I'm going to start off this post by saying this:
Part of event planning and event hosting is extremely un-technological.
In fact, most of the event world is quite slow to adopt technology because events inherently are a form of what I like to call "slow marketing."
Because you want people to sit down and take in your words, most successful events are light on the powerpoints and heavy on the human interaction. Same with event execution: I'm still often surprised at how many cutting-edge companies use paper registration lists, paper checklists, and paper workbooks.
But it's not all bad: the one thing that good events are known for are flawless execution and seamless transition and, honestly, few event planners trust a hotel's WiFi to make either of those things happen (hence why most registration is still done paper style, because you can always count on a thoroughly proofed, printed registration list).
However, there are a few ways that YOU can make your event go a little smoother, from payment to registration to on-site signups, to product sales. Here are a few of my favorite event apps to use:
1. Eventbrite: Eventbrite is essentially a payment and registration app where you can host your event and sell tickets through. It's essentially a separate event website that houses a bit of content, allows payment processing, has backend registration lists, and can be used to run most of your event using their "Export" function.
Eventbrite is free to use, but they charge a fee to either you or your customer to use it. Lots of event organizers prefer Eventbrite because you don't have to pay a payment processing fee (like you do if you sell tickets through PayPal).
I wrote a post a while ago that condemned Eventbrite for only allowing you to have your funds AFTER your event. However, they have changed this, which makes it my go-to software for signing people up for events.
2. Stripe or PayPal Swiper: The PayPal swipe or Stripe is perfect for on-site product sales and can also be a really great way for people who haven't finalized their payment to pay on site (or for last minute ticket sales of you want to keep ticket sales open).
Payment is something that we all struggle with and ESPECIALLY on-site at an event, you want something that's super easy, efficient, and makes people's experience good.
3. Mailchimp: Mailchimp is one of the best free softwares to allow people to fill out easily sortable, editable fields straight from their email. You can use Mailchimp to store information like flight times, food preferences, session choices, etc. and it is all editable at any time to your attendees. (PS I sort of hate having to consistently download the spreadsheet instead of it being stored in a consistently updating cloud document, but for free, I'll take it).
4. Cvent: This is for larger events or people who have more robust events, as CVENT can be quite specific and quite expensive to use. However, if you're planning an event on behalf of your large company OR you've reached the point where Eventbrite + Mailchimp simply doesn't fit your needs, CVENT can do everything from sending branded emails, to keeping track of registration changes, to on-site registration, to payment. If your event is big and bold, this is a good software to have in your back pocket.