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.

Money Talks: Defining an Event Budget

Imagine purchasing tickets to a highly-anticipated event promising exclusive talks with podcast celebrities and a panel with the actors from Supernatural and Harry Potter. Now, imagine showing up to the event, hearing that most speakers backed out after not getting paid, and then being asked to help cover the costs of the event’s outstanding hotel bill of $17,000. 

It sounds like a nightmare, but that was the reality for DashCon 2014, an event where attendees paid witness to one of the most important lessons in event planning – don’t bust the budget. 

This lesson has become increasingly difficult as things get more expensive. According to a recent Maritz Industry Trends Report, most meeting expenses are up over 20 percent since before the pandemic. But, most budgets haven’t budged. Instead, event planners are living within the constraints and are more reliant on proper planning and financial forecasting to ensure the success of their events.

Why event budgets are important

A budget serves as a financial blueprint for a successful event, aligning expenses with desired outcomes and ensuring financial viability.

A clearly defined budget provides a framework for decision-making, enabling event organizers to strategically allocate resources. By delineating expenses across various categories such as venue, marketing, and entertainment, budgets help prioritize spending for maximum impact. This foresight prevents overspending and optimizes funds in areas that help organizers reach their goals.

Event budgets also act as a risk management tool. By estimating costs and revenue streams beforehand, budgets help identify possible financial gaps. This enables organizers to devise backup plans, forge partnerships, and negotiate favorable deals with vendors to ensure that the event stays on track throughout planning and execution.

The basics of event budgeting

Crafting an event budget demands meticulous planning, attention to detail, and adaptability. To create a robust budget that meets financial constraints and aligns with the event’s goals, start with the basics:

When event organizers have a solid understanding of the basics, they’ll know if it is possible for the event to happen or not. 

Event budgeting

Nine steps to crafting a comprehensive event budget

1. Start Early

Organizing a financial game plan early on puts power in the hands of the event organizer and alleviates stress throughout planning. An early start means more time to shop around for bargains, establish partnerships and negotiate with vendors. Whereas, starting too late can mean less options and premium rates.

2. Create a Spreadsheet

Event organizers must stay organized. Creating a spreadsheet or utilizing relevant event software will help categorize and itemize costs, estimate expenses and revenue, and track spending.

Tools like Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel offer budgeting templates with formulas that make calculating expenses against income easy. When modifying or building a spreadsheet, event organizers should include categories such as:

3. Prioritize Expenses

Some items, such as venue, catering and entertainment are sure to come with a higher price tag. So, it’s important event organizers have a firm grip on what will give them the most bang for their buck, or the biggest return on their investment. This is where understanding event objectives and overarching goals plays a pivotal role.

“We don’t have the luxury of doing anything and everything that we want anymore because of the state of the economy and the state of the industry right now. So you have to be even more strategic about where you put those dollars and what you do with them to make the most impact,” Jitter Garcia, vp-event marketing and brand experiences at TelevisaUnivision, told Event Marketer.

4. Research and Negotiate with Vendors

A request for proposal (RFP) is an important document used to communicate needs and expectations to vendors in order to receive a quote for the services provided. Creating one requires a good understanding of the event’s requirements and goals.

As quotes are collected, event organizers should track them within their budgeting spreadsheet to easily view and compare prices. This provides a general understanding of the competitive cost for services provided and gives organizers negotiating power when following up with top vendor choices. For example, if a preferred vendor comes in at a higher cost but is available for multiple events throughout the year, the organizer may negotiate bulk pricing or long-term contract for a lower rate.

5. Consider How to Cut Costs

Beyond using competitive knowledge and relationships to negotiate with vendors, event organizers should consider other ways to reduce spending. This may include keeping event planning and management in-house – unless it interferes with other organization priorities.

“In-house teams bring a level of efficiency and cost-effectiveness that is hard to match. They can streamline processes, negotiate better with vendors, and leverage existing relationships. Their continuity and familiarity with their brand lead to better planning, execution, and crisis management,” Chaviva Gordon-Bennett writes in an article for Bizzabo.

To further reduce spending, organizers can leverage free social media and email marketing tools, as well as utilize the power of word-of-mouth from partners or loyal audiences. If hosting multiple events, spending can also be limited by digitizing signage or handouts or choosing evergreen banners or swag that excludes dates or specific event information.

6. Identify Sponsors and Partners

Sponsors and partners play a major role in event production. With funding and support from outside organizations, event organizers are able to save money on event production, attract new audiences and realize important or elevated aspects of their event.

However, this requires careful research and conversations. Attracting these types of partnerships requires an understanding of the marketing value of the event, as well as the values in which the organization or event may align with the prospective partner.

7. Charge for Value-Adds

Outside of ticket revenue and sponsorship dollars, event organizers can create many other avenues to generate revenue at their events. Consider:

8. Track Expenses and Revenue

The budget spreadsheet is not just a tool used for initial planning. Instead, event organizers should reference it throughout the planning process, updating actual expenses and incoming revenue as it occurs to ensure their event is on track. Keeping a pulse on the budget allows organizers to make adjustments accordingly. For example, if revenue from ticket sales seems low, an event organizer may choose to run a limited-time promotion to boost sales and generate more buzz.

