The fun part of being an event planner is that we get to sprinkle our magic glitter on events and make things pretty by transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. However, most of us would agree that the administrative functions of our role are not at all glitz and glamor. Staying on top of the business side of your event business can be overwhelming.
Thankfully, there is help.
The age of technology has made the event management aspect of planning events easier than ever. There are online tools that help with time management, design layout, guest management, budget management and more.
The greatest part about these programs is that they are all web-based. So you don’t have to worry about your hard work getting lost in cyberspace should something unfortunate happen to your computer.
In writing this article, I approached it like a project, keeping you, the reader at the forefront of my mind. With a barrage of event planning software tools available online, and the busy lives of event planners, I strategically selected programs that were easy to use, and reasonable in cost for this article.
I wanted to highlight two of my favorite planning tools, which are Allseated, and Intuit Quickbooks. However, for the sake of not being biased, I did a little research and test drove a few other programs. I have to say, I was impressed with some of the product offerings, so let’s dive in.
HoneyBook / Dubsado / Intuit Quickbooks
Need help with organizing all that paper work?
HoneyBook.com, and Dubsado.com can be a big help. Both are great time management tools that offer a sweet user interface where you can keep track of contracts, invoices, inquiries, proposals sent and signed, as well as retainers paid. Dubsado event offers a time tracker for hourly billing. Free Trials are available and the cost for HoneyBook is $40 a month or $400 for the year, and the cost for Dubsado is $15 a month, $175 a year or $600 a one-time fee.
The noticeable differences between the two that caught my eye were the content layout design of each page. HoneyBook will work better for the individual who is more visual. For those who are more analytical, I think Dubsado will work best. But that’s just my opinion. Tell me what you think in the comments.
For those needing a little more administrative help, like myself, Intuit Quickbooks.com is another great choice. This program has the same capabilities as HoneyBook and Dubsado but with a few more bells and whistles. In addition, it has a feature to pay taxes online, maximize tax deductions, prepare 1099’s as well as organize expenses. Quickbooks will not only keep your organized throughout the year, it will have you tax ready at the end of the year.
Wedding/Party Planning Management
BestPartyEver / EasyEventPlanning / AllSeated / TopTablePlanner/ SocialTables
BestPartyEver.com and EasyEventPlanning.com are two fabulous tools for organizing the logistics of your event. Why are they so fabulous? Because they’re FREE! BestPartyEver.com allows the user to organize vendors, party ideas, favorite articles, guest list, timeline, budget calculator as well as free invitation printables.
EasyEventPlanning.com is a software program that allows you to send save the date cards, indicate meal preferences, RSVP, song request, and manage ticketed events. The cool thing about this program in addition to its being free, there are no annoying banner ads.
Allseated.com is my personal favorite because of its many features. In addition to this program being free forever, the tutorials give simple and thorough instructions on how to navigate the program, it’s very easy to use. The customizable profile page gives a clean, professional appearance to those who will be involved with the event you’re working on. You can share information with everyone who’s involved in the planning process of the event.
RSVP management is a cinch; with just a check of a box you have a general idea of a final guest count. Creating a floor plan, and seating chart is a breeze; just drop and drag the tools, and you are all set.
The guest management function of Allseated allows you to create multiple sub-events that may be associated with a main event, which enables you to determine, at the client’s discretion, which guest will attend what event.
For example, the Johnson wedding will be listed as the main event category, within the main category will contain the master guest list. The sub-events will be the bridal shower, the bachelor party, the rehearsal dinner, the wedding ceremony and the reception. With ease you can simply check which guest from the master list will be attending which sub-event. This is a great tool, because certainly, you don’t want your dear Aunt Sue, head of her church’s mother’s board to get an invite to the bachelor party, even though you may have invited her to the rehearsal dinner. Allseated makes it easy to line multiple events. Like many of the other paid online software apps, Allseated has 24/7 technical support.
Another program that I stumbled across while planning this article, that I feel is worth mentioning is TopTablePlanner. This program is extremely user friendly, it’s almost like an introductory program to Allseated. TopTablePlanner.com has easy to use tools for arranging seats and rearranging guest and particular guest tables. If you are a novice at navigating software planning tools, I would highly suggest starting with TopTablePlanner. There is no need to register to use the free trial and packages range from $20-$80 a month.
If you’re ready to impress your clients and receive stellar service, you may want to check out another popular software planning program, SocialTables.com. This site offers incredible member support. SocialTable goes one step further than some of the other software programs by assigning each account holder a customer success manager, who will work with you one on one to ensure your success with using the tool. It has the same collaboration, diagramming, floor plan, seating chart function as Allseated, yet its more comprehensive. SocialTable offers a 14-day free trial period, and packages begin at $99 a month.
Once you’ve hit the big leagues, and have several staff under your command, and a plethora of events on your calendar that branch out into the large scale conventions, conferences and seminars, with crowds of 500 and more, you may want to familiarize yourself with Capterra.
As their ad states, “the Smart Way to Find Business Software”, Capterra offers a list of top ten event planning tool software, with a bird’s eye view of what each program offers to suite your planning needs. Programs like DaPulse, Configio and RegFox can also be used for weddings and social gatherings. The prices of the programs listed on Capterra range from $25-$300 a month.
When looking for a new planning tool for your event business, you should take note of a few cautions.
- Many event planning software programs require you to register before receiving a free trial. The downside of having to register is that you may not like the program. Now the software company has your email address and phone number to bug the hell out of you to get you to buy their product.
- For some free trials, once you click on the “I want a free trial button”, they will download the program onto your computer. In many case, you will not know that a program is getting ready to be downloaded onto your system until after you have clicked the button. The downside to this is, once again, you may not like the program. Now in addition to dealing with unwanted sales calls, you are now dealing with having to uninstall a program, and any cookies that may have been downloaded onto your computer. This is not a fun task for someone who isn’t computer savvy.
- When considering planning tools, take note of the jargon on the web page before hitting the free trial button. Some software platforms are designed for larger event firms that do business on a global scale, make sure the software program you are selecting meets your needs. Wear shoes that fit!
Managing an event can be overwhelming. Between the back and forth client emails. Keeping track of client proposals, invoicing, RSVP organization, and all of our other event management duties, event planning details can test the patience of the calmest person. Choosing the right tool is essential to your success as a planner. These tools will enable you to spend more time doing the things you love, and that’s making events fabulous.
Share your favorite event planning tools in the comment section. Tell us why it’s your favorite and why did you choose it over other available options.