Best Venue Management Software of 2021: Reviews of the Top 4 Solutions
As a provider of venue management software ourselves, we often get asked how we compare with our competitors and what sets us apart.
Which made us think that this is a question that almost everyone considering venue event management software asks at some point during their fact-finding and buying process.
So we thought we would offer an overview of the four best venue management software tools on the market as a good starting point for your research in determining which one best fits your needs.
In this article, we will cover the strengths and capabilities of our platform Planning Pod to show you what you can expect in a full-featured venue event management solution. Then we will look at the key features and benefits of our venue software peers to which we most frequently get compared: Tripleseat, Event Temple and EventPro. Finally we will touch on a few other venue-focused applications if you need to expand your search.
In this venue management software comparison post, we will provide:
- The primary focus and core audience of each platform
- Standout benefits and key features of each platform
Note that one common characteristic all these platforms share is that they are all a Software-as-a-Service (or SaaS for short), which means they are fully online tools, store your data in the cloud and provide real-time access to the software and your data via the Internet.
BTW ... getting a free trial of potential solutions is always a good idea when doing a venue management software comparison … this way you can see for yourself which platform is the best fit. So we invite you to try our all-in-one venue management software that saves hundreds of venues 62+ hours every month and improves their bottom lines. Sign up for a free trial.
Four Best Venue Management Software Solutions of 2021
#1 - Planning Pod
When we built Planning Pod, we set out to solve a big problem that many event venues, restaurants and hotels face … juggling too many applications, emails, documents, spreadsheets and even notes, folders and whiteboards to manage their event bookings.
Because of this focus, what makes Planning Pod unique is that it is the only all-in-one venue management software platform that:
- Simplifies how you organize your event data and streamlines your processes and workflows
- Offers every tool you would need to manage your event bookings and event spaces, including:
- Booking calendar + event space / room manager
- Client CRM + lead manager and intake forms
- Proposals, contracts and BEOs with electronic signatures
- Catering and food-and-beverage management
- Invoicing and online payments
- Event floor plan layouts
- Plus planning tools like timelines and task management (even event registration and ticketing if you need them)
Although event venues of every size (and even multi-property chains and performing arts centers) use Planning Pod to manage their event bookings, we have found that individual facilities - like independent event venues, wedding venues, conference centers, hotels, restaurants, caterers and unique venues like museums and wineries - as well as small to mid-sized hotel and hospitality groups choose Planning Pod because they:
- Save an average of 62+ hours every month of busywork.
- Get up-and-running fast - account onboarding and setup take as little as 4-16 hours, not days or weeks like other solutions.
- Save more money and see more value by having over two dozen tools in one convenient platform.
Standout Benefits of Planning Pod
By far, Planning Pod’s most unique feature is that it offers 20+ easy-to-use tools that work together to:
- Simplify data access and management
- Streamline workflows
- Eliminate double entry
- Promote collaboration
- Expand your ability to land and serve more clients
Let’s unpack those benefits one at a time…
Simplify data access and management
Often venue sales, event and catering managers are overwhelmed with all the apps and tools they must use to manage venue bookings, which require lots of time to manage all of them and introduce unnecessary complexity into your daily operations.
Our tools are built to be easy to learn and use and are intuitive so that you and your team members can quickly add, update and find any detail at any point in an event’s life cycle within a few clicks. This gives you and your team an advantage in delivering faster service to clients and in making key decisions faster.
We also provide at-a-glance dashboards and reports so that you can always have a 30,000 foot view of everything going on with your leads and event bookings, from unsigned contracts and overdue tasks to new incoming leads and recent payments.
And our platform is mobile friendly so you can access your account information via any mobile web browser (no mobile app required).
Using lots of different applications and tools to manage your bookings also increases the chances that some of this data will get misplaced or lost in going back and forth between these tools and systems.
We call these spaces between systems and tools “process gaps”, and these gaps often lead to errors, oversights and missed opportunities (like dropped leads, double bookings, unsigned contracts, missed invoice payments) that cost your event venue real dollars.
Each one of our tools not only fills a critical purpose in your overall event booking process, but they also integrate in key ways by sharing information with each other and allowing for you to create customizable automations and templates so that you can set up your account to reflect your desired work flow.