Did you know? With Ticketbud, event organizers can access ticket funds early to cover early event costs. Learn more at ticketbud.com.

9. Report on Performance

Any person or organization that invested time or money into producing an event will be curious about its overall success. Event organizers can utilize the data tracked in their spreadsheet to produce performance reports related to the event, its budget, and any revenue or marketing value gained.

Demonstrating ROI is of the utmost importance of maintaining stakeholder trust and ensuring an event can be reproduced in the future. 

Keys to effective event budgeting

“To get the best value from long-awaited meetings and events and mitigate against rising costs, corporations will need to plan further in advance, budget carefully, and adopt a disciplined approach to managing meetings and events across the organization,”

– Beau Ballin, global head market development, CWT Meetings & Events, told skift meetings.

Events are only getting more expensive. Dedicating time to formulate a well-thought-out budget in the early stages of the planning will avoid problems from planning through production. 

Seven Strategies to Plan a Year of Events

As the current year winds down, event organizers are gearing up for the next round of exciting programs and gatherings. And they’re right to do so. The success of an event often hinges on meticulous preparation and foresight. 

Planning your events calendar a year in advance provides the framework for a seamless and successful series of gatherings. It also reinforces marketing and branding initiatives geared toward creating cohesive messaging and consistent experiences for your audiences. 

In this guide, we’ll explore seven strategies to masterfully plan out your event programming for the coming year, ensuring each season is filled with memorable experiences.

1. Take time to reflect

Before diving into event planning, take a moment to reflect on your events from the past year. Highlight your successes and challenges, understand feedback from participants and sponsors, and identify lessons learned.

To get started, read “A Year in Review: Conducting an Annual Evaluation of Your Events.”

2. Define your goals and objectives

Once you’ve understood your past performance, you can set benchmarks for the coming year and align your events with your organization’s strategic goals. It’s important to be specific and clearly articulate your objectives in order to prioritize spending and planning.

Are you aiming for increased attendance, higher engagement, or a more diverse lineup of activities? Defining key performance indicators (KPIs) will help you allocate spending on elements that directly contribute to achieving those objectives.

Estimate the potential return on investment (ROI) for your events by assessing both tangible and intangible benefits. Consider factors such as increased brand visibility, participant satisfaction, and long-term partnerships. These evaluations will help garner support from partners or sponsors on future events. 

3. Start with flagship events

There might be certain events that act as anchors to your annual event programming. These are events that your audiences might come to expect every year, raise the most money for your organization, or foster an important partnership with an outside organization.

To keep these flagship events at the forefront, plan ahead to book venues and secure highly sought out entertainers, speakers or vendors. Remember, logistics take time. The earlier you can sign a contract, the better chance you have of nailing down special rates. And the sooner you can share details with your audiences, the easier it is for them to block their calendar. 

Once set, you can work to fill in the time between your major event(s) with other programming that supports your goals and messaging. Consider a tiered system that offers diverse event types and formats – webinars, workshops, meet-ups. Mixing up your offerings caters to different preferences, expands your reach, and positions your organization as a community leader. 

A theatre of people listening to a speaker at a business event

4. Build our your marketing calendar

By mapping out your events for the entire year, you can avoid scheduling conflicts with other industry events, holidays, or peak times and refine your marketing timeline to avoid gaps or channels with low ROI. This ensures better attendance and engagement from your audience and ample time for strategic marketing and promotion. 

You can use this extra time to build anticipation, create targeted campaigns, and engage your audiences across platforms. So, work closely with your marketing teams to build content across web, social and email marketing channels that echoes your event messaging and vice versa.

Seeing how audiences engage with content can inform plans for your next event, giving you plenty of time to refocus and adjust if needed. If helpful, you might consider creating themes for different months or quarters. Themes add coherence to your programming and can help in marketing and branding. 

5. Identify potential partners

Establishing your event messaging and goals well in advance will help you prospect potential sponsorships or partnerships whose values align. These relationships go a long way in reducing costs and enhancing the overall event experience.

Refer to your past year’s event analysis. If an organization helped you out in the past, they may be willing to do so again and at a higher-level. Reach out early to gauge their interest and build their trust by engaging them in the planning process. Input from these key players may influence event themes, speaker selection, and overall event strategy. It can also open new opportunities for resources and cross-promotion.

6. Understand your budget

Planning ahead allows you to allocate resources more effectively. This includes budgeting, staffing, and logistics planning. As mentioned above, early planning can help you negotiate better deals, secure preferred venues, optimize marketing efforts and lock-in sponsor funding. The more you understand about each of these components, the easier it is to lay out a budget for your full year of event programming.  

Start with budgeting for your flagship events. Because these happenings are staples to your overall event strategy, more time and resources should be committed to ensuring they are produced successfully. So, ceate a comprehensive view of how much you will need for the venue, marketing, entertainment, catering, equipment rentals, staff, etc. 

Once you’ve budgeted for your most important events, revisit your tiered event programming structure and develop a budget for each event. These smaller events should require less money and resources. But if your marketing and events budget is thinning out, you might have to evaluate which ones are worth keeping or identify where you might be able to cut costs.

