WordPress is a powerful CMS because of its unique ability to scale to your specific needs. For example, by using a WordPress events plugin, you can accept registrations, sell tickets, manage attendees information, automate event notifications, and run email marketing campaigns on your event site.
WordPress events plugins can help businesses organize events and streamline and automate event-related tasks such as showcasing upcoming events, attendee tracking, collecting online payments. Planning events is also a great way to start a new business (or organizing virtual events) during the current health pandemic Covid19, when gathering in large crowds is not allowed or advisable.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the key features you should look for in a WordPress events plugin for your event business. At the bare minimum, this should include event registration, ticketing or ticket sales, event calendar, and event marketing features.
However, depending on your specific needs, you might go for a more advanced plugin that also allows you to scan attendee tickets, share iCal downloads links, send automated event reminders, or set up a waitlist, efficient data management, excellent support, and more.
We’ll take a look at some of the most popular WordPress events plugins that can help you organize all sorts of events and introduce you to important event features that we know are important (after doing this for more than a decade) but that you may have not considered yet. Along the way, we’ll share some useful tips on how you can find the right WordPress events plugin that fits your specific needs.
Let’s put everything into context before we begin.
Why You Might Need a WordPress Events Plugin
A WordPress events plugin can help you accept online registrations, sell tickets, accept online payments, and collect valuable data from your attendees through custom registration forms and ticketing features. You’ll be able to promote your event, attract attendees, and keep attendee data organized on a centralized platform i.e. your WordPress website.
The best WordPress events plugins can help save you time, keep your data organized and secure, and make the registration or purchase process the best for your events and your attendees.
Here are some examples of businesses that might need a WordPress events plugin:
- Startups and SMBs. Startups and small to medium-sized businesses organize different types of events to promote their products, train staff, and create networking opportunities. These include corporate events like conferences, seminars, product launches, training classes, workshops, and virtual events.
- Enterprise-level businesses. Enterprise users need a WordPress events plugin that offers stability and extensibility so it integrates seamlessly with the organization’s existing tech stack. These businesses organize all sorts of events including conferences, workshops, and product launches.
- Membership sites and clubs. If you’re an online course instructor or if you run a membership site, you’ll need to organize events for attendees and students. Typically this includes online courses, camps, art classes, and parties.
- Non-profits and churches. Local non-profits and churches organize different types of fundraising events. These include events that help organizers engage donors such as annual galas, fundraisers (such as golf tournaments and walk / run races, and church events.
Features of the Best WordPress Events Plugins
Here are some of the key features you should look for in a WordPress events plugin:
An online event registration system gives event managers more time to focus on event-related tasks. Ideally, you should be able to automate the event registration process and offer group registrations to your event attendees. This can help prospective attendees quickly register for your events and purchase tickets.
As a result, you’re able to sell more tickets because it’s more efficient. Plus, it gives event managers more control leading to higher productivity.
For this, you need access to customizable event registration forms that are optimized for conversions and only ask registrants for important details.
Online event registration helps event managers quickly track the number of registrants in real-time. Some advanced WordPress event solutions automatically create waiting lists and allow you to send automated registration email notifications, as well.
Electronic Tickets and Multiple Registration Options
Online ticketing allows attendees to plan ahead and to register and purchase their tickets in a way that is most convenient for them . This is especially important for organizations that want to give attendees the option to print tickets at home rather than wait for them to arrive via mail or collect them on-site.
Scannable tickets can help you track the number of attendee check-ins in real-time on the day of the event. This way, you can quickly scan tickets them using mobile apps and send confirmation notifications.
You should be able to create multiple ticket types (like VIP Passes and Early Bird Tickets). The events plugin should allow you to create and sell an unlimited number of tickets, both free and paid, and set quantity limits.
As an event organizer, it is important to be able to create different ticket pricing options to suit the needs for your event and your attendees, including the ability to offer discounts and multiple ticket types.
Payment Gateway Integrations
Your event management plugin should make it easy for registrants to purchase tickets. This means that it should offer a mix of payment options, both online and offline. Offering various payment options helps you eliminate barriers to purchasing tickets.
