We had the opportunity to sit down with Jeannie Maidens, Coordinator at the Municipality of Port Hope this week to learn about how she plans her community events. Jeannie runs monthly events throughout the year and has modernized her event planning process using the ClearEvent platform. Join us in understanding what some of her challenges were and how she is handling event planning today.
Tell us a bit about yourself and the events that you plan.
As the Events Coordinator for the Municipality of Port Hope there are three areas of focus within my portfolio. The first area is planning for the Municipality of Port Hope corporate events like our Volunteer Firefighter Appreciation Banquet and the Civic Awards Ceremony. The second planning area is for municipal community events like our Canada Day Celebration or Port Hope Arts Festival. And lastly, I also facilitate 3rd party events on municipal property like Cultivate, a Festival of Food & Drink. For 2 years we’ve been using ClearEvent software for planning some of these events and we plan to expand its use to more events as we go forward.
What were you using before you started using the ClearEvent platform?
Prior to ClearEvent we were using a collection of tools – email, excel spreadsheets, word, and scribbled notes predominantly. We were introduced to the ClearEvent solution through the Festivals & Events Ontario Conference in 2015. I definitely saw the value for its use within our program. The software looked as if it would help us stay more organized.
What has ClearEvent allowed you to do that you couldn’t do with your previous event planning methods?
The biggest improvement for me was the ability to process online registration and payments. Handling this online has allowed me to connect with new participants and engage them in a way that I wasn’t able to before. ClearEvent’s registration software really up’d our game. The process that we were using before was a big barrier. We used to send folks a pdf and ask them to fill it out then mail it back. Very time consuming and challenging to keep track.
Have your customers been able to adapt to the technology easily?
Before we had the online payment and registration option through ClearEvent, we had two camps of customers. One group wanted the registration/payment online option and wondered why we didn’t already have it. At the same time, some vendors were used to the way things were and less comfortable with technology, especially around our Farmers’ Market event. As part of our customer service approach, we have set up things to help them navigate it. We also accept offline payments via check in addition to online for those who were less comfortable with the technology. The ClearEvent system allows for both. And the ClearEvent team has been very helpful providing materials that I can provide my customers to help them along. Overall though, switching to the ClearEvent platform has broadened our reach and we’ve gained more registrants as a result.
What has been ClearEvent’s key benefit to you?
Other than being able to process online registrations and payments, it does offer a new level of organization. It houses everything together and offers a new communication platform through the included Event Portal. I know the information is in the platform and others can access it through a self-serve mode removing me from the pressure of being a single point of communication. I also like that we are evolving and modernizing our events. The support from the ClearEvent team has been so helpful and a big benefit of going with ClearEvent. With our Canada Day Event on the horizon, the countdown clock on the Dashboard is another favorite part of the software.
Like any new system, you have to invest some upfront time to get started. You become more efficient as you get used to the system. And unique features like Rollover also are a huge time-saver if you have repeating events because it reduces much of the initial event set up. And the ClearEvent support team did a lot to help me get up to speed- great support.
What advice would you give someone else considering an Event Management Software System?
Think big about how you organize your event plans. Pay attention to all the features that ClearEvent offers and it can be the Mothership for your events. Have a good idea of what the main event planning problem is that you would like to solve. Focus on that to begin with and sort that out on the system first knowing that there’s lots of other ways to use the system that you’ll get to. You don’t have to utilize all the included tools right away. There are lots of features that can be adopted as you go because there is a lot in the platform.