7. Create contingency plans

While planning your events calendar a full year in advance provides numerous advantages, its essential to remain adaptable as circumstances change. Flexibility is key to successfully navigating the dynamic nature of the events industry. 

Luckily, getting a head start on event planning allows time for a more thorough risk assessment and to develop and budget for contingency plans. You’ll be able to more easily pivot and adjust based on feedback from prior event attendees or changing circumstances without compromising your overall event schedule or strategy.

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Planning out your event calendar a year in advance is a strategic endeavor that requires careful consideration, collaboration, and adaptability. By defining goals, analyzing past performance, and aligning with broader strategies, event organizers can create a well-rounded and dynamic calendar that caters to diverse audiences and ensures a successful year of memorable experiences. The key to success lies in the details, and a well-executed plan is the foundation for extraordinary events.

Planning a Last-minute New Year’s Party

As the countdown to the New Year begins, the pressure to plan a memorable celebration can be daunting, especially if you’re doing it last minute. But with some quick thinking, resourcefulness, and creativity, hosting a knock-out New Year’s party on short notice is absolutely possible.

The good news is, event planners have noted a rising trend of last-minute ticket buying, meaning many people will likely wait until after Christmas to lock-in their New Year’s Eve plans. But to ensure your event is on their radar, now is the time to make quick decisions on venues and vendors and start spreading the word about your event. 

Create an event registration page in less than 10 minutes

Visit ticketbud.com and click “Create an Event” then follow the prompts to sign-in or create a free account.

Complete the event details form and click “Continue to edit event page” at the bottom of the screen.

The information from the form will be transferred to the event page editor. You’ll still need to add a banner image, event description and ensure all time and location details are correct. 

Click here to access banner design templates on Canva. 

Before you can activate your event, you’ll need to create ticket types and configure a payment method if you plan on selling tickets. You can complete both of these steps using the event dashboard on the left. Select “Tickets” to customize and manage ticket types. Select “Event Settings” to link a payment processor. If your event is free, you don’t need to configure a payment method.

Once you’ve completed all these steps, your New Year’s event is ready to go live. If it’s your first time using Ticketbud, you can also click on your Account Dashboard (the Ticketbud logo or your own logo/Initials are shortcuts to this). Consider updating your Account Profile Page with website and social media information.

When everything looks good, it’s time to start spreading the news. 

Get the word out quickly

Time is of the essence, so utilize digital invites via social media, email, or messaging apps. You can use the “Promotion” option in the event dashboard to send invitations. Or, you can cast a wider net by sharing the link to the event page directly on your website, social media pages or other communications channels. 

Be sure your event messaging and branding aligns across all channels. This will make people more likely to see and recognize your event. Which in turn, may secure their registration. 

Don’t forget to have a little fun with your promotional campaigns. The New Year is a great time to look towards new goals as well as to look back at the year’s highlights. So, engage your audience with posts or giveaways inspired by their future plans or favorite memories. 

Focus on the Experience

People want to bring in the New Year with friends and family. So exert your energy into designing an inviting atmosphere that people want to invite their loved ones to, fostering an environment for enjoyable conversations and shared memories. 

Need some fun ideas? Try:

Cheers to seizing the moment and creating unforgettable memories!

A Year in Review: Conducting an Annual Evaluation of Your Events

The end of the year is a natural time to reflect on achievements and failures as you prepare to adapt and refine in the year ahead. Evaluating your year of event programming in order to prepare for the next one is no different.

Event evaluation is an ongoing process throughout the year. But understanding the value of your event programming more broadly, and how it advances or hinders your organization’s overall strategy and values, requires a holistic review. 

To conduct your annual event programming evaluation, begin with the following steps:

Step 1: Create a Snapshot of the Year

Start by establishing an overview of the entire year of events, include:

If necessary, include a breakdown of stats by event types or category, such as small recurring events, large seasonal events, virtual, in-person, etc. Make note of any outliers, such as those with the highest attendance or those that garnered the least amount of revenue. 

As you create the snapshot, be sure to include highlights from events that brought about notable engagement or resulted in press coverage. If putting together a formal presentation, include photos that capture important moments from events to bring the year in review to life. 

Step 2: Revisit Initial Goals KPIs

As mentioned above, Q4 should not be the first or only time you’ve planned or conducted an analysis of your events. Instead, now is the time to take a look at your event data as a whole and see how it compares to KPIs (key performance indicators) and goals set for your marketing or programming at the beginning of the year. 

If using Ticketbud as your event ticketing platform, use the reporting tool to generate sales or scan (attendance) reports for each event. You can then compare the amount of ticket sales to your total expenses to determine your event profits. Don’t forget to include any money made from sponsorships and any costs associated with staff or volunteer training. You can also compare a report on ticket sales versus check-ins to determine attendance at each event. 

Beyond monetary and attendance success, it’s important to evaluate how your events progressed your core strategy and values. For example, if your goal was to engage new demographics, were those audiences present at your events? If you had sustainability initiatives, did your event help move the needle forward? 

As you evaluate, consider the reasons behind your successes and failures and whether some events may need to be reproduced, rethought or simply left as a memory. 

