Complex Meeting Requirements Lead to Ennect Event Off-the-Shelf Solution
- Off-the-shelf program with easy customization.
- Preview work as you make changes.
When DISTek Integration Inc., an engineering services company, agreed to host the 2010 Electronics Conference, one of the main objectives it set for itself was "KISS" – Keep It Super Simple. Bob Theisen, the IT manager in charge of the technology portion of the project, also knew that to be successful he had to stay on budget for the event, which would draw attendees to Cedar Falls, Iowa, from as far away as India and Europe.
Not Your Mainstream Conference
DISTek is responsible for design, development, support, and maintenance of embedded applications and software drivers. The 2010 Electronics Conference is hosted for those who are similarly involved in such technologies. And, while some parts of the event are open to invited employees, developers and vendors, other sessions contained proprietary information that needed to be restricted to select individuals.
Creating a website that would both attract and restrict guest registrations, promote or limit access to different aspects of the conference agenda, and provide controls for online registrations was a challenge for Theisen – a potentially expensive challenge.
Custom-design Vs. Off-the-shelf Event Website
"When my predecessor ran the conference, the company used a custom-designed website and registration system. I would hazard a guess that the cost was in the five-digits range. When they set up the budget for this year’s event, they allocated $8,000 for the event website. I had a feeling I could do much better than that with one of the online events packages."
After comparing several online event services, Theisen selected Ennect Event. "We abandoned the idea of using the previous site because of the cost and because of the ease of implementing Ennect off the shelf," he said. "Thanks to Ennect, we also saved a ton of money."
KISS Administration and Set-up
"I love Ennect's ease of administration," said Theisen. "In our business, we thrive on billable hours. Anytime I have to ask somebody on my staff to take on an internal project, we lose their billable time. Since I'm already overhead, it was nice that I was able to do the Ennect set-up myself with relative ease. The registration configuration moves ahead intuitively; one page builds on another logically. I also liked that within seconds, I could preview my work, make changes, and go live. What really sold it to my colleagues was the look and feel. It's so clean looking."
To Theisen's credit, he really capitalized on the flexibility that Ennect Event offers to meet some of his special needs, like making use of pull-down menus to both limit who could register as well as force attendees to comply with established naming conventions rather than using divisional nicknames. This made tracking the 500+ guests who signed up a lot easier.
Additionally, Theisen chose to drop in a visual image of the event's schedule instead of using Ennect's session scheduler. "We have a pretty unique schedule: five classrooms going on at the same time with each class split into two sessions. Since we already had a chart we'd created for a printed event guide, we simply converted it to a jpeg and loaded it into Ennect. It looks nice and for people who've come to this conference three, four, or five times, it's familiar to them. So, it was, also, in keeping with the KISS principal."
"Why do we want to build our own? ... I did a little shopping around and found that for under $500 I could get Ennect Event and have everything I wanted: registration, the website, the whole works."
DISTek Integration Inc.
Apparently, attendees agree. In a follow-up survey more than 96% of attendees "agreed" or "strongly agreed" that the Ennect Event system worked efficiently for them.
"When I took this over I looked at what we currently had and I said, 'Why do we want to build our own?' We sometimes get caught up in our own egos. But I've been around developers, programmers, and creative people long enough to realize that what we often do is recreate something that already exists. I did a little shopping around and found that for under $500 I could get Ennect Event and have everything I wanted: registration, the website, the whole works."
"One of the other reasons to buy Ennect was the comfort level of being able to use it year over year," says Theisen. "This is our fifth conference; we expect there will be a sixth. Whether it’s every year or every other, with Ennect we know we won't have to reinvent the wheel."
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