A Guide To Hosting an Unofficial SXSW Event

The South by Southwest (SXSW) festival is an integral part of Austin’s identity as a global center for innovation and creativity. The annual event attracts thousands of attendees from around the world, generating revenue, supporting job creation, and providing opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs to showcase their products or services.

This year’s festival will take place March 8-16, 2024 and feature hundreds of discussions, film screenings, music showcases, exhibitions, and networking opportunities.

Applications to participate in the official event close months ahead of festival dates, but there is still an opportunity for businesses to leverage the festival’s attraction in an unofficial capacity. 

What is an unofficial SXSW event?

Unofficial SXSW events and showcases are those that run concurrently with the festival dates and are hosted in or around downtown Austin. These events are not associated with or promoted under the SXSW banner but can attract a broader audience outside of SXSW attendees.

Much like SXSW events, unofficial SXSW events serve as a catalyst for inspiration, innovation, and collaboration. These events take advantage of an active audience of creatives, innovators, industry leaders, and enthusiasts, but also open their doors to other members of the public looking to immerse themselves in the excitement without buying a SXSW badge. 

How to plan an unofficial SXSW event

Hundreds of communities, businesses, and individuals participate in SXSW in an unofficial capacity. But planning an unofficial SXSW showcase has to start early in order to secure spaces and vendors before they’re booked by other SXSW-related commitments. Here are some quick tips to get started:

Set up registration or ticketing for unofficial SXSW events

Unofficial SXSW events can be free or charge a fee. Evaluating your event experience against similar events will help you determine the best way to go about registration. But, no matter what you decide, you’ll need an event ticketing platform that will help keep your event and attendee list organized. Ticketbud provides such a resource. Within minutes, event organizers can create a Ticketbud account, customize an event webpage, and open registration for their events. Visit ticketbud.com to get started.

Every Ticketbud user has access to a full suite of ticketing tools, including the ability to create multiple ticket types (think: timed-access ticketing, VIP experiences, member vs. non member pricing, etc), create discounts and promotions, showcase sponsors, customize ticketing pages and layouts, invite and communicate with attendees, report on sales and promotions, and more.

And, the best part? Free events are always free with Ticketbud. A small fee is assigned to tickets at checkout for paid events. And nonprofits hosting unofficial SXSW events can qualify for non-profit pricing for their paid events. Ticketbud also offers daily, weekly, and monthly payout options for event organizers looking to access revenue funds ahead of their event. 

Promote your unofficial SXSW event on community calendars

The main challenge of promoting an unofficial SXSW event is fighting through the noise. Unofficial SXSW events are competing against the most iconic festival in Austin in addition to hundreds of other happenings around town. 

Because of this, marketing an unofficial SXSW showcase must be intentional and robust. Event organizers should engage their current, active audiences through email, web, and social media marketing. Social media, especially, can be a powerful tool for target-marketing new audiences whose interests align. To be successful, choose the appropriate channels and consider paid promotions.

Additionally, community calendars and SXSW RSVP lists are go-to resources for non-badge holders looking to be a part of the action. To ensure an event appears in their search, event organizers should consider submitting their unofficial SXSW events to the following sources:

Sites like RSVPATX allow event-goers to search and sign up for hundreds of unofficial SXSW events at once. Getting listed in the directory is easy. Visit the site and click on “submit an unofficial SXSW showcase.”

Final considerations to hosting an unofficial SXSW event

Hosting an unofficial event during SXSW can offer significant advantages to a business or organization. Firstly, it provides a unique opportunity to tap into a large, diverse audience of SXSW attendees, as well as a more general public. 

These events can also serve as powerful marketing tools, allowing businesses to showcase their products, services, or brand in front of a highly engaged and relevant audience. It’s a chance to create meaningful connections, increase brand visibility, and foster relationships with potential customers, partners, or influencers within an environment known for innovation and creativity. 

Moreover, hosting an unofficial event allows for creative freedom, enabling businesses to tailor the event to their specific objectives, whether it’s to launch a product, conduct market research, or build a community around their brand.

Nine Ways to Go Green at Your Next Event

A growing global awareness of environmental concerns has encouraged many industries to realign business practices according to greener values. This holds true for event management, which when done sustainably can help the environment, as well as improve an organization’s reputation, cost efficiency and long-term success.

According to a study published in Nature Communications, the global events industry accounts for more than 10% of global CO2 emissions annually. And, another study found that events contribute 2.5 pounds of landfill waste per person per day. These findings demonstrate why 80 percent of meeting professionals consider green initiatives when planning events. 

Sustainability is Good for Business

One in three U.S. adults say they spend more time thinking about the climate than they did before the pandemic; and 68% of highly empowered consumers report choosing brands that reduce their environmental impact, according to Forrester research.

Choosing greener practices not only engages these audiences, it can also reduce the costs of energy, water and waste management. And the good news is event planners can start small. It’s not necessary to reimagine and reorganize an entire event to have a positive impact. 

Below, we offer nine ways event organizers can incorporate more sustainable practices into event planning, while motivating partners and attendees to pass it on. 

Festival planners of Lollapaloza in Chicago, Illinois strive to reduce environmental impacts of the event year after year.

1. Host Virtual, Hybrid or a Series of Satellite Events

Research by MeetGreen shows that air travel by attendees, speakers or sponsors accounts for 70% of an event’s carbon footprint. Meaning, reducing travel is one of the easiest and most significant ways to make a large environmental impact. 

If the content allows, make the event virtual, or create hybrid options to limit the need for people to travel. Researchers from the University of Cambridge found that hybrid conferences combined with the promotion of land-bound travel “could be a feasible compromise to reduce emissions by almost 90%.”

If in-person is necessary and resources allow, organizers might also consider hosting several satellite events in convenient locations across states or countries to meet audiences where they are at. 

2. Go Paperless

Embracing sustainability requires adopting innovative event technologies and practices, replacing physical needs with digital solutions. This reduces the need for paper products and can increase efficiency and effectiveness of event planning and execution.

Start with registration. Ditch paper invitations and registration forms. Instead, create a free event website and online registration form with Ticketbud’s event registration platform. Ticketbud also issues electronic tickets which can be scanned at event check-in to reduce printing needs. 

During the event, trade out traditional posters or brochures for digital visuals. Use AV to broadcast important marketing or event content, and host important speaker, sponsor or event information on an app or website. 