Step 3: Look at Social Media Engagement

Most social media sites provide the tools and analytics you need to gauge the success of posts and campaigns related to your event, offering data on likes, comments, shares, clicks, etc. To understand how events may have impacted your overall social media growth and strategy, review any tags, mentions, or increases in followers. 

Special event hashtags can help capture engagement from user generated content. If you did not do so this year, make sure future event marketing campaigns include a specific hashtag for the event or encourage others to tag your organization when posting about the event.

Understanding social media engagement will provide insight into how to reach and interact with your audiences more effectively for future events. It might also offer another avenue to gather feedback and stakeholder impressions of your event. 

Step 4: Review Feedback and Testimonials

It’s best to gather feedback when the event is fresh in people’s minds. So if you did not do so this year, be sure to develop a plan to collect responses from attendees, vendors, partners and staff through surveys during or shortly after each event. 

Then, review this data in its entirety at the end of the year to determine any consistent wins or pain points. Monitoring feedback from each event can demonstrate how you improved from event-to-event and established best practices. All of this is important information to take with you into the next year of events. 

If any feedback is particularly positive, consider using it as a marketing tool for future events. Whether it’s a strong quote or a consistently high rating across attendees and event dates, this data will demonstrate to audiences that an event is worth their time. 

reviewing testimonials and feedback

Step 5: Evaluate Partners and Vendors

In addition to digesting the feedback of your stakeholders, it’s important to assess the value of each relationship. Perhaps certain events could not have been done without the financial support of sponsors or contributions of partners. So, consider why they chose to contribute, what they got out of it, and how you can ensure they’ll help in the future. 

It’s also good to maintain a directory of vendors you have worked with – both good and bad – and make note of any info that might make it easier to work with them moving forward (for example: responds best to email, needs attendee numbers 1 week ahead of event, requires payment upfront, etc). This living document will make it easier to plan and delegate vendor communications for future events. 

It’s also important to note if working with outside organizations allowed you to tap into new audiences. So, ask your partners for any details and analytics related to any social media posts, newsletters or emails they produced related to your event.

Step 6: Debrief with Your Event Teams

Report your findings with your events committee or decision-making teams. Together, you can discuss the return on investment (ROI) of your events, or whether the events you hosted were worth the time and resources that went into producing them. Are there any areas of fat you could trim to make the planning processes more cost and time efficient? Are there any best practices you could replicate to ensure no event eats into your ROI?

Wisdom is gained in experience, and failures can help guide future planning efforts. So, outline the lessons you’ve learned along the way, and use your knowledge to refine your approach. 

Step 7: Set Future Goals

Your reflections should inform your aspirations as you set new goals and establish KPIs for next year’s event calendar. Make sure these goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART):

Make annual reviews of your events and annual programming a regular practice. Consistently reviewing your goals and progress leads to continuous improvement in the planning and execution of your events. 

A December to Remember: How to Plan a Holiday Party that’s Worth People’s Time

The holidays are the perfect opportunity to tie your organization to a special celebration or tradition, but there’s a lot of competition in getting your audiences to commit their time, money and energy to your event. 

The end of the year brings on a frenzy of work parties, friend and family get-togethers, school events, holiday shopping and more. Creating an event that breaks through all the noise takes careful planning and execution, with great consideration about your audiences’ time, preferences and needs. 

Get Started

The sooner you can get on people’s calendars, the better. So, determine a date, budget and timeline for the event and planning process, and quickly.

Venues book up fast this time of year, with just a handful of Fridays and Saturdays to work with before the new year. You may need to consider other days or times that might work for your particular event and audience. And, remember to prepare for any weather or other unforeseen circumstances that might affect your plans. 

Once you’ve locked in the basics, it’s important to conduct some market research to understand the types of events you will be competing against:

When you understand what your event is up against, you can tailor your event by offering a unique differentiator to your audience, such as a theme, special activity or exclusive sale. This will be key in persuading your audience to register for your holiday event and should be emphasized in any marketing or promotions. 

Photo by Santacon, Flickr.

Holiday Event Themes and Activities

A themed event provides an anchor for planning your event and point of difference. So work with a team to brainstorm some holiday centric themes or entertainment you might offer as a way to entice your audiences and bring energy to your event.

Be mindful of how any activities or themes could impact who you may or may not attract to your event. If you’re hosting an event for a very general audience, your event may be more successful if you stray away from religious traditions. However, incorporating these elements could be beneficial if they align with your audience’s values. 

Here are some themes and activities for inspiration: 

If successful, your holiday event may provide your organization brand power year after year. Take for example the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. For nearly a century, people have looked forward to the annual event and have positive associations with the brand and those tied to it. The three-hour holiday spectacle has become so successful over the years that companies will shell out $120,000-300,000 to  sponsor the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Boost Ticket Sales with Marketing and Promotions

Cross-channel marketing campaigns are a must when promoting any event. So, create a robust plan for direct invitations and email, social media promotion, digital and print advertising.

Reflect on your initial competitor’s analysis to evaluate successful ways you might market your holiday event. And remember, holidays are about cheer, giving and savings. So consider how you might incorporate these elements within your promotional messaging. 

