EE4 can be downloaded from the WordPress repository or alternatively, from the plugin website, and then installed via the ‘Add Plugins’ page on your website. The installation is very easy, and takes hardly any time. Once the activation is complete, you see the Event Espresso tab in your Menu, neatly segregated into the categories:
This section includes the event creation, registration and transaction handling functions. In the Events tab, you can create the event in the usual manner, adding the venue, ticket lists, datetimes, categories, and registrant questions along the way.
The Registrations tab lets you handle event registrations, the attendees, maintain your contact list and get review reports about the registrations per event or for a fixed duration, say, a month.
The Transactions tab lists all the transactions, per event, per registrant, for any specific duration. There are separate categories for abandoned and failed transactions too, as well as reports for daily transactions, or those per day.
The Management tab is further divided into Messages, Pricing, Registration Form and Venue sections.
The Messages tab is from where you can handle all the emails to be sent to your registrants and attendees. There are 14 default message templates available, to send user notifications for registration acceptance, denial, pending payments and the like; and you can add customized templates besides.
Pricing includes the default pricing options and the price types available. Price types include discount, surcharge and taxation options, which can be set as a percentage of the base price, or as a fixed amount.
The Registration Form tab does what it says; it lets you write, customize and reorder the registration form that people will be viewing on your website. There is a list of questions present that can be rearranged as required. You can also add the reCAPTCHA settings here, for preventing spam registrations.
The Venue manager lets you create and control all venue locations from a single panel. You can also activate the Google Maps settings to display the venue location.
Event Espresso Settings include General Settings and Payment Methods.
The General Settings tab has four subdivisions:
- Your Organization: Set up your company name, address, logo, contact information and social links
- Critical Pages: Review the page status and the default and optional shortcodes for the important pages on your website
- Admin Options: Control local and remote debugging options
- Countries: Set the country, state, province and currency details, which will be used throughout your website.
The Payment Methods tab is used to manage all your payment gateway, bank and invoice settings. There are four inbuilt payment gateways available, namely, Authorize.net AIM, PayPal Pro, PayPal Standard and Mijireh.
Extras include the Help and Support, Extensions & Services, Maintenance, and About options.
EE4 has an inbuilt support system that provides quick information about the different settings and functions available in the plugin, apart from its external documentation.
The Extensions & Services section has direct links to the different add-ons, integrations, and support tokens available for Event Espresso.
The Maintenance tab lets you configure the Maintenance Mode, data reset and system information options, while the About page displays plugin and update information.
In addition, EE4 provides a guided walkthrough for every one of the functions mentioned above, explaining the significant settings you will encounter. Pretty cool, huh?
Ease of Use: 5/5
EE4 has 51 different features, not counting additional integrations and add-ons. Some of these have been continued ahead, from EE3, but most are new, revamped ones that facilitate the creation of a powerful event management website. Let’s have a look.
Customizable Event Design
Event design in EE4 is extremely straightforward. Just select the ‘Add New Event’ option from the Events tab and an interface similar to the WordPress Post/page interface opens, wherefrom you can create the event and add the pricing and ticketing options. You can set up single or recurring events, based on the date-time options you add during event creation.
Multiple Date-time Generation (Creating Recurring Events)
EE4 lets you add multiple dates and timings for a particular event, each labeled separately, but managed from a single event tab. Setting a datetime limit also limits the number of event tickets that will be available according to the date and time of your actual event. These limits can be different for different datetimes.
Robust Event Management
Events once created can be viewed and managed directly from the Events control panel collectively, by day, or by month. They can be edited, duplicated, customized, and categorized.
Events published are displayed on the default Events Archive page. You can organize all the event pages according to your event flow. Within the event, the venue, pricing and contact details can be rearranged as necessary, to maintain maximum viewer involvement. Additionally, you can display featured events by adding them to a ‘Featured Events’ category and highlighting it on your website. Or, you could use the Events Calendar Add-on to display featured events in a Calendar format.
