Successful events are backed by a ton of moving pieces. Fortunately, we have sophisticated software available today that helps us manage and plan events seamlessly, with each tool serving its own unique purpose.
Recognizing how to use all these software options to their full potential can feel a bit overwhelming as you sift through their purposes, functions, and differences. Which tools are best for managing the event, and which are ideal for planning? How do all the pieces fit together?
Starting with a robust virtual and hybrid event platform is key. Then, you’ll want to find the right tools to pair with this software. These tools will help you efficiently organize and execute all of your goals.
Read on to discover the differences between event planning and management software, how to best choose and use them, and the top tools you should start using right now.
Event Planning Software vs. Event Management Software: What’s the Difference?
To parse out the differences between event planning software and event management software, consider the nuances of the roles associated with event planning and event management.
Event planners focus on the big picture, including:
Event managers are executing the event. They are:
- Managing the logistics
- Coordinating the staff, speakers, and vendors
- Monitoring the event
- Immediately taking care of any issues that occur during the event
Now, apply those roles to their software equivalents:
- Event planning software helps event planners stay organized and communicate effectively.
- Event management software is that robust machine running the actual event and seamlessly connecting speakers and vendors to attendees (and collecting data throughout the process).
You need both pieces to craft an outstanding virtual or hybrid event.
When and Why You Need Event Planning Software
The right event planning tools for you will be unique to your industry, goals, and preferences. Use them to help you capture relevant data, plan everything from big ideas to tiny details, and share all necessary information with venues and collaborators.
If you want to keep all of the pieces of an event organized and streamlined — and seamlessly incorporate the data into your management software — you will benefit from event planning software.
The greatest value of event planning tools are the ways they save time, help you target the right guests and collaborators, and, in turn, help you boost your event ROI.
Want to suggest some new marketing ideas at your next event planning meeting? Check out The Best B2B Event Marketing Ideas [+Tips for Going Virtual].
When and Why You Need Event Management Software
Event management software will help you execute and track all of your ambitious goals, while bringing your event to life. To wrap your head around how the right platform will help you, consider the 5 C’s of Event Management.
What are the 5 C’s of event management?
For concept and coordination, event management software provides the tools to meticulously plan and design every detail of the attendee experience — both for in-person and virtual guests.
Seamlessly control and implement all aspects of the event with personalized event pages, agenda recommendations, registrations and check-ins, and integrated task management and communication tools.
Once the event is over, share recorded content, send out polls for valuable feedback, and analyze the data that was automatically captured during the event to culminate all of the work you did and assess its success at closeout.
How to Choose the Right Event Management and Planning Software for Your Event
To find the right management and planning software for your event, you and your team must consider your greatest needs and wants. Decide which areas could use the most support, and what elements will help you meet or exceed your goals.
Consider these types of questions as you evaluate your options:
- Will the software support virtual and hybrid events?
- Does it have customization and personalization tools?
- Can you control every detail of the audience’s experience, and do you have other support options if you don’t want to do it yourself?
- Can the platform handle your number of attendees, and include strong security features?
- Does it have tools for engagement, such as networking, one-on-one, breakout sessions, games, and instant feedback?
- Will all necessary software integrate seamlessly?
- Can you test it out with a free trial or live demo before purchasing?
- Will the software handle check-in and registration?
- Can you create a mobile app?
- How sophisticated are the reporting and analytics tools?
Free trials or live demos can help you see exactly what you are getting into. Beyond that, how do you know if a certain software will live up to its sales pitch? Search the web for reviews, ratings, awards, and case studies.
Compare the specs and pricing with similar tools. If this is difficult to do because the prices aren’t clearly stated, that may be another factor in your decision.
Quality free planning tools are also available if you don’t need anything too robust.
Want to make sure you’ve covered all the bases? Check out The Best Virtual Event Planning Checklist For Your Event Committee.