Themed Marketing Campaigns:
Get inspired by the traditional advent calendar or the “12 days of Christmas” to create a countdown to the event. Each day, you could host a giveaway, encourage engagement, share photos from past events or teasers for the upcoming event. 

Referral Codes and Gifts:
Incentivize people to invite friends, family and contacts to your event. With Ticketbud, you can issue unique referral codes to those who’ve already registered for your event. Event organizers have the ability to track these codes. So, if the code is shared and used, the person who shared it could be entered to win a prize or receive a special gift or discount from the organizers. 

And while it’s fun to receive gifts, the holidays are a time for giving. Using ticket sales to raise money for a meaningful cause or local charity may also influence people to take part in the event as well as encourage others. Ensure you have the ability to add donation options with your ticket sales. 

Sales and Discounts:
Early bird sales are an effective way to boost ticket sales and get people to commit to your event before their calendar fills up. These sales are enticing because they offer discounted ticket rates for a limited amount of time, forcing the buyer to act fast.

To motivate a greater influx in sales ahead of your event, you might also incorporate specialty promotions in conjunction with Black Friday or Cyber Monday. For tips on holiday sales, check out “Tis the Season to Save: Hosting Holiday Sales to Sell More Tickets to Your Events.

How Ticketbud Can Help Plan Your Holiday Event

Ticketbud allows event organizers to create a free event website and host registration for free and paid events. Our site offers a suite of ticketing and communication tools to make event coordination easier before, during and after the event. 

The Ticketbud ticket editor can be used to create and sell a range of ticketing options, such as individual or group tickets, early bird or regular sale tickets, general admission or VIP tickets, and more. Organizers are also able to edit and automate sales timelines, so they can set it and forget it. 

Ticketbud also allows event organizers to communicate with attendees via email directly from the ticketing platform. Use it to send important information about venue access and check-in leading up to the event, or to issue thank you emails and gather feedback after the event. Learn more about how Ticketbud works and how we can help ease the stress of holiday event planning.

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.

Best of Texas Event Vendors

Events reflect the reputation of the organizers. Partnering with reputable vendors helps protect your reputation, reduces the planning stress and limits the risk of encountering unexpected issues, such as last-minute cancellations or subpar services.

Trusted vendors have a proven track record of delivering high-quality, professional products and services on time. Their experienced staff can bring a wealth of knowledge to developing the intricacies of your event, and their communication and reliability is crucial for ensuring that all aspects of your event run smoothly.

To help kickstart your event planning journey, we’ve compiled a list of the Best of Texas Event Vendors, based on reviews and event organizer feedback. It includes:


Event Planners

Fauxcades (Dallas)
fauxcades.com 
Offering a full service event design, custom fabrication, production and rentals, Fauxcades focuses on the experiential aspect of every event. In addition to helping with your planning needs, their services include graphic design and print shop, paint, carpentry, welding, lighting and sculpture studios. The team was awarded the silver award for Best of DFW Event Planners in 2021 by the Dallas Morning News.

Red Velvet Events (Austin)
Weareredvelvet.com
For more than 20 years, event planners at Red Velvet Events have focused on their mission to “create compelling human connections through insight, design and collaboration for brands on the cusp of disruption.” The full service industry specializes in a strategic, collaborative planning process and has been recognized through 25 international event awards. 

Printing/Signage

ProGraphix (Austin)
pgaustin.com
ProGraphix is a woman-owned, eco-conscious print shop established in 2002. From design to delivery and installation, their team can help with any print project for your event, be it invitations, brochures, postures, directional signs, window decals or murals.

Minuteman Press (National)
minutemanpress.com
Minuteman Press International has been rated the #1 Printing Franchise in the printing industry by Entrepreneur Magazine more than 30 times. The national chain of print shops offers a wide variety of services, including small paper prints or posters to unique swag or branded food items. 

AV/Tech Support

ATX Event Systems (Austin)
atxes.com 
ATX Event Systems is a full service audio visual company specializing in conferencing, brand activations, concert production and installation. Plus, the company has several studio spaces to host your in-person or online event, as well as a staffing arm to relief in areas beyond technical support, such as food and beverage services, janitorial and security.

Karana Audio Visual (Houston)
Karana-audiovisual.com
Established in Houston in 2015, Karana Audio Visual was built by two musicians with an in-depth understanding of the technical needs of putting together a successful event. They offer a full suite of event production services, including lighting, live streaming, audio, video, as well as video production. The company has garnered an Award for Excellence from the Better Business Bureau. 

Photography/Videography

Bennett Creative (Austin)
bennettcreative.co
Whether you need a conference opener video, a highlight reel, or anything in between, Bennett Creative has got you covered. The Austin-based team provides a bounty of event services, including photography, livestreaming, capturing b-roll, multi-camera set-ups, interviews and timelapses. Beyond event work, Bennett Creative is a great asset to any marketing team looking to bring life to their strategies.

Saturn Photography (Austin)
saturnphotography.com 
With more than 300 5-star reviews, Saturn Photography can help your guests relive your event in high–resolution in the days and weeks after the event. The company’s online gallery system makes it easy to share images with guests to view, download and print, with no watermarks included. Their services also include video production for private and corporate projects. 

