Role Of APIs In Event Management: A Beginner’s Guide
In 2018, the size of the global event management software industry was a shade over $6 billion. By the end of 2023, that figure will touch $10.6 billion – a rise of ~77%. The market is growing at a CAGR of well over 11.5% – and over the last couple of years or so, smart event automation tools have become increasingly mainstream. Right from digital displays at venues and onsite check-ins, to event gaming, attendee data collection & security, social media interactions and general attendee engagement – automation is having a significant impact on practically every stage of event planning and management. In what follows, we will look at how APIs (application programming interfaces) can play a big role in making events smarter:
Understanding the advantages
Planning a large-scale business conference involves significant investments in terms of money, time and effort. Getting the maximum possible ROI assumes paramount importance – and custom APIs can help in a big way in this regard. Manual admin-level tasks are reduced, and the need for manual replication of event data from one platform/application to another is removed – resulting in considerable time-savings, as well as bolstered productivity level. In addition, working with event APIs ensures greater accuracy and reliability of event data (real-time). It becomes easier for organisers to study the analytics and derive more meaningful insights from such data.
Note: One of the biggest barriers in the path of API implementation for event management is lack of proper awareness and understanding. In a recent survey, nearly 53% event hosts reported a perceived ‘lack of integration possibilities’ between their setup and API technology.
Controlling the nature and extent of data-sharing
Event technology in general, and event automation tools in particular, has enhanced the ease of data accessibility manifold. That, however, has been accompanied by mounting security concerns. In an ideal scenario, the entire database should not be made available to all the integrated systems (third-party applications, etc.) – and APIs help you control precisely that. Customised event data filtering can be set up with APIs, ensuring that only the relevant parties can access secure event-based data. If required, separate apps can be created for delegates and exhibitors – to regulate the flow and availability of data.
Grasping the concept of event APIs
Event technology is evolving rapidly. Implementing cutting-edge API solutions to an event platform can be, at least apparently, challenging. It is vital to have proper clarity about what APIs are, before trying to use them for event management. In a nutshell, these APIs are powerful software platforms or tools that support a wide range of critical, event-planning related functions. Organisers across the world have already started using custom APIs to promptly and securely transfer attendee data from CRM systems to event registration platforms (and vice versa). APIs can also be used to display real-time data on mobile event apps. Financial tasks, like budgeting and generating payment confirmations, can also be performed more efficiently with APIs. It’s all about making the entire event management workflow more systematic and streamlined – and APIs can be immensely useful for that.
Setting up APIs for events
There are multiple options to set up and implement APIs on your digital event platform. As an organiser, the onus is on you to select the option that would be most suitable for the nature of your business and event. For instance, if you are hard-pressed for time and/or technical knowhow, native API integrations would probably be the best way to move forward. Go for the powerful ‘open APIs’ if you want to use their powerful functionalities without having to build the software on your own. Of course, if you have your very own API development and software engineering team (and enough time), you can create your own, fully customised APIs. Make sure that you have all the API documentation for future reference. API strategy optimisation is key for the greater success and effective monitoring of any high-profile business event or conference.
Ensuring greater security with API keys
The most important advantage of using APIs for event planning is the seamless connectivity of mobile event apps with real-time event data. Such connections are activated on successful API integration, and since unique ‘API keys’ are used instead of the standard username/password combo, the security factor is much more robust. For each additional integration with a third-party resource (apps, digital platforms, reporting tools, etc.), a separate API key can be used – to rule out unnecessary ‘data spillage’. What’s more, event organisers can constantly track the access and usage to all the API keys. As a result, chances of misuse/mismanagement of confidential event data are practically ruled out.
Note: The importance of API keys have grown a lot, following the latest GDPR regulations.
Determining the direction of data flow
With custom APIs, you can also regulate the nature and direction of the flow of event data within and across your systems. In other words, proper API integrations allow you to choose whether data sharing (on any particular platform or tool) is going to be one-way or two-way. To cite an example, mobile event apps typically require one-way data sharing (organiser pushes data to users) – while on CRM systems, the data flow has to be two-way (organiser to user, and vice versa). Manually managing such event data flows, particularly for large events, can be hugely time-consuming and problematic (in terms of security and authenticity). APIs make such data flows a whole lot easier.
