Topi Review – The tool to plan events social events efficiently
If you go to any events, you’ll know they’re a double-edged sword. While it’s great to connect with people, it’s often difficult to do so in events that are filled to the brim with presentations. For introverts, it’s even more difficult when faced with the difficult question: how does one muster up the strength to talk to strangers? For event planners and attendees, this is the question that Topi tries to answer with its integrated digital events solution.
We will see in this Topi review that it is a tool for event planners and attendees. It allows planners to create events, and its iPhone app allows attendees to connect at the event. Not only that, but it’s the only end-to-end solution for every part of the event. Event planners and attendees alike are going to love all its features. For this review, I’ve created a test event for myself in the middle of the night (to prevent accidental attendees) and have put the app through the ropes. Read on to find out why Topi is right for you.
Topi Review – About the Company
Topi is an integrated events solution that goes well beyond the basics of event planning. Using technology, the app attempts to make communication easier and better. Topi’s literal goal is to ensure that name tags at events are no longer needed, which is something I think we can all get behind.
Topi was founded by David Aubespin, a former Google engineer, and Eric Sellin, a former British telecom researcher. Their goal was to make Topi a solution that was more feature-rich and human than their competitors. After conducting various professionals about the psychology of the industry, they made Topi, an app allows brings social networking to the business world of event planning and networking. But what makes it so different?
Main Functionality of Topi
Topi is divided into two different core interfaces: its web interface allows event planners to create fantastic meet-ups, and the iPhone interface allows large groups to get to know each other and follow up after the event without any problems. The iPhone app also allows users to follow up with an event’s details, like who the next speaker is in the itinerary of events.
Setting up the event is easy. Using the Web interface, the only problem I had was setting up an address (although the video tutorial for that made it much easier). Beyond that, setting up the itinerary and testing out the event on the Topi iPhone app was a piece of cake. What I like about this as a potential event planner is that almost everything I can think of to throw in an event is baked right into Topi. I’ve been to a couple events for people in my city recently and every facet of the experience — even the night’s Twitter hashtag — is built right into Topi.
As an attendee, I really like how easy it is to set up Topi. Everything is based on location geofencing and networking tools. The app knows when you’ve arrived and it knows who else is there, essentially automatically logging you into your own private chatroom. For event planners and attendees alike, this is a Facebook group with the added benefit of easy messaging and simple alerts. If you’re the event creator, you can easily announce that the event is about to start or that a short intermission is coming to an end, and everybody with a smartphone is going to know what’s happening. Not only that, but the mobile event is free, so users aren’t going to be feel inconvenienced when they arrive if they have yet to download it.
Benefits of Using Topi
Simply put, Topi makes communication easier. It allows you to meet new people and get their contact information right in the app, so it’s easier to maintain conversations well after the event is over. For those of us who meet lots of people at events, this is a lifesaver. I’ve been to two events in the past two weeks and have no less than eight business cards from each, but how much easier would it have been for me and the environment if I were using Topi?
Not only that, but as an event planner, I’d have piece of mind. I know several event planners, and from speaking with them, I can tell you there’s nothing worse than seeing half your audience alone or hiding in a corner. There’s something intimidating about a large crowd for many people. For many of us (myself included on a bad day), meeting somebody is just easier if that face-to-face meeting starts with interaction on a screen.
As far as planners are concerned, there isn’t really anything Topi is missing. I love the fact that you can build speakers into an event, and it’s great that you can also break it up into smaller chunks — if part of the event is a tour and part of it is a presentation, that’s not a problem. I went to an event recently that was one-third keynote, one-third tech show, and one-third concert, and this would have been a handy scheduler to have.
There is literally only one thing I could not do with Topi, and that was manage event invites. I would have loved to have made Topi a one-stop shop, and until that happens, that feature’s odd exclusion will always make Topi feel a little more difficult to use. That’s not Topi’s fault. After all, it’s an incredibly feature-complete tool. The only reason that feature’s absence is notable is because they thought of literally everything else. If Topi incorporated event invites by email, or friend search on any of the many social networks its users can use to log in, I would never make an event page on Facebook again.
The Basics: What Does It Look Like
As far as the interface goes, Topi is nearly minimalist in its approach on every platform. Setting up an event only took a few minutes, which is impressive considering the amount of information you can include, and I was glad to see an interface that would resize itself well to a tablet display.
In short, I don’t think you’d need a degree in event planning to be able to use the web app. For event planners, this is respectful: Topi offers all the tools you’ll need in a simple and refined interface. Topi’s focus on great software engineering means that the web app is fast and stable, and a sheer joy to use.
If there’s one beef that I have with any of the interface, it’s the mobile interface. I didn’t try the app on an Android device, but on my iPhone, the app simply looks a little older than many other iOS apps. Clearly, Topi was optimized for iOS 6. While I’m sure a stellar update is coming, Topi isn’t currently an app that I would show my friends if I wanted to show off a sterling example of design.
However, the app does work really well. This is, again, thanks to the engineering focus at Topi. That they managed to create a near-perfect bulletin board, chatroom, and location-fetching event app all rolled into one piece of software is nothing short of a miracle. For that, they deserve nothing but praise. I’m sure the app will be updated soon enough for Apple’s newest design language.
Topi’s support is top-notch. They offer a thirty-minute demo before you sign up for the app, just so you can get a feel for their software. There’s always a button on the bottom right of the web app to make sure it’s easy to get in touch with them and ask any questions you might (and if it’s during business hours, you’ll get live chat with a real employee).
Within the iPhone app, sending a support email is one tap away and very easy to access. There’s nothing to complain about with Topi’s support.
Topi is priced more than fairly, and in its current configuration, the pricing is very easy to understand. The app comes in at two tiers: free and $2,500 per event. The free option allows up to 200 attendees, while the $2,500 tier allows for unlimited attendees and in-app sponsorships. Self-service with email support is included in both packages, while Topi will build everything for you if you email them for a quote.
While this may sound expensive, I did some brief math and have to ask questions about the long-term viability of Topi’s business model — it’s that cheap, and I mean that in the best way possible. For event planners, this is the deal of the century, and for attendees, the mobile app is free. What do you have to lose?
Topi Review – The Bottom Line
If I was advising an event planner, the first tool I’d suggest is Topi. We´ve seen in this Topi review that the web app is easy to use and embarrassingly full of riches, while the mobile app is completely free and very easy for anybody with a smartphone to grasp. What I really like about the app is the way it integrates an event’s schedule with its social networking. After all, studies suggest most people go to events to network. Topi allows event planners and attendees to get the best of both worlds in an advanced, all-in-one solution that comes highly recommended.
Ratings: ease of use 4/5, features 5/5, value 5/5