DTX Media (Dallas/ Fort Worth)
dtxmedia.com
Though located in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, the team at DTX Media will travel across Texas and Oklahoma to capture photos and video of your next commercial or corporate event. Their services include photo booths and event photography to drone footage and video production for any size of event. 

Catering/Bartending

Glory House (Irving)
Gloryhousecatering.com 
Whether you’re looking for pick-up catering, a full-service reception or to host an intimate bistro gathering, Glory House is a go-to vendor for corporate and private on or off-site events. The company has served the DFW metroplex for more than 20 years, earning the title of Best in Irving Caterer every year since 2011. 

The Heights Catering (Houston)
theheightscatering.com 
Completely customize your event day menu with The Heights Catering, serving clients in Houston and surrounding areas. The Heights chefs offer a versatile menu, including African, Asian, British, Middle Eastern and American. The business also offers service from food trucks to bring a unique flair to your next event. 

la Barbeque Food Truck (Austin)
labarbecue.com 
Bring a local Austin vibe to your next event with a BBQ food truck. The female–owned and operated food truck la Barbeque is an Austin staple, consistently appearing on the city’s best BBQ lists. Invite them to your next event to dish up some delicious, locally sourced beef cooked low and slow for 8 hours for that melt-in-your-mouth goodness. 

Event Staffing/Security

5 Star Event Services (Houston, Austin, San Antonio)
5starstaff.com
Established in 2000, 5 Star Event Services has provided security officers, ushers, ticket takers and event staff personnel at more than 41,000 events throughout the surrounding areas of Houston, Austin, San Antonio. Their teams are trained in customer service and have undergone background checks to ensure a positive and safe experience at each event. 

Trinity Event Staffing
trinityeventstaffing.com 
Rated as a top staffing company in the DFW area, Trinity Event Staffing can cover any of your personnel needs for small private events or large seated dinners or conferences. Easily assemble a food service team, brand ambassadors, or extra security staff to help ensure no one staff member feels too much pressure during your event. 

Event Rentals and Decor

Marquee Event Rentals (Austin, Dallas, Houston)
marqueerents.com
Marquee Event Rentals serves any size of event across Southern and Midwestern markets. The company, which recently culminated from six separate vendors, touts the largest inventory of event rentals in the industry, including tables, tents, china, linens, kitchen and serving appliances, crowd and climate control equipment, lighting and more.

Loot Rentals (Austin)
lootrentals.com
Looking for a unique, curated look at your next event? Look no further than Loot Rentals, a boutique event rental company serving Austin and North Texas. The company’s rental catalog includes bars and tables, dining sets, seating, outdoor furnishings, decor, vintage items and more.  

Entertainment

Texas Entertainment Group (Dallas, Houston)
texasentertainmentgroup.com
No matter the fun you’re hoping to add to your event, Texas Entertainment Group is there to help. Their team will work with you to determine what entertainers, extreme sports, or inflatable games might enhance the experience at your next corporate, school, or community event.

GigSalad
gigsalad.com
If you’re looking to hire an entertainer for your next event, check out GigSalad. The nationwide talent search database will help identify an extensive list of potential musicians, DJs, speakers and entertainers to suit your event needs and budget. 

Venues – Austin

The Sky Lounge on Lady Bird Lake (capacity 35-150)
skyloungeonladybird.com
Located in the heart of downtown, The Sky Lounge on Ladybird promises astounding views of the city and Ladybird lake, as well as convenient access to many popular downtown attractions. Whether you’re hosting a small holiday gathering or a larger community function, the venue offers additional amenities, such as bar and catering services, staging and sound systems, as well as convenient parking and security. 

The Austin Convention Center (capacity 7,000+)
austinconventioncenter.com 
The Austin Convention Center has a bounty of space and resources, and is equipped to handle any of your technological, catering, and security needs. The venue is homebase for many massive events, including the annual SXSW festival, but can also host much smaller events within its 50+ meeting rooms.

Venues – Dallas

Texas Ale Project (capacity 28-600)
texasaleproject.com
Give your guests a local experience by hosting your next event at one of Dallas’s hometown breweries. The Texas Ale Project has a variety of unique event spaces to host anywhere from 28 to 600 guests. The biggest benefit of the venue? The drinks, of course, as well as its AV, catering, wifi and parking amenities. 

Southfork Ranch (capacity 2,000)
southforkranch.com
Nestled on 300 acres of groomed ranch land, Southfork Ranch gives event organizers plenty of room to spread out for large events, or scale down for small gatherings within its private meeting spaces. The venue, which was made famous for its appearance on the TV show “Dallas,” is the perfect place to blend boots and business and has staff onsite to help with your next event. 

Venues – Houston

Ronin Art House (capacity 50-150)
rentalsatronin.com
Hundreds of Google reviews reiterate the same sentiment: If you want to host an intimate event in a unique and beautiful space, look no further than Ronin Art House. Event organizers can choose from three venue spaces based on the size and vibe of the event. Each space is architecturally designed to play with angles and light to present a new definition of industrial chic. The venue is willing to work with any outside vendor or caterer.

