Web development tools and apps to reduce the cost of meetings.
Open source is a computer software code that is open to the public for use and modification. This collaboratively-developed software tends to drive down costs dramatically as the base code is free. Software developers don’t have to start from scratch and instead can use these building blocks to create new applications in a much shorter time.
WordPress (wordpress.org) and Joomla! (www.joomla.com) are two open source web content management platforms enabling low-cost web software development through the use of plugins (website building blocks that can do almost any web task that you can think of).
WordPress, commonly known as a free, user-friendly blogging site, is actually far more than just for blogging. WordPress has been used to build thousands of significant websites such as the Vancouver Convention Centre, Mashable, Network Solutions, Phone.com and TechCrunch. The WordPress web building platform contains more than 24,000 plugins covering virtually any web task including registration, CRM management, membership management, social media links and search engine optimization (SEO).
Joomla!, another free web development tool, is used in 2.8% of all the sites on the web including some of the largest brands: ebay, Barnes & Noble, GE, IKEA and McDonald’s. With more than 6,000 extensions (plugins), Joomla! can meet virtually any web building task at a fraction of the time and cost of building a site from scratch.
Jeff Rasco, CMP, Founder and CEO of Texas-based attendee management service firm AttendeeNet, has used a number of the major online registration software packages for several years. His company has also been an early user of Joomla! and WordPress for some clients. Rasco describes his experiences using them:
“We found Joomla! to be very workable for event registration applications, CRM systems, calendars and beautiful templates to make the sites look great and function as well or better than many of the major standard online registration companies we knew. It didn’t really matter that the entire package cost a small fraction of the major online registration companies, but it sure didn’t hurt! We’ve since moved into WordPress on a smaller scale and we’re finding many of the same advantages.
We haven’t dropped the use of SaaS registration software, as there are advantages for many clients in reporting, managing housing, roommate and appointment matching and additional functions that the Joomla!, WordPress, and other open source solutions can’t easily match. But for many meeting and event professionals, they can be an extremely valuable and useful tool in the kit.”
There are a number of companies emerging that use WordPress or Joomla! for low-cost, meeting-specific web applications. Here are a few of them:
Event Espresso | eventespresso.com
Features: Event websites, online registration with multiple pricing options, ticketing management, event calendar, venue profile manager (to reuse venues for multiple events or multiple venues for the same event), payment collection, staff profile manager, attendee profile manager, mobile ticketing using QR codes, waitlist manager, multiple attendee registration, easy reporting, social media integration, invoice payment reminders, administrative pre-approval to allow only authorized individuals to register, easy what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) page editing, MailChimp integration, 15 languages.
Platform: WordPress | Pricing: $89.95 (one site, one year of support/upgrades) to $499.95 (five sites, one year of support/upgrades)
Events Manager | wp-events-plugin.com
Features: Recurring events, calendars, speaker submission/management, Google Map integration, online registration, multiple ticketing/pricing, online payment, automated email confirmations/reminders, discount manager, spam protection.
Platform: WordPress | Pricing: Free with limited options, $75 (one site, one year support/updates), $150 (five sites, one year support/updates)
Januas | www.eventmanagerblog.com/
Features: Event websites for multiple events, six color palettes, conference schedule with multiple tracks, speaker management, session management, social media integration (Facebook, Twitter, SlideShare, Livestream), picture and video integration, EventBrite online registration integration, five languages.
Platform: WordPress | Pricing: $149, unlimited number of sites, 1 year of support
Ohanah | app.ohanah.com
Features: Event websites, online registration with multiple pricing options, ticketing management, venue management with geo-location, search engine optimization, mobile app (both native and HTML5), email management, payment management (through PayPal), multiple templates, onsite and offline payment management, MailChimp integration, 33 languages.
Platform: Joomla! | Pricing: $39 (one site, two months of support/updates), $329 (lifetime updates/support for unlimited sites, mobile app included)
Events Nova | eventsnova.com
Features: Designed as a plug-in to an existing Joomla! site: Event registration, waiting list, attendee list, Facebook comments, email templates/management, recurring event manager, multiple themes, payment gateways, analytic dashboards, SEO optimization, social media integration (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, MySpace), video uploading (YouTube and others), image gallery, multiple languages.
Platform: Joomla! | Pricing: $59 (one site, three months support/updates) to $99 (unlimited sites, one year of support/updates)
redEVENT | redcomponent.com/redcomponent/redevent
Features: Online booking for social events, ticketing, multiple registration processing (phone, email, web form, external link), multiple events, multiple sessions in one event, session limits, waitlist management, segmented pricing, automated reminders, payment through PayPal and Epay, WYSIWYG editing, five languages.
Platform: Joomla! | Pricing: Free
As technology continues to advance, we are seeing the price of technology continue to fall. These software programs built with open source platforms are providing lower cost options for event managers. Check out the user reviews and one of them may be a fit for your needs.
Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP is a speaker and independent third-party consultant focusing on meetings technology. With 20 years of experience running international citywide technology meetings, he now helps clients worldwide use technology to save time and improve productivity. He can be contacted at his extensive web site: www.corbinball.com and followed at www.twitter.com/corbinball