event organizing

Why A Mobile Map Matters (and Please Ditch the Paper)

via torontoist.com

via torontoist.com

With most people having an advanced computer in their pockets (and with the Apple Watch - attached to their wrist at all times) - we're more in sync with our surroundings than ever. But when we go somewhere new - a festival, an event, a new venue - we're suddenly put into a place we want to explore but don't have the first idea on how to do it. Enter: the map.

We've all been there. You get somewhere and you get a big, flimsy, paper map. It has symbols, it has paths, and it's another thing you get to keep track of and, OMG, they folded this thing like an origami swan and once it's opened, it's never the same. It gets wet and rips on one of the seams. When you open it up to find a bathroom, you get to look around like a disoriented wildebeest looking for something - anything - that matches one of these little symbols that's printed right where..oh, where the seam ripped. Great. Look up to find the sun, it's in the West - now I'm going to look for the compass rose on the map to give me a general idea of where the info station is so I can get a new map. Or I'll just pick one of the many thrown on the ground with footprints on them.

Does this sound familiar? Is it just me?

We're in the 21st Century. Why are we still relying on printed event maps when there's a better way to get around already in our pocket (or on our wrist)? And why should I have to download an app just to look at something for a day, maybe two?

After a trip to the zoo, I was reminded about why Walkabout exists and the problem it's solving. Saving paper (guys, enough with the paper already), an easy web interface where I don't have to download an app or go to an app store, and a thing that measure my location in time and space. How novel!

Are you ready to ditch the map? Have any stories on getting lost? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter (or both).

Christine Adams is a copywriter, honorary Atlanta native, lover of ugly animals, introvert dynamo, and Frito pie enthusiast. Her work can be found on the internets without much trouble.

 

 

 

How To Organize A Family-Friendly Event

Getty images/via bloomberg.com

Getty images/via bloomberg.com

When organizing an event, thinking of your audience when planning activities is a no-brainer. But what if your audience is older, younger, crawling, walking, and everything in between? How can you possibly plan an event that pleases everyone? Whether you're sponsoring a fundraiser, planning an outdoor festival, or just doing a neighborhood party - look for common ground activities, keep safety first, and don't forget to keep the kids busy.

 

Have Stations

With many different people at your event, having specified stations will keep the event easy to navigate and provide ongoing services throughout. A first aid station, a water station (especially in hotter months) and a lost parent/child station are especially helpful. Other ideas can be an Information Station where people can ask questions about specific activities or booths going on at your event (having these at a main entrance makes them easy to find).

Location Location Location

Parks are an easy location for family friendly events for a good reason - they have a big green space, easy to find entrances and exits, walking paths or trails, and trees (for shade). The openness of a park is great for families because it's much easier to see children playing and making sure they don't wander off. Even if a park isn't available for your event, organize your space as if it were by making distinct entrances/exits, having plenty of tents to provide shade, and reducing hiding places or wandering points such as side streets, alleys, or yards between houses. Making your event navigable will be much appreciated by parents, and everyone else.

The Kids Stuff

Entertaining the kids is about 90% of what a parent does and what they'd really like your help with when going to your event. So for the kids, have a range of activities going on so that the younger and older can be equally entertained. A bounce house is a pretty standard event staple. Think about dress up stations, petting zoos (assuming you can have one), face painting, arts and crafts, coloring stations, and other activities.

 

Planning a family-friendly event can seem like a daunting task. The important thing is making sure that everybody feels like they have something they can do - kids and adults alike. Follow a few of these tricks and your event will be fun for the whole family - which is kind of the point.

Any other tips you'd like to add? Any family-friendly events you'd like to recommend? Comment on this post or give us a shout on Facebook or Twitter!

 

Christine Adams is a copywriter, honorary Atlanta native, lover of ugly animals, introvert dynamo, and Frito pie enthusiast. Her work can be found on the internets without much trouble.

 

Most Logical: Getting, Keeping, and Using Data

What do you mean, you're not using an event management system?

What do you mean, you're not using an event management system?