Asia Society Texas (capacity 1,360)
asiasocietytexasrentals.org
The stunning cultural center, designed by world-renowned Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi, is consistently recognized with Houston’s Design Award for its elegant blend of Japanese and Western the design. The inviting atmosphere hosts five indoor and outdoor event spaces, or planners can choose to rent out the entire building. 


Keep in mind that the event industry is dynamic, and vendors may change over time. It’s crucial to research and contact vendors directly to inquire about their current services and pricing for your specific event needs. Additionally, reading reviews and getting recommendations from event planners, venues, or other trusted sources will help inform decisions when selecting vendor partners for your next event.

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.

Ideas for Fall Festivals and Events

Fall is one of the busiest times of year. With school events, holidays and travel, it can be easy to lose touch with communities and audiences. But the season also provides many opportunities to connect through specially timed and themed events. 

According to Bizzabo, most marketing professionals (95%) recognize the value events hold for creating in-person connections. An Eventtrack industry study also found that 74% of attendees had a more positive opinion about a company, brand or product after a great event. 

“Event marketing facilitates customer engagement with brands in a meaningful and multi-sensory way, building a strong, memorable emotional connection between brands and audiences,” says Gabrielle Mratinez, Managing Partner of the agencyEA. “Additionally, live experiences are invaluable opportunities for content generation and data collection to inform future campaigns.”

To help stay engaged with your audiences this autumn, consider the hosting a fall-inspired event like those outlined below:

Community Events

Tis the season for gathering. So consider hosting family-friendly events that bring together the community, such as a pumpkin carving contest or a movie night. 

A pumpkin carving contest could offer a range of prizes – think, “most creative,” “funniest,” “scariest” or “best overall.” Just be sure to come prepared with carving tools or paint, stencils, and trash cans for all the pumpkin guts. 

A movie night also offers a fun and relaxing way for families to get out of the house and meet each other. To really get into the fall spirit, consider hosting the event in a park with a projector screen and offering popcorn or even hot chocolate if it’s a little chilly outside. But have a back-up plan in case the weather doesn’t cooperate with your event. 

Get Started

Create a free event website with Ticketbud and upload your entire community contact list. Then, send invitations to your contacts directly from the site. 

School Events

With school back in session, fall is buzzing with dozens of exciting social and sporting events. So consider ways you can enhance regularly scheduled events with fall touches. 

Turn your homecoming game day into a fall festival, with a parade, games, booths, and more. Make it an event alumni and families will want to flock to by getting the entire school involved. Student organizations can be in charge of creating their own parade floats or game-day activities to raise funds for their organizations. 

Get Started

With a day or a weekend full of events, it’s expected that some people may not be able to attend every activity you put on. So use the breakdown of events as an opportunity to raise more money. With the Ticketbud ticket editor, create multiple ticket types so people can purchase festival, game or homecoming dance tickets all in one spot.  

Fundraiser Events

The holidays always bring about a giving spirit. So, consider hosting a fundraising event to round out the year. How about a Thanksgiving Turkey trot? Or a pumpkin-spiced bake sale? 

When hosting a fundraising event, make sure your audience knows who the benefactors will be. Include any sponsoring or partnering organizations within the branding and descriptions of the event and offer a brief background on any organizations receiving funds from the ticket sales. These details help influence people to buy. 

Get Started

Create a free event registration page using Ticketbud. In addition to allowing users to set up multiple ticket types, event organizer’s can also create a donation button for the registration page. This will allow those who want to give a little extra or donate in lieu of their participation a chance to do so. Ticketbud can also help organizers manage any race day needs with easy mobile check-in and race bib assignments. 

Pop-up Events

Pop-up events are an exciting way to draw in new audience members and get a brand in front of new customers. If you’re thinking about hosting a fall pop-up, why not stick to the theme?

Host a haunted house. These events are temporary in nature and always hosted in a unique location. To make it a success, recruit some helping hands. Consider hiring theater actors from a local high school or university to play the scary parts and get ideas from your contacts on their best haunted house experiences. 

Get Started

Set-up an account page for your organization using Ticketbud to keep track and showcase multiple events to the public. Customize each individual event page’s set-up so that other events in the series are promoted on each event’s page. 

Conferences and Trade Shows

Spruce up your conference or expo with fall-centric foods, activities, swag and recommendations. 

If people are traveling from out of town to your conference, provide a list of area recommendations of where they could find fun fall activities or good eats outside of conference times within your printed or online program. Hosting a day-long or multi-day event? Pick a fall harvest inspired menu to make your attendees feel at home during their visit. 

Get Started

Since conferences and trade shows draw in attendees from around the world, get ahead of event marketing. Create a cohesive brand for your event that is recognizable across all the platforms your audience might learn about your event – website, social media, email. Use the design to develop your own custom banner for your event ticketing page. Here’s a template to help get started. 

Chamber of Commerce

As businesses wrap up and evaluate the activities of the entire year, their leaders must use that data to prospect for the year ahead. Give local businesses the resources they need to be successful in the year ahead by introducing them to others leaders in the area through a fall mixer. 