To help people access the materials, simply post a QR code at check-in or email instructions ahead of the event. Driving web traffic or content downloads can also capture important information about audiences and their engagement.

Click here to read Nine Cool Technologies to Help Plan Your Next Event

3. Offer Alternative Transportation

Above, we mentioned how air travel can inflict a large environmental toll. When working toward a more sustainable event, it’s important to educate attendees on the impact and provide recommendations on how to work around it. 

Whenever possible, promote eco-friendly transportation. For example, festival planners at Lollapalooza encourage event-goers to take “low-emission” routes to the festival, such as buses, bikes, or carpools. It may be economically and environmentally beneficial to partner with an e-bike or rideshare program to offer free rides or discounts to guests commuting to the event. 

Also, don’t neglect any freight and shipping involved with gathering supplies or swag for the event. When possible, opt for local vendors and scheduled pick-ups. 

4. Find an Eco-Friendly Venue

Venues make up a large part of the event budget. To make sure it’s money sustainably spent, look for venues that have third-party sustainability certifications, such as LEED, APEX/ASTM, Green Key, or IACC Green Star. Or, ask about the location’s energy use or water or waste management practices, such as low-flow toilets or recycling.

For local events, select a centrally located venue that is accessible by public transport. If expecting out-of-town guests, choose somewhere close to an airport or train station to reduce travel. If possible, identify outdoor venue options. 

For help identifying environmentally-conscious venues, check out online directories like Book Different, Green Globe, and TripZero; or read “5 Convention Centers that are Mastering Sustainability.”

5. Choose Partners and Vendors Wisely 

Denver’s Great American Beer Festival has a strong environmental backbone. Its sustainability program includes waste reduction, resource recovery, energy use and education. These efforts are supported by like-minded organizations featured on its website: ZeroHero, Freeman Exhibit Services, Colorado Convention Center, Centerplate Catering, and the Colorado Carbon Fund. 

Through these partnerships, the festival is able to turn a profit during its annual event while realizing large-scale environmental goals. So when looking for vendors or sponsors, lead with sustainability targets and ambitions.

Forge relationships with vendors with well-documented ESG initiatives, such as printers that utilize recycled paper products or caterers that source locally. Find vendors who are members of the Green Business Bureau, an association committed to clean transportation, waste management and other green practices. 

To get started, check out this open-sourced and vetted database of sustainable event vendors, created by Happily

6. Eat Green

Though it may come at a higher cost, a locally sourced farm-to-table menu will result in higher quality food with less impact on the environment. To further reduce the event’s impact, consider offering a plant-based meal or courses. 

The World Wildlife Fund estimates that up to 18% of global methane emissions come from livestock. So, swapping out meat for more veggie options can be a strong demonstration of dedication to hosting a sustainable event. 

And, remember that quantity is just as important as quality. According to MeetGreen, more than 20% of waste created by an event is organic material, including food and compostable serving ware. To avoid food going to waste, have guests preorder food or close registration before catering numbers are due. 

This is easy with Ticketbud’s ticket editor, which allows planners to modify and automate registration timelines and create custom questions for guests to answer when registering for the event, such as “Will you be staying for dinner?” or “Select chicken, beef or veggie.” Get started here. 

7. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Of course, food waste still happens. So, come up with a plan to avoid putting it in the trash, such as partnering with a local shelter for food donations. If choosing this route, inform the event and catering staff in advance so they know to box and properly store any leftover food. 

If donation is not an option, look to the example set by the U.S. Open. Since taking on green initiatives in 2008, “Nearly 900 tons of food waste has been converted into nutrient-rich compost for gardens and farms,” including the flower beds at Arthur Ashe Stadium. 

But remember, food and compost waste is just one fifth of waste at events. To avoid sending the other 80% to the landfill, devise a plan to manage waste and educate attendees on the process and importance. If the venue does not offer recycling or composting, contract out the services. A vendor can provide bins, signage and removal services. Extra staff or volunteers may be required to help collect, sort and encourage attendees to dispose of waste in the proper manner.

8. Get Attendees Involved

Hosting a sustainable event goes beyond event day and considers its lasting impact. So, how can an organization motivate attendees to carry the mission forward? 

Start with education. Make clear in event marketing and messaging why the organization is taking action and the impact it hopes to make. The more people understand the why, the more likely they are to act. This will encourage them to be more compliant during the event and may inspire them to be more sustainability conscious after the event. 

Some organizations may choose to incorporate volunteer projects within the event itself, giving attendees an opportunity to get hands-on with the mission and efforts. Or, they may direct attendees to their social media pages or newsletters, where they post local initiatives or projects with volunteer opportunities. 

If welcoming travelers to the event, create a welcome packet and email a recommendation list of businesses or restaurants that support sustainable initiatives. Or, encourage attendees to help the organization offset event emissions by participating in a donation program which contributes to achieving carbon zero or other green initiatives.

Using Ticketbud’s ticket editor, event organizers can create a separate fundraising line to accept online donations directly from the registration page. Learn more about how to add various ticketing options such as donations on Ticketbud.

9. Start Early and Hold Yourself Accountable

From the early stages of the event planning process, design with green in mind. Include sustainability goals alongside all event KPIs and lay out a timeline of objectives and tasks that will help achieve it. 

Utilize online tools, such as SAM or Sustain.Life, to determine the carbon footprint of the event and identify areas that can be improved: energy efficiency, waste reduction, transportation, etc. Then, share these projections and goals with potential attendees and partners to encourage participation and support. 

After the event, put together an impact report to compare goals and results. Distribute the findings to partners and attendees to communicate the impact and show gratitude for their participation and contributions. This demonstrates that the organization is dedicated to the cause and fostering supportive relationships around it. It could also be the reason a person purchases a ticket or a sponsor contributes more funding to a future event. 


In sum, promoting environmentally friendly initiatives and event management practices demonstrates social responsibility and may attract new attendees, clients, partners whose values align. It shows that the organization is concerned not only with profits but with the well-being of the community and the planet. It’s good for the brand, and it feels good to know an event can create both lasting memories and a meaningful impact.

A Complete Event Planning Checklist

Planning an event can be an exciting but daunting task. Whether you’re planning a fundraiser, corporate conference or a private gathering, making your event a success requires meticulous planning. 

Below, we offer a complete checklist to help you plan and execute a memorable and successful event. 