Choose a WordPress events plugin that supports popular payment processors such as Stripe and PayPal, e-checks, invoice, and various credit cards. This allows event attendees to pay using the payment method of their choice, helping you improve your event’s conversion rate.
As an event organizer, you collect personal data from prospective attendees, speakers, and sponsors. This information is useful for your event business and you have to make sure that you protect registrants’ personal information.
You need an event registration tool that is GDPR-compliant, especially if event-goers are residents of any of the EU nations. Go for a WordPress events plugin that gives you complete control over your attendee’s personal information.
Using WordPress and the right WordPress events plugin will allow you to own and control your event data.
The WordPress events plugin should give you access to built-in event calendars and allow you to list upcoming events on your site in a calendar layout with thumbnail images, color coded, category filters with direct links to the registration form. You’ll also need to add iCal download links to your events page, calendar, and emails so attendees can save the event to their personal calendars. If your website theme has a sidebar, an upcoming event widget can also be helpful to promote your upcoming events in other areas of your website.
Your WordPress events plugin should offer integration with popular email marketing services such as Mailchimp. This helps you connect with prospective attendees and offer them promotions and discounts. Go for a solution that lets you build an email list of people who’ve previously attended your events so you can use that list to inform them about upcoming events or send them email newsletters.
It should also offer social sharing features to help you share events with your audience through social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
For more information, check out our article on the features to look for in a WordPress event registration and ticketing plugin.
Important (But Less Obvious) Features to Consider
If you organize multiple events per year, it’s a good idea to go for a tool that focuses on data management with one-to-many relationships. Put simply, one-to-many relationships might include:
- Venues to events
- Events to attendees
- Organizers or staff to events
Event Espresso, for example, allows you to create an event that can be used (and re-used) for multiple attendees. Similarly, you can create a venue in Event Espresso that can be used for multiple events.
Let’s say you were to organize a charity event at the local community hall. You would only need to add the venue (and its venue details) to Event Espresso once. Then, you could use the same venue in Event Espresso to organize another event e.g. a dinner gala.
This also makes it easy to manage staff, volunteers, sponsors, and attendees. For example, you can create a profile (staff or organizers) and re-use that information in many events. Or, if an attendee registers for multiple events, you would only add their information to Event Espresso once, not each time they register for a new event.
So, the more events you organize, the more valuable data management becomes.
Score and Compare WordPress Events Plugins Key Features
We evaluated the best WordPress events plugins against the following set of criteria and awarded points to each candidate:
- Online registration – 2 points
- Ticketing – 2 points
- Multiple payment options – 2 points
- Events calendar – 2 points
- Event marketing – 2 points
Best WordPress Events Plugins in 2020
Here, we’ll go through some of the best WordPress events plugins to help you choose the right one for your specific needs. We’ll also evaluate them against a set of criteria to award points to each candidate:
- Online registration – 2 points
- Ticketing – 2 points
- Multiple payment options – 2 points
- Events calendar – 2 points
- Event marketing – 2 points
#1: Event Espresso
Event Espresso is a user-friendly WordPress events plugin that can help you automate event registration and ticketing for your events. It also gives you access to several useful product add-ons, bringing advanced features and scalability to your event site. For example, you can use the calendar add-on to showcase upcoming events.
Using Event Espresso, you’ll be able to accept registrations, create and sell tickets, collect payments, and track attendance at your events.
Features That Make Event Espresso a Good WordPress Events Plugin:
- Your attendees will be able to quickly register for your events by filling out online registration forms. Event Espresso lets you accept group registrations and create waiting lists for your events.
- There are several payment gateways pre-installed with the core plugin, and you can select from more than 15 other payment integrations developed by Event Espresso to integrate seamlessly with the plugin. Easily collect payments via check, invoice, PayPal, and various credit cards.
- With Event Espresso, you get full control of your attendees’ personal information. Plus, it can help you make your website GDPR-compliant.