Networking events provide ample opportunities for people to make meaningful connections with others who can support their business pursuits. Plus, the event itself makes for a great opportunity for a chamber of commerce to get the word out about the organization and recruit new members. 

Get Started

Utilize the power and influence of your current audience to create buzz, excitement and ticket sales for your event. Set up special promotions for event registration, offering discounts to members of your organizations or special discount codes they can pass on to their contacts who they’d like to join the networking event.

Virtual Events

Stay engaged with audiences throughout the busiest travel season by hosting virtual events, such as a series of mixology, baking or cooking events. 

Mix up the next online event with some audience participation and invite guests to recreate a drink or food recipe together from the comfort of their own home or travel destination. The recipes could be suited for fall, such as mulled wine or pumpkin pie. Just make sure the guests are prepared with the appropriate ingredients ahead of time. 

Get Started

Build the cost of the ingredients and shipping into your budget, and plan out how to get the recipe packages to the audience ahead of time. If using Ticketbud, utilize the custom questions tool to ask audiences for their shipping address. That way, everyone is ready to make the recipe as soon as they click “join meeting.”

Private Events

Get into the Halloween spirit at your next private event. 

Hosting a costume party? Special themes have a way of getting people excited and talking about an event as they plan out how they’re going to dress the part. Give guests ideas for how to dress the part or offer prizes for those who go above and beyond. 

Or, lean into the spooky season by planning a murder mystery party designed around the interests of your entire group, such as the Roaring 20s, the Wild West, or Harry Potter. Take extra time to plan out the details so the decor, food and even your guest’s characters are all on theme. 

Get Started

The devil is in the details when hosting themed events. To ensure your guests are in the know about what to expect and how to prepare, create an event website with a detailed description of contests or game play. Ticketbud makes creating and editing an event website easy with its intuitive page editor, which allows you to customize your event details and see how they appear to your guests in real time. 

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.

Event Registration Software

People are more comfortable than ever buying tickets and registering for events online ahead of time. So it’s more important than ever for event planners to familiarize themselves with online event registration software and tools that can help them meet their potential attendees where they’re at.

How do you handle event registration?

Websites, such as Ticketbud, provide easy-to-use event registration software for planners to manage and promote their events. The online tool allows event managers to create event pages and host registration and ticket sales for free, with a small fee passed along to ticket buyers for paid-events. Selling and sending electronic tickets has never been easier. 

The online ticketing tool also allows event planners to customize every step of their event registration process – from creating different ticket types (GA vs. VIP) and automating their sales timelines, down to designing the look and layout of each ticket. Ticketbud even allows users to customize questions for ticket buyers to help planners gather and capture important information about their audience. Use this feature to create a custom event registration form. 

What is registration software?

Event registration software provides an online platform where event planners can plan, create and manage paid or unpaid sign-ups to their events. Useful event registration platforms, like Ticketbud, consist of an online back-office for event planners to organize and promote registration, as well as a user interface for attendees to learn more about the event and purchase tickets. 

How to choose the right event registration software

When considering which online event ticketing software to use, take stock of key features that can help ease processes before, during. and after the event. 

With Ticketbud, event planners can create custom event webpages to share across online platforms. The platform’s ticket editor allows users to create and customize costs and sales timelines for multiple ticket types. And its promotional tools can help planners create and track special sales, referrals, or marketing campaigns.

Ticketbud also helps streamline event-day activities, such as arrival or check-in. For example, when attendees register through Ticketbud, they’re emailed a unique QR code that can be easily scanned on-site through a mobile app for secure check-in. It also provides communication tools that allow planners to email attendees ahead of the event with details they may need to know before they arrive, as well as follow-up with any post-event messaging. 

But perhaps the most important feature to consider is cost. While many event registration softwares offer all the capabilities for successful event registration, it’s not all-inclusive in their base-level user’s cost. With Ticketbud, these features are free for all users. 

What is a registration management system?

Ticketbud is a registration management system that streamlines the workflow for event planners and makes it easy for participants to sign-up for events. The online tool allows event managers to create a custom event page for their events and sell tickets or register individuals through an easy online process. 

Registration management systems can vary in cost and features, but Ticketbud’s tools equip event planners with the tools they need to reach strategic sales goals. For example, the ticket editor allows users to create multiple price points for different ticket types or merchandise sales. Use it to automate specially timed sales promotions. 

The online registration system also provides planners with communication and marketing tools. Event managers can email up-to-date information to participants directly through the site, or run targeted marketing campaigns through Ticketbud’s Ad Engine. 

How do I create an online registration form for an event? 

If using Ticketbud to host your event registration, you can easily create an online registration form using the “Custom Questions” options in your event dashboard. 

When drafting your questions, you have the option to choose whether each requires a response and the type of response – be it text, dropdown, radio or multiple choice. And, if you’re selling multiple types of tickets, you can write specific questions for each ticket type, or assign questions to all ticket types. 

As participants purchase their tickets, their responses will be recorded with their order. This way, when you run a report of the ticket sales, you can view individual responses to each prompt. 

Custom questions are also a great way to gather other information from participants, such as suggestions for content, questions for speakers, or info on how they heard about your event.