Technology & Events: Planning for the Best & Preparing for the Worst

This is a guest blog post from our friends at Saffire, a platform for integrated, contact-less ticketing for events and venues. Thank you to Cassie Roberts Dispenza for leading a webinar on this topic and sharing her final thoughts here!

As 2020 continues to go on (and on and on and on!) most of our friends in the event industry have been impacted in one way or another by the Covid outbreak. For almost everyone, this means cancelled events and lost revenue. At Saffire, we are constantly looking for ways that technology can afford new opportunities for our clients and this year is no different! While some of the tools available to you may not be your first choice in producing events, we’ve come to terms with the fact that in order to survive we all have to adapt to the opportunities available.

Here are just a few ways that you can use technology to turn your brand in to a revenue producing machine in 2020:

  • Ecommerce – Even if your event was canceled, there are still SO many things you can sell online. Create a “festival in a box” with goodies from your 2020 event and your sponsors. Allow patrons to support you with donations with tools like Patreon. Typically on these transactions, small gifts are given to donors, which can be a way to encourage donations. (Think like a bumper sticker for a $2 donation or a T-Shirt for a $20 donation, etc.) You can also set up virtual shopping on your website with your vendors. Drive up “to go” festival food events have also been profitable for many of our clients. You may even be able to sell tickets to next year’s event super early! We’ve seen the most success with people who offer a generous refund policy. Use your online carts to their fullest potential!

  • Socially Distanced Events – While you may not be able to manage a virtual or socially distanced event the same way as you would an in person event, we’ve seen a lot of festivals have success. In virtual races, participants are encouraged to bike or run at their own convenience on their own route. They are often still mailed a race t-shirt or medal once they’ve completed a race. Other socially distanced events are becoming popular too—you can arrange for drive thru Christmas or Fall Festival displays or drive in movies. Online registration or tickets are easy to implement through your own website, ticketing provider or services like Google Forms. Virtual events via Vimeo and Facebook Live can also generate revenue for events you may host live on social media. Even if you don’t do a password protected event, revenue can still be generated via tips or donations on apps like PayPal or Venmo. In many cases, viewers like this low pressure option to be able to donate an amount they prefer as they’re watching, rather than having to buy a ticket in advance.  
  • Social Media – Our tried and true social media accounts can serve as a way to stay connected to our loyal followers on any of the above intiatives, even if you didn’t get to see them in person this year. Invite a sponsor or two to host a contest – give them credit and give prizes to your followers! It keeps your sponsors engaged and may be a way to keep some of your commitments to them for 2020. Social media ads are drawing a lot of attention right now because everyone is glued to their devices! While many brands have held back on ads, we encourage you to move forward with yours! (Making sure your messaging is considerate of the times of course.) Since ads are not in as high of demand right now, they may actually be less expensive. Finally, make sure to utilize stories and Live features as “in the moment” content. This is what your audience is most likely feeling like they’re missing at the moment—something with human contact!
  • Software Advancements – If you are authorized to have an in-person event in 2020, it’s possible that there will be new regulations for event capacities to control crowds or more advanced selling systems to avoid the exchange of cash. Many technology & ticketing companies are offering new ways to manage these requirements with things like capacity tracking software and contactless selling terminals. Often times having these types of systems in place can help convince your local officials that you are prepared to host events safely again!

It takes a little creativity and thinking outside the box to launch safe and legal events during these times, but the extra efforts can really pay off. You may even uncover new ways to make or save money that you will carry with you in to future years of your event.

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De-Briefing After Your Event

Finally – that event you worked so hard on is over. It finally feels like it’s time to throw on some slippers, grab a bag of chips and wind down with a glass of wine.

But not so fast.

While you should definitely give yourself a pat on the back, the period after an event can give you an opportunity to debrief both for yourself and your volunteer crew while the event is still fresh in your minds.

A de-briefing session can check on what worked and what didn’t for both you and your volunteers. It’s a positive opportunity to put a variety of minds together for a brainstorming sit-down. It can give you a chance to address concerns, highlight strengths and soak in feedback to better future events. And even if you feel like an event went successfully, you will want to check in with your team and volunteers to make sure you’re all on the same page.