- You’ll be able to boost registrations and ticket sales by offering special discounts and promotional codes to prospective registrants.
- It lets you add social sharing buttons on your event pages and build your Mailchimp mailing list or group to help you streamline your event marketing efforts.
#2: Events Manager
Events Manager helps you manage event registrations, display event calendars on your event site, and collect payments from event attendees. It offers integration with Google Calendar and iCal feed.
Features That Make Events Manager a Good WordPress Events Plugin:
- Events Manager is a complete event creation and sharing solution that lets you share event details on social media sites via BuddyPress.
- It lets you set up recurring and multi-day event registrations. You’ll also be able to approve and reject booked seats.
- You can quickly set up single-day registration by choosing the start and end times and filling in some basic event details.
- Events Manager allows guests and users to submit their own events which are ideal for smaller organizations and public event websites.
- It lets you add Google Maps to your event pages and create an area that lets users view events based on their location.
#3: Event Organiser
Event Organizer is a powerful WordPress event management plugin that gives you access to an intuitive interface and a number of basic features. It comes with a variety of premium add-ons, including Event Organiser Pro, that adds a booking form customizer, a complete management area, various payment processors, and customizable emails to your WordPress site.
Features That Make Event Organiser a Good WordPress Events Plugin:
- Event Organizer lets you create complex recurring events. For instance, you can set up an event that continues for two days, stops for a day, and then continues for four more days. Similarly, you can also create events that occur every three months.
- It offers great developer support in addition to an API and documentation.
- Its localization feature helps you offer site content in multiple languages, helping you reach out to a wider audience.
- Event Organizer helps you easily create and maintain event venues and locations. For instance, you can show Google Maps on your events calendar, allowing attendees to easily find your event venues.
- It provides access to flexible widgets and shortcodes which are displayed as full calendars or event lists.
Modern Events Calendar is a professional event management plugin that offers powerful customization features. Its easy-to-use interface and vast library of design layouts can help you easily change your event solutions’ theme to match your branding.
Features That Make Modern Events Calendar a Good WordPress Events Plugin:
- Modern Events Calendar comes with a powerful booking system that lets you build customized forms.
- You’ll be able to create events, events with countdown timers, never-ending events, and repeat events.
- It supports Visual Composer and WooCommerce and offers integration with PayPal and Google Calendar.
- You can easily import all your events from another WordPress event management tool to Modern Events Calendar.
The Events Calendar plugin has an easy-to-use interface that enables you to quickly create and display events on your event site. It lets you maintain and display an events calendar on your website with multiple calendar views (including a map, week, and photo view) and lets you save organizers and venues for future use.
Features That Make The Events Calendar a Good WordPress Events Plugin:
- You can set up weekly, monthly, or custom recurring events making it easy to manage your events calendar.
- Its location-based search feature helps your attendees easily find the event venue.
- The Events Calendar offers a number of useful widgets for displaying upcoming events list, showing a countdown to your next events, and listing venue information.
- You’ll be able to sync your events on different devices with Google Calendar and iCal.
- It offers email marketing features out of the box helping you reach out to your community, increase event attendance, and manage notifications.
- The Events Calendar integrates with Eventbrite enabling you to transfer your events between Eventbrite and your site’s event calendar.
The EventOn plugin is a premium-only WordPress events plugin that lets you create customizable, interactive event calendars for your website. It gives you access to an intuitive back-end and provides a colorful and modern portfolio-like layout to display your events.
Features That Make EventOn a Good WordPress Events Plugin:
- You’ll be able to display beautiful search bars and social sharing buttons on your site pages.
- EventOn comes with an aesthetically pleasing visual layout that makes your events calendar instantly standout.
- You can show important event details such as event venue, time, and cancellation information on the main calendar page.
- All your event details are properly organized which makes images, maps, purchasing buttons, and social media buttons look visually appealing on your event pages.
- Using EventOn, you can add up to 10 pieces of custom event information fields.
- It lets you create events that can last for two, three, or more days.