Pre-Planning: 4-6 Months Before the Event 

Before diving into the details, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of your event’s purpose and objectives. Ask yourself what you aim to achieve with this event. Are you raising funds for a cause, celebrating a milestone, or launching a product? Consider who the right people are to help achieve those goals – think: partners, vendors, sponsors, staff, volunteers, etc. Having the right people in place and clearly defining your objectives sets the tone for the rest of the planning and process. 

In this stage, be sure to: 

Get the Ball Rolling: 3-4 Months Before the Event

At this point, the event date is set and you should be rolling full steam ahead with planning. It’s important to secure partnerships, such as sponsors and collaborators, early on. These relationships will help amplify your event promotions as you build interest and anticipation for your event. Consider hosting early bird sales to lock in audiences that are already engaged with you. These folks can also help spread the word about your event. 

In this stage, you’ll need to: 

Ramp up Sales and Promotions: 1-2 Months Before the Event

It’s time to spread the news far and wide about your event. Finalize and use event details, such as partnerships or novel experiences, to pique interest and build interest in your event. Tease your audiences with news about what they can expect and encourage those who have already committed to refer others to your event. 

During this phase, it’s important to:

Tie Up Loose Ends: 1-3 Weeks Before the Event

The last month leading up to your event is your chance to make sure all of your ducks are in a row. Start thinking about what your event will look like from start to finish, run it by all who are involved and ensure you have all the people and mechanisms in place to execute it successfully. Additionally, if your ticket sales have become stagnant and you’re worried about attendance, it may be time to consider last-minute sales or promotions. 

During this time period, complete the following: 

The Calm Before the Storm: 1 Day Before the Event

Today is the culmination of all of your preparation, when all the pieces come together to show the exact potential of the event you’ve been planning. During set-up, work closely with your event stylists to create a cohesive and visually appealing atmosphere that matches the theme and purpose of your event. Pay attention to details like table settings, lighting, signage, and seating arrangements to enhance the overall experience.

To prepare:

It’s Showtime: the Day of the Event

Take a deep breath. The day you’ve been preparing for is finally here. And because of your careful planning, you’re ready for it. On the day of the event, coordinate with your team and vendors to ensure everything runs smoothly. Assign someone to manage logistics, oversee the schedule, and handle any unexpected issues that may arise. Be prepared to adapt and make quick decisions as needed.

Follow-Up: 1 Week After the Event

After the event, be sure to show gratitude to all of your attendees, partners and vendors while the experience is still fresh in their minds. This is important to preserve trusting, working relationships. Use your follow-up as an opportunity to gather feedback from everyone involved. This information will help you evaluate the success of your event, identify areas for improvement, and allow you to make informed decisions for future events.

Within the a week of your event, consider the following:

Post-Event Analysis: 1 Month After the Event

After you’ve had some time to decompress, take time to look back on the experience, measure your success and identify any lessons learned. What you determine in this phase will go towards improving events for years to come. 

During your post-event analysis, be sure to: 

Planning a successful event requires careful preparation, attention to detail, and effective teamwork. By following this comprehensive guide, you can create an event that not only meets its objectives but leaves a lasting impression on your attendees. 

Remember that flexibility and adaptability are key, as unexpected challenges are a part of event planning. But through dedication, trusting partnerships and the right planning strategies, you can host a memorable and successful event.

Fighting Fyre: Epic Event Fails and How to Avoid Them

Event fails come in all shapes and sizes, from minor mishaps to epic messes. When high profile events go wrong, they make the news and we all get to learn from them. 

Below, we showcase five examples of epic event failures and lessons learned, from serving fast food at a national championship dinner to leaving high-paying festival attendees stranded on a remote beach. Though these mistakes may seem obvious, they happen when proper planning and risk assessments are not at the forefront of the event organizing process. 

Better to learn from the mistakes of others, than make them ourselves. Read more below about how to prepare for and avoid common event failures, including how Ticketbud can assist in your event success.

FAIL 1 – Not Living Up to the Brand 

In January 2019, the Clemson University football team was scheduled to be honored with dinner at the White House after their National Championship win against The University of Alabama. But instead of a 5-star, multi-course meal plated and served, the champs were met with a buffet of “everyone’s favorite fast foods.” 

Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian

The assumption was presumably that college-aged men would like popular fast foods, or more likely there was a catering fail that led to a last-minute fix. Regardless, the honorary meal was subject to criticism from a national audience, many of whom believed the winners deserved better. What was delivered did not meet the expectations for what the White House brand represents, and the brand took a PR hit because of this. 

How to avoid this epic fail:

When planning your event, it’s important to be clear about your brand positioning, who you’re planning the event for and why. Whether you promote yourself as a luxury brand or a family-friendly brand, your event needs to reflect that. Revisit these ideas throughout your planning process to ensure each decision aligns with your brand, event goals and audience. 

Ask yourself: What is the purpose of the event? What are we hoping to achieve? How does our brand align with that? 

If you choose to use Ticketbud as your ticketing or registration provider, you can create a custom webpage from an easy to use template. Add all your event details, graphics (artwork, photos, videos and maps), ticketing information and clear terms and conditions to ensure attendees get a clear picture of the event experience.

FAIL 2 – Busting the Budget

Financial shortfalls are sure to cause event failures, which is why defining a clear budget should be one of the first steps in your event planning process. Not every event needs to offer a swanky, over-the-top experience. But if you promote a premium experience, you need to build a budget for it with a firm understanding on how expenses and revenue streams (vendors, tickets and sponsorships) might make or break your bottom line.

Take it from the organizers of DashCon, a convention hosted for Tumblr fans in 2014. Marketing for the event touted celebrity guests, top-level speakers and a highly anticipated ball pit. When the reality of the costs to achieve what was promoted was realized, the organizers did not have the funds to cover what was promised. 

The only way organizers avoided canceling the highly-anticipated event was by asking attendees to fork up $17,000 to the hotel venue – by midnight! Somehow, they were able to crowdfund the debt; but then, speakers who were left unpaid began to drop from the conference. Those who stayed and assisted with the unexpected payments were rewarded with raffle tickets for extra time in the ballpit, which turned out to be a half-deflated kiddy pool (and the butt of the biggest meme of the year).

While some found humor in the crisis, most participants got angry. Organizers were forced to refund registrants who paid through PayPal, but those who paid cash were out of luck.

