After planning and hosting events for several years, I’ve come to adore certain gadgets and gizmos.  I guess you could call me a party nerd.  (Is that an oxymoron?)  Below are a few of my favorite, tried-and-true tools of the events trade that I use time and time again, including budget-friendly options and chances to splurge.

Organizing

apps

SAVE: Eventbrite // SPLURGE: Splash

Eventbrite costs nothing for free events, and you can pass any service/processing fees to your guests for paid events.  Since it’s so popular, most people are familiar with it and already have accounts.  There’s multiple integrations, such as MailChimp and HubSpot, and useful apps like Eventbrite Organizer for check-in and monitoring.

For all its merits, it’s not perfect; since it’s so recognizable, the invitation email can look generic to potential attendees and get quickly deleted.  There’s also some features I wish it had, like automatically importing a large guest list; currently, you can import invitees, but they still have to RSVP themselves.  This is not ideal for large groups of clients who get comped tickets.

If Eventbrite is the figurative corporation, Splash is the cool startup.  It does have a free option, but it caps out at 5,000 contacts and 300 emails.  The enterprise option is $200/month for each admin user, so three admins would be $7,200.  A bit pricey – but it just looks so cool.  It’s super brandable, has a unique and clean style, includes email scheduling and ROI analysis and tracking.  As an event attendee, I am always very impressed by Splash invitations.

Registration

lanyardstand

SAVE: 2-Tier Spinner Rack // SPLURGE: Rotating Stand with Sign

This part of an event can get messy.  There’s always that stressful first hour after the doors open when people are flooding the table or booth where you’ve set up badges, agendas and lanyards, and it can be really easy to let it get out of control if you’re not organized.  One of my favorite tools to keep things accessible and neat is a tabletop lanyard holder.  Before the event begins, you can load one of these up with lanyards and put it at the end of your ‘registration assembly line’ – where a guest checks in, is handed a badge, and can take their own lanyard to quickly assemble their badge themselves.  You can also use it to hang swag for people to grab and go, as pictured above.

Signage

sign

SAVE: Top-Loading Acrylic Display // SPLURGE: Magnetic Acrylic Display (pictured)

This is my favorite item to use at events.  An acrylic tabletop sign makes any piece of signage or marketing collateral look instantly elegant.  I’ve used these for featured cocktails at a hosted bar, instructions/directions for guests (like “registration” or “please take one”) and promotional flyers on banquet tables for guests to look at as they eat or drink.  And even the splurge option isn’t too bad on the wallet!

Bonus: I also keep one of these pedestal displays in my bag o’ tricks.  It’s great for directing guests at the entrance of an event to registration, bathrooms, etc.

Printed Collateral

vistamoo

SAVE: Vistaprint // SPLURGE: Moo

Once you’ve got your guests’ attention with the stylish invitation, smooth check-in process and fancy signs, you don’t want to forget to share your company’s message.  Printed collateral can be dropped in swag bags, placed on cocktail tables, or slipped into agendas (and will make your sales and marketing teams happy), so this is an important feature that should not be overlooked.

Vistaprint is a widely popular option for printing anything from full-color business cards, brochures and posters – I’ve even used them to print a stamp of our logo for gift bags (as seen in my holiday party post).  It’s quite affordable, and in my experience, has great and quick customer service.

Like Splash, Moo is the hip (yet slightly pricier) version of Vistaprint.  The material they use is always high quality, and everything I’ve ordered from them, including stickers, business cards and letterheads, looks very clean and modern.

 

There you have it, some of my favorite tools of the trade.  What are some of yours?