The Top Event Management and Planning Tools to Start Using Right Now
Now that you know how to approach the search for the perfect management and planning software for your event, here is a list of the top tools you should start using right now.
These tools will help you stay organized, dig into the details, communicate effectively, customize features, and execute incredible events.
Enhance engagement, save time, and boost your ROI with these intuitive, highly-rated platforms.
SpotMe is your full-fledged event marketing platform. With SpotMe, you can build end-to-end digital experiences, plugging in features from the Marketplace and crafting customized pages to fit your brand. Help in-person and virtual attendees connect with activity feeds, breakout rooms, and engagement features.
Web and mobile apps allow your audience to participate wherever they are in the world. Live video streaming — the key to any virtual or hybrid event — allows attendees to view and interact with content. All live streams are automatically recorded for on-demand distribution, and with the touch of a button you can publish these recordings.
SpotMe specializes in audience engagement and interactive tools that allow all attendees the opportunity to be active participants.
All data is protected on different layers, with full control for event managers to decide how the data is used and processed.
Great For: Handling and executing the event itself. SpotMe is the definition of robust event management software, and can be used as-is.
The following tools make excellent additions to this platform, and will help round out your tech stack.
Looking for some fantastic hybrid event ideas you can incorporate into your planning? Take a look at these Hybrid Event Examples You’ll Want to Copy This Year (And How to Take Virtual Events Hybrid).
#2) Social Tables
With Social Tables, you have access to free event planning tools that can help you create virtual venue tours and set up contactless seating and check-ins. Then, make venue set up and catering logistics simple by sharing 3D diagrams of tables and seating charts.
With these interactive floor plan features, you can easily share all event details and communicate in real time with collaborators.
Social Tables also offers CRM software for hotels and venues.
Great For: Planning the in-person portion of hybrid events. Having the ability to virtually set up your in-person event — and share all details with relevant parties — will make the hybrid experience much smoother and more efficient.
Boomset simplifies the registration and ticketing process by allowing entry through QR code scanning and even face recognition. You can allow attendees to create or edit their own event schedules, or control the session access yourself.
Boomset also allows you to track attendance, automatically provide certificates after completions, and provide cashless payments. Tracking includes sales, check-in and check-out data, real-time statistics, and feedback collection.
Great For: Easily tracking in-person data and allowing innovative, safe ways for attendees to check in and control their own days. This equalizes the in-person and virtual aspects so each attendee can enjoy their own unique experience.
Tripleseat specializes in sophisticated data tools for restaurants, hotels, and unique venues. These tools are meant to track all contact and event details, which then will be turned into actionable reports for sales increases.
Tripleseat also has tools for helping you automatically and immediately respond to potential leads so you don’t miss any opportunities.
Great For: Unique venues and the event planners behind them who are eager to capture any and all relevant data — and turn it into connections and sales.
#5) Member Solutions
Member Solutions aims to help businesses with membership opportunities build loyal communities. This software is meant for industries such as dance schools, fitness centers, martial arts, massage and spa centers, music schools, sports training, yoga studios, and any other membership-based communities.
The features include billing services, event registration, and liability waivers, with a template library and the ability to customize forms with your company logo. Member Solutions also offers email marketing features to inform members about upcoming events and opportunities.
Great For: Any membership-based community looking to streamline and create better organization for all the sign ups, forms, billing, and other event management aspects of their growing business.
If you want to place a heavy emphasis on audience engagement and interaction — and the resulting data from these interactions — check out event management software, Slido. Audience Q&As, live polls, and quizzes reign in this tool, with large, clear displays of all engagements and multiple polling options.
You can use the free basic plan, or upgrade and pay only $12 a month. While your main event management software might have engagement tools, if you want to focus on attendee feedback and ensuring you hear from everyone, Slido can boost that aspect of your event.
Great For: Virtual and hybrid events where you want to ensure all attendees have a say, so you can collect more accurate data and feedback. Q&As allow anonymous participation, too, which can encourage the more shy audience members to speak up.