Which leads right into…
Eliminate double entry
We understand how annoying and tedious it is to update an invoice with the same changes you just made to a proposal. Or to add updated food-and-beverage items to both an invoice and a BEO. And forgetting to update something in multiple places could lead to lost billings and unhappy clients.
Planning Pod removes the frustration and risk from this by auto-populating information in key documents and areas from other areas or documents where that information was updated.
In addition, if you do use other software applications to manage information, Planning Pod has built-in electronic calendar, email and document sharing integrations with Gmail/Google, Outlook and numerous other applications and is part of the Zapier platform so you can share data between Planning Pod and 2,000+ other applications like Quickbooks, Xero, Salesforce, MailChimp and Slack.
Where Planning Pod really separates itself in its ability for you to collaborate with your team and clients.
You can invite unlimited users - including staff, contractors, vendors and event planners - into your account and assign them to user groups where you control the permissions of what tools and functions they can access.
For leads and clients, you can give them access to their client portal, which is set up so they can view and sign proposals, contracts and BEOs; view and pay invoices; fill out forms to provide you with necessary information and input; view task lists; and much more.
Our communications tool also lets you sync your current email addresses into your Planning Pod account so all your team members have a central inbox to send and receive emails regarding your event clients and leads.
And because our tools are intuitive and user-friendly, staff and clients alike find it easy to dive in and start using them and sharing details with each other.
Expand your ability to land and serve more clients
At the end of the day, many venues choose Planning Pod as their venue management software provider for two reasons:
- It makes it easier for you to do business - by saving you 62+ hours per month in busywork and streamlining your workflows.
- It makes it easier for your clients to do business with you - by enabling you to more easily communicate with them and provide them with easy-to-follow documents, tools and processes that make their experience seamless.
Key Features of Planning Pod
Booking calendars that make it easy to track bookings ... and hard to double book events
The hub of a solid event booking engine is the calendar, and Planning Pod’s color-coded, drag-and-drop calendar gives you and your sales and event managers the ability to:
- Set up and manage one or multiple venues with unlimited event rooms and spaces.
- Add and view leads, holds and booked events, including thumbnail pop-ups of event/lead details.
- Easily change the calendar view, including standard month/week/day views as well as timeline and availability views.
- Add and manage tasks and appointments (for things like walkthroughs or client meetings).
- View and access event-related items like payment due dates.
Integral to any event booking system is prevention against double-bookings, and besides being able to view your booking calendar in venue/room view to see your availability, Planning Pod offers functionality that alerts you on the spot if the day/time and room/space you choose conflicts with another booked event, lead or hold.
Because many venues already use another electronic calendar to manage things like appointments, Planning Pod’s calendar conveniently integrates with most other e-calendars (including Google, Outlook and Apple) so you can sync your Planning Pod calendar items to another e-calendar.
Full event CRM and lead pipeline tracking
Any venue event management solution worth its salt has client CRM functionality that's tailored specifically to the needs of event industry businesses. Planning Pod marries a full-featured contact manager with venue-focused lead management tools for:
- Quick input of new leads with fast input forms.
- Tracking leads through your entire pipeline and multiple lead statuses
- On-screen stats and notifications regarding new lead arrivals and recent won/lost leads.
- Ability to assign a “hold” for a lead to hold a specific date/time/space for a period of time (with reminders of when that hold is set to expire).
Of special note are Planning Pod’s customizable lead capture forms, which you can set up and then embed in your website to collect new leads and online bookings. You can also add availability calendars to these forms so site visitors can view what dates/times are open for your spaces.
When new leads arrive from the form, they then populate into the leads area in your account, and you can also set up automations for notifying staff of new lead arrivals; sending email auto-responses to leads; and assigning tasks lists to new leads.
Event floor plan builder for creating to-scale layouts of your setups
Rare is the venue management software platform that includes its own event layout tool. Planning Pod not only includes one, but its tool also goes toe-to-toe with the two other best event floor plan software tools on the market, AllSeated and Social Tables.
Whether you intend to use this tool to wow prospects or to create precise diagrams for accurate setup of events, Planning Pod’s floor plan tool can accomplish both with:
- Simple drag-and-drop functionality.
- Auto-setup features and snap-to guides to lay out table and chair grids instantly.
- A large library of layout elements, including popular table and chair sizes, furniture, trade show booths and more.
- The ability to build your own element libraries and create your own custom elements.
