The time I spent at Fresh RSVP (née Call-It IT) amounted to almost ten years and I still miss them dearly. Working in the events industry is both the most exciting and most draining job you can have. I loved it until the day I didn’t. Call me crazy for sometimes wondering if I should return to it.
I got to work with such a diverse collection of clients and their multitude of events. There are too many to mention, so I’ll stick to just a few.
SERF: The estimation system 2.0
Working in events usually means that clients want a variety of options, which means a multitude of cost estimates. While Excel does a fine job, things can easily go wrong when you’re juggling the planning of ten separate events.
SERF (née FEVR, BOB) was born to solve this problem. Or, reborn, I should say. I developed a similar application at my previous employer, but this one improved on it by allowing multiple versions of estimates for events, reconciling the finances after the event was over, and generating reports in PDF and Excel format.
After years of maintaining separate systems for all the companies in the group, Fresh Transactions was developed to replace them all in a centrally managed, multi-tenant way.
reply.to: The online event registration system 2.0
The other part of the events industry is managing all the people attending the events. Up to a certain point, potential attendees were called up or faxed an invitation and responses would be managed manually – again in Excel. That’s all fine and well when your event caters for only 20-30 people, but when there’s a roadshow in multiple cities with hundreds of attendees at each session you’re in for an exercise.
To address this, I was tasked with developing an online RSVP system which would send out invitations by email, accept the responses, and send confirmations and reminders. On the backend, it would allow managing the responses, adding new invitees, exporting reports to be used for catering, accommodation, and so forth, and allowing for guest check-in at the event.
Learning from the decisions I made with the previous incarnation[1:1] of this type of application, this system was built to be customised with configuration files instead of a central admin backend, which allowed each site to be customised to the nth degree in a short amount of time. This also allowed quick duplication and archiving of projects. It remained in use for the entire time I was at the company, and we only developed separate RSVP applications for bigger conferences later on which needed to be hosted on dedicated URLs.
An all-inclusive website for the biannual conference of the African SAP User Group. Apart from listing information on costs, accommodation, speakers, sponsors, exhibitors and the like, the site also featured a section with a live calendar of the event through which attendees could book sessions. The information site was integrated with a separate registration site for authentication while also providing an API for a mobile application to interface with the booking system. After the completion of the conference, the site was scaled down to a reference of presentations with downloadable content.
Sasol Bursary Scheme
A web application developed for bursary applicants to make appointments, keep their details and marks up-to-date and apply for vacation work. A backend administration platform allowed interviewers to view their appointment schedules, capture interview responses, and export reports.
IRFA Annual Conference
The website for the IRFA conference included general information and registration options, while also listing information on costs, sponsors, exhibitors, and previous event galleries. The exhibitor booking section included a “live” floor plan showing available and sold booths. The individual registration made accommodations for both delegates and staff, both as individuals and groups with online payments and full financials (invoices, receipts and credit notes). A backend administration platform offered full reporting for the organisers to cover everything from conference and gala dinner attendance to payments received and outstanding.
Being part of the Collyer Lessick group of companies, we also maintained their web presence. It was a run-of-the-mill marketing and news website, but we were given free rein over the design.
Apart from the highlights above, other projects we worked on included:
- Avusa Media annual recruitment awards
- Barclays UAE events
- BlackBerry launches
- Boehringer-Ingelheim conferences
- Centrum® Guardians candidate manager
- Clover annual conferences
- Coca-Cola events and conferences
- Dimension Data events
- Discovery Health conferences
- First National Bank roadshows
- Microsoft conferences and events
- Siemens awards and conferences
- Winnie’s Soul & Jazz Club