#7: WP Event Manager
WP Event Manager is a lightweight WordPress events plugin that won’t slow down your event website. It’s a simple event management tool that doesn’t clutter your site’s backend with unnecessary features. Using WP Event Manager, you’ll be able to quickly transform your WordPress site into an event management platform.
Features That Make WP Event Manager a Good WordPress Events Plugin:
- It comes with a user-friendly interface and offers a fully responsive design, built-in caching, front-end forms, and a search module.
- You’ll be able to organize your event listings in categories and sub-categories, helping your registrants quickly find the one they wish to attend.
- WP Event Manager offers friendly and responsive developer support, even if you’re using the free version of the plugin.
- Its calendar uses AJAX, helping you deliver a smooth browsing experience to your site’s users.
- You’ll be able to implement multilingual translations in front-end forms and widgets and use shortcodes for displaying searchable event listings.
All-in-One Event Calendar is another simple WordPress events plugin that helps you plan your events. It gives you access to an intuitive interface and a clean visual design with a number of powerful features.
You’ll be able to quickly set up an events calendar on your site and add useful details to it such as event date and times. It offers registration and ticketing features as paid add-ons.
Features That Make All-in-One Event Calendar a Good WordPress Events Plugin:
- You can list your events in a daily, weekly, and monthly view, or display them in a poster board or agenda view.
- Its SEO-optimized calendars help you boost the visibility of your events in search engine results pages.
- This plugin offers support for a number of external calendars, along with exporting, importing, and sharing tools for platforms including Apple iCal and Google Calendar.
- All-in-One Event Calendar lets you display event dates and other information along with images on the front-end.
- Its recurring payments feature helps you set up a complex timing pattern. For instance, you can create events that take place every two or three months.
- You’ll be able to assign color codes to each event category, helping users quickly find what they’re looking for.
Event Calendar WD is an easy-to-use WordPress events plugin that helps you share event details with attendees and collect RSVPs through your event site. It lets you set up an events calendar on your website and display the calendars among related and latest posts. Event Calendar is a useful tool for creating simple one-time events, recurring events, or multiple events.
Features That Make Event Calendar WD a Good WordPress Events Plugin:
- It offers a responsive and beautiful events calendar that helps you communicate important event details to your attendees.
- Event Calendar WD comes with publishing and sharing calendars that let you create one-time and recurring events. This plugin also supports events on blog posts and pages.
- You’ll be able to add various elements to your events calendars including images, videos, hosts, and links to other pages.
- It supports integration with Google Maps so that your attendees can quickly find your event venues.
- Its tagging feature helps you stay on top of event-related tasks.
- Event Calendar WD lets users view your events in a monthly view or a list of events.
#10: My Calendar
My Calendar lets you display your events on multiple websites. It’s a simple and flexible event tool that lets you create and display customized calendars, sell event tickets, and collect RSVPs.
Features That Make My Calendar a Good WordPress Events Plugin:
- You can choose which events are shown to the user based on location, category, organizer, or author.
- You’ll be able to transfer events from other calendars such as iCal and Google Calendar.
- My Calendar lets you list events in a list or grid view, or add widgets and mini calendars for smaller displays.
- You can use pre-built templates as well as reuse templates for recurring events.
- It lets you share some parts of the events calendar with other people in your organization.
- You can use shortcodes to quickly customize your event calendars.
4 Tips on Choosing the Best WordPress Events Plugin for Your Business
While some businesses use hosted solutions to organize their events, an open-source WordPress events plugin has a number of advantages over it. More specifically, there’s a difference in terms of cost, security, and flexibility.
A WordPress events plugin won’t cost you a monthly subscription fee. In addition, WordPress plugins have a large community of developers that regularly test the plugin. Any potential bugs in the software are exposed and fixed before they can do damage.
In this section, we’ll share some actionable tips on how you can choose the right WordPress events plugin for your business.
Tip #1: Jot Down the Essential Features
Start by listing down the most important features you need in a WordPress events plugin. For starters, you’ll need online registration and ticketing, events calendar, and event marketing features.
