May/June 2008

Ten Online Tools to Help Maximize your Constituents' Event Experience

by Mark Becker, Director IT Consulting, Event 360

Web 2.0 is legacy technology. In fact, the cyber community is currently beta testing Web 3.0. If this is a new term to you, Web 3.0 is considered by many as the next version of the Internet. It focuses on integrating separate and distinct tools and organizations at the software layer.

As the Internet continues to evolve, old fashioned, face-to-face conversations are being overwhelmed by blogs, message boards, social networks, instant messaging, text messaging, virtual shopping carts, emoticons, avatars, twitters, tags and Webcams. The key is to ensure that these tools enhance, rather than replace, our conversations.

Web 3.0 makes my job interesting, challenging and entertaining. Within this environment, there is no shortage of ways to attempt to reach your target audience. What is the most effective approach and which are the best portals to success for engaging people's interest in your event via the Web? Event 360's mission statement is "your mission is our passion," and our team works hard to utilize technology to convey and extend the voice of an organization's cause. The Convio Open Initiative has expanded the toolkit we use to provide passionate and feature-rich environments.

Here are ten Convio tools that can help maximize the year-round event experience:

  1. Single Sign-On. Does your organization have other environments (e.g., social networks or message boards) that require participants to log in? Use Convio's well documented Single Sign-On API to tie those environments together so that your constituents don't need to log in multiple times when transitioning within your Web environment.

  2. Personal Events. Convio Personal Events provides a way for your event participants to raise funds and awareness online during their own grassroots events. Event 360 has used Personal Events for our clients to allow participants to schedule training walks. Outside of the intended usage, we have also used Personal Events as a way to manage volunteers.

  3. Convio TeamRaiser™ Teams Functionality. Statistically, members of a team raise more funds and are more likely to be engaged in the event and the cause than individual participants. Convio TeamRaiser Teams functionality ensures your communications.

  4. Participant Center Blogs. This option within TeamRaiser is enabled with one-click and allows your participants to talk about their experience with your event, cause and mission. Blogging enables participants to share their experience, engage friends and donors and connect with your organization's mission.

  5. Email. It is getting increasingly difficult to ensure constituents read your emails, much less click-thru on a link. One idea to overcome this obstacle is to create a virtual training program. By sending weekly emails with training tips, a one-line note about a sponsor, or a call to action, constituents are encouraged to read emails because they directly impact their overall success.

  6. Events Calendar. Convio Event functionality is a great way to post supporting events. Having a calendar with several activities enables visitors to visualize what is going on within your community.

  7. Convio Widgets. Once the basics are in place, widgets created in Convio Widgets are another great way to advance your viral marketing with very little effort or expense. For example, a fundraising widget that participants can put on their social networking site of choice and link back to their Participant Center.

  8. Flickr Photos for TeamRaiser. Have your participants build your event photo gallery for you!

  9. Convio Open. With every release, Convio expands the number of possibilities available to customize your event site (without a ton of coding) via APIs, Connectors and extensions. One general tool we have built using Convio Open is a participant "Share List." The Share List is a way for participants to connect with their peers. Other organizations are using the APIs to create Google map mash-ups to show a visual representation of their events.

  10. TeamRaiser APIs. With the April, 2008 release, Convio has made it possible to create an online event check-in environment which can be customized to include any steps that are normally managed live the day of the event. These APIs significantly decrease costs and reduce the amount of administrative time for both the organization and participants, leaving all parties to focus on the event rather than the bookkeeping.

As you look through this list, you might think that not all of these items are feasible for your organization. Event 360 is one of many Convio Fusion Partners available to assist with your integration needs.

See you in cyberspace!

Editor's Note: This article can be found on the Convio Community message board, available to Convio clients. Clients are welcome to add to and comment on this list.

Ten Online Tools to Help Maximize your Constituents' Event Experience | Convio