- Reusable templates of your spaces with customizable room boundaries/walls.
- Professional, printable PDFs that feature your logo and branding.
Again, a big timesaving feature here are the reusable templates you can create for your spaces, including functionality for building custom room boundaries/walls (including bumpouts and curved/irregular walls). Whether you have large banquet dining spaces, smaller event and corporate meeting rooms, an exposition hall or even outdoor spaces, you can build out templates with the exact dimensions of your space and even create templated setups for your most common room setups.
Easy-to-build proposals, contracts and BEOs … with electronic signatures
Many venue sales and event managers face two common challenges with documents like proposals, contracts and banquet event orders:
- The excessive amount of time it often takes to customize and prepare each document.
- Getting customers to sign off on these documents promptly without being reminded.
Planning Pod solves these problems with streamlined tools for quickly building professional event proposals, legal contracts and BEOs and then instantly sending them to clients for their electronic signature. Key functionality includes:
- Timesaving templates for proposals, proposal/invoice line items, food-and-beverage packages and contractual language so you never have to start from scratch.
- Proposals where you can add line item descriptions, images, tax rates and discounts/markups; create line item categories and image galleries; calculate service charges, gratuities, delivery/setup fees; attach files like PDF brochures; and track modifications with change orders.
- Contracts with multi-signer capabilities and contract management oversight.
- Customizable BEO layouts plus event BEOs that pre-fill information that’s already been added to the event, including costs, timelines, headcounts, food-and-beverage, etc.
When it comes to electronic signatures, you can either send documents to clients for them to click a link and sign online, or you can have them log into their client portal to sign off (more on that later). And the system will remind you of all outstanding documents that have not been signed so you can send clients an email reminder with a single click.
Fast-and-simple invoicing and online payment processing
Getting paid on time is vital to any venue’s cash flow, and Planning Pod’s event management platform offers invoicing and payment processing features that help you get paid fast and minimize late or missed payments.
The invoicing tool works much like the proposals tool, with capabilities for creating invoice templates and line item templates as well as calculating taxes, discounts/markups, service fees, gratuities, delivery charges and more. And you can generate an invoice from a proposal in a single click.
With regard to collecting payments, you can send clients an email with a link to pay online or you can set up installment payments in two ways: you can schedule payment reminders to send them reminder emails with payment links at specified dates/times, or you can schedule automatic payments that charge their credit card on specified dates.
Planning Pod connects directly with industry-leading payment processors such as PaySimple, Square and Stripe, or you can also use your existing payment processor using Authorize.net as a gateway.
Food-and-beverage management with custom item and package templates
If you don’t have the right tool, it can take lots of time to set up a catering order; make it difficult to amend and track the inevitable changes to that order; and keep current food-and-beverage details up-to-date in all documents (including invoices and BEOs).
Fortunately, Planning Pod has a food-and-beverage management solution for all three. First, you can set up your standard food-and-beverage items in your account and then build package templates that you can quickly add to events and make tweaks to items, counts and pricing accordingly.
Next, you can quickly make changes to items, package counts, unit costs, recipes and more inside each event. And finally, when you make changes to food or beverage packages in the event, those changes carry through to proposals, invoices and BEOs attached to that event or lead.
Email communications and client portals that streamline business interactions
If you have multiple staff members exchanging emails with your prospects and clients, it's practically impossible to keep track of all these communications across separate email inboxes, leaving you in the dark regarding who communicated what to whom and when (especially when employees are out of the office).
Planning Pod’s email communications tool addresses this by acting like a centralized inbox for all emails related to your event leads and bookings, enabling you to respond promptly to all client emails and ensuring that no messages fall through the cracks.
Plus you can connect current email addresses for you and your team members to your Planning Pod account, allowing for each team member to send and receive messages with prospects in one central place.
Not that you will need to use email nearly as much to keep clients informed and engaged with the process, because Planning Pod’s client portal gives your clients their own organized online hub where they can…
- View and e-sign proposals, contracts and BEOs.
- View and pay invoices, make scheduled payments and enter/update their credit card details.
- Download and share files with your team.
- View and make edits to event floor plan designs.
- Complete forms and questionnaires that you post.
- View tasks assigned to them and mark them complete.
The portal also reminds them of unfinished items that they need to address, and it is password protected with their unique login credentials so it’s secure.