Here are some questions you need to ask yourself:
- Are you planning on organizing multiple events? You’ll probably need an events calendar to display upcoming events on your event site.
- How will you promote your event? Via email marketing, social media marketing, or something else?
- Will be you hosting free events only or are you going to sell tickets? You’ll need to offer multiple payment options to event registrants.
- Are you organizing a small event or a larger one? You may need a WordPress events plugin that helps you collaborate with your team members.
- How will you share event details with attendees? This typically includes confirmation notifications, schedule, and venue information.
You’ll also need some advanced features to easily manage event-related tasks when your event business starts to take off. These include ticket scanning, discount codes, and waitlists.
Carefully analyze specific payment gateways and pricing plans on offer with different WordPress events plugins to find the one that meets your requirements. Moreover, automated event reminders are also good to have as they can help you keep in touch with prospective attendees.
Tip #2: Create a Budget
Think about the kind of budget you need to spend on your events. For instance, if you organize a free event or organize only one or two events per year, you should go for a free WordPress events plugin like Event Espresso 4 Decaf, Event Organiser, or The Events Calendar.
However, if you organize paid events and need access to advanced features that aren’t available with free plugins, you should use a premium WordPress events plugin. Similarly, if you organize lots of events, recurring events, or events that span multiple days, a premium plugin can give you the advanced features you’ll need to organize your events.
Event Espresso is an easy-to-use, premium plugin that offers essential event ticketing and registration features. It comes with tons of advanced event management features out of the box.
You can try out Event Espresso’s freemium version (Event Espresso 4 Decaf) and then upgrade to the premium version later on if you need access to advanced features. This way, you can learn how it works and decide whether or not it fits your needs.
Event Espresso comes with a powerful events calendar, the ability to create and sell multiple tickets, and set up different pricing options. You can also add advanced features to your event site using standalone add-ons that help you extend core functionality as needed.
Learn more about how much an Event Espresso site costs. Hint: it’s less than you think!
Tip #3: Shortlist Some WordPress Events Plugins
Here are some questions that’ll help you shortlist WordPress event plugins:
- Does the plugin provide all the essential features from your list?
- Will the plugin fit into your budget including premium tiers and add-ons?
- What do other users have to say about the plugin?
You can go to the official WordPress plugin directory to learn about verified plugins submitted by the community. Here you’ll find several free WordPress events plugins maintained by a team of WordPress experts.
Twitter and Facebook are useful if you wish to learn what other users have said about their experience using the plugin. Simply check the plugin’s page and hashtags to learn about users’ opinions and experiences.
You can also read user reviews on the plugin’s official website. We recommend that you read both positive and negative user reviews to get an idea of the user’s experience.
You should choose an event plugin that offers reliable customer support so that you know where to get help if things go wrong. Make sure that the WordPress events plugin you choose comes with extensive documentation, blog posts, articles, and video tutorials. This enables you to learn more about the software and troubleshoot issues on your own.
We suggest that you go for an event management solution that offers a demo. This is a great way to address any product-related concerns beforehand and make sure it meets your requirements.
You’ll also need access to community channels such as chat groups to help you effectively communicate and collaborate with team members, partners, and sponsors.
Tip #4: Test Them Out
Before making a final decision, you should test out your shortlisted WordPress events plugins. Here are some actionable tips to help you:
Start by creating a checklist of the features that are most essential. Next, request a demo of each plugin’s premium version. In case, a demo is not available, install the free version on a test site. Make sure that it delivers on everything promised by the developer.
A demo event will give you a clear idea of the user-friendliness of the event plugin as well as its look and feel on the front-end. It will also help you measure the user experience offered by each solution.
We recommend that you see examples of different types of events and the features of each event plugin in action.
Planning, managing, and organizing successful events is a whole lot easier when you have the right WordPress events plugin in your tech stack. This way, you’ll be able to plan better events, improve attendee satisfaction, and increase event attendance.
Speaking of great features.. see this post on some of Event Espresso’s newest features.
Ready to start organizing engaging events? Schedule an Event Espresso demo today!