Event Planning Tools that Saved My Life ( or maybe just my Event)

The thought of October keeps me up at night. I imagine myself with a month full of events running around frizzy haired and frantic. Did I remember to order that extra lead scanner? Did our event invites get sent out? Where the heck is my T-shirt shipment?  Redis Labs is doing a number of events and webinars in October feel free to check them out, they are literally my life’s work at the moment and if you’re planning to attend, yes I will give you a shirt, a sticker, a baby onesie,  and what not. Anyways, as I once heard in Spy Kids, a spy is only as good as his/her gadgets. In event planning, a planner may not be only as good as her tools, but they certainly help! I want to walk you through a couple of the event planning tools that I have recently discovered and am eager to try. The first tool is for lead retrieval, and helps me categorize our leads faster, the second is an event website which is allowing me to bypass having to bother my entire website team, and generally allowing me a great chance to drive traction to my booth!

When we attend an event, there are a number of challenges that are faced. If we have too many people at the booth, I cannot possibly expect the sales team to fill out an in depth questionnaire gathering details on each and every lead. Instead we’ve resorted to simply scanning them and sorting them out later, which simply isn’t scalable. Enter expo badge and whoever thought of the action code. For those of you who aren’t familiar with lead collection at events, let me break it down for you. At the majority of large scale tech events all attendees are given badges with a bar code on them, similar to the bar codes on your food items at a grocery store, sponsors at the shows have scanners at their booth that can scan these bar codes, similar to those that cashiers at the grocery store have to scan your groceries. When a sponsor scans you they get the information that you put down to register, usually consisting of name, company, title, email and phone number. All of this information is useful for a sponsor, but it isn’t enough to categorize you from the many other attendees at the show. For example, I am interested in all database admins, but I am particularly eager to talk to those database admins that are seeking a NoSQL solution. How then can I categorize them? In most shows we utilize a survey administered via an ipad, however with crowds of up to 30 people at a time showing up to my rather small  booth, , its not practical to have each person do a questionnaire, instead something like an action code is much more feasible. An action code is simply another bar code that is generated with data saying “Interested in NoSQL” or “Hot Lead” or “Wants a meeting.” With action codes I can simply scan an attendee, find out data and quickly scan the action codes that best apply to them. If you are interested in learning more about action codes, or if my explanation of this miraculous action code is unclear check out another blog that explains the concept very well here.

While action codes are great for dealing with large amounts of traffic at the sponsor booth, first one must achieve this high traffic at the booth. One option to attract traffic at your booth is to create an event specific page for the booth, and the various activities or talks you will be hosting at your booth. However, it is not always possible to have a web page set up specifically for your event, particularly when you have a small team with many tasks. As  a former sales operations employee I understand and value processes and why they are needed to keep a business running. However processes can be long, arduous, and keep work from happening in a timely manner. Because events are so time bound, and will happen regardless of whether or not your team can make deliverables in due time, you have to find a way to think outside the box. Hence I decided to attempt to make my own event website. I am not a technical person. I have attempted to learn java, and html numerous times and can scrape by in a pinch, but designing my own event website using code, that’s not something I would even consider. Thanks to splash I don’t have too! Check out my event website for AWS re:Invent here, no coding was involved in my designing experience. This wonderful tool has allowed me to set up an event website, and get some RSVPs for talks at our booth, which hopefully means more traffic! More traffic also means more using action codes 🙂

Overall, each event comes with it’s own set of challenges, fortunately challenges can be overcome with the right tools ( and attitude). I’m not saying I won’t still be freaking out every show, but these tools help me sleep better, as do my great suppliers who’ve promised that my shipments will arrive in time. With expo badge and splash by my side I think I might make it through October in one piece. As for the frizz,  lots of serum, heat protectant and my industrial strength GHD straightener should be able to handle that…right?


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