Set aside time, have an agenda and get ready to review your goals both for yourself and your team.


Questions to ask yourself and your volunteers:

  • Get bigger and better

What are things that can be done to make the next event an even bigger success? Think about both the physical planning of the event and the analyzation of your attendee engagement. Could registration go more smoothly? Do you need more parking? Likewise, is there a way to get more attendees to your event? How was your social media language?

  • The good, the bad and the ugly

Take steps to congratulate yourself, acknowledge what could be improved upon and what needs to be thrown to the wayside. Acknowledge yourself and your volunteers for a job well done, but also discuss what didn’t work and how it can change. 

  • Listen and learn

What kind of feedback did the attendees provide – both explicitly and not explicitly? Brainstorm ways to get attendees to provide direct feedback, but also discuss what was observed. Did people struggle finding things? Was one activity particularly popular?

  • Let’s take action

Create a priority list and determine what actions can and should be done. Making a plan of action sets the tone for both yourself and your volunteers that the feedback they provide will be considered and utilized to make future events even better.


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4th of July Event Planning

It’s time for those lazy days of summer and for many people, the highlight of the summer is that awesome holiday right in the middle. Yeah, baby, we’re talking about the 4th of July! When the weather is hot, the watermelon is ripe, and the outdoor music is at its loudest. Perhaps this is a relaxed time between events for you or maybe you are in the thick of it. If you’re about to hold a festival or race on this fine holiday (or even on another holiday later on in the year), here are a few of our favorite go-to tips to make sure it’s lit.

Embrace the day

  • Whether you’ve got an event on the 4th of July or another national holiday, embrace the holiday! People (likely) have the day off from work, and they’ve chosen to spend it with you. So get a little silly and go all out with decorations or holiday-themed elements (be it food, music, marketing, whatever). People are there to volunteer or participate on a holiday, so you might as well make it feel a little extra celebratory.

Be aware of your surroundings

  • On a holiday, you most likely won’t be hosting the only event happening in town. While this can add to the overall sense of fun and excitement, you need to be extra vigilant in the planning process to understand how other simultaneous events and activities will impact yours. Will parking be more of a challenge? Will you still be able to get the security coverage you need? Do the permits conflict or does your race intersect paths with the parade route? Will there be fireworks going off in the middle of your planned moment of silence? Whatever it is, know about it and plan accordingly. Maybe even communicate with volunteers what else is going on in town so they are aware as well. Be sure to not only know what’s happening at the same time as your event but also throughout the entire holiday as well as in the days leading up to it.

Appeal to volunteers

  • Your race, festival, or event matters, but let’s face it, some people would rather sleep in than show up early for race day or miss out on spending time with friends and family. So, encourage potential volunteers to consider it a part of the day’s celebration. Instead of taking volunteers away from friend and family activities, make it easy for them to bring their friends and family along with, and all volunteer together as a group. Create options for shorter shifts so that people are able to give a little time to volunteer but still feel like they have plenty of time to spend the day as they please. Provide incentives, be it holiday-themed swag or tickets to the remainder of the event. Instead of an “either/or” decision for volunteers, make volunteering with you so good they’d be crazy to pass it up. Ultimately you want the act of volunteering at your event to go hand-in-hand with their plans on this holiday for years to come.

In all of this, remember to have a little fun yourself. Relish in the occasion, especially because people will likely be in a better mood overall. Even though you’re working on your holiday, it can still be an enjoyable time and a really meaningful event in the community. Live it up!

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Choosing Your Event Location, Location, Location

The location changes everything when it comes to event planning.


Talk to any realtor (or any normal person quoting a realtor) and you’re bound to hear the phrase, “Location, location, location.” Why? Because it makes a difference. Be it a house, a business, or an event, location plays a huge part in its success. The location sets a tone, affects outreach and visibility, and determines overall accessibility and appeal.


When the sky’s the limit, you ask, “Where should this event take place?” You dream a minute. Suddenly you’re on a nice sandy beach in your mind before this winter cold snaps you back to reality. Okay, so it’s important to dream big and start a creative brainstorm, while still staying grounded in some of the limitations and intentions behind your event.