Save tons of time with templates and automations
Planning Pod offers the ability to create unlimited reusable templates for some of your most frequently repeated items, like proposals, contracts, invoices, line items (for proposals/invoices), floor plan designs, food-and-beverage packages, task lists, forms/questionnaires, timelines and email messages.
In addition, it provides automations such as email and text notifications for many time-sensitive items and data merge fields for documents (for inserting items like client names, contact info, etc.).
Dashboards and reports for staying in the know and making informed decisions
What good is all this centralized data if it isn’t presented to you when and how you need it?
Planning Pod provides a home dashboard that gives you a broad overview of your account activity, including upcoming, overdue and pending items as well as recent new activity (like new leads and payments). It also has customizable dashboard modules located in each lead and event as well as in the main leads, events, proposals, contracts and invoices areas so you always have real-time information at your fingertips.
If you need a deeper look, we offer dozens of reports that you can filter by a variety of variables to download information on events, leads, sales, invoices, payments, sales taxes, room/space bookings and more.
Event registration and planning tools … if you need them
Not all venues have box offices or offer event ticketing or event planning services, but if you do, Planning Pod has additional event management software modules for your internal event organizers and staff, including:
- Full-featured online event registration and ticket sales, including attendee management and check-in.
- Event websites / webpages with social media integrations.
- Task management and budgeting tools for planning weddings, corporate events, nonprofit fundraisers and more.
- Integrations with email marketing tools like MailChimp and Constant Contact for communicating with attendees.
Planning Pod’s venue management software packages start at $99/month, which gives you a solid ROI when you consider all the tools that are provided in a single platform.
#2 - Tripleseat
Tripleseat provides a comprehensive platform that is strong in lead generation, intake and management as well as event CRM and booking management. This includes tools for booking calendars, sales and billing documents, room/space management and email communications.
Based on an overview of its marketing and core functionality, Tripleseat caters to mid-to-large restaurant, hotel and hospitality groups, and particularly to sales managers, banquet managers and private event managers within those businesses.
Standout Benefits and Key Features
Customization and alignment of event sales documents
Tripleseat takes an interesting approach to event booking documents. First, it lets you add and arrange “modules” for each category of information you wish to include in any or all of your documents. These could include modules for food items, beverage items, legal language, notes, schedules, etc.
Then, you can create custom layouts for specific documents like proposals, contracts, invoices and BEOs that pull in the data from the master document, eliminating the need to double-enter the same data into different documents.
Online booking integrated with lead intake/CRM
Besides having a CRM tool to track contacts and the organizations they work for, Tripleseat provides an embeddable lead intake form to place on your website so you can easily collect queries from prospects.
Of special note here is their direct online booking feature, which lets you set up an online form so visitors can select rooms/spaces, food-and-beverage packages and other items and pay for them in a single transaction.
In addition, Tripleseat directly integrates with sites like TripAdvisor, OpenCity and Bizly to funnel leads from those sites to your account.
Full-featured venue booking calendar
Managing your event leads and bookings with Tripleseat’s online calendar is straightforward, and their pop-up modal when you click on an event or lead offers a nice summary of details. It also offers color-coded calendar items by status of the event/lead.
One handy feature of their calendar is that you can create a note to appear on the calendar and block off one or more rooms or spaces for the duration of that note.
Hotel room block tracking
One reason Tripleseat suits larger hotel groups well is their hotel room block tracking feature. For each event booking, you can track room night details like total agreed, blocked, forecast and pickups as well as items like average room rate and revenue.
Online venue directory
As mentioned previously, Tripleseat’s venue management software places emphasis on their lead management capabilities, and they are one of a few platforms to offer their own online directory for venues as a value-add for their customers.
Here venues can provide contact information, descriptive details and even imagery for a directory listing that is posted online for site visitors to peruse.
#3 - Event Temple
Event Temple’s venue booking tools are focused on helping hospitality groups and facilities manage their bookings calendar, leads, clients and sales documents, and it offers several integrations with hotel property management software (PMS) systems.
Similar to Tripleseat, Event Temple has a speciality in providing event management software solutions for hotels and hotel groups to help them streamline managing event and guest room bookings.
Standout Benefits and Key Features
Customizable document layouts
Event Temple has one of the more customizable event document layout features among event management platforms available to the hospitality and event industry. Their layout builder lets you move document modules around (like images, text boxes, menu or line item areas, signature areas, etc.) so that you can designate where certain items fall in your proposals, invoices and BEOs.
