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How to choose the best event management software for you

Event technology has practically exploded in the 21st Century, with thousands of software platforms and apps that event organizers and event managers can choose from.

And the event management software market might just be the broadest of all the event tech markets, mainly because so many types of tools are included under the umbrella of event management, which spans from enterprise-level conference and meeting management software, event registration and ticketing tools, events apps and virtual event platforms to venue software and event design and layout tools.

What can be even more intimidating is the sheer number of event management systems offering one, many or most of these tool and feature sets, all with different configurations and pricing structures.

For an event organizer or venue manager who simply wants the right tools to manage successful events, this can all be a bit daunting, which is why we are going to walk you through the nine most common tool sets that are marketed under the banner of event management software.

NOTE: Although this article is a great place to learn about what event management tools are available in the marketplace, you should first sit down and determine what software and functionality needs you will require for your future events. Make a list of those so that, when you are shopping for event management solutions, you know exactly what you are looking for.

Event Planning Software

Often many people think event planning and event management are synonymous, but to be honest, event planning software is a subset of event management that focuses on the behind-the-scenes, nuts-and-bolts organizational aspects of events.

This category of event technology has a project management slant with tools that aim to increase productivity when planning multiple events, which is why you will find that many event planning software platforms include tools for managing:

  • Collaborations, including employees, team members and volunteers
  • Vendors and suppliers
  • Event budgets, including costs and income
  • Run-of-show timelines and schedules
  • Task managers for tracking project flow, deadlines and milestones
  • Shared or team calendars
  • Internal and external communications

Enterprise-level apps may also include event planning tools that assist with exhibitor management, sponsor management and more complex event logistics.

Event Registration

Online registration and ticketing tools may make up the largest portion of the event management software market, possibly due to both the high demand for selling event tickets online and the potentially high profit margins.

You will commonly find the following features offered by various registration and ticketing platforms:

  • Event websites or web pages for promoting your event + online ticketing
  • Customizable online registration forms for setting up tickets and collecting registrations, attendee details and payments
  • Credit card payment processing, which can include credit card processing fees plus per-ticket service charges from the software provider
  • Email communications for sending out registration confirmations, notifications and announcements
  • Analytics and reporting for tracking online registrations revenues and attendance

Note that it is common to see event planning software suites and event apps include registration and ticketing tools in their offerings.

When reviewing event registration tools, pay close attention to the following:

  • Pricing structure, including fees and service charges
  • Ticketing setup options, including nested tickets, add-ons, discount codes, timed pricing, questionnaires, donations and legal terms
  • Event marketing options, including websites and social media integrations

Floor Plan Creation

Online event design tools have become more and more popular over the last decade, and they have also become more sophisticated and feature-packed so that they more resemble graphic design software applications in both their user interface and the professional designs you can create with them. However, because many event layout solutions integrate with their own attendee management and check-in tools, they fall squarely under the event management software category.

Common features for event floor plan apps include element libraries (tables, chairs, furniture, etc.); customized room boundaries; reusable layout templates; automatic alignment of items; auto-generated layouts; and 2D and 3D representation.

Event Marketing

Event organizers usually take one of two approaches in the marketing software tools they choose for their events:

  1. They use general marketing applications for managing email (MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc.), social media posts and profiles (Hootsuite, AgoraPulse, etc.), websites and blogging (WordPress, SquareSpace, etc.), marketing analytics (Google Analytics) or all-in-one marketing platforms (Hubspot, Marketo, etc.).
  2. They use marketing tools included in their event management software application of choice.

Regardless of the path you decide to take, if your event management tasks include promoting and marketing your event, you should include this category of tools as part of your product evaluation as well as any necessary integrations with your existing event registration and ticketing tools.

Attendee Management

Managing attendee registrations, contact information and outreach is a fairly common event management requirement, so it’s vital for most event and meeting planners to have a reliable attendee CRM solution for tracking this data.

In the past, a simple guest list tool would suffice in managing this data. But in this era of enhanced attendee engagement and analytics, you would be well served to identify an app that supplies more functionality, including:

  • Registration order and questionnaire response tracking
  • Assigned seating chart creation
  • Name badge creation
  • Attendee check-in app with QR code scanner
  • Event app integration (more on this in a moment)

Event App

Another way to engage attendees prior to and on event day is to deploy an event app. Typically these are used for larger conferences, conventions and trade shows, but really you can use them for any event where you feel your audience would benefit from tools that simplify how they stay informed and connected at your event.

