So you’ve made the decision to start using a specialized event planning application to help organize your events. Maybe you’ve done some reading and understand the tremendous value-add of such apps, or maybe you went to an event organized using an event planning app and witnessed the benefits firsthand.
Either way, choosing to use event planning apps is a great, if daunting, decision.
Because the event tech market is highly fragmented and there are so many niche players solutions, it’s hard to know where to begin. Do you need an all-in-one solution? Would you rather use multiple single-purpose applications in tandem?
There are benefits and consequences to either approach. Here we will attempt to outline just what your options are so that you can make an informed decision about which app or apps will best serve your specific needs.
Invitation and RSVP Apps
These are applications that primarily focus on sending invitations and gathering RSVPs to gauge event attendance. Essential features include email templates and response analytics.
The apps listed below are all great choices if you are just focused on getting a headcount for your event. If you need any additional features, you’ll need to incorporate other event planning apps or look to an application with more tools.
- Evite - Use email or text messages to send online invitations for birthdays, baby showers, and more. Focused on providing a simple workflow and flexible templates.
- Facebook Events - Great for small events among groups of friends. Facebook is fantastic for quickly creating meetups and one-off events, but doesn’t have many features and requires all the invitees to be on Facebook.
- Punchbowl - Provides beautiful and sophisticated email invitations. Also, has more sophisticated tracking than many competitors.
- Paperless Post - Aims to replicate the feeling of physical mail in the digital space. Good for all kinds of events and provides a number of formats including cards, letters, and invitations.
The biggest name is this space is, of course, SurveyMonkey. They’ve practically cornered the market for survey creation, although Typeform and others do present nice alternatives.
Survey Apps will give you the ability to create unique and reactive questionnaires including branching logic, utilize multiple question types, and track responses. Like with Invitation and RSVP Apps, these are pretty niche in that they only cover one aspect of the event planning process, but for that role both SurveyMonkey and Typeform are great tools.
- SurveyMonkey - The reigning champ in online surveys. SurveyMonkey gives you plenty of tools including custom logic and editable designs to create powerful and flexible surveys.
- Google Forms - collect information about upcoming events with Google's free online surveying tool
- Typeform - Easier to use than SurveyMonkey and adopted by many of the world’s largest companies including Apple and Uber, Typeform is a rising star in the survey space. They focus on ease-of-use of design so that your surveys look and feel polished.
Conference and Corporate Apps
For large-scale and customer-facing events, several companies have created applications which provide all the necessary tools for a successful event.
Boomset is specifically aimed a conferences while Bizzabo caters primarily to medium-to-large companies. However, both provide several essential tools including space planning, RSVP tracking, and invitations. The only real downside of these applications is that they lack the feature set and scalability to work for one-off and smaller events.
- Boomset - As mentioned above, Boomset is focused on conferences and, as such, gives you tools specific to those events like booth management, networking tools, and venue management.
- Bizzabo - Practically an all-in-one solution in its own right, Bizzabo provides a number of tools for large-scale events including: invitations, attendance tracking, and itinerary management.
The last few years have seen a dramatic surge in the usage of Payment Apps. Venmo has become nearly ubiquitous among millennials. Incorporating any of the applications below into your event is bound to make the process of selling and collecting payments much more efficient.
Most of these apps take a percentage of the transaction, but for the ease of use provided, it’s a no-brainer to use one of these apps. Bear in mind that many more sophisticated event planning apps like Eventbrite and Eventene incorporate Payment Apps into their toolset, so you may not need to use any of these options as a standalone solution.
- Venmo - Great for one-to-one transactions between individuals and there are no transaction fees (unless you want to funds to hit your bank account instantly).
- Paypal - The biggest name in this space, Paypal is great because it has brand-recognition, integrates well with many other apps, and accepts a number of payment types.
- Stripe - Similar to Paypal, but with more modern appointments and an easier-to-use backend.
Ticket Apps provide a number of tools, but still operate as niche solutions in that they only serve one event type: ticket-based events. There are, albeit, many of these kinds of events and the number is growing year-over-year, but outside of experiential events like concerts, festivals, and shows, you may struggle if these solutions are your primary event planning app.
However, for ticket-based events, it’s hard to beat Eventbrite and Eventzilla. They make the process of publicly listing your event, selling tickets, and collecting payments incredibly easy.
- Eventbrite - The most well-known Ticket App by far, Eventbrite allows you to easily set up and manage events and ticket sales. Plus, the prominence of Eventbrite means that events listed through them receive more attention and better organic search placement. That’s not to mention the opportunities to boost events with ads.
- Eventzilla - Eventzilla focuses on security and completeness. They market themselves as not just a ticketing app, but also a full registration service.
Lastly, we have the non-niche players. These are the major applications that serve many event types and provide a whole host of features. Some of these features may not be as sophisticated as the more-specialized solutions, but what the All-In-One Solutions offer in terms of efficiency and integration cannot be understated.
Using any of the below apps will eliminate issues with having data in multiple places and having to learn several applications. Furthermore, in most cases they are more cost-effective than stringing together several single-purpose tools.
Cvent is aimed at corporate and larger-scale events while Facebook caters to small, one-off parties among friends. In the middle is Eventene which handles both scenarios; though it doesn’t scale as large as Cvent.
- Cvent - Perhaps the most sophisticated, and also costly, event planning solution available. Cvent gives you a ton of tools and flexibility with invitations, payments, assignments, venue management, and more, but it is difficult to use and expensive, with combined annual subscription fees and costly per-event fees.
- Eventene - Provides many of the features of Cvent, but with a focus on small-medium businesses (SMB). Eventene is easier to use and contains the features most needed by SMB, with exceptional value in lower licensing fees. It gives a number of tools for: surveys, invitations, tracking, payments, and assignments.