How to avoid this epic fail:

To avoid repeating a massive financial mistake like this, you need to create a comprehensive budget and balance sheet. Know your upfront costs, from the venue to construction, lighting, sound, security and catering, as well as speakers and entertainment. Take into account hidden costs like permits, production costs, extra security and safety requirements.

Review and understand your budget and costs from the beginning, so you are clear about how you will cover expenses  and make a profit.

It’s ok to expect to cover some upfront costs with ticket revenue. If you need that early cash flow from ticket sales, you will want a ticketing provider that ensures early payouts, so you’re not scrambling close to billing deadlines. 

Ticketbud offers daily, weekly and monthly payouts, so you can access those funds before your event.

FAIL 3 – Overpromising and Under Delivering 

We couldn’t talk about the ultimate event failures without mentioning the infamous Fyre Festival, an overhyped, luxury music festival set to take place in the Bahamas in May 2017. With endorsements from the likes of Kylie Jenner and Ja Rule, the festival promised beachfront parties, gourmet food, private jets, and performances from Migas and Blink 182. 

This was a classic case of big dreams and no follow through. The organizers were inexperienced with grand ideas but no practical execution plans. Attendees paid between $500 and $1,500 for day tickets, with VIP packages that included flights and accommodation costing around $12k for the once-in-a-lifetime event. In the end, the high price tag got them stranded on an island, fed FEMA sandwiches, and set up in shabby tents. The event was a failure of epic proportions and organizers faced jail time for fraud and $26 million in fines.

Similarly, organizers of the New York City Pizza Festival, also held in 2017, created a recipe for hanger with its promise of “a day-long celebration for the dough, cheese, tasty sauces and delicious toppings.” The event was dubbed the “Fyre Festival of NYC Food Events,” when attendees showed up to a parking lot with mostly empty booths with small samples of cold pizza. This was nowhere near the expected value of the $75 ticket price.  

Slices from the New York Pizza Festival. Facebook.

In both cases, trust was shattered between the organizers and their audience, as well as everyone witnessing this unfold in the media. The lawsuits and documentaries that followed not only damaged the reputations of those involved, it also made the general public extra cautious about events that could be a scam.  

How to avoid this epic fail:

If you promise something, know exactly how you are going to deliver on that promise. Know how it will be funded and executed. It’s ok to be vague on some elements of your event until you have fine tuned the details, but don’t make promises you can’t keep. 

Also, don’t scam people, it’s not nice! 

FAIL 4 – Being Reactive Instead of Proactive

No matter how much time and effort you put into planning your event, something is bound to go off-course. However, failing to have any backup plans in place, especially for common issues such as weather, is just setting yourself up for unnecessary stress.  

Need convincing? Take TomorrowWorld 2015 for example. It was meant to be the perfect event: a weekend of music set on 8,000-acres of Georgia farmland. But what the organizers didn’t account for was rain, and lots of it. 

TomorrowWorld 2013 in Chattahootchie Hills, Atlanta Georgia. MixTribe, Flickr

The rural resort quickly transformed into a vast mud pit. And because organizers closed off transportation access to the festival grounds, attendees were trapped and “left to rot like the walking dead,” as one festival goer put it. Many who set off to find rides outside of the festival grounds were forced to pay high-surging rates for rideshares, while others spent the night on the side of the road.

How to avoid this epic fail:

While being adaptable to the unexpected is a useful skill of event organizers, an even better skill is being able to put contingency plans in place. Avoiding another TomorrowWorld is reason enough for you to complete risk assessments on all aspects of your event beforehand. 

When things get out of hand and there is no back-up plan for your back–up plan, you may have to cancel or close your event. If mother nature or something outside your control takes place, it helps if your contingency planning includes coverage for your ticket revenue. Ticketbud has integrated event cancellation protection through Event Protect. So in the instance of a qualifying event cancellation, the organizer can claim ticket revenue back through the coverage, saving funds to help cover sunk expenses. 

FAIL 5 – Mispricing Tickets or Registration 

In 2009, two young blokes in Australia were sick of high-priced tickets and drinks at events and decided to take matters into their own hands by creating their own music festival. Thus, Blueprint Festival was born, promising the best three days and nights you could get in Victoria without breaking the bank. 

Marketing was a huge success, attracting 5,000 attendees looking for fun on a budget. But the 23- and 20-year-old organizers with no event experience ran out of money before paying the performers, vendors and the venue. They claimed they expected to make more money from food and drink sales than they did. But perhaps setting a higher ticket price could have also helped. In the end, the organizers faced bankruptcy and even death threats. And their performers, vendors and venue were left thousands of dollars out of pocket . 

How to avoid this epic fail:

We are back to proper budgeting. While it might seem that a low- or no-cost ticket would be popular with attendees and make your event a sell out, it cannot be at the expense of your event partners. Determining the right pricing strategy is critical to an event’s success. 

If you have a diverse audience, and want to limit barriers to entry, consider offering multiple ticket options or tiered pricing for your event (think: General Admission, Gold and VIP). Ticketbud makes it easy to create multiple ticket types for your event, or create ticket packages that include drinks, catering and other experiences. 

This allows you to offer different pricing levels and experiences to your various audiences. It also gives you opportunities to work with sponsors or partners to design branded, exclusive experiences that can bring in extra cash flow if people are willing to pay.

Additionally, Ticketbud helps you host and schedule ticket promotions or sales, further limiting barriers to entry for those within your customer base that are more price sensitive. The further out from your event you can see revenue the better. Consider hosting an early–bird special with lower ticket prices to get people excited and engaged early-on in your event planning, or schedule a limited-time sale with a holiday to boost interest and sales.

Create Custom Event Page Banners

Your banner image is the first impression people have of your event when visiting your event page. So, Ticketbud has put together a custom banner design starter kit, using Canva, to help you create a banner that sets the tone for your upcoming event.

To get started, sign-up for Canva, a free online design tool. All you need is an email and a password to start creating on the site. 

Once registered, use Ticketbud’s banner template to begin designing your event banner within the proper size specifications (1024 x 512 pixels). The design toolbar, to the left of your template, hosts a range of options to add images, graphics and text to your design. 

Need inspiration? Keep scrolling through Ticketbud’s design starter kit for eye-catching templates. Or, check out explore Canva’s templates by searching through the “Design” tab in the top left of the design toolbar. Once selected, elements within template designs can be easily transformed to suit your branding needs.

