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Summary:

Services such as Yahoo’s Upcoming and Meetup and Facebook’s Events have led to an explosion of event invitations in our various inboxes. That first generation of tools is looking a little creaky to today’s event planners, so here’s a roundup of the current generation of “eventware.”

The recent EventTech conference underlined the burgeoning event and conference planning industry, illustrating how valuable and important this category is becoming.

Services such as Yahoo’s Upcoming and Meetup and Facebook’s Events, coupled with a decentralized and grassroots meetup and “unconference” culture have led to an explosion of event invitations in our various inboxes. That first generation of tools is looking a little creaky to today’s event planners, so here’s a roundup of the current generation of “eventware.”

The current generation of eventware all offer a mix of registration, ticketing, mailing list, analytics, payment and promotion features, but each is pretty distinct in its niche:

  • Amiando. launched in 2006, Amiando powers some of the European tech industry’s larger, more formal conferences, including Thinking Digital and Le Web. Though private events can be listed for free, public events incur an excessive €1 + 6 percent of the ticket price for each ticket sold. However, the service includes some unique features, including comprehensive Facebook integration and the ability to run an entire conference site from within the app.
  • Eventbrite. I can’t think of a week that goes by without receiving multiple invitations to Eventbrite-powered event (including GigaOM’s own conferences). It’s a great solution, with a very vocal and engaged development team constantly providing new features, though the interface can sometimes be a sprawling mess and it’s easy to forget how a previously completed task was completed. Eventbrite’s real power lies in the ability to quickly list and promote an event without too much effort.
  • Expectnation. Heavily utilized by O’Reilly Media’s conference team, what’s unique about this service is the ability to manage session proposals, calls-for-participation and manage a conference’s schedule and structure, as well as the sales and ticketing processes. It’s a pretty comprehensive solution, though the absence of pricing information suggests it’s a very premium choice.
  • OpenConferenceWare. Perhaps the most interesting development is the open-source OpenConferenceWare project where the creator’s motives were to offer a free and open app to empower others in creating events. It was most prominently utilized in 2009’s Open Source Bridge conference. Like Expectnation, OpenConferenceWare provides features to manage submissions and schedules, but also enables delegates to personalize custom schedules for their attendance (just like SCHED*, reviewed here). Unfortunately, as an installable app, setup requires some knowledge of Ruby and web hosts.

Amiando, Eventbrite and Expectnation are fully formed and comprehensive suites for event planners; albeit expensive. However, I’m intrigued by OpenConferenceWare’s philosophy; with the groundswell in this software category, could OpenConferenceWare evolve into the WordPress of its segment?

If OpenConferenceWare was as easy to customize and install as WordPress, we could see a sophisticated and proven free alternative to the big commercial solutions as well as a vibrant ecosphere of plugin and theme developers. Even a hosted, freemium service — like WordPress.com (please see disclosure at the bottom) — could outmaneuver larger competitors.

Which event planning and ticketing solutions do you use?

Disclosure: WordPress.com is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): Report: The Real-Time Enterprise

Photo by Flickr user LornaJane.net, licensed under CC-BY-ND 2.0

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By Imran Ali

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  1. The Drupalers are working on a Conference Organizing Distribution. They’ve used it to organize their own conferences. It might not be quite so simple and turnkey, but where’s the fun in easy? :-)

    http://groups.drupal.org/node/78853

    1. Thanks – I’ll take a closer look at that. But I see WordPress as the benchmark for self-hosted apps, simple and turnkey means planners can have fun planning their event, rather than hacking code!

  2. Dennis von Ferenczy (amiando) Friday, July 16, 2010

    Thanks for the review. Please note that amiando’s price – for example US$ 1 + 6% – includes all payment processing fees, credit card and paypal fees.

  3. Rodrigo Mazzilli Friday, July 16, 2010

    We believe mobile technologies are going to replace most of the custom, expensive solutions events use today. Think of how much money on infrastructure can any event save once they embrace a smartphone-based technology.
    If you are running an event, you are invited to check out what we are building at http://wellknown.as. Your feedback is welcome!

    1. Thanks for the tip Rodrigo, the apps I’ve discussed in this piece are for event organisers to plan, ticket and operate an event or conference.

      For example, I can’t issue tickets, collate registrations, manage mailing lists or compile attendee reports. I can import an Eventbrite listing, but users still have to click through from wellknown.as to Eventbrite in order to register and pay.

      wellknown as could be a great compliment to the services explored above, but its not a replacement.

  4. Adrian Segar Friday, July 16, 2010

    You may want to check out Crowdvine as well. It’s a useful free/inexpensive solution for small events.

    http://www.crowdvine.com/home

    1. Thanks Adrian, I know Tony Stubblebine, the creator of Crowdvine and it’s a great application, that I’ve used a few times.

      I considered it for this piece – along with the amazing Pathable – but felt both were more of a compliment to services like EventBrite. I can see where Pathable or Crowdvine might be premium features or partners to Amiando, Eventbrite & Expectnation.

      Indeed O’Reilly Media have run combinations of Eventnation with Pathable and Crowdvine for some of their previous conferences.

  5. -5-thanks i will take a closer look at that.

  6. Ian Hill (EventHQ) Monday, July 19, 2010

    You may be interested in looking at the UK based online registration system http://www.eventhq.co.uk. EventHQ caters more to organisations running multiple events per year and operates on a fixed-fee per registration basis making it competitively priced.

  7. I am one of the co-founders of a company called EventStorm. EvenStorm is a “software as a service” very similar to what you are used to with EventBrite.

    But the fact that makes us different and superior to EventBrite is that in addition to managing your events and selling tickets online, we also allow you to do all of your email marketing and text message marketing right within the application. Gone are the days of importing your contact lists into multiple systems.

    In order to further allow the management and marketing of events in one location, EventStorm offers easy tools to quickly post your events to Facebook, Twitter and other social networking and bookmarking sites. Also, any guests that are invited through Facebook are pulled in real-time into EventStorm’s Guest List manager.
    You no longer will have to copy/paste your Facebook RSVPs, RSPVs from your company site, and registrations from your event site for an event.
    All you will have to do is go to EventStorm and print one guest list that includes all the registrations for an event.

    The other major area where EventStorm adds considerable value is Event Marketing. At our competitor, EventBrite, if you have contact and subscriber lists larger than 2000 you are referred to MailChimp where you will have to re-create all your contact and event data. If you want to do Text Message Marketing you will have to use yet another provider.

    With EventStorm you can do all of that as soon as you create an event. You can send event invitations, follow-up reminders, custom newsletters, text message invites and much more utilizing EventStorm’s Campaign functionality.

    And lastly, EventStorm is a much better value than EventBrite, EventBee, Amiando, etc. Our lower fees translate directly into more ticket sales for you. Our Email marketing and text message marketing subscription plans are substantially less expensive than other players (e.g. compare us to MailChimp, Contant Contact, Aweber).
    http://www.eventstorm.com

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