Control Panel Legends
In every control panel that you will see on Event Espresso, there are legends that define the action/s for the event, registrant, message, and transaction. These are pictorial links that tell you about the status of that particular field. For example, information about whether a transaction has been completed successfully, or is the payment pending, or was it denied; the works.
Venue creation in EE4 is as simple as adding the name, address and capacity. Event Espresso lets you add physical and virtual locations separately for the venues, categorize them, and provide a cartographical reference using Google Maps.
Event Espresso lets you add single, multiple, and group registrations to your event. You can customize the registration forms for each of these categories individually. Going one step further, you can ask registrant-specific questions, based on the answers they have given previously. It is also possible to set a maximum limit for the number of registrations that can be done by a single user.
Managing your registrations is easy, with EE4. As the administrator, you can approve, reject, or cancel registrations from the Registrations control panel. If required, you can edit and resend the attendee details to your registrants, and assign unique ID codes for each booking.
EE4 lets you add tickets to event during the process of event creation itself. You can add as many types of tickets for any event as you want, and then set pricing, availability and tax options for each of them. A comprehensive log of all the tickets purchased by customers is maintained, whether it is a single ticket for a single event or multiple tickets for multiple events. You can assign default prices to specific tickets or customize them by adding new prices against the default price (such as when tickets are on sale).
Automated Ticket Generation
For every new event, you can set up automatic generation of tickets having the same, basic format. For example, if you are planning to have successive events of a similar type, and are planning to keep the pricing options consistent, you can enable this option to avoid creating base prices, and capacities, and discounts all over again.
Mobile Ticket Verification
This is one of the best features of EE4. The plugin enables mobile tracking and ticket verification of your attendees, through your mobile scanning system.
Event Registration and Check-in
Once the event registration is confirmed, attendees are added to the Event Check-In list. This includes a complete list of attending, absent, and cancelled registrants, and those who attend the event are checked in.
Easy Interaction with Registrants
Event Espresso helps you be in touch with your registrants regularly. There are fourteen different message templates that can be used to create custom emails for your contacts, informing them about events, their registration status and sending reminders. These messages can be configured to be sent automatically, based on event triggers.
EE4 also has a MailChimp integration that further lets you send newsletters and notification emails to all your subscribers.
Contact List Management
EE4 has a comprehensive contact management system that lists all your contacts, their personal details, contact information, event history, even the comments made for any event. You can set a featured image and add your own notes to this profile too.
As we have seen already, you can set up the currency and tax calculation options, based on the country you are in. This can be done on a per-ticker basis or on the entire order at the time of checkout. The tax types set up can be as percentages or a flat price, based on the base price of the ticket.
Discounts and Coupons
Adding discounts and coupons is very similar to configuring taxation options. Discounts can be generated as a percentage of the purchase price or at a fixed flat rate. Coupons can be earned by customers or can be awarded to them, which increases user interaction and participation in the event.
Single Page Checkout
A new feature of EE4, the single page checkout facilitates quick and easy transactions, which make for lesser abandoned registrations and hence, greater event attendance. It includes features like payment skipping for free tickets, auto-filling of information for clients existing in your contact list, and enabling copying the common information from the Primary Registrant form to the Additional Attendees’ forms.
Search Engine Optimization
Event Espresso has incorporated keyword-rich URL’s in EE4, which lets your attendees and other viewers find events quickly and easily. This makes use of the ‘permalinks’ feature of WordPress and is a great marketing tool, to increase site traffic and thus obtain a better search engine ranking.
Maintenance Mode is a functionality of WordPress that lets you shut down your site from viewers for a fixed duration and work on any internal errors your site might be having (increased site uptime, plugin updates, incompatibility issues, and the like).
Social Network Integration
Promotions are the oxygen that keeps an event alive; and what better option than social networking to promote your event? EE4 adds sharing buttons to various social networking sites, including Facebook and Twitter.
Built the WordPress-Way
All the Event, Contact and Venue pages in Event Espresso are custom post types. This is significant because it implies that all the data available here can be used and reused again. The default event and venue single and archive pages can be copied to your theme’s root file, so that the EE4 pages absorb the theme’s styles and layouts. This can be repeated as many times as necessary.