Data isn’t just a commander on the Starship Enterprise - it’s an integral part of making an event that works. When you’re looking to build a community, gain fans, get feedback, invite attendees, launch products - the devil’s in the data. But who wants to spend time doing manual entry in the 21st century? Hint - NOT you. There are a lot of options out there for gathering and managing data in the digital age that can help you put on a great event, grow a following, and get the word out!


Ticketing Apps

In recent years, the popularity of ticketing apps like Eventbrite and Freshtix have been a welcome addition to the event realm. And it makes sense! You not only want to know how many people are attending your event, but you want to know about them too! Are they inviting others? Are they sharing on social media? Ticketing and event apps give you the ability to see the reach of your event in a completely digital way that beats paper tickets any day. And once you have that data, you can use it to make bigger and better events.


Subscribers

It’s not enough just having a blog or website and hoping people find it. You need to encourage people to follow you. Having a way for people to sign up for updates via email is essential. Whether you’re doing email newsletters or regular blog posts, make sure you lean on your subscribers and learn about them. Pay attention to what links they open, which posts they comment on, and make sure you have a way to contact them for updates. Who’s viewing is just as important as the number of views.


Tablets

The world of tablets has been a game changer for lead retrieval at events. Filling out paper forms requires manual data entry that is time consuming and costly. Using a tablet to get lead information is essential in getting the data you need quickly and easily so you can start using that data right away! There are several apps that can help compile the data at trade shows, festivals, and other events into any format you want such as iCapture and Bartizan. Also, offering a prize giveaway, membership, or other incentive will encourage people to sign up and give you the data you need.


Make a map

Not to humblebrag or anything, but a mobile app like Walkabout can be an excellent way to get real time data you need for your event. You can see how people navigate your event in a digital, easy to use, and data friendly interface. Paper maps just can’t do that (and a little self promotion never hurts).


Getting data at events can be tricky but, luckily, the digital age has brought newer, more effective options for events large and small. Using tablets, ticketing apps, lead capture, subscribers, and embracing the beauty of a digital map can give you the tools you need to utilize your information. And Commander Data would agree, that sounds most logical.

Christine Adams is a copywriter, honorary Atlanta native, lover of ugly animals, introvert dynamo, and frito pie enthusiast. Her work can be found on the internets without much trouble.

3 Ways To Get Design On A Budget

You’re just starting out. You spent all your money and lost your design budget. Your graphic designer took your creative and hopped on a flight to Belize. Whatever the reason, you need some creative and you need it done cheap. As we’ve mentioned before, the Creative is an essential part of the puzzle (link to 5 people you need on your team). Luckily, you have options.

 

Design Marketplace

We’re in the midst of a growing gig economy, guys. Fiverr allows professionals with different skills to complete projects for you. Whether  you need some design work, writing, audio/video, web - you name it, there’s somebody on fiverr who does it for you. Have a logo designed for as little as $5! Another option is DesignCrowd, a design-centric site that offers everything from logo to t-shirt design. Have creative sent to your inbox and enjoy a money-back guarantee (so no pressure).


Trade

The barter system has been around a long time. The “you scratch my back, I scratch yours” form of business is still an effective way to get things done, thousands of years later. Is there something you can offer in return for valuable creative services? Ask the designer what they need and come to a mutual agreement. When a trade is done well, both parties feel like they got something they really needed and all they had to do was something they already knew how to do- and that’s a win-win.


Contest

Big brands have done this in recent years. Holding a contest is a great way to not only promote your project but it also gets you some excellent creative. There are some websites that cater to the competitive spirit - such as LogoTournament, LogoContest and 99 Designs. While this may not be the absolutely cheapest option, it’s significantly cheaper than hiring and is good for people starting out that need the creative on a project-by-project basis.


Whether it’s a logo, brochure, or some other promotional need - creative matters. When something is well-designed, it shows that the group behind it is organized and professional, which can be just as (if not more) important than the message itself. So get your act together! Big budget or not, there’s no excuse for so-so creative anymore.

Any other design contests to pass along? Do you have any other helpful hints? Let us know on Facebook or twitter and we’ll give you a shout out!

Christine Adams is a copywriter, honorary Atlanta native, lover of ugly animals, introvert dynamo, and frito pie enthusiast. Her work can be found on the internets without much trouble.

