What things do you always take with you when you travel to an event?

29 October 2010 by Ken Brown  
Filed under Event management

Now I have to admit that I was checking in on one of the many LinkedIn groups that I’m a member of and came across this subject posted as one of the discussions.

It got me thinking about what it was that I couldn’t do without when I went away to manage an event. Personally, it was simple things like comfy PJs, two alarm clocks and the event file – my event bible. The PJs and alarm clock stay the same but the event file has turned into a laptop and iPhone!!

Professionally, I almost took the whole office with me. Being able to reach for scissors, blu-tak or post-it notes without having to leave the venue was just so important to me because my role on the day was event management and not SHOPPING!!

So I ask you: What things do you always take with you when you travel to an event?

If you’d like my events box checklist why not send me a message and I’ll either email it to you or I might even throw it up here as a blog post.

EventManager™ gets a shiny new look and feel

15 October 2010 by Ken Brown  
Filed under Event management

Whilst it’s definitely getting colder out there we have had some cracking days this week and it’s warming to see all the spectacular colours that Autumn is throwing out at the minute from our view over the campus at Keele University.

As well as exciting new functionality we’ve decided that it was high time that EventManager™ took on some new colour and got spruced up with a bit of a make-over as well.  We’ll be scrapping the existing management screen look and feel and adding the clean new sexy looking interface screens designed by our brilliant designers, Lisa and Rob.

As a rule of thumb we make our systems easy to use and navigate and incorporating great design is fundamental to that principle.  Clean white backgrounds overlaid with strong navigational and management screen colours make EventManager™ both functionally and now visually one of the nicest events packages to use.

If you’re an existing user we’ll be rolling this out to your installation during w/c 25 October 2010.  If you’re interested in an events system why not contact us and we’ll be more than happy to give you a demo of the system.

Slick new features and look and feel to be released for EventManager v4.0

12 October 2010 by Ken Brown  
Filed under Event management

August and September have been busy months for the EventManager™ development and design team. As most of you’ll know we maintain EventManager™ all the time, applying tweaks and fixes based on client and user feedback as well as deploying new client requested features at various points throughout the year.

Alongside this routine maintenance we also carry out planned development path work so that we can keep EventManager™ ahead of the market adding new features or improving the application interface.

Over the next few weeks our EventManager™ lead developer, Imran Nazar and our Product Manager, Ken Brown will be revealing some of the exciting new functionality that will be coming to a screen near you if you’re a member of the EventManager™ family.

Topics we’ll be covering include:

  • a shiny new look and feel for the EventManager™ management screens;
  • drag and drop badge production;
  • custom email marketing campaigns via invitations;
  • abstract submission and paper management;
  • managing the registration process through barcodes;
  • EventManager’s very own Android phone app;
  • making your event more visually appealing through event and client level branding;
  • getting your delegates engaged from the get-go with your own event private social networking group or discussion forums;
  • advanced event options that allow you to manage tables and meeting rooms.

To kick off here’s a sneak preview of the new look and feel of the management pages

EventManagerTM - Shiny new look and feel

EventManager™ - Shiny new look and feel

Kent House awarded “excellent” ISO pass at external review

8 October 2010 by Ken Brown  
Filed under News and views

For any of you that have been externally audited you’ll know that it’s like someone going through your knicker drawer – it’s more than a little uncomfortable – but much as you don’t like it has to be done.

As part of our on-going commitment to delivering quality products and services to our clients as well as carrying out internal meetings and reviews of our quality process we have an annual external review carried out by QMS.

Our annual review this year was held in September and we’re delighted to announce that we passed the ISO9001:2000 standard with flying colours and have also passed and been upgraded to the lastest standard of ISO9001:2008 from this point onwards.

EventManager 4.0 Release Notes

15 April 2009 by Ken Brown  
Filed under Event management

EventManager 4.0 Release Notes are now accessible via the ‘About’ tab in the masthead navigation of your EventManager installation.

Data Protection in events management

11 March 2009 by Ken Brown  
Filed under Event management

The Data Protection Act (DPA) seems to affect every walk of life. As soon as you store information about someone else you become responsible for ensuring that their information is kept securely and used appropriately.

So how does that change the way in which you have to think about event data you ask? By running events and taking registration information about your delegates and more often than not offering catering you become party to what is classed as highly sensitive information in terms of the DPA. Someone’s dietary requirements or requirement for disabled access/parking may seem trivial to you, but to the individual it could well be something far more personal.