Upload Your Image

Aligning your event branding across platforms will help build recognition of your event. So, if you already have an image you are using to promote your event, we highly recommend repurposing on your Ticketbud page. 

To add your own image to the banner template, click “Uploads” from the left edge of the screen and select the desired image from your computer files. This will add the image to your “Uploads” collection within the toolbar and make it available to drag and drop on the template. 

Once you add the image to your design, pull on the corners and edges to fit it to scale. Be sure your adjustments don’t harm the integrity of the image by cropping off letters or distorting images.

Adding Text 

Beyond branding, your banner also offers the opportunity to communicate important details about your event, such as registration deadlines or headliner announcements. To add this information, select “Text” from the left-side toolbar, and click “Add a text box.” 

Once inserted, click the text box to edit the copy. And, use the top menu to change the font, color and style.   

Adding Details & Graphics

Under “Elements,” you can search and add specific shapes and images to your design. Options range from simple lines to videos. However, avoid adding any audio or video elements to your banner design as the space only supports image files for now. 

Create Eye-Catching Event Marketing with Free Design Help from Canva

By Rachel White

Getting people to attend an event requires eye-catching, multi-channel marketing, but not all event planners have the time or resources to produce attractive promotional materials across their platforms. 

Enter Canva, a free and widely used online graphic design service that provides users with a suite of tools to design engaging graphics and video for social media, email, posters, and more. Trusted by many, the online platform generates more than 3,000 designs a minute. And it’s easy to get started. 

Sign up at canva.com

All you need is an email address, or other online account, and a password. 

Once you verify your account through email, every tool and resource for both individuals and teams is easily accessible through the homepage, including design templates, educational resources, as well as your soon-to-be saved projects. 

Once logged in, use Canva to create a banner for your Ticketbud event page that sets the tone for your entire event marketing strategy. 

Click “Custom size” in the top right corner of the page below the “Create a design” button, and input the dimensions for the banner (1024 width x 512 px height). 

Select “Create new design.”

Once in your design, you can use the design dashboard to search thousands of free and customizable templates, source free-use graphics and media, upload photos, and add text. When placed in the design, each element can be easily transformed and edited to reflect your event and brand. 

Once finished, share or download your design by clicking “Share” in the top right corner of your screen. You can generate a share link for your team to access and edit, or download the file and upload your design as a photo onto your Ticketbud event page. 

As you work, Canva automatically saves your progress. You can access previous and in-progress projects anytime through the “Projects” tab on your Canva homepage. 

Modify your banner design to promote your event consistently across your channels. 

On average, your audience will need to receive your message 5-7 times before making their purchase decision, so publishing graphics with a similar look and feel across email, social media, and other platforms will help build interest and recognition of your event.

Upgrading to Canva Pro, Teams, Education and Non-profit plans enables you to easily “copy & resize” designs. But with Canva’s free account, you can create new sizes for your design by simply starting a new design project from your homescreen..

Canva has thousands of pre-formatted designs for Facebook posts and covers; Instagram posts, stories and reels; printed invitations and posters; and more. Simply select your desired template from its menu of options to begin creating your next piece of content.  

Once in your design, you can easily transfer all of the elements from your banner design to the new layout by selecting the design from your “Projects” folder in the design dashboard, then modifying to fit. Or, you can utilize the design tools to create a new design, borrowing similar fronts, colors and elements from the banner design to create a consistent look.

With Canva, you can directly post your designs to social media and messaging apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and more. 

By upgrading to a premium plan, event organizers can streamline their workflow by scheduling and auto-posting to social media with Canva’s Content Planner. 

For more on how to use Canva to promote your event, check out Canva’s 20 tips on spreading the word on social media. 

Canva is always free for every individual and team. 
To unlock premium features, individuals can upgrade to Canva Pro to easily create professional designs and content for free for 30 days. More info here.

Social Media Marketing for Events

Social media marketing is vital for today’s events. Event marketing needs a good social promotion strategy for both paid advertising and shared content. Ensure you know how to capitalize on the social media marketing strategies available for your event.

Promoting your event on social media significantly increases discoverability. Generating opportunities for your event to be searched and seen allows you to create awareness, sell more tickets and build loyalty for your brand or organization. 

More than a quarter of traffic to ticketing and registration pages comes from social media. And according to Google’s internal research, 40% percent of 18 to 24 year olds are now using social media as their primary search engine, making your presence and engagement online pivotal to event success. 

Social media promotion is a key part of your overall online marketing strategy. Below I will walk you through the seven tips you need to know to build a social media marketing strategy for your event: 

1. Know your audience and where to find them

Social media can be exhaustive in time and resources and yield little success if you don’t understand who your followers are, which platform they are on, and how you can best reach them. 

Establish who your designing your event for, and then evaluate how you might best reach them using key social platforms: 

Keep in mind that the average social media user engages on at least six different platforms. So, a multi-channel marketing strategy is pivotal to your event’s success.

2. Optimize your online presence

To help develop recognition across platforms, adhere to your organization’s brand guidelines and consistent messaging throughout event promotion. Optimize bio and about us sections across online channels with keywords and engaging descriptions about the organization and event, and provide links to all pages and profiles so users can easily navigate between platforms. 

In spiring 2022, Instagram’s CEO revealed that hashtags were losing their luster in terms of helping posts gain traction and visibility. Instead, social media algorithms tend to favor searchable keywords and phrases. In fact, keyword-optimized captions were found to increase reach by 30% and double engagement.

To increase visibility of content, strategize to include text-based features like alt-text and captions that include phrases your target audience would use when conducting a Google search for your type of organization or event. 

3. Create an event website and amplify social advertising

Create a landing page for your event that you can link to across your social media platforms. Check out this how-to article if you need help getting started creating your free event website with Ticketbud. Using plug-ins like Linktree on your Instagram, can help you easily direct people to your landing page, when hyperlinking is not available. 

Ticketbud also offers tools to help you sell more tickets and boost promotion with paid ads. Ticketbud’s Ad Engine is designed for event organizers to get the best results from paid Facebook and Instagram Advertising. Ad Engine makes it easier to create targeted ads for the right audience, as well as help you manage your budget and provide a greater return on investment.

While Facebook Ads manager can tell you how many people clicked on your ad, it’s harder to track which ads are performing better in terms of converting sales. Ad Engine is designed to automatically optimize ads that sell the most tickets, by harnessing the influence of Facebook advertising to increase sales or registration on Ticketbud. Learn more about why Ad Engine is the cheat code to social advertising for busy event organizers. 

