data stored on each customer.

Reporting – Reporting in Cvent is robust and simple to use, with reports generated automatically as your event progresses. More custom reports are harder to produce, however.

Integration –  Integration isn’t Cvent’s strongest suit, as it only integrates with a handful of tools. Social integration in particular is poor. Cvent allows you to process payments through a number of tools including PayPal.

Pricing – Set-up fees, plus fees per registrant, plus additional fees for extra modules, mean this is one of the more expensive options out there.

Bizzabo

Award winning networking app turned events one-stop-shop Bizzabo is a more user friendly alternative to Cvent.

Customisation – The event website and registration form are customisable and very fresh-looking, though again with a limited number of website templates. There are issues with some features not being customisable, such as some automated emails.

Ease of use – Bizzabo really excels here. Rather than being a glorified Excel spreadsheet, the entire experience is user friendly and intuitive. It’s definitely down the swishier end of the event app spectrum in terms of look and feel. Support is again available 24/7, however it feels less necessary with this tool.

Contact Management – Email marketing is built into the platform, and the check-in options are useful and contemporary, but there are no additional CRM options.

Reporting – Data is easy to grab from this tool – social data in particular is fantastic on Bizzabo. The lack of a full CRM tool is noticeable here, however.

Integration –  Bizzabo started life as an app, so its mobile functions and social integration are top notch. However, their integration into other tools does suffer as a result of their holistic approach to event management. Bizzabo accepts PayPal and Stripe and has its own payment processing tool.

Pricing – All of Bizzabo’s features are available under a single subscription fee, with no tiers of service, and you also pay a percentage of your ticket sales as well.

Summary

As you may have noticed, the more features added to the off-the-shelf package, the more complex and difficult to work it becomes. Eventbrite is simple, but limited, while tools like etouches and Cvent are difficult to get to grips with and laborious to manage. Bizzabo does a good job of balancing user experience with scope, but at the expense of several features which you may find are deal-breakers.

The biggest benefit of a bespoke tool is that you get only the features that you need, and all the features that you need. Working with Aelite to develop your software also shortens the learning curve, and we work with your team to ensure complete familiarity with how the system works.

For more of an idea as to how these tools compare against bespoke software, why not take a look at our blogs on everything a good event app should be able to do. Weighing up what an off-the-shelf tool can and can’t do for you is your first step to working out whether it’s the right choice.

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