Delegate lists are hot property to certain people that attend events; in fact for some people the delegate list is as important as the event itself. If you plan to issue a delegate list with contact information for all those attending then you need to have everyone’s permission to do so (it’s the same with taking photos at an event). A delegate’s name, job title and organisation are the only details that you can really share without asking for permission as they are essentially in the public domain anyway. If you want people to network either ensure that they know that they need to bring business cards with them or leave a pile of blank business cards on the tables so that delegates can use them to exchange details during the event.

If you use a web based event management/registration system you can quickly and easily ensure you meet DPA guidelines by offering an opt in / opt out marketing section within the user registation profile. EventManager has this functionality already included as standard, as a high percentage of our clients work in the Public Sector. You can even market delegates direct from the application, advising them of future events that they might be interested in all within DPA guidelines as anyone that has opted out is not included within the copy list and those that are, are BCC’d so that delegates information is kept private and secure.

Here’s a sample DPA statement that I wrote a few years ago in conjunction with a DPA / FOI lawyer:

Delegate lists and Data Protection

Under the Data Protection Act delegates need to be given the opportunity to opt in/out of a list of delegates, if it is to be issued to a third party. If participants are not given the chance to opt in/out you cannot assume that it’s OK to disseminate their information.

If a delegate list is to be produced, an opt in/out tick box needs to be incorporated into the booking form, with words similar to:

‘I agree that the event organisers may pass on my details to other registered delegates for this event and am aware that I may be contacted about future [your organisation name] events. I agree that the organisers may pass on my details to any third party.’

If all Data Protection requirements are met (i.e. delegates are made aware that their information may be shared with third parties and they are given the opportunity to opt in/opt out of this) it is simply a matter for [your organisation name] to decide whether we share the information with others.

If Data Protection requirements are not met The Freedom of Information Act (FOI) should not override a delegates’ right to privacy.

Section 40 of FOI states: http://www.ico.gov.uk/documentUploads/AG%201%20personal%20info.pdf

“If the personal data is about someone other than the applicant, there is an exemption if disclosure would breach any of the Data Protection Principles. (This is the main issue explored in this guidance.) There are also some special rules to be applied in cases where the personal data is about someone who has formally objected to their disclosure. The term, “third party data,” is used to describe personal information about someone other than the applicant. “

“The term “personal data” is defined in the Data Protection Act, as amended by the Freedom of Information Act. “Personal data” is information about a living individual from which that individual can be identified. It may take any of the following forms:

• Computer input documents;
• Information processed by computer or other equipment (e.g. CCTV);
• Information in medical, social work, local authority housing or school pupil records;
• Information in some sorts of structured manual records;
• Unstructured personal information held in manual form by a public authority. “

If however Data Protection requirements have been met and necessary consent has been given then we have an obligation under FOI to provide these details to a third party if they are requested.

As a rule of thumb, [your organisation name] Events Team will not include an opt in/out option on bookings forms, unless otherwise requested by Event Commissioners. This will allow us to ensure that delegates’ details remain protected in the vast majority of cases. In the unlikely event that a request is received under FOI where Data Protection requirements have been adhered to, the Events Team will seek the appropriate advice from the [your organisation name] Legal Team.

All of the systems and processes used, designed and created by Kent House for our clients are designed to store and manage the information that cleints need to keep on their users securely, whether it be for event management or as part of a database.

If you have any queries regarding our Products and Services and how they can help you to be DPA compliant for your events delivery, please feel free to contact us at info@kenthouse.com or 0845 638 0700.

EventManager – Feb update and new members of the family…

11 March 2009 by Ken Brown  
Filed under Event management, News and views

February was a busy month for the EventManager development team.

We’re on the brink of completing the deployment of v4.0 of the application to all installations which brings all client installations back onto the single core application as well as adding a number of new and improved features.

We’re also delighted to add 2 new clients to the EventManager family:

  1. NHS North East http://www.northeast.nhs.uk/
  2. The National Patient Safety Agency http://www.npsa.nhs.uk/

Their events installations will be deployed in the coming weeks. We’re very much looking forward to working with them both over the coming years.

Top tips for event management

30 January 2009 by Ken Brown  
Filed under Event management

I was travelling home from the office the other day and heard a conversation on the train from a fellow commuter about running events and how it was something that they’d never done before but had a big event to run later this year.  It got me thinking about what advice I’d offer if someone came to me about running events.  So here are my Top tips for running an event without resorting to mass murder.

Failing to plan means planning to fail

It’s a cliche I know but not planning an event means you’re more than likely to fail.  I’m a planner by nature, I love post-it notes, Visio diagrams and anything that allows me to put things in order.  That might not be your style but running events without some sort of plan will only mean stress for you and others around you and a bad experience for your delegates.