5 Festivals That Celebrate The Weird

We had a chance to talk about Spring Festivals last week but there are thousands of other festivals we didn’t get to mention. While doing research, we found some really unique events that were too weird/bizarre/curious/fun that it felt like a shame not to include them. If a lovely Spring festival is a little too tame for your taste, here are some bizarre festivals that might satisfy your need for the strange and unusual.


 

photo by Barbara Lawlor

photo by Barbara Lawlor

Frozen Dead Guy Days - Nederlander, CO

Maybe it’s the thin, Rocky Mountain air, but whatever it is, the residents of Nederlander, CO put on one of the most bizarre festivals every March. Salmon tosses, coffin races, and turkey bowling are just a few of the festivities. Between twisted events there’s food, live music, and macabre delights at every turn.


 

Elvis Week

Are thousands of Elvises too many Elvises? If you’re a fan of Graceland’s Elvis Week - then there’s no such thing as “too many”. This 10-day event that celebrates “The King” attracts thousands of Elvis impersonators and casual fans alike, with live performances, dances, discussions and, of course, no shortage of peanut butter and banana sandwiches, thankyouverymuch.


 

Jesse Skoubo/Corvallis Gazette-Times

Jesse Skoubo/Corvallis Gazette-Times

DaVinci Days Festival - Kinetic Sculpture Races

This festival in Corvallis, Oregon combines art and engineering in a way that would make Leonardo DaVinci proud. One of the highlights of this three-day July event are the Kinetic Sculpture Races which is just as cool and terrifying as it sounds. Teams create elaborate human-powered vehicles that resemble everything from medieval mountain bikes to mythical dragons. Spectator costumes highly encouraged.


 

International Tuba Day

It’s hard being a Tuba in a woodwind world. Tuba players unite in Millersville, Pennsylvania every May in an event that’s part festival/part support group for thankless brass blowers everywhere. There’s great tuba music all around and the event is free - because tubas need love too, guys.


 

Spam Jam

Spam: the world’s favorite mystery meat. There’s no better place to celebrate the famous foodstuff than Waikiki, Hawaii - a well-known lover and consumer of the canned meat product (Hawaiians consume over 7 million cans a year - more than anywhere else in the world). Over 25,000 people come to the event every year and there’s no shortage of festivities, live music, and yes, Spam.


Christine Adams is a copywriter, honorary Atlanta native, lover of ugly animals, introvert dynamo, and frito pie enthusiast. Her work can be found on the internets without much trouble.

5 Must-See Spring Events

This winter has been especially rough for many of us (thanks A LOT, Punxsutawney Phil), but not to worry. Spring is coming, and with it, the triumphant return of festival season. Exploring new places is so much easier in good weather and to make sure you’re ready, we’ve compiled a list of some Spring festivals you can check out no matter where you are in the US. Some of these are big, some have more local flair, but there’s a little something for everybody.

 

The Dogwood Festival - Atlanta, GA - April 10-12th

Coinciding with the blooming of the Dogwood Tree (they’re everywhere around here), Atlanta hosts a festival to celebrate this popular plant in Piedmont Park. Foods on sticks, arts and crafts, and music make this a fun place to welcome the warmer weather.


 

Photo by Kiwanis Club of Little Havana

Photo by Kiwanis Club of Little Havana

Calle Ocho - Little Havana, Miami, FL - March 15th

Carnaval in Miami is a 10-day event filled with music, special events, and food from restaurants all over the city. Calle Ocho is the culmination of Carnaval and is a 23 block street festival in Miami’s Little Havana. There are over 30 stages of Latin music and this mother of all street fairs hosts almost a million people.


 

One Spark - Jacksonville, FL - April 8-12th

Think about Kickstarter. Now infuse food trucks, seminars, craft beers, and music. One Spark is a crowdfunding festival that helps entrepreneurs with big ideas get funding. The organizers wanted visitors to have that festival  environment, which makes this festival equal parts head and heart. They also wanted to cultivate a startup culture in their own backyard, throwing this in their hometown of Jacksonville rather than somewhere in Silicon Valley (and we can definitely relate to that). And there’s one more thing that makes OneSpark awesome: we’ll be there presenting Walkabout to the masses, so hit us up in the Barnett Bank.


