Into this era of “Do It Yourself” technology resources ventures the brave meeting planner. Nowhere can the planner tasked with building event websites and microsites find a better, more savvy augmentation to their important content than by leveraging the wide variety of free and low cost widgets available.
What is a Widget?
A widget or app widget is a stand-alone application that can be embedded into third party sites by any user on a page where they have rights of authorship.
A widget is more than a button that is added to your website that provides a portal to a land of wonderful and useful information. It takes that button to the next level by integrating dynamic resources that typically grant quick, easy and efficient access to information or resources that would otherwise be difficult or cost prohibitive for an organization to program.
More About Widgets and How To Use Them
Many event planners find themselves working in WordPress due to its relative ease of use and flexibility to create and maintain a website for their events. WordPress websites utilize widgets in the design or by using a WordPress plugin to add the functionality that is needed for the event website without having to hire a web developer to create it for you.
WordPress widgets were originally created to provide a simple and easy-to-use way of giving design and structure control of the WordPress design to the user. Widgets can be easily dragged and dropped into a specific widget area.
You can utilize WordPress widgets to perform specific functions that will help your attendees, speakers, and sponsors find the information they are looking for.
The most common widget-ready area in WordPress is in your sidebars on your web pages. However, these widget-ready areas can be in the header, footer, below content areas, and basically in a variety of locations on your website. The available widget areas that you have in your theme will vary depending on how the theme was designed by the web developer.
Simple User Friendly Event Friendly Resources & Ideas
Here is a list of user friendly event resources and how they work:
AllTheRooms is a tool that aggregates search results from a variety of booking sites. It will provide a comprehensive list for attendees to locate and reserve for their accommodations. These lists are created specifically with your event location as part of the criteria to help attendees make the best choice for their stay while attending your event.
Here are examples of where the aggregate listing resources come from:
This is a valuable resource if your event does not have a host hotel or you are not able to offer a group rate. This information can also be deployed after a group cut off date has passed and attendees are still in need of accommodation resources. This is especially helpful in venues where hotel rooms are at a premium and/or other groups are creating compression.
Similar to accommodation booking, travel widgets can help attendees find the best deals in flight search. Skyscanner, CheapFlights and Kayak as well as others allow you to embed a search widget into your website.
Some will also pay you a commission on flights booked through the widget. The main reason to offer this widget is for convenience to your attendees. The widget will start the search by pre- populating your event destination to get things started.
This a WordPress plugin that uses widgets on your website to embed event information. It is especially useful for organizations that host multiple events.
The ability to save events to a user’s third party calendar service is a great feature along with sidebar widgets for displaying a list of events.
The Events Calendar by Modern Tribe is a favorite free plugin for WordPress websites. It has an Eventbrite integration for ticketed events, which is slick but comes with a price tag.
Refer a Friend
Event promotion is getting into the sophisticated couponing we have seen in the last few years with online purchase and social sharing. Bizzabo has an elegant promotional tool called Ticket Boost that can be customized in a variety of ways.
Here are a couple of example of how this would work:
- A single sided incentive where future registrants receive a discount (amount to be determined by event organizer) when purchasing a ticket through a social share; or
- A double sided incentive where the attendee sharing the discount also receives a refund (amount to be determined by event organizer).
These widgets are great because they also have the added benefit of data tracking.
While most meeting planners leverage robust event ticketing and registration platforms, simple ticketing widgets and plugins are an option and especially with WordPress websites. Ticket Tailor is one that I found but have not fully tested.
Fun and useful, a countdown clock can generate excitement while urging action for visitors to your website. As with calendar widgets, a quick search of “countdown clock widget” will give you a host of options with a wide variety of designs. Pick the best for your site!
As your event date nears, attendees start thinking more about the venue, what to pack and what to expect while they are there. Give them a reason to refer to your website for all event information by including a weather widget.
If you have favorite widgets and plugins, share the knowledge! Please leave your ideas in the comments section of this article.