This is but a short description of the available features; I could wax on and on. The long and short of it is, EE4 has pretty much every feature an event management plugin needs inbuilt, and those it does not are covered by the add-ons and extensions.
Considering the myriad features that EE4 offers, you would expect the plugin to be expensive; and it is. The pricing plans for EE4 are as follows:
- EE4 Personal License (1 site, one year of support and updates): $69.95
- EE4 Developer License (5 sites, one year of support and updates): $249.95
- EE4 Everything License (1 site, one year of support and updates): $279.95
The Personal and Developer licenses do not include premium add-ons, which have to be purchased separately. The EE4 Everything license has 24 premium add-ons included, which if purchased individually and separately, cost $860.
This does seem rather steep for individual event planners, but if you are thinking long term, then EE4 is worth the investment. Besides, a 50% discount is offered by the developers during the license renewal for the consecutive year.
Event Espresso has extensive support, I mean EXTENSIVE support and documentation for the plugin. There are public support forums, categorized documentation from basic to advanced topics, and a dedicated support team to answer all your queries. Event Espresso also has a novel, premium Support Tokens concept, which enables you to have a one-to-one discussion with a support team member and resolve all your queries. This ought not to be necessary though; I haven’t read every thread of the documentation but I can safely say that whatever query you have, it has probably been already raised and answered in the forums.
EE4 is pretty regular with their updates. A note for EE3 users, currently, both EE3 and EE4 plugins are being supported, but eventually, when EE4 has outstripped EE3 to a considerable degree, the developers will phase out EE3.
Support and Updates: 5/5
EE4 is configured to support a lot of add-ons and extensions. These include marketing, payment gateway, event display, ticket handling and management integrations. Let us have a brief look at these.
Event Display Add-ons
- EE4 Events Calendar: Displays events in a Calendar format.
- EE4 Events Grid View Template: Displays events in a Grid format.
- EE4 Events Table View Template: Display events in a tabular format.
Payment Gateway Integrations
- EE4 Stripe Payment Gateway
- EE4 iDeal Mollie Payment Gateway
- EE4 Sage Pay Payment Gateway
- EE4 Vanco Payment Gateway
- EE4 Authorizenet SIM Payment Gateway
- EE4 Braintree Payment Gateway
- EE4 PayPal PayFlow Pro Payment Gateway
- EE4 MiGS Payment Gateway
- EE4 iPay88 Payment Gateway
- EE4 Authorize.net eCheck Payment Gateway
Marketing integrations for EE4 involve newsletter plugin integrations, promotional add-ons, and multiple event integrations.
- EE4 MailChimp Integration
- EE4 Multiple Event Registration
- EE4 Promotions and Discount Codes
- EE4 Events Social Sharing Add-on
- EE4 AffiliateWP Integration
- EE4 Infusionsoft Integration
Ticket Handling Integrations
The ticket handling add-ons include integration of functionalities like barcode scanning and ticket printing.
- EE4 Printable Tickets Add-on
- EE4 Ticket Scanning Add-on
EE4 has integrations for managing events as well as multiple event administrators, coordinators and volunteers. They are:
- EE4 People Add-on
- EE4 WP User Integration
EE4 also supports several third party add-ons that incorporate even more functionalities into the plugin; and if these extensions weren’t enough, EE4 also has additional hooks and filters for developers to code in the functionalities they require.
Integrations and Extensions: 5/5
Frankly, the simple answer to that is, everybody. Event Espresso is a great way to create any event, from seminars, to conferences, to college festivals, to workshops.
The functionalities supported are many and varied; the question is, how many of those do you need, and whether you have a large enough budget for those. If you are going to work on a small scale, one of the alternatives is that you get the personal license and only buy those add-ons which are necessary.
If you are planning to make some serious money from your event website though, Event Espresso is definitely the way to go.
Event Espresso is one of the giants in the WordPress event management plugin area, and with good reason! Smooth interface, excellent features, dedicated support and plentiful add-ons; no wonder the plugin gets a near-perfect score.