If your community is not running its using HTTPS instead of HTTP, you should consider the upgrade, especially if you are hosting your site through STC. The STC web host offers free HTTPS through a free SSL certificate system.
One of the more challenging aspects of running a community can be running events. To successfully pull off an event, you need a venue, food and drink, a presenter, and most importantly, attendees. Keeping track of who is attending and who has paid can be done manually, or through Meetup.com, but there may be better way: Eventbrite. In April of 2016, Viqui Dill and Teresa Nguyen hosted a webinar on Eventbite for STC and the CAC. This article is designed to compliment, but not replace, the content of that webinar.
Why Choose Eventbrite
In the earlier article, the benefits of using Meetup.com were explained. Meetup can expand your audience, organize events, and collect payments. However, Meetup also charges a hefty fee every six month, which scales to the size of your group. This can be costly, especially for groups with tight budgets.
Eventbrite works on a different business model. They skim off a percentage of your ticket sales instead of having a monthly fee. So if you want to organize a meeting with no fees, Eventbrite will organize the registration for free! You can tie in your PayPal account with Eventbrite and process all your payments electronically.
Discounts for Not-for-profits
As noted in an earlier article, both Eventbrite and PayPal provide discounts to not-for-profit organizations. If you contact them and send them proof that your chapter is a not-for-profit, they will reduce their fees.
Customizing Your Event
When you create an event in Eventbrite, you establish the basic information about the event: location, time, date, subject, etc.
Additionally, you must create ticket types. Each type of ticket can have a different name and price, including a free ticket. Why create different ticket tiers? Perhaps you want to offer a discount for students, first time attendees, or society members. If you break out tickets between members and non-members, even if they have the same cost, you can better track your finances for the STC budget form, which always asks for member vs. non-member numbers. Also, when creating tickets, you can establish who pays for Eventbrites fees. In the example below, the fees are absorbed by the chapter. Alternatively you can have the attendees pay the fees.
Other ticketing options include limiting the number of each ticket type sold, and limiting the days each ticket type is sold. Each of those options must be set individually for every tier of tickets that you create.
As part of the registration process, you can ask attendees questions. Sure, there is the basic name, address, employer form fields, but you can create special questions, such as dietary limitations. On the Manage tab, select Order Options > Order Form. There you can specify the standard questions asked, or add a custom question by clicking the Add Another Question button.
When you click the Add Another Question button, you are prompted to enter your question, and given several ways attendees can respond, ranging from free text to drop downs to radio button.
You can even make sub questions that appear based on the initial responses.
After your event registration is live, you can check the results of your questions on the Manage tab, under Analyze > Event Reports. Choose to export to Excel or a CSV, and you can take your results to go. Or expand the table and look at all the responses right in Eventbrite.
Discount codes are coupons you give to your attendees, perhaps to welcome them to your event as a new member, or to thank them for their volunteer work. These codes are tied directly to the event on which you create them, even if they are valid for a longer time frame. This means that if you give someone a code that is good for 6 months, you must create a new version of it in every event that you create for the next 6 months. Fortunately, it is not difficult to create a discount code.
Once you create the code, be sure to tell the intended audience to use it when registering.
Communicating with Your Attendees
Sometimes things don’t always go as planned and you need to reach out to the attendees who registered for your event. Eventbrite has thought of such situations and includes an email tool that will contact any group of attendees you want, such as people who haven’t paid yet, or people who registered after a certain date, or just specific members. Such emails can be scheduled to send immediately, or at a future time. One such use of this feature is to send a email to all attendees after the event is over. In that email, include a link to a survey so you can get feedback on the event. To access this feature, on the Manage tab, use Manage Attendees > Emails to Attendees.
While this is a great method to contact the people who have already registered, I recommend using MailChimp as a free way to push the event registration to your mailing list.
Ready to Go
Once your event is about to take place, Eventbrite has a guest list you can print that displays who has pre-paid and who has not. It also will print name tags on a PDF which can then be printed onto standard sticky name tags. Both of these options are available on the Manage tab under Manage Attendees.
Eventbrite may not be a perfect tool, but it can make your event registration and payment processing easier. It can even handle refunds if an attendee ends up not being an attendee. You are billed monthly on a percentage of your ticket sales, and if you are using PayPal, you can easily pay them from your ticket income. There are many more features in the application which I don’t have time to explain here, but the few that I did highlight hopefully gives you incentive to create an account and explore on your own.