The holiday season is a busy time for just about everyone.
Merchants and for-profit businesses are gearing up for holiday sales and dealing with huge seasonal crowds, while nonprofit organizations prepare to take in increased donations and new volunteers during the so-called “season of giving.” Consumers, meanwhile, often strive just to keep it all together, running from holiday event to holiday event, be it a winter-themed fundraiser, a special holiday concert or other entertainment, or just the office Christmas party.
Because the holidays can be such a jam-packed – and sometimes stressful – time of year, the merchants and nonprofit groups in charge of running these holiday events need to do everything they can to keep things simple for consumers. According to John Russell, co-founder and CEO of event management platform provider Webconnex, that means providing a range of value-added features, from payment acceptance to event registration and operation, to help consumers to handle every part of their holiday calendar with ease.
“We rebuilt our software from the ground up – when we did that, our team did an amazing job of staying really simple for users, but doing really complex things,” he said. “Sometimes platforms build so much complexity in that they lose the functionality that helped keep things simple and got them started.”
But the holiday season is far from the only hectic time of the year – these days, consumers’ schedules are seemingly ever more flooded with events and obligations, and even event managers often require a simplified solution to make fundraisers, concerts and other events successful. That’s why, as Russell told PYMNTS in a recent interview for the latest Payments Powering Platforms Tracker, event management platforms need to keep it simple – not just during “the most wonderful time of the year,” but 24/7/365.
Keeping It Simple
One of the most crucial parts of any event is getting customers in the door – a process that begins with selling them a ticket or signing them up for an event. But while that sounds simple enough, Russell said it’s often a larger challenge than it might appear on the surface.
Companies like Webconnex – which offers a range of platforms designed for ticket events like concerts or other entertainment, outdoor events like road races and triathlons and nonprofit events like fundraisers – look to make the registration and ticket process as easy as possible. That’s true for buyers and attendees as well as for those organizing the event, all of whom have their own unique set of needs and expectations.
To do so, the company works with external partners like WePay, which helps handle payment processing, as well as in-house tools, Russell explained.
“When we started the business, the payments piece was the most difficult part of our process. We’d have a customer who was on board, who was excited about the software, and then they would have to set up their merchant processing by filling out a paper application and submitting it, and we realized there was a lot of friction in that process,” he said. “Now, payments have become much simpler for the average customer.”
But getting people signed up is often only half the battle. Platforms like Webconnex also look to simplify the management and organization of the event itself by providing tools like time and scorekeeping for athletic contests, donation tools for nonprofit fundraisers and ticket scanning and delivery features for ticketed events.
The key to ensuring that an event runs smoothly, Russell claimed, is having technology and solutions in place that make things easy for attendees and organizers, without forcing them to waste time dealing with inefficient legacy systems, keeping everyone moving and avoiding delays.
“Events are hard, but they really shouldn’t be,” he said. “We work with a lot of different partners, from big brands to people just planning a class reunion, and those are obviously really different use cases. We want to be able to serve both of them by offering the simplicity and flexibility to help both sets of customers.”
The job for platforms like Webconnex doesn’t end when the final note is played or the last runner crosses the finish line, however. The platform has also needed to design a simplified way to deliver the funds accumulated through fundraising efforts, ticket sales or other methods back to the companies and organizations that have earned them.
Russell said the company typically allows event organizers to withdraw funds on a rolling basis as tickets are sold or donations are made. Those funds are automatically sent to event organizers via automated ACH transfers. With recent advances in payment speed and efficiency, the company can now send payments monthly, weekly, or even daily.
“We built this so that, a lot of the time, organizers won’t even need to log into the platform to see what’s happening or to get the money into their bank account,” he explained. “They know just by keeping an eye on their bank account that those funds are being delivered regularly.”
Russell predicted that integrations and processes like automated payments, which remove hassles for users, will likely become increasingly important. Consumers’ schedules, both during the holiday season and year-round, are becoming even more jam-packed, putting pressure on companies in the space to place increased emphasis on convenience.
Because, after all, no one wants a pleasant holiday fundraiser or summertime road race to become a chore because of payments and event management.