Lead pipeline manager
Event Temple not only lets you track the status of each of your leads but offers a user-friendly visualization of your pipeline so you can easily view all your leads in real-time. From this view you can add items to each lead or event like invoices, notes, documents or workflows.
Hotel chain management tools
Unique to Event Temple is a dashboard that lets hotel chains view data from multiple venues and track things like annual daily rate, average length of stay, revenue by category and occupancy overview of event spaces and guest rooms across all venues.
Integrations with PMS systems
This platform also connects directly to property management systems like MEWS, Apaleo, Idem Hospitality and Innquest so you can sync select guest room booking data points from those platforms to Event Temple.
#4 - EventPro
EventPro provides a generous variety of tools for facility and event management, handling event bookings, caterer food-and-beverage orders, event documents, payments, floor plans and even inventory and exhibitors.
Because of its broad base of tools that focus on meeting and convention management, EventPro appeals to many larger facilities and meeting / event planners who require functionality like event ticketing, trade show booth management, travel and accommodations tracking, budgeting and inventory.
Standout Benefits and Key Features
Event booking engine w/ wizard
When entering a new event or lead, EventPro provides a series of screens/modal windows that walk you through all the items you need or want to initially enter regarding that event. This can be very useful for venues that want to completely set up all or most event details out of the gate in one sitting.
Cloud-based and self-hosted options
Among the top venue management software options, EventPro is the only one that offers either a cloud-based option or a self-hosted option that you can run locally on your laptop/desktop or on your own server.
Another notable feature of this event management software app is the ability to manage inventory (like rentals, tables, chairs, furniture, audio/visual, etc.), including resource scheduling, conflict notifications, costing and reporting.
Event registrations and attendee management
Like Planning Pod and other event ticketing platforms like Thundertix, EventPro also offers online event registration functionality and event websites. Although these tools are part of their event planning software suite, they can be very useful for in-house and independent event organizers in managing registrations and attendee details.
Best of the Rest - Venue Event Management Software Reviews
Now let’s take a quick look at several other online venue booking systems that are SaaS platforms available to the hospitality and event industry.
Brite Venue’s booking management tools have a strong following among wedding venues, with a standout feature that allows the platform to accept lead inquiries from sources like The Knot and Wedding Wire. Its features include:
- Bookings calendar + space management
- Lead management with lead intake form
- Quotes, contracts, invoicing/deposits and payments
- Surveys and reporting
- Mobile friendly
Function Tracker is primarily a calendar-based system for tracking bookings, but does offer a handful of other business management tools for venues. Its features include:
- Bookings calendar
- Sales documents like proposals, contracts and BEOs/run sheets
- Invoicing and payment tracking
- Event registrations / ticketing and attendee management
- Reporting and dashboards
Based in Australia, Ivvy serves a number of hotels, restaurants and stadiums in that market as well as in other countries. They offer an online venue directory like Tripleseat and integrate with a number of other applications. Its features include:
- Bookings calendar
- Event CRM and lead management tools
- Quotes, contracts, BEOs, invoicing and online payments
- Integrations with Xero, Salesforce, Quickbooks and various payment processors
Priava offers facility and event management software tools serving large venues like arenas, convention centers and performing arts complexes. It has a core set of features and add-on modules if you desire additional functionality. Its features include:
- Bookings calendar w/ task management
- Event CRM and lead management
- Proposals and invoicing
- Email communications and file storage
- Add-on modules for catering and inventory management
Skedda focuses primarily on event calendaring and scheduling tools, with the ability to set booking policies and allow internal users and external parties to schedule events. Its features include:
- Booking calendar w/ permissions
- External inquiry and online ordering form
- Payment processing
- Mobile app
Built primarily as an event ticketing software solution for music and performing arts venues, Thundertix excels at managing online ticket sales, payments, reserved seating and box office operations. Its features include:
- Online ticketing forms and payments
- Box office ticketing management
- Email marketing and notifications
- Barcode ticket scanning mobile app
Now that you’ve glanced through our venue management software comparison, we invite you to try Planning Pod and see how our all-in-one solution stacks up against these other tools and can save you 62+ hours a month. Sign up for a free trial.