 

Skagit Tulip Festival - Mount Vernon, Washington - April 1-30th

Mount Vernon in the Skagit Valley of Washington can put on quite the nature show with its blooming tulips oom every year. The beautiful sights attract visitors from all 50 states and 85 countries as the town explodes with color. Mother Nature is sometimes on her own schedule, especially when it comes to flowers, so we recommend checking the festival’s site regularly to make sure the tulips have opened up before you get there.


 

SXSW - Austin, TX - March 18-22nd

South by Southwest (SXSW) is one of the most anticipated festivals in the world, featuring world-renowned artists, a film festival, and a digital innovation conference. While it definitely isn’t cheap, SXSW is a bucket list event that needs to be checked out.


We hope we’ve inspired you to explore new places and destinations, and remember if you go to any of these festivals take lots of pictures and use the hashtag #dropyourpin.

Christine Adams is a copywriter, honorary Atlanta native, lover of ugly animals, introvert dynamo, and frito pie enthusiast. Her work can be found on the internets without much trouble.

Moving Target: 3 Clever Ways to Use Mobile To Secure Sponsorships

image via Wilfred Iven

image via Wilfred Iven

We’ve all been there. You finally get a key sponsor on the phone, only for them to ask if there’s anything new happening at the event this year. You do your best to keep things exciting and fresh for attendees and sponsors alike, but it can be hard to come up with new ways to keep existing sponsors excited and win new sponsors.

Fortunately, mobile technology offers a variety of fun and clever ways to pique the interests of sponsors, attendees, and vendors. Just about everyone has a smart phone in their pocket, so let’s get smart with how we engage them. We’ve put together 3 clever ways for you to make your next event pop, and target your next big time sponsor.

 

parade route

History/Art/Architecture/Food Walk
Sponsor Target: Local Fraternal Organization, Arts Council, Historical Society, Realtor, Local Restauranteur

 You’re always looking for a way to provide exciting events within your event, and there’s nothing simpler than curating a list of cool places and events for your attendees to visit. People love experiencing new things, so give them what they want all while giving a new sponsor an exciting digital venue to reach your audience. The best part? You don’t really have to do anything; get the sponsor to curate the list for you. They know their business better than you do, so let them show your audience a good time.

 

mystery location

Mysterious Scavenger Hunt
Sponsor Target: PTA, YMCA, Music Label, Shoe Company, Youth-Oriented Brand

 Let’s just say it; Teenagers are a pain. But if you want to attract their parents and their little siblings, then you have to find a way to deal with them. You’ve tried a carnival, a dance, a DJ and no matter what you do you still have a bunch of sulky 16 year olds hanging around looking to cause some trouble. So, why not engage their favorite brand and, well, let them get in some trouble? Pick an atmospheric venue around town, load up on the black lights (and chaperones), create a mysterious app and let social media do the rest. Have them paint an old clunker, create a mural painting contest, a secret “speakeasy” (secret password only, of course), and plenty of opportunities to ‘Gram some pictures, send out some Snapchats, and Tweet out the yin-yang.

 All teenagers are looking for is the feeling of danger and excitement, so use the things they like most (social media, amassing in a group, and making a mess) to create a memorable evening and bring some much needed youthful sponsorship money to your event.

 

Web form

 Vendor/Activity Bingo

The old classic. Even after years it still doesn’t get old. Vendors love it, attendees love it, and now your sponsors will too. With a beautiful app and a simple web form you can get your attendees to visit a ton of your vendors and engage with your sponsors, while looking like you’re solidly in the 21st century. It’s the mythical win-win-win, and you come out looking like the best event organizer in the world.


Securing new sponsors, and exciting old ones, is one of the most important things you’ll do throughout the planning phase of your event. Mobile technology makes your job easier by giving you an exhilarating new tool to bring new sponsors into the fold.

Tres Crow is the CEO of Walkabout, and his social media team thinks he spends way to much time on Pinterest pinning color palettes.