Hubb is focused on event management for conferences and meetings, including tools to help planners organize relevant content and easily communicate with all speakers, sponsors, and staff.
Content can live in a central hub, so there’s no need for multiple documents with various versions floating around. You can keep all involved parties on task with built-in communication tools.
Great For: Efficiently keeping track of all event content, including top speakers and sponsors. Events with up-to-date information on speakers and sessions are a big draw to your interested audience.
Avochato helps brands communicate with their clients via text message, following the understanding that many people prefer to communicate this way today. On a single platform, your team can manage multiple one-on-one text conversations, or use the live chat or call functions.
You also can create campaigns for automated text messages, use predetermined templates, and broadcast texts to an entire target audience. Gather information from customers by sending out surveys via text and saving the responses to their profiles.
Great For: Customers and clients who prefer communicating via text, whether they’re in person or virtual. If you know your audience loves to use their phones and this would be the most effective way to get a response or to share relevant event information, give Avochato a try.
ClickUp is an event planner’s assistant, focused on task and project management and team collaboration. You can assign tasks to team members and communicate within tasks to keep comments and questions organized.
Each person also can check out content in a variety of views that suit their unique work style, including list, board, calendar, activity, and map views.
Great For: Keeping all the moving pieces of event planning in one place. Keep budgets and schedules on track and manage content — from wherever you or your team members will be. ClickUp is helpful for remote collaboration, or for the super busy teammates who are in and out of the office working on multiple projects.
If you’ve been part of the large majority working from home during the pandemic, you’re probably familiar with Slack. The helpful communication tool streamlines the event planning process by keeping all conversations in one place. This messaging app allows you to create different channels for each team, project, or topic. Slack features real-time messaging, as well as video and voice conferencing.
In addition to the larger channels, users can also break out into private channels. You can save messages, archive them, or use the search function. Slack integrates with many other tools as well, so that you can collaborate with others easily without leaving the platform.
Great For: Fast and easy communication with all involved parties, and on all parts of the planning process. If you download the Slack app on your smartphone, messages will pop up like texts for even easier access.
A notes app for sophisticated event planning? Yes! Evernote syncs across all devices, so you can go from smartphone to computer and pull up all your latest notes, photos, and files.
Stay organized with tags and search functions, which is especially helpful for those planning multiple events.
Great For: Hands-on planners who want to digitize all notes, photos, files, and voice memos in one virtual binder. Did a future vendor hand you a business card? Snap a photo in the app. Did you just think of the perfect way to place that last-minute booth but won’t be at your computer for a few hours? Draw it in the app from your smartphone or tablet.
Trello helps you manage event projects and tasks with a bold, simple layout of boards, lists, and cards. Create your boards, then build up lists and cards detailing assignments and containing attachments and conversations. View projects via timelines, metrics, and calendars.
Trello makes working through tasks satisfying, with drag-and-drop functions that allow you to move cards across different work stages.
Great For: Visually evaluating project tasks and phases, and watching to see how these pieces come together over time. Trello is great for visual leaders to quickly pinpoint what’s going on, how individual team members are performing, and if all planning parts are on track.
Create a Seamless Event With the Right Combination of Event Management and Planning Software
Ready to build an incredible event? With the right event planning and management software, you will create a streamlined, customized, showstopping hybrid event experience that will wow clients and vendors.
Remember to choose your tools based on how they fit best into your brand and allow you to successfully execute your goals. Give careful thought to how you and your team work best, and how the right tool will fit effortlessly into this workflow.
Build your greatest events with SpotMe at the center — a platform designed to help you build and maintain amazing customer relationships by providing an unmatched hybrid event experience.
Try SpotMe today for free, and see how the platform can help you create incredible events.
Other resources to help you find the best event platform and app:
We suggest reading our article about the 13 corporate event trends that will make your events stand out in 2023 and then checking out the following guides to help you succeed in the upcoming year: