Online Party Planning Tools for Frugal Celebrations and Events, Part 3
If you are planning a group picnic, a dinner, or an intimate fund-raising event for, maybe, 5,000 people, these services can handle almost anything. We also add a few other resources for communications, planning, coordination, phone communications, seating arrangements, event website tools, and ticket sales.
Although these sites are excellent for professional planners, most will help you with your small group and family events, too.
Full Service Event Tools
Evite coined the term evite for online invitations. Launched in 1998, it’s ancient by internet standards, but Evite’s done a good job keeping up with the competition. The site includes:
- Free invitations and service (with ads) for up to 750 people
- RSVP management, including ability to export guest lists
- Photo viewing
- Maps for events
- Calendar info
- A “What to bring” checklist for organizing potluck meals or other uses.
- Option to let guests invite their own guests
- Drink Calculator
- Budget Estimator
- Party planning ideas; a Party Checklist, and an Evite Daily Blog with ideas
- Apps for iOS and Android
- You can post Evites to your Facebook feed, to somebody else’s feed, or send invitations to individuals on Facebook.
- Evite Ink offers printed invitations and mailing services.
- Evite Party Store
- Evite Travel through partnership with Expedia
- Evite Postcard offers designer ecards, invitations and correspondence
You can have multiple “Hosts” for an event, but only the person who created the account with an email address can make changes. You can allow guests to invite other guests, but at the moment, you cannot see who invited who. Currently they do not give bounce back reports on emails sent but they say they are working on it. You cannot currently upload a CSV or contact list to evite, but you can cut and paste up to 100 names and addresses at a time into your guest list (and save, reuse, and export your lists).
The Evite site has links to a few travel sites, hotel.com, and personality and match sites, which might be useful for planning or for providing a link in your invitation for creative events, say, for singles.
Anyvite is similar to Evite, with a few social media tools and the option to pay for an expanded invitation list. Anyvite also offers a few more premium services. The main features:
- Build an invitation database with “import from anywhere,” even from Evite.
- Can merge guest lists
- Quickly create an invitation with many design options
- Guests can invite others; host can control limits on how many guests they can bring
- Send free messages and updates after the invitations
- RSVP tools; can limit RSVP’s to a set number
- A widget for announcements on your blog or website
- Optional public URLs to have public RSVP for social media or public ad campaigns
- Export guest list
- Share Flickr pictures and YouTube video with guests after the event
- Ticket sales
- Twitter tools
- No phone apps; but a public mobile interface
The Anyvite site has some conflicting information about the number of free invitations. It appears you can send out 250 invitations for free. For more, you can upgrade to an Anyvite Plus account for $10 per event for up to 1500 invitations (plus extra customization options and no ads), or you can sign up for a Premium Invitation Site account for a monthly fee.
Premium Invitation Sites allow businesses (such as creative agencies; event promoters; clubs, bars, and other venues) to create their own invitation control site with:
- Fully customized site look and feel, with logo and CSS customization
- Custom domain names
- Full configuration options
- Design-your-own themes and invitations so staff or volunteers can use them
- Control who has permission to create and send invitations
- Track analytics for multiple events; option to show Google Analytics
Prices for premium invitation sites start at $25 per month, based on the number of events, with no limits on number of users. You can also pay Anyvite to custom design your site instead of doing it yourself.
Eventbrite offers a very impressive feature set for small and large events including customized tools for concerts, parties, conferences, politics, endurance sports, music festivals, community events, classes, nonprofit events and fundraisers, auctions, and food and wine events.
Eventbrite is currently available in the U.S. and Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Spain, France, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Portugal, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.
- Personalized invitations
- Mailing list management
- RSVP reports
- Event web page design and hosting with logo and customization options
- Online ticket sales and donations, including mobile access
- Credit card processing
- Multiple ticket types
- Discount codes
- Paperless tickets with bar-code embedding
- Eventbrite promotes public events on their directory of events and on search engines
- Allows attendees to post on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to promote event
- Track ticket sales and registration to help create decision points on promoting events
- Day of event planning
- Print out guest lists and use smart phone bar code readers to scan tickets at event
- Customizable URL links
- At The Door® mobile box office app for the iPad can securely sell tickets and collect customer info
- Eventbrite Music promotes concerts and ticketing for live concerts.