My advice is to start planning an event at least 6 months before you want it to happen.  Nowadays people book their weddings 2 years in advance just to get the date and venue that they want and events need to be thought of almost in the same way.  Work out a system for the different parts of event management that you need to cover and put some sensible deadlines in place so that you can manage things in small chunks rather than trying to do everything at once.  Keep an event file so that everything is in one place, use the logic that if I was off sick could someone cover this event for me just by reading the file.

Contracting

If you’re working for a client (or even if you’re running the event for yourself) for commercial reasons draw up a contract of what you’re going to deliver by when and, how and what the client is going to deliver by when and how.  Equally you need to have contracts in place for all the other parties you are working with, venues, caters etc.

The person commissioning the event from you needs to be part of the process, they’re the ones that know about the message that they are trying to get across and the people that need to be there to speak or present. They’ll know the style of the event that they want to put across and if you don’t have all that in writing even if it’s a short list of bullet points signed and agreed by them you’re starting on the wrong foot.

Budget

Business is ultimately about profit so not setting a budget for the event(s) means you’ve got no idea if you’re going to make a profit or a loss.  It’s easy to spend £1000’s on crisp white table linen when you could spend  £1’s instead on paper table cloths your delegates could write on meaning you save on flipcharts and table cloths and it’s fun for the delegates as well.  More often than not agreeing the budget will need your input because you have the knowledge of how much things are likely to cost.  Agree the budget with the person commissioning the event as part of contracting and allow a 5-10% contingency pot so you’re not likely to overspend.

Work smart

Use other peoples skills to make you look brilliant; as long as it’s within the budget everyone’s happy.

The event industry is huge and your event will be one of the x many millions that will be put on all over the world this year.  As a result of this there are lots of people that have events related skills that you can tap into.

Venues

Why would you spend days even weeks researching venues when you could write a venue search brief and use a venue finder to do the leg work for you?  Venue finders normally get their commission from the venue and cost you nothing, so everyone’s a winner!!  They’ll negotiate rates for you and because they have existing industry contacts they’ll get you better rates than you’ll be able to get yourself.  If you don’t like what they send you ask them to search again, that’s what they are there for!!  My top tip for venue finding is Pineapple Events Wendy and Lauretthe are great to work with and have years of experience in the industry.

Audio Visual

The same logic applies to Audio Visual suppliers, if you’re not an expert don’t try and do it yourself.  Don’t settle for the first quote you get especially if it’s from the AV company recommended by the venue.  Write a brief and email it to half a dozen AV companies and see what comes back but don’t forget that cheapest isn’t always best.  Give the work to the person or company that you feel is going to be able to work with you to deliver your agenda not theirs.

Keeping AV simple is really the best policy; get the kit that you need and have a technician booked to make sure that the kit works on the day, the last thing you need is to have your highly prestigious keynote speaker to stand up and the mic not to work or to have the slides for the wrong speaker ping up on the screen behind them.   My top tip for AV companies is i4Events based in Yorkshire.  i4events are highly experienced and fab to work with,  ask for Mike Farmer and mention me.

Buddy up

Sanity is a valuable thing in our manic world so I strongly suggest buddying up with someone else to manage your events.  I know that’s not always possible due to budget constraints but even if it’s asking a friend or colleague to spend a small amount of time talking things through with you it will make a huge difference.  If you’re putting anything live on the web or sending something off to be professionally printed, another set of eyes could save you time, money and potential embarrassment.

Event management system

Delegate registration can be hugely time consuming if you’re using spreadsheets and databases but can be a lot more friendly for both you and the delegate if you use a web based system like EventManager or EventBooker.  These systems can be accessed anywhere that has an internet connection and they allow delegates to self-manage bookings and cancellations for events that you have listed as being open for booking.

They handle a plethora of email communications that would otherwise need to be individually managed by you including: confirmation, account login, cancellation, reminders and many more.  EventManager can also issue short SMS messages to inform delegates that bookings are confirmed or that something has been updated for the event.

Event Management using EventManager

20 January 2009 by Ken Brown  
Filed under Event management

From a throw away comment EventManager has gone from an idea on the back of a piece of paper to being an award winning event management system in under 5 years…

Events are one of those things that until you have to run one, sound like a walk in the park. To be an event manager you have to think a certain way, the devil’s in the detail as they say. You’re a project
manager, finance manager, AV tech and front of house all rolled into one but with the added extras
of venues, delegates, exhibitors and speakers to work with and that’s before dietary requirements, bedrooms, workshops, reporting, AV and evaluations……Calling your wedding guests ‘delegates’ throughout the planning of your wedding is a sure fire sign that you’re an event manager by trade and a way to cause ripples with the Bride to be before the big day (trust me I know).