Use cases of Event APIs
Now that we have some idea of how event APIs can be implemented and what their key benefits are, let’s take a look at some actual use cases of these software tools. APIs can be set up right at the heart of the overall event management software (EMS) setup, for seamless content syncing, app integrations, data management, and a lot more. Advanced event automation tools, like survey tools and seating software can also be powered by APIs, as can be the event marketing software systems. What’s more, the entire cloud based infrastructure (and hence, all event data stored in the cloud) can be managed with the help of event APIs. These software interfaces do away with traditional data segmentations/barriers, make data migration easier than ever, and ensure smoother accessibility of event reports.
Tracking the rise of cognitive APIs
For most business events and conferences, the degree of customisation is directly proportional with the level of attendee-engagement. On average, ‘greater personalisation’ is a clearly-mentioned priority for 2 out of every 3 event attendees (on average). That, in turn, explains the rise and rise of smart, cognitive event APIs over the last few quarters. API solutions are being implemented for a myriad of things – from vision & displays and speech-to-text functionality, to live search, onsite check-ins, venue services, and a whole lot more. The cognitive APIs can be powered by powerful artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms, for optimised attendee capitalisation. Things like live social feeds, digital venue guides, interactive maps and digital signages can considerably enhance the overall attendee experience at any event.
Ensuring correct data implementations and data access
For effective event planning, you need to ensure that the RIGHT data is always available in the RIGHT place at the RIGHT time. This is facilitated by event APIs. You can set up advanced field mapping, to manage all the integrations of your event management platform with other third-party applications. In addition, the way in which APIs share event information can also be monitored/controlled. Expert handling of big data on a real-time basis is vital for business events, and APIs help in superior data management practices.
Smarter task execution and workflow management
As an event organiser, you need to focus on maximising your ROI figure. For that, it is imperative to make the entire event-related workflow as cohesive as possible, and minimise the amount repetitive, manual tasks. APIs can easily perform different types of data-entry-level and admin-level functions – leaving you with more time to focus on the actual management and event optimisation. At the end of the day, you should be looking to increase the number of guests, deliver optimised event experience to everyone, and minimise the wastage of time. Custom event APIs go a long way in ensuring that.
Note: Software APIs are offered by many event technology vendors across the world. Some companies also provide advanced API collaborations.
Seamless data management across platforms
When you are using multiple event management platforms, properly syncing real-time data across them can be a challenge. Once again, APIs can be implemented to tackle this issue. The interfaces can automate, while maintaining the accuracy, tasks like data sorting and syncing, connections, personalisation options, dates, and other key data elements. The task of sharing pertinent data with event service vendors – for instance, the seating capacity required at the venue – is also made simpler and instantaneous with APIs. RSVPs, calendar information, attendee count and other relevant event data are all manageable with APIs – and availability across platforms becomes easier than before.
Integrating multiple event tools with APIs
The prime objective of using custom event APIs is to add an efficiency edge to existing workflows. For starters, these software interfaces automate the integration of two or more systems – ruling away chances of errors. The unidirectional or bidirectional flow of event info is facilitated too. More interestingly, APIs go a long way in ensuring that no further manipulations in the event data are required at the time of importing the data. In essence, with the help of APIs, you can integrate several high-end event tools with ease – and get the best performance out of them.
Tracking event analytics
Through APIs, updated and accurate event data becomes available to authorised, relevant users at all times. That, in turn, makes it simpler for the organiser to expertly manage critical attendee data. The datasets can be exported with APIs, useful trends and insights can be obtained, and interesting comparisons can be made. Event reporting is made considerably easier as well – since APIs can be plugged in to prepare the report frameworks AND populate these reports with event data. If you wish to monitor all the key event metrics and analytics from the backend, using event APIs is your best bet.
From the above discussion, the potentially game-changing role that APIs and automation techniques can play in event management is pretty much self-evident. The key here is ‘smart implementation’ of the required APIs – and understanding how APIs can give your event an edge. The impact of APIs on event management will grow stronger in the foreseeable future – and these interfaces will play an ever-increasing role in determining the success of business events.