31st July 2021 marks three years since we introduced the first version of Zoho Backstage to the world. What started as a simple event management platform to help event organizers manage in-person events has become so much more. In the last year, we ventured into digital-first experiences with Backstage OnAir, our virtual events module. And today, exactly a year later, we’re taking our first step toward supporting hybrid events and trade shows—to help you run events of all kinds.
During this period, we’ve had the opportunity to power 41,117 events, 12,609 of them virtual. This is an important milestone for all of us, and we’d like to give a big shoutout to all of you, the Backstage community, for trusting us with your events, driving us to push our boundaries, and inspiring us with your constant feedback. Thank you for being here!
Also, if it’s not too much to ask, and you’ve got a few minutes to spare, please fill out this survey and let us know your feedback. It would help us to improve the product and provide services that make it easier for you to host impactful event experiences in the future. We’re also providing a maximum of two free Backstage OnAir licenses for one virtual event to people who complete the survey as a token of our appreciation. Please note: you’ll need to be in the Professional plan or higher to host virtual events.
Now, let’s take a moment and revisit some of our biggest updates over the last three years that have helped make Backstage what it is today: all-in-one event management software for in-person, virtual, and hybrid gatherings.
2018: Announcing no-commission event ticketing on Backstage
Towards the end of 2018, we created our very own event ticketing platform for the US region. At the time, it came with multiple ticket classes, refund policies, automated transaction emails, promo codes, and sales analytics. We introduced it commission-free and made payouts instant so event managers could sell tickets stress-free and have complete control over their revenue.
Over time, we’ve expanded the platform to include features like offline payment options, tax management, access codes, guest lists, and more to provide a comprehensive ticketing solution for event organizers. Today, Backstage’s ticketing platform is available in more than 50 countries and supports over 10 payment gateways. And we still don’t take any commission on ticket sales.
2019: Perfecting the onsite event experience
We ended the previous year with a mobile app that, among other things, allowed event organizers to check in attendees, register walk-ins, and send push notifications to attendees.
From there, we took the next step into bettering the onsite experience with BadgeUp, our smart badge builder where event organizers can design on-brand badges for speakers, sponsors, and attendees. They can also choose to either print all the badges together before the event or print them individually when checking in an attendee.
2020: Supporting virtual events with Backstage OnAir
Early in 2020, just as the world shifted into lockdown mode, we started work on a native streaming solution for virtual events. While Backstage does allow you to integrate with just about any video conferencing software, we felt creating our own solution would make the virtual attendee experience all the more holistic.
We introduced Backstage OnAir on our second anniversary. From last July to now, it’s undergone many updates and enhancements, such as a revamped UI, a rehearsal option, handouts, host management, and audience engagement features like anonymous questions, emoji reactions, the option to invite attendees on screen, and more. This month, we’ve also scaled its capabilities to support 1000 attendees per event.
2021: Introducing hybrid events and expo management
This year, we’re releasing two of our biggest updates since Backstage’s inception—hybrid events and trade show management. Now, you can manage and conduct your hybrid events right from Backstage. Whether live streaming onsite sessions to online attendees or connecting virtual speakers with attendees at the venue, you can do both with just a few clicks. Add to that our existing event ticketing, marketing, and onsite features and you get one “complete” platform to manage all your events from end to end.
Moving to trade shows, we’re releasing our expo management module for virtual events in the Early Access phase. It comes with features like a customizable exhibitor request form, virtual booths, 1:1 and group meetings with booth visitors, contact-sharing, and more. If you’re interested in trying it out, you can sign up here.
Apart from these, we’ve also released many new features—data privacy options, affiliate tracking, website customization, and white-labeled event apps to name a few—and countless enhancements, not to mention all of the integrations that make Backstage one of the most holistic and complete event management solutions available on the market today.
Beyond 2021: Our roadmap for the future
So what’s next for Backstage? We’ll be working on elevating the virtual and hybrid event experience focusing on creating better attendee networking options. We’ll also be expanding our expo management capabilities to include onsite and hybrid events. If there’s something that you think would be a good addition to Backstage, let us know by writing to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweeting to us @ZohoBackstage. We’d love to hear from you.
Once again, thank you for choosing Zoho Backstage. Here’s to many more years of hosting great event experiences together!