Top things to consider when planning an event:



There’s no sense getting your heart set on a place if isn’t available how or when you need it. Is the maximum capacity there smaller than your projected attendance? Are there enough rooms that suit your needs? Is it perfect but you’d need to change your date?



More likely than not, you’re working on a budget, maybe even a tight one. What is the cost of all of the possible locations under consideration? Will the cost put too big of a dent in your budget? Is there room in the budget to cut down on costs in another area so more funds can be available for the location? Or, will the location provide food or security or some other segment of your budget that you had allocated elsewhere?



Is this an area with high visibility? Or a location that is highly desired? Does it carry a “wow factor” that may draw more people? If not, how can you address that or add to its appeal? Will this location expand your reach so that more people are aware and interested in your event than before? Does this location further the mission and align with the goals of your organization?



You may have others who have skin in the game here and therefore a few thoughts on where the event should be held. Be open to suggestions, but also be willing to make an ask. Sometimes business can obtain a sponsorship designation by way of providing the location and features for the event. Not only does that help you in finding a venue, but it broadens their reach in the community as well.



Consider the drive time (as well as public transportation and/or walkability) it takes to get to the event for your target audience. Will a faraway destination provide appeal or deter people from coming? What other local businesses and amenities are nearby? This goes for both the people attending the event and the people volunteering at it.



What kind of impact will a certain location provide? Will it help the community and boost the local economy? Will it cause traffic in an already busy area, making locals dread your event and their longer commute time? Will the aesthetics of the location cause a distraction to attendees or be a source of inspiration? Think about the positive and negative impact the event location will have on attendees, volunteers, staff, and the local community.


While we all have certain ideals and dealbreakers, you may have to compromise on some things. Know where you can and should be flexible with your expectations. Prioritize these different elements as best you can to find the location that will be the best fit.   


*No control over the location? Sometimes you have say in where your event takes place and sometimes you don’t. But even if the streets for your run are already approved or the conference rooms are already booked–you do still have a lot of control over the location of where your welcome desk is, where the volunteers check in, and what the flow of your event consists of. Be sure to make a new map to reflect the changes so everyone knows where to go. Maybe you’re stuck in the same location as you’ve always been, but there’s a way to be more efficient or effective with the setup of the route, the food, or the volunteer stations.


For more information on how to plan an event, check out The Complete Event Planning Guide.



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The Six Million Dollar Solution

So, you’ve put together a great event? We bet you can do it again–with the promise of a tastier, cooler, all-around-groovier experience.


As event planners and volunteer coordinators everywhere descend upon drawing boards for this year’s round of Bacon Festivals, downtown marathons and State Fairs, the heat is on to make them better than ever. Need some inspiration? Steve Austin to the rescue!

The Six Million Dollar Solution

Building an iron-clad reputation is clutch to the success of any event. As word spreads and attendance grows, however, so does the pressure to make this year’s tango even spicier than the last. But never fear! Here are some creative solutions for a better, stronger, and faster 2013.


“A man barely alive…” Investing in a new theme for your event each year is a lucrative practice. A fresh design is the most public way to breathe life back into your festival, show or conferenceAs a highly visible marketing tactic, the unveiling of each year’s hip new spin garners lots of excitement (and press). Take a note from Atlanta’s book–the design for their annual Suwanee Days community celebration is a much-anticipated city-wide contest!

“We can rebuild him…we have the technology.” There are lots of viable technology solutions to make your event more efficient and the processes more streamlined. Your festival-goers will notice, your volunteers will be delighted, and your artists or entertainers won’t be able to thank you enough for making it so easy. Try incorporating more local vendors (craft breweries are always a hit), automated volunteer registration (oh, hello!) or a better ticketing company to start.

“This is Oscar Goldman.” Find the right main attraction. A performing artist, particular keynote speaker or esteemed inspirational figure can be a powerful draw for your event. Like a street speaker, he or she has got to be passionate and particular in their delivery. Like a smart business-owner, you’ve got to know what it is your crowd will come to see.


Photos courtesy of


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