4. Strategize to reach your goals

Determine your desired outcomes from your social media efforts and outline how you might plan for and reach them through your online marketing efforts. To do so, consider using the S.M.A.R.T. goal principle

Remember to track your progress and evaluate your results. The insights you gain from this campaign will inform social media strategies for future events

5. Build anticipation with creative engaging content

Nearly just as many people post about an event leading up to it as they do at the event itself, according to Buffer. So, create a content calendar that gets people interested and talking about your event: 

6. Inspire and encourage user-generated content (UGC)

Every social media algorithm favors engagement. Brainstorm ways to motivate your audience to do the heavy lifting and spread the word for you. Above, we suggested how hosting an online giveaway might inspire users to share and engage with posts, but what other opportunities can you create with your audiences leading up to, during and after your event?

Before the event, organizers can engage audiences by taking them behind-the-scenes on event preparations. Consider posing questions through posts and polls that ask audiences about speakers and sessions they’d like to see. 

Also, it’s becoming more common for organizations to work with UGC creators to produce content that looks like organic UGC but actually derives from an independent contractor who specializes in promoting products and brands. If you don’t have the budget to contract that type of work, consider approaching past attendees or event partners who might help produce authentic content related to their experiences or their anticipation for your event. 

Fun and easy ways to get people to post and share about your event live and on the scene include hosting photo-booths and LIVE tweeting and streaming features. Re-sharing the user-generated content on your channels or on display at the event itself can encourage more engagement. 

These on-site endorsements stir up a healthy sense of FOMO, ensuring those who missed your event won’t want to make the mistake next time. 

7. Gain insights through post event coverage

According to Buffer, nearly 1 out of every 5 social posts related to an event were posted after it. These types of posts are more reflective and can be used to garner feedback about the event. 

Videos generate high engagement rates across platforms, so share clips from special moments at the event. Continually engage with and re-share user-generated content from the event and after it, to boost the post’s visibility. Connect with those who attended the event to get feedback and encourage them to stay in touch by following other social media channels. 

When planned and executed well, the insights and content acquired post-event will inspire marketing strategies for future events. 

4 Ways To Use Influencer Marketing For Your Event

You’ve reached out to event blogs to create listings for your event, you’ve done our checklist and even done some Google AdWords and retargeting and you’ve totally got the social media marketing thing down. What do you do? Well, you need to reach more people. It’s a law of averages: the more people who know about your event, the more tickets you’re likely to sell. While skywriting may be an interesting way to capture attention, and potentially some viral-ity, just blanket targeting anyone isn’t the best way.

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How to Preserve Customers While Growing Event Business

Meet Customer Expectations with a great team: Your event organisation must have a team that is aware of how to build these customer relationships, and skilled in many disciplines. They must have good critical thinking skills and be able to adapt to changing technologies, understand customer expectations, and be able navigate the business culture and have the knowledge to be able to exploit all event marketing tools. Listening To Your Customers: Clients will tell you volumes, if you’ll only listen. Train your employees to be interrogators (in the best possible sense, of course!). Ask your existing customers what they loved about events they’ve been to or their favorite part of the last event you organized for them. Simply engaging them in conversation about them will net you all the information you need to better your events and services customer treatment. As important as listening is, make sure you “hear” what clients say. Make changes and alterations where you feel it is warranted. A customer that sees their suggestions implemented is one with a stake in your business. Concentrate and capitalise on these human emotions. Reward Your Best Customers: Not all customers are created equal. Some will try to get you to give them the sky for free, while others are more than happy to pay good money to be treated well. Value cannot be overrated. When you find customers that are loyal and return over and over to your business, find ways to reward their loyalty. A little hidden secret about this tip is that happy, loyal, well-cared-for “insider” customers can be one of the best new client acquisition tools. These folks tell their friends. Be Professional Yet Have Fun: Obviously this tip will vary depending upon the type of Event organisation you operate, however, the principle is still relatively universal. While being professional and helpful to your clients, the simple act of putting a smile on your face can lighten the mood and make an otherwise unmemorable interaction one that not only gets remembered but gets spread around to others likely to get in contact for event management. Lending back to your team, Event Managers must always be personable and able to talk and gel with anyone; relationship building skills are imperative and priceless! Keep Current (With What Matters to Your Customers): Technology continues to accelerate and it’s important to keep up with what’s new and popular with customers. New smart event devices; such as apps and all round delegate management systems, new hot off the press venues, new event trends they are inspired by, new ways to be heard, and new social channels. Sometimes it seems improbable that you could keep up, but if you try to relate to your customers and see what is interesting to them, you’ll have a better way to decide what to concentrate on. A good example recently is Pinterest. It blew onto the scene suddenly, has grown exponentially, morphed from its original uses into a broader tool for businesses, and is beloved for its visual emphasis. Don’t let these kinds of opportunities elude you just because the value isn’t immediately apparent. Keep reading. Keep watching. Keep listening. Consider Complaints a Gift: This is easy to say but, of course, hard to do. Remember, whether the customer is right or wrong, and even on days when you deal with complaints that are unreasonable, the way you handle them can demonstrate to customers that you are committed to delivering the best event management service. Complaints are an opportunity to improve your skills and up your game.     Author Bio: Sarah Hill is a professional blogger and creative content writer. She works as a Marketing Manager Group Se7en Events. Group Se7en Events is a leading event planning & event management agency in London, delivering global meeting and free venue finding service. ]]]]> ]]>

How to Use Instagram for Marketing Your Event

fastest growing social network? 26% of the adult population is already using it. That’s a huge audience of potential ticket buyers. Instagram is the perfect marketing channel for events. The reason being that events are told best through pictures. Just take a look at your Instagram feed. Scrolling through photos you see friends at concerts, bars, holiday parties…you name it. It’s now second nature for people to post about their experiences. Instagram just happens to be the best place to do it. In this post, I’ll walk through the steps on how to use Instagram for marketing your event. I’ll go over how to get started, what kind of content to create, and how to build your audience. Let’s get rocking.

