Should You Use a Plugin or Platform to Manage Your Events?


10 questions to consider when choosing the right event management platform for your events. Whether it’s a self-hosted version of WordPress and an event manager plugin or a hosted (software as a service) SaaS platform for events. This will help you consider what would be right for your situation.

1. Are you hosting one event or multiple events?

The number of events that you host will have an impact on which technology you want to choose. Whether you host a few events or lots of events, your perspective may be the opposite of someone else.

Few Events – For some event organizers, having a few events may mean that they want to offload their technology to a platform that can do it for them as a service. While others who host just a few events and like working with technology may want to host their own event website and a WordPress event manager plugin themselves because the demand from their events will be something they can handle.

Lots of Events – Other event organizers who host lots of events may see the financial incentive to host their own event website with a WordPress event manager plugin so that they pay less in fees. While some event organizers that host lots of events don’t want to manage the technology and are interested in a platform handling the technology for them as a service provider.

So, the number of events that you host will impact which plugin or platform is right for you.

2. Do you want to know how it all works?

For fans of technology, and those who want to know how it all works, a WordPress event registration plugin like Event Espresso would be a great fit. You can tinker with the code, get help from a support team and customize the registration experience for your event.

But if you just want something to work in a standardized way and you don’t want to cause trouble by making a registration process custom or complicated, then an online event registration platform like Event Smart would work better. Platforms set up everything and keep it running so you can focus on getting ready for your event.

3. Do you want to maintain your own systems?

Is it strategically (or personally) important to you to maintain your systems? Do you want to choose when maintenance is done, and do you want to have all the web server resources dedicated to your website? Or do you want to let someone else handle the maintenance and share server resources? 

With a WordPress events plugin and self-hosted version of WordPress, you would manage your own server and do all the maintenance. You would have ownership of all the server processing power you buy, and not have to share. But you’ll pay for those extra server resources even when your website is not busy.

While those who don’t want to handle maintenance and are willing to share server resources, then an online events platform will work great. You don’t have to maintain servers and you can share the server resources because there is almost always enough to go around.

4. Do you want to own and control all your data?

A self-hosted WordPress website using an event management plugin allows you to control and own all your data. Because the website is hosted on your own servers, only you have access to the data.

While an online event registration platform will have access to your data. The online platforms are very careful with your data, but usually reserve the right to use that data unless a special arrangement has been made.

5. Do you need to brand everything?

Online event platforms have fewer options to brand your event registration process. For example, you might want to brand:

  • Domain name
  • Email sender address
  • Logo
  • Colors
  • Advertisements
  • Etc.

Because of server configuration issues, the WordPress plugins will allow you to do more branding than an online platform will allow. That’s because with a self-hosted installation of  an​​d plugins, you have access to all the server configurations and you don’t have to worry about other businesses using the same server for their events.

6. Are there critical features that are only available with one plugin or platform?

Do you need to integrate with a third-party platform like a marketing tracking software or a niche payment gateway? Sometimes your mission critical applications might require an integration to other services or to perform certain features.

The WordPress plugins will give you more control to make customizations to your event processes, while platforms will be more restricted due to security and stability issues.

7. Are there nice-to-have features that are only available with one plugin or platform?

This may not seem important to consider, but sometimes our perspective of critical or required features can be skewed by wants. 

When you consider self-hosting your WordPress website and using plugins instead of a platform, really consider what tradeoffs you’ll be making for a nice-to-have feature. Some tradeoffs are more difficult than expected.

8. Could your needs change?

What will happen to your technology needs if the number of events grows or the number of attendees increases? What if your events slow down? Will you want a platform that you manage and have control over, or will you want someone else to manage your platform?

Decide what makes your business unique and focus on that instead of technology, unless it is your technology that makes your business model or operations unique.

9. Which plugin or platform will give you the level of support you need?

Self-hosted ​​WordPress websites and plugins require more maintenance and technical abilities. Platforms are less technically demanding. So, when you need help, will you need technical help or just help to manage your events? Choose the platform where you will get the right support.

10. Are you focused on short-term costs or long-term costs?

Self-hosting your own website with WordPress and an event manager plugin like Event Espresso will cost several hundred dollars a year.

Online event registration platforms like Event Smart, will be $10-$100 per month.

The greater investment of hosting your own website could pay off later. Or the incremental cost of a monthly bill might be more manageable for your business. 

Consider which cost structure is better for your business.

Success with a plugin or platform (conclusion)

Different people can seem to be in the same situation as each other, but have different preferences and come to different conclusions about which event registration program is right for them.

These questions will help you decide which event management platform is right for yo

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