- Allows you to add your event attendees to Batchbook CRM
- FirstGiving integration for nonprofit fundraisers
- Registration widgets for event web pages
- 24/7 in-house support
EventWax is an event management site featuring:
- Ticketing, multiple ticket prices and promotional pricing, bulk discounts
- Limit both total tickets and number of tickets per purchaser, if desired
- Registration pages with the option to use HTML and CSS programming to personalize
- Payment processing of major credit cards through Paypal – either through EventWax or your own account
- Messages and updates for attendees
- Attendee registration, data collection and online database management or data download
- Guest Management
- Mailing Lists
- Event web page hosting or use your own site
- Account dashboard for multiple events
- Online email / newsletter communications pending with Mad Mimi
Meeting Wizard offers simple, free meeting scheduling.
- Sends invitations to participants, proposing alternate times
- Summarizes their responses
- Updates you on the results
- Sends confirmations
- Sends optional reminders prior to meetings
Trumpia is not a party invitation site per se, Trumpia is a “multi-channel” marketing communications site which may be used for invitations, quick announcements, and day-to-day communications. It coordinates sending of announcements via email, mobile text, internet messaging and social media. Trumpia allows 2-way communications on all media. It includes tools and ideas for retail, schools, churches, promotions, marketing, media outlets and more. They also provide database tools to avoid duplicate contacts between media. You can upload contact lists and/or create a sign-up site for opt-in communications. Trumpia offers “white label” services allowing marketing and communication companies to use their own name.
Trumpia is an opt-in service, so they do not allow mass-marketing. Trumpia is available in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.
Phonevite allows you to record or upload a phone message and distribute your message to via social media (Facebook, Twitter and MySpace contacts), email, a web link or embedded on your website, or automate calling to your phone list, for noncommercial messages. It can record your message via internet or with phone call-back from site. Contacts can respond yes/no/maybe via keypad or leave their own voice message.
Phonevite can be used for event invitations, party planning, reminders, RSVPs, wake-up calls, weather-related cancellations, last-minute directions, or for announcements (i.e., new baby, medical updates), prayer requests, and urgent communications. It can be used by schools for absence notifications, weather-related closings, or substitute fill-ins; also can be used for appointment reminders, order confirmation, product delivery, calling trees, to update your family while on overseas duty, and other personal message broadcasts.
Other Resources for Professional Event Planning
SimpleSeating allows you to create seating charts for up to 350 people. You can upload a guest list (or enter names) plus the number in the party, their RSVP status, and their meal preferences. Then you design the seating plan with easy click and drag seating designs. You also click and drag your listed parties and assign them to a table and specific seats. To move or remove is just as easy – much easier than using erasers, whiteout, and penciled-in charts.
My Event is an event website creation tool specializing in features for personal and group events, class reunions, family reunions, fund-raisers, corporate events, weddings, baby website, bar/bat mitzvahs, and custom events. Best of all, the basic sites are free, even when selling tickets or raising donations (there is a reasonable credit card handling fee).
Some of the features:
- Wide variety of web page designs
- Social media integration
- Audio & video uploads
- Password protection
- Ticket sales
- Donation processing
- Unlimited customer support
- Broadcast email
- Address book
For a fee (monthly or annual) you get more pages, more storage, a custom domain name, and customized pages for sponsors, online auction, participant fund-raising pages, team pages and a leaderboard. Pricing starts at $19.99 / month to $39.95 / month, with discounts for annual subscriptions.
To compare free and paid plans, see here.
Create Your Own Event Management web site with WordPress
If your organization or business already has a WordPress website (self-hosted, not on WordPress.com), there are lots of plugins specifically for event management, calendars, event registration and more. To explore, see:
If you are building an event management website, also check out these WordPress themes which have many event management tools built in:
A simple Google search may find even more current info on lists and reviews of event themes and plugins, and much more info. There are resources for other website software packages, such as Joomla, Drupal, and other platforms that support themes and plugins, too.
Online Auction Resources
For online auctions (for charity or profit), see the 2014 Online Auction Sites Comparisons for reviews.
Cvent – International Event Planning Service
Cvent is located in Virginia (near Washington, DC) with other offices in the UK and Australia, and is a truly worldwide event firm with resources for corporations, government, education, associations, non-profits and independent event planners. Whether you are a professional event manager or an administrative assistant who was just told to arrange a corporate event in, say, Dubai, Cvent can help you.
Cvent offers SaaS (Software as a Service) event planning software for:
- Event registration
- Payment processing
- Event email marketing
- Contact management
- Event reporting (70 standard reports + customization)
- Budget management (for single and multiple events)
- Use a computer at the event as a kiosk for registration, name badges, and payment collection on site.