Getting Started

So the first thing you’ll want to do is create a new account. Be smart about this. Creating an account for a large festival or conference makes sense. If that isn’t you, create an Instagram account for your organization. This avoids pigeonholing yourself in building your audience from just one small event. After creating your account, Instagram asks you to connect to Facebook. Go ahead and connect if you already have a large Facebook fanbase. By connecting, all your Facebook followers will get notified that you joined Instagram. It’s an easy way to build your initial audience. Now let’s dress up your profile page. Think of your profile as a landing page for potential ticket buyers. This is where your event either makes a great first impression or fades away from memory. You want to show off your event both through the copy and your images. Let’s take a look at the example below: using instagram for marketing                               BLINK Conference does a pretty solid job here. I know exactly what the conference is, when it happens, and how to find more info. Their bio link goes to a Facebook community page which works fine. If your tickets are on sale, do  link to your ticketing page. Use an aggressive call to action like “Grab early bird tickets before they run out” to get the point across. The profile also has some photos that make me want to explore the account. This is key. If your account doesn’t have any activity, visitor won’t follow you back.

Content Creation

Before using Instagram for marketing, you need to get in the flow of publishing awesome photos. Luckily it’s pretty easy to do. That’s why people use Instagram in the first place. Before diving into what to publish, let’s look at 2 apps that will help you create high quality photos. Canva: This is my go-to tool for graphic design. I’m not a designer myself so Canva is a godsend. You don’t need to know Photoshop. Just click and drag to edit photos and overlay text. PicLab: Similar to Canva but designed for the smartphone. So for event planners on the go, PicLab makes it possible to quickly snap a pic and drop some text over it. OK so you got your apps. Now what do you post? Here’s a list that should give you some ideas: conf                               marketing on instagram                               how to use instagram for marketing                               instagram for marketing                               attendee                               Along with creating some beautiful imagery, also take advantage of the post description. Write compelling and engaging text. Ask questions and get followers to tag their friends. A neat trick is to include a CTA that asks your followers to Double Tap. By double tapping, they’ll like the photo. After you’ve come up with some ideas, the next question is how often should you post? To make headway, I recommend posting 1-2 times per day. This makes it manageable and avoids being too spammy. This article recommends posting between 5-6pm on weekdays. Our infographic on social media for events is also a solid resource for when and what to post. Let’s move to the most exciting part: growing your audience!

Building Your Audience

Account Engagement

To use Instagram for marketing, you need to identify your event’s target audience. Easiest place to start is location. Let’s say we’re planning a bacon festival in Austin, Texas. I’ll head over to Instagram’s and search #atx under the tags column. #atx is a pretty popular hashtag used by Austinites. how to use instagram for marketing your event                               When I search the hashtag, Instagram shows the most popular ones. The 4th one down is #atxeats. That looks promising! While there’s a couple other hashtags, lets dive into this one as it’s a bit more targeted to our festival. After tapping on the hashtag, I see a ton of foodie posts. I can make an assumption that people using that hashtag might be interested in attending my bacon festival. How do I engage with them? Start by using the Follow, Like, Like, Like strategy. This link talks about the process in more detail. What you want to do is find the top pictures under the #atxeats hashtag and follow those accounts. Then, like 3 of their photos. The account will then get a stream of notifications from you following and liking their stuff. If they’re interested in what they see, there’s a good chance they’ll follow you back. Now this process is a bit manual but you can use a tool called Instagress to automate it. Instagress allows you to put your follows and likes on autopilot. It’ll save you a lot of time in the long run. Along with this strategy, you can start using these targeted hashtags in your own photos. By doing this, your account will start showing up in these searches as well. An important note is that if you’re going to load up an image with hashtags, do so in the comments. This way your photo description won’t look spammy.

Contests

Contests work especially well for marketing on Instagram. A solid tactic is organizing contests where the winner gets a couple free tickets. I recommend using Gleam.io for running your contest. It makes contests super easy to run. Instagram’s photo mentioning is what makes contests work. A photo mention is when someone comments on your photo by mentioning a friend as seen below: event-marketing-strategies                     When this happens, Instagram notifies the friend of the mention. The friend will then typically click on the photo to check it out. For contests, direct people to tag their friend on one of your photos to enter. This is where the network effects come into play. As your photo mentions build up, your exposure increases. You can also create entries that have people follow your account or like a post. What makes ticket giveaway contests awesome is that you’re capturing buyer’s intent. All your contest entries are showing interest in attending your event. Click here to view our slideshare about contests and other social media tactics.

Shoutouts

Our last growth tactic for how to use Instagram for marketing your event comes in the form of a shoutout. A shoutout is a post on another Instagram account that encourages that account’s followers to follow you. For an event, I recommend researching influencers in your city. City influencers can be publications, restaurants, or just ordinary people. Going back to the bacon festival example, I’ll search for something like “Austin Magazine”: how to use instagram for marketing                               Now I have a couple local publications I can reach out to for a shoutout. You’ll want the account to share an image and caption that you curate yourself. At least get them to mention your event in one of their photos. To help sweeten the deal, communicate to them that you’ll return the favor by giving them a shoutout. This way they can get exposure to your audience as well. The shoutout tactic also works for influencers that are relevant to your event type. As you build your audience, it’s also important to create your own hashtag for the event. The power of having an event hashtag is that attendees can tag their own photos with your hashtag. This not only helps increase your reach but gives you more photos to publish into your feed. It’s a no brainer to try marketing on Instagram for your event. The platform is still young so there’s a lot of untapped opportunity. Try testing out these tactics and see what works best for you. Every event is different. Be creative in your Instagram marketing to stand out from the rest of the pack.]]]]> ]]>

5 Ways to Use Social Media to Sell Event Tickets

If this is the first time your company is hosting an event, then you have some serious work ahead of you if you hope to sell most or all your tickets. Since your business isn’t well known at this point, it’s going to be challenging to convince guests to attend. Nevertheless, the goal is completely doable especially if you promote your event heavily through social media.

1. Implement Social Listening

Use social listening services to monitor social media activity. This helps you identify soft leads that may potentially become hot leads. The latter is the demographic that you want to nurture as they have a greater likelihood of converting to customers. There is plenty you can do with social listening, such as:

You can visit this site for a list of free social listening services, though you’ll eventually want to upgrade to a paid service for the very best features to really identify key social media patterns among your demographic.

2. Provide “Soft” Reminders

You want to begin ticket sales early. A lot of potential attendees, though, may opt to purchase closer to the event date since they’re still on the fences about attending and would rather not make a decision when the event is still kind of far out. This tends to be the case even if you provide early bird sale specials. These people are your hot leads that you want to nurture so that they don’t forget or decide not to attend.