3 Keys to Getting people to Your Event

Photo credit: Flickr user James Crindland via Creative Commons

Photo credit: Flickr user James Crindland via Creative Commons

Getting people to your event is one of the most essential parts of event planning. Attendance is where you either win or lose - there isn’t much of an in between. A well-attended event is usually an indicator of a good event and a badly attended event is...well, you get the picture. Since the process of creating a well-attended event begins pretty much Day 1, we’ve put together these tips to draw a crowd.


Relationships are the key to success.

Let’s be honest, it’s hard to get people to come to your event if you don’t know anybody. But simply knowing people is only half the battle. You have to know the right people and you have to develop relationships with them. Building quality relationships with taste makers can positively affect how people think about your event’s brand, and the more people are thinking and talking about you the more people are likely to show up. Remember, relationships shouldn’t be viewed as simply transactional; you gotta give before you receive. Simply put, only a handful of people will have a hand in delivering the majority of your audience, so focus on who these people are and develop a plan for them to easily attract their network to your event. This will make it easier to attract the larger audience possible with the least amount of effort.


Print is not dead.

This may seem weird coming from a software company, but your local newspaper and regional magazine are still operating and people still read them. Radio stations reach millions every day and the television is still on in every household. These traditional outlets are often overlooked in favor of new technology but, once combined, they can make for one hell of an attention cocktail. Radio can help you capture a new audience and social media is great for keeping you connected to this new audience. Don’t be afraid to reach out to these outlets or use your personal network to get introduced to this world. Loads of information is still passed outside of the Internet, so keep an open mind and enjoy the wave of analog nostalgia.


Get off the Internet.

Unless you're holding a Twitter chat, you must get off the Internet. Word of mouth is still the most powerful tool in your marketing toolbox. Social media is certainly attractive, but smart event planners know that it's so much easier to say you're attending an event than actually attending it. You must go to your local meetups, print and place posters near the event grounds, find the locations with a lot of foot traffic and set up an info session, sponsor another event, etc. Don’t get consumed with the glamor and ease of social media – it is not the end all, be all. It will lead you down a lonely path, filled with nothingness, empty rooms, and gallons of uneaten shrimp, if not combined with a great real world presence.


Getting people to your event is a more of an art than a science but if you can bring together these tips in a qualitative way there will be flocks of people beating down the door to attend your event.

Color Palettes to Kick Those Winter Blues

Just Peachy.jpg

It takes nearly 7 million cone receptors in the human eye to bring our amazing, colorful world to life. And what a spectacular thing color can be, especially when the right colors are paired. Yet pairing colors is often a difficult and frustrating task when you’re on a deadline and the invitations have to go to the printer. To help bring the color back into your event planning day, we’ve curated this little list of brilliantly balanced color palettes that are perfect for February.


Strawberry Ice Cream

I hope you’re hungry, because these 5 colors could make anyone’s mouth water. Perfect for wedding invites, or Valentine’s parties, this palette is just the right mixture of playful and heartwarming.

I hope you’re hungry, because these 5 colors could make anyone’s mouth water. Perfect for wedding invites, or Valentine’s parties, this palette is just the right mixture of playful and heartwarming.

 

Winter Sea

When most of us think of the ocean, we think of summer. But cool, calming colors can be perfect in the winter too, especially as winter yields to spring. Let these 5 colors take you and your guests to the seaside resort of your dreams.

When most of us think of the ocean, we think of summer. But cool, calming colors can be perfect in the winter too, especially as winter yields to spring. Let these 5 colors take you and your guests to the seaside resort of your dreams.

 

Italian Villa

What better way to shrug off those winter blues than basking in the Tuscan sun in your mind? These 6 colors will have you laying in a settee, plucking grapes off the vine in no time.

What better way to shrug off those winter blues than basking in the Tuscan sun in your mind? These 6 colors will have you laying in a settee, plucking grapes off the vine in no time.

 

Georgia Peach

It may be a little early for Peaches, but it’s never too early for these beautiful springtime colors. I can almost taste the sweet tea.

It may be a little early for Peaches, but it’s never too early for these beautiful springtime colors. I can almost taste the sweet tea.