- Mobile integration
- Event calendars
- Arrange travel and housing, block rooms and match roommates
Cvent also offers:
- A worldwide venue search database
- Destination exploration tools
- Ticketing and marketing tools, including VIP packages and merchandising
- Supplier network of event planners
- Enterprise-wide Strategic Meetings Management
- Web surveys
- CrowdCompass mobile app creation tools for specific events with:
- Real-time messaging
- Schedule planning, navigation, exhibitor search
- Tools to allow attendees to contact exhibitors and sponsors
- Lead generation tools
If that doesn’t impress you, here are some numbers that might:
Cvent has 1,300 employees worldwide; their Cvent Supplier Network includes over 200,000 hotels and venues; in 2012 they managed 139,000 events and meetings; and it is used by 187,000 event planners and hoteliers worldwide.
Event Ticketing Sites and Tools (for Selling and Buying)
Eventzi is an event website and ticketing service with event registration and ticketing for concerts, lectures, socials, fund-raisers, conferences and festivals. Eventzi emails scannable tickets which can be printed out by the purchaser. Eventzi does not charge for free events, and appears to only charge $1 / ticket for other events (not including PayPal account fees).
Ticketfly Is a full-service online ticket sales company which includes box office support, online sales, social media, website, PR services, mobile tools and analytics. It also allows producers to share artist info (bios, photos) for quicker PR and offers crowdsourcing tools. Ticketfly also partners with a network of bloggers and artist sites to help spread the word on featured artists and events. The details on their website sound very impressive. Each feature section also has a downloadable PDF file, which I wish more sites would do.
SeatGeek is a ticket information aggregator and helps users find and purchase tickets on the secondary market. It focuses on major sporting, music, theater and other events and has a variety of search tools. It offers website plugin tools and affiliate marketing, so your organization can use the site to find tickets for clients, members, and conference attendees, and you can make money from sales made through your organization or website.
ScoreBig is a discount ticket sales site which you join, select an event, choose a section of seating, make an offer for a ticket price, and then receive notice of whether the offer is accepted. Note that you must give credit card info when you make the bid, before you know whether the bid is accepted.
Stubhub is a ticket purchase and sales site allowing ticket owners to sell their tickets online. It helps market tickets mostly to major sporting, concert and theater events, taking a commission on each sale from both the buyer and the seller. It also charges shipping and other fees. Stubhub also markets event packages (for major sporting events) including VIP parties, meet and greet opportunities, and lodging. Stubhub is an eBay company.
Event organizers who find themselves buying too many tickets to an entertainment event can resell them (there’s even a “LMS” or Last Minute Service to help) on Stubhub (or the other ticket resellers listed here). Others may want to coordinate their conferences with major theater, concert and sporting events. There is a commission charge for each sale, and you may be responsible for shipping fees for non-digital tickets. They also sell gift cards.
Ticketnetwork is similar to Stubhub in that it sells and resells tickets online to major sporting, concert, theater and other events around the U.S. Ticketnetwork offers Point of Sale services to ticket brokers, too. They offer tickets throughout the U.S. as well as in Toronto, London, Paris, Rome, Dublin and Edinburgh.
Razorgator is yet another large ticket reseller, their services appear to be similar to Ticketnetwork and Stubhub, above. After a ticket sale, they pay by check, not electronically, after deducting their commission.
Many of these ticket sites have a variety of phone and tablet apps, a few allowing you sell as well as buy tickets. If you frequently manage events and get requests from participants about what to do before or after a conference or meeting, these might be helpful.
Other Handy Online Project Management Tools
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of online project management tools, but event managers, nonprofits, and others might find some of these to be useful:
Basecamp is the project management component of 37 Signals which also includes Highrise for CRM, and Campfire for group chat rooms.
WizeHive hosts several tools, including buzz for online competitions and contests, select for managing applications for grants, scholarships and awards, and swarm for productivity tools, including forms, workflows, and automated tasks.
Huddle is a project manager and secure content collaboration service.
Wiggio is a free project management, communications and file management site with email, text, voicemail, virtual meeting, and phone conferencing services. Great for small and mid-sized groups, businesses, nonprofits and ad hoc workgroups.
Zoho is an impressive office applications site with basic online office suite applications (similar to Microsoft’s and Google’s) plus Projects for project management, CRM, database, recruiter, survey, invoice, marketplace and many other services. Each one can be used for free by a single user, but many are designed to be used by groups. Services are priced according to the number of users. Nonprofits should check for special pricing.
What are your favorite party and event tools online? Please share in the comments!
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“Daffodil Party” title photo excerpt dates from 1909, copyright by Drucker & Co., New York City, photographer unknown. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographic Division online catalog. image was cropped and contrast and smoothing added for web viewing.
Baker, Cake and Balloons featured image on web announcements is by digitalarts and courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.