On your event page, you can provide a signup box that pops up when the visitor clicks away. The signup box can urge the visitor to sign up to receive regular reminders via tweet or Facebook post as event day approaches. This is known as a “soft conversion” tactic that keeps potential attendees in the loop so they don’t let the event slip past their mind.

3. Reward Your Biggest Brand Advocates

Brand advocates are the people who not only buy a ticket but also recommend others, “like” your social media channels, and share your posts. These advocates are your biggest assets and most loyal customers that you definitely want to keep around for the long-term.

To keep them as brand advocates, you have to reward them and acknowledge the favor they’re doing for you. Engage with these people and get to know them more on a one-on-one basis. Identify who they are and reach out to them on a more personal level.

This can be done via social media through a private post that addresses the recipient by name. Include some type of gift, such as a ticket discount if they haven’t already bought their ticket, or a coupon code as a thank you for advocating for your brand on the company’s behalf. To make it even more personal, send a hand-written physical letter or postcard with coupon code or gift card.

4. Create a Memorable Event Hashtag

Most people think they know how to create a cool hashtag when they really don’t. The trick is to make the hashtag discernible while keeping it as short as possible. Take a look at the hashtag #October2016MuscleCarShowOrangeCounty. It’s easily discernible just by taking a look at it, but it’s a tad long.

You can definitely curtail it to the following: #Oct2016MCShowOC. This is a lot shorter, but it’s a bit vague. Anyone not familiar with the event will have a hard time identifying what it means. How about this one: #OctMuscleCarShowOC? This provides the perfect balance between length and discernibility. Notice that it also leaves out the year. Omitting nonessential information helps keep the hashtag sweet and short.

5. Post-Event Talk

The event has passed, so ticket selling is over at this point. However, your job is far from over. It reasons that you plan on hosting more events in the future, so why not get a head start for the next event by promoting it right after the first one ends?

Creating post-event buzz keeps people excited and may increase their likelihood of attending the next event. This is an early form of consumer nurturing that pays off come time for event #2.

Social Media Provides More than Enough Resources

Using social media to sell more tickets is a lot more than just sending posts here and there. You have to use the tools and trending social media practices to form a rapport with your consumers. Nurturing your customers in this manner takes time, but the rewards are more than worth it.

About the Author: Dan McCarthy is an Event Manager at Ultimate Experience, an event management company based in the UK. Dan has 5 years of event project management under his belt. He has worked on many successful events, and currently he shares his knowledge by writing on the company blog. Follow him on Twitter @DanCarthy2.

Choose a payment system. Mobile POS systems and cash are both good options. If you’re planning a ticketed event, select a platform to sell and scan tickets.]]]]> ]]>

Content Marketing for Events – Blogs

As you’ll recall in my last post, content marketing is essential for positioning yourself as a leader within your industry. It is also a fantastic way to get people more interested in going to your event or using your event planning business. With that being said, I wanted to talk a little bit about how to use blog posts to accomplish that.   Guest Posts Guest posts can go one of two ways: either you have somebody post on your blog, or you make a post on somebody else’s blog. Somebody posting on your blog: If you’re going this route, the best thing to do is get somebody who is well respected in your industry or niche to post about a topic that relates to your event. This means that if you’re doing a trade show, having a representative from a company writea bout what to look for in a certain product is great. If it’s a comic convention, having a special guest write about something is sure to be a winner. If it’s a social event, even having somebody who regularly frequents it write about a great experience they had will be relatable. Posting on somebody else’s blog: Your first step is to identify blogs in your industry or nicheThe second is to identify if any of them allow guest posting. Stop right here – remember that you’re posting on somebody else’s blog. This means that you can’t just advertise your event your your service. You need to provide something of value before you can talk about yourself or you’re not going to be allowed to guest post. Or, worse, you’ll look self-serving and it will rub people the wrong way. Once you have a list of potential guest posting opportunities, email them all! Or if you know them in person, just ask. Be sure to make your  email stand out. Pitch an idea or interesting perspective for a piece within the email. This is far more likely to be accepted than a vague “can I write a thing for you?”. Also, don’t forget to go big! Some blogs may seem intimidating because they’re huge within their field and have thousands of followers, but include them in your email pitch. If your idea is good, they’ll be interested!   For Event Planning Businesses If you’re running an event planning business, you should have regular blog posts. Blog posts come in all shapes and sizes: you can write about things you’ve learned, tips and tricks for other event planners, embarrassing/funny stories about planning, and much more. The blog posts you write are only limited by your own imagination. There’s a story behind every event you’ve planned and the experiences you’ve gained from it. Some of the most popular event planning sites out there, like eventplanningblueprint.com , have an extremely robust content section.   For Events If you’re making blog posts to market an event, you should post regularly but the content shouldn’t be about tips and tricks. It should be anticipatory in nature – perhaps post “leaked” pictures of what the event will look like. Guest posts from speakers and stars are great here. If you’re running a conference or trade show, talk about vendors or speakers that are going to be there. Just like with conventions, see if a speaker or a certain vendor is willing to write a short post about their experiences or anything else that relates to your convention.   Other Tips Have a schedule set up. People enjoy regular content and will make it part of that day’s routine. Communications studies have shown that many people would read a newspaper every day just because it was a habit. So whatever day you’re going to make a post, stick with it! Keep paragraphs short. Imagine if I had no line breaks and everything I’d written so far was in one huge paragraph. It’d be an eyesore and mentally taxing to read. Headers should be in bold. Did you notice that all my headers were in bold? Due to the effect of social media and Gawkeresque sites, people tend to skim articles and this can point them in the right direction. There are a lot of arguments on long posts vs. short posts and what works best. According to Medium,  the optimum post length takes about an average of 7 minutes to read (post here). You also have Buffer saying an optimum post has about 1,600 words (post here).This allows for the post to contain enough information for the reader to find relevant without also taking up too much time or overwhelming them.  That’s not to say short posts aren’t good or useful, as I think this one fits both criteria! I think a blend of both is the best way to go but, testing with your own audience and what they respond to is the best way. Conclusion I hope this gave you some inspiration to get started on a blog for your event or for your event planning business. If you’re interested in more posts about blogs, check out my post on how to use blogs to sell tickets online.  ]]]]> ]]>