 

Color plays such an important role in defining your event, so why not try one of these color palettes and see where your event can go?


Tres Crow is the CEO of City Data Company, the creators of Walkabout.

4 Venues for an Authentic Atlanta Experience

The GA Aquarium, the biggest in the US. Photo via  Juan Silva Photography

The GA Aquarium, the biggest in the US. Photo via Juan Silva Photography

Atlanta has no shortage of great venues and event spaces. As a city with a lot to offer (check out our walkable neighborhoods blog here), you can find a space for most budgets that can accommodate a small group or as large as you dare. Whether you’re entertaining out-of-towners or the rare Atlanta native, you should aim to give an authentic “Atlanta” experience.  As for criteria, we tried to keep every good party in mind by looking at 1) the food, 2) the ambience, and 3) how “Atlanta” is it? Because nobody wants great ambience and bad food--that’s just bad karma. With wedding season around the corner, or in full swing depending on your Facebook newsfeed, all of these will work for that, too.

Here are 4 venues for an authentic Atlanta experience.


Park Tavern

Piedmont Park is an Atlanta staple for social gatherings - picnics, festivals, concerts, and tons more. Park Tavern, at the corner of 10th and Monroe, takes advantage of all that Piedmont Park has to offer. It can accommodate 50-300 people with ease.

How’s the food?

Pretty tops, IMHO. A menu that features fresh, upscale ingredients.

How’s the mood?

It can accommodate 50-300 guests and has rooms that have excellent views of the park and the city. It can accommodate swank and casual in equal measure - which makes it a great idea for corporate parties.

How “Atlanta” is it?

So Atlanta.


Fernbank Museum of Natural History

Dinosaurs. Not every venue has them (but they probably should). Fernbank is one of Atlanta’s best event spaces. Martinis & IMAX (yes, please) is a popular event held every Friday. No more excuses for a “blah” happy hour ever again.

How’s the Food?

Fernbank works with a list of excellent caterers, so you’re guaranteed to have something really special. Proof of the Pudding, a popular Atlanta caterer and award winner, is one of the approved vendors for Fernbank.

How’s the mood?

Kind of magical, honestly. You can eat dinner with dinosaurs. Seriously. Let your inner child wrap their head around that.

How “Atlanta” is it?

Totally Atlanta.


Swan Coach House at The Atlanta History Center

Part old South, part new South, part afternoon tea. The Swan Coach House has southern charm and hospitality to spare. It’s location at the Atlanta History Center has a formal garden and great examples of Southern architecture.

How’s the food?

The Swan Coach House is open for Lunch Monday through Friday and has bona fide secret recipe chicken salad (that’s delicious). They also do private events in the evening and their food focuses on fresh, Southern favorites.

How’s the mood?

There’s a distinct elegance about the place that harkens back to the days of Gone with the Wind, so if your pinky starts coming up after every glass of sweet tea, don’t fight it. Just go with it.

How “Atlanta” is it?

How much Atlanta can it NOT be is the harder question.


Georgia Aquarium

When you need to bring out the big guns, look no further than the biggest aquarium in the US, conveniently located in Downtown Atlanta. The Georgia Aquarium is a truly one-of-a-kind experience that houses some of the rarest marine life in the world. And at over 550,000 square feet, it has quickly become a popular large event space for weddings, corporate events, and other functions.

How’s the food?

Wolfgang Puck catering is the exclusive caterer and, as the name suggests, attendees are treated to some elegant, high-end fare.

How’s the mood?

The Ocean Ballroom, one of the largest event spaces at over 16,000 square feet, has a jaw-dropping view of thousands of species of saltwater fish and is the real star of the aquarium.

How “Atlanta” is it?

It’s big, it’s swanky, brilliant views. It’s about as Atlanta as they come.


Large event, intimate party, or a corporate function - Atlanta has a wealth of venues to choose from that offer a unique perspective on a vibrant city. When picking a venue for your event, try to pick something that adds to the occasion and highlights the attributes you’re looking for. City views, dinosaurs, architecture, and sharks certainly help wow your guests, and Atlanta is home to all four. A party at these venues will give your guests a true Atlanta experience.