alumni-attend-event

Alumni get next-gen event treatment thanks to new software


Attend.com helps universities invest in one of their biggest assets: alumni

alumni-attend-eventRelatively new to the higher-ed market, Attend.com is helping college and university teams to boost alumni attendance by over 50 percent, thanks to next-generation event planning software that can do everything from on-the-fly name tag printing to tracking engagement metrics.

“Personalization is always key in engagements, and it’s really the little things that can turn a one-size-fits-all event into something memorable,” said Matthew Wainwright, director of marketing for Attend.com. “Our solution is all about letting technology do what it does best: free[ing] up the event planner to tap deeper into his or her skillset and find more creative ways to personalize the attendee experience.

And why is throwing great alumni events important? Because according to Clayton Christensen, creator of the term ‘disruptive innovation,’ alumni are going to become critical in helping colleges and universities stay alive in the future.

“After a lecture I did, a university official pointed out people in the audience, as well as board members, who gave substantial funds to the university. They were all alumni…I predict that those universities that in a decade from now will be in turmoil will only see themselves survive another day because of the resources provided by loyal alumni,” he said.

“There is no question that the higher education landscape is changing,” said Michael Perry, director of alumni engagement at Dalhousie University, which is currently using Attend.com. “The ability to build and sustain a strong alumni network has never been more important. Whether through volunteerism or financial contributions, alumni make significant contributions.”

That’s one of the reasons Dalhousie—with more than 120,000 alumni worldwide, and in the last year has hosted 120 events attracting more than 15,000 attendees—chose to work with Attend.com, a company that started a little over a year ago and uses distinctive event-planning features part of their software to make alumni feel valued and allow institutions to provide the most engaging and meaningful events possible.

(Next page: Innovative features for event planning software)

According to Wainwright, the software aims to be an all-in-one event management platform that “covers everything from planning to onsite management, to using the data from multiple events to make [the] next event better.”

But it’s really in the somewhat simple-sounding features that the real benefits for colleges and universities shine through.

For example, in printing name tags: Attend.com allows users to print name tags from a mobile device wirelessly, as well as receive VIP text alerts.

“At the end of the formal part of our events, we recognize the alumni in attendance who are celebrating milestone years. We typically call out their names and provide them with pins,” Perry explained. “This is a very popular part of our event, both for those receiving recognition, as well as those in attendance. When we deployed Attend.com, we started using the text notification function to let us know when milestone year alumni checked into the event. This has allowed us to quickly determine who is in attendance and call out their names appropriately. In several instances, alumni on these lists had checked in during the formal speaking portion of the evening. With the text notification, we were able to quickly add them to the list of alumni announced, providing a better event experience for everyone in attendance.”

And for Dalhousie, it’s this seamless experience that not only shows professionalism, but a respect for alumni.

“Alumni have been very impressed…it’s a progressive use of technology, which helps paint a picture of sophistication and organization at the events, elevating a guest’s experience, and his or her impression of the organization,” said Perry.

Of course, Attend.com also boasts features that can take event planning to a distinguished level for colleges and universities.

For instance, the software collects and aggregates data under a function called “Event Success Metrics,” which tracks everything from attendance percentage to attrition rates, making it an easier way for institutions to track engagement.

Attend.com also integrates with technology event planners may use, including Blackbaud’s Raiser’s Edge, Salesforce, and more than a dozen different payment processors.

Other features such as multi-event forms can be ideal for planners running events like reunions, which have multiple sub-events associated with them.

“We still see a significant number of prospects in higher ed who rely on disparate solutions to promote, manage and document the outcome of their events,” Wainwright explained. “They may use one system to get people registered and then pen and paper onsite to check people in and print out name tags. After the event is over, they will use multiple Excel files and not have the resources to update their databases with attendee information. It makes it particularly difficult to prove how well their event did. They also miss the opportunity to use the information from past events to help them make better decisions in the future.”

“This automation dramatically reduces the workload of our team, allowing them to focus their time and effort on other initiatives to expand and improve our event programming,” Perry concluded.

For a demo of Attend.com, click here.

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