One of the painful parts of event management is delegate registration and management. Get it right and delegates are happy and your event is a roaring success, get it wrong and more often than not the
Chief Exec or MD are the ones that will get the complaints and that’s bad news for everyone. In the past spreadsheets and databases were the way to manage delegates but even that was time intensive and wasn’t systematic.

EventManager has been designed and continues to be designed and influenced by event managers for event managers. One of the lead advisors for the system is Ruth Dowson, Senior Lecturer in Events
Management
at the UK Centre for Events Management at Leeds Metropolitan University and former Head of Events at NHS Connecting for Health:

“…I’ve had a hand in delivering over 300 events in the past few years ranging in size from 30 – 50 to 1,000+ paid place delegate events/conferences for Government Ministers all using EventManager. EventManager covers all the aspects of delegate registration that I need it to, meaning I can get on with my real job as an event manager. I don’t have to spend hours inputting bookings into a spreadsheet or database and then emailing people to confirm that I’ve booked them a place. I load the event including event details, documents, venue information and delegates numbers and EventManager takes care of bookings, cancellations and notifications to me and the delegate. It covers workshop bookings, dietary requirements, accommodation options as well as full reporting options and electronic evaluation post event.

I moved jobs a few years ago and I had to run a 2 day event for 30 people with B&B without event manager and it took me all of my time keeping up with bookings and cancellations that I was tearing my hair out because I couldn’t focus on the things that needed my real attention like the agenda, event content and the arrangements at the venue.

I’ve felt the pain of having a system and then not having one and excuse the pun but the decision is academic, I wouldn’t run an event without EventManager…”

Here’s what one of our current clients has to say about EventManager:

“….The event management system is used widely in SHAs and a number of NHS organisations across England. We think it’s a great system as it removes the administration burden attached with events and workshops, especially when you’re organising a number of large conferences, workshops or training sessions.

It allows people to register directly online and download information about an event, workshop or training session. It enables you to monitor delegates and manage quotas, e.g. maximum numbers you can take, reserve places for people, mark people as team, delegate or speaker so that you can download lists etc. KentHouse will also tailor the system to suit your organisation. Also, because it is web based, people can access it anywhere they have access to the internet….”
Linsey Atkins, Programme Communications Lead – NHS East of England

EventManager has a large client base including key NHS clients of NHS Connecting for Health delivering the National Programme for IT, the National Patient Safety Agency and private sector clients including E Health Media Ltd and Dowson Communications.

If you’d like to take the sting out of delegate registration and find out more about EventManager send me an email and I’ll be happy to help.

EventManager Scoops Award

31 October 2008 by Ken Brown  
Filed under Event management, News and views

MIDLANDS’ MED TECH MARVEL SCOOPS AWARD

Kent House’s online event management and booking software – EventManager – has scooped the award for NHS Breakthrough in MedilinkWM’s highly competitive Medical Healthcare Awards, at the Council House in Birmingham and will go on to represent the West Midlands in Medilink UK’s national contest.

At a glittering awards ceremony, Kent House, which developed the EventManager software initially for healthcare services, took the highest honour for successful achieving an NHS breakthrough. Designed to support NHS contracting teams running industry events, the online system automates and administrates events, offering self-service to delegates. Since April, EventManager has handled 30,000 bookings and 1,500 events for more than six NHS organisations.

Created to recognise the most impressive business achievements from the Midlands’ thriving medical technology community, the awards are sponsored by Advantage West Midlands and supported by ADF Insurance. David Gleaves of MidTECH presented Kevin Holdridge, Managing Director, with the prestigious award, which recognises businesses that have achieved exceptional research, innovation, business success, entrepreneurial flair and growth in the sector. Kent House will now go forward to the national Medilink UK Awards in February.

Kevin said: “This is a wonderful recognition of the hard work, vision and dedication of our team. We’re very excited about going forward to the national awards and hopefully prove that the best businesses and inventions come from the West Midlands. I think the region’s strong medical technology cluster has given us the right backing and a broad network so we’ve been able to access the support we need and it’s played a big part in our success so far.”

MedilinkWM’s CEO, Tony Davis, said: “The Medical Healthcare Awards have been a spectacular celebration of the innovation and enterprise that’s on show in the West Midlands and it’s great to see so many successful companies taking part this year. The standard has been the highest ever, so it’s an amazing achievement to win.”

”It’s testament to the hard work, passion and innovation of companies in this sector that so many important technologies are represented here, many of which now enable medical staff to treat patients even more effectively – they really could help save lives. As a growing sector, medical and healthcare companies are attracting the best brains in the region, which was clear to us tonight as we saw the calibre of finalists and of course, the success of our winners.”