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Event apps allow organizers to automate and consolidate many functions and resources into a single app on a smartphone or tablet, and so the most common uses of event apps include:

  • Online event program and directory
  • Interactive digital map of event space
  • Personalized schedule for each attendee
  • Built-in attendee networking and communication tools
  • Social media integrations
  • Registration and ticketing integrations
  • Polling and surveys
  • Sponsor and exhibitor promotion

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Event Business Tools

If you run an events-based business like an event venue or event planning firm, then you may want to consider event management platforms that include business and financial tools for managing clients and billing.

Often tools built specifically for the events industry will have particular features or functions that fit your needs better than generic business or financial tools, but this is something you will need to consider when making your assessment. And there may be certain business management tools (like for accounting, customer relationship management, word processing/spreadsheets, etc.) that don’t fall under the aegis of event management.

With that said, these are the most popular tools and features that are sought after by business-minded event professionals:

  • Lead management - contact manager, lead webforms, pipeline/funnel tracking
  • Email communications - account inbox, integration with existing email addresses, drip campaigns
  • Proposals - line items, categories, image gallery, electronic signature capture
  • Contracts - standard legal language templates, electronic signature capture
  • Invoices - line items, categories, installment billing, deposit tracking
  • Payment processing - credit card transactions, ACH transactions
  • Financial reporting - revenues, open invoices, past due payments, financial analytics

One thing to attend to is that if you use accounting software like Quickbooks, the business tools in your event management platform should integrate with your bookkeeping tool of choice. Otherwise you will be wasting lots of time double entering data into two software apps.

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Venue Management

Any venue that rents out its space or engages in group sales or catering sales (which includes restaurants and hotels as well banquet halls and event facilities) is also in the events business, and as such needs event tech tools and venue software apps to help them run the events side of their business.

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These venues will probably require some or all of the business tools mentioned above (especially the lead management and invoicing tools) as well as the following additional features:

  • Booking management - team calendars, integrations with other e-calendars, space/time holds, double-booking prevention
  • Event room/space tracking - reservation tracker, floor plan setup templates, room limitations/amenities
  • Food-and-beverage management - food/beverage items (ingredients, recipes, portion sizes, etc.), menu building, quantities/headcounts, billing
  • Kitchen management - banquet event orders, kitchen orders, ingredient and shopping lists
  • Resource management - inventory tracking (rentals, glassware/plateware, linens, audio visual, etc.)

Note that there is a difference between event venue software (which focuses on the ability to manage the events business and customers for a venue) and platforms for facility management (which focus on room and equipment reservations, maintenance, security, lease administration, etc. for an entire building or facility).

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Virtual Event Platforms

Possibly the newest form of event technology on this list, virtual event management software has grown in popularity in the 2000s as organizers and attendees alike have found value in exposing their live events to an Internet audience. Since the arrival of the coronavirus epidemic, this technology has experienced massive growth because it has enabled the events industry to take events online during periods of stay-at-home and social distancing during the COVID-19 threat.

How do virtual event tools fit into the world of event management apps? Mainly by enabling event professionals to self-broadcast events from a single location from multiple remote locations. In the past, these tools were used mainly for webinars and training purposes, but now you can find entire conferences and trade shows being broadcast virtually as well as smaller meetings and even social events.

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While some virtual event management solutions offer online registration / ticketing and event marketing tools (like event websites, email communications and event apps), most of them include these features:

  • Live video/audio broadcasting in high definition
  • Streaming of presentations and pre-recorded video content
  • Attendee engagement tools (live chat, Q&A, live polling)
  • Virtual networking rooms and apps
  • Asset libraries for attendees (videos, white papers, etc.)
  • Integration with social media live streaming platforms


As you can see, event management software can span a wide variety of tools, features and functions, so it’s best to start your search knowing exactly what you need to accomplish and what jobs you want the software to do. Once you have that list, finding the right fit is just a matter of trying out the solutions that align with your needs.

Collect your vacation ideasin an online trip notebook,and keep everything organizedin one place.

Travel planning shouldn't feel exhausting. It should be exhilarating! … But when your inbox gets cluttered with ideas and requests from tripmates, your browser's bursting with bookmarked hotels and restaurants, and you've lost track of your notes from perusing piles of travel mags — it can become a burden to keep it all straight.

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