Lanyrd goes Pro for businesses

Social conference directory Lanyrd has announced its first paid upgrade, Lanyrd Pro. The new tier is designed to enable teams and companies that speak at and sponsor events to promote and plan the events they are involved with.

Launch companies include Facebook, Rosenfeld Media, GitHub and Happy Cog. GitHub community manager Kami Richey said conferences were a huge part of what the company did, and Lanyrd Pro “not only lets us track of our sponsorship deals, but also where we're speaking. It's helping us save time while allowing us to support more awesome events”.

Other launch partners appeared similarly enthusiastic, with Louis Rosenfeld, publisher at Rosenfeld Media, noting that the organisation has to deal with “55 UX experts [with] busy speaking schedules," and "Lanyrd Pro helps us keep track of what everyone is doing without having to bug people for updates”.

Lanyrd CEO Simon Willison spoke to .net to tell us about the conception of Lanyrd Pro, the launch and more about the features it makes available to organisations.

.net: So is Lanyrd Pro something you’ve planned for a while?
SW: From the very start, we always intended on having a revenue model. One of the things we’ve been asking ourselves is where we could best add value to the existing ecosystem. There were a few areas that were obvious to look at — event organisers themselves and around the attendees. But we soon realised the unique thing about Lanyrd was the depth of data we had around speakers and people going out and presenting. When you look at the events industry, the companies promoting themselves through events — sponsoring them and sending speakers — were vastly underserved.

.net: So is that why you decided to target organisations rather than conferences?
SW: There wasn’t anything out there to help companies maximise value in this space. Some people have been surprised our first commercial product was aimed at companies that speak at conferences rather than conference organisers, but we think it also makes a lot of sense for the way people use the site, and it aligns well with our incentives. We want to build the best tool for event organisers, attendees and speakers, and so adding that commercial air around the companies commercially benefiting from the relationships they have with conferences seemed like a sensible place to go.

.net: How does Lanyrd Pro compare to the standard version?
SW: First, let me say the standard version of Lanyrd hasn’t changed at all! It’s always been a free platform for individuals to build up their own profiles. You can say: here are the events I’m going to, here are the talks I’ve given, here’s where I’m speaking, here are some slides and videos.

A way to think about the Pro level is: it’s about building those profile pages for companies or organisations. There’s an aspect that’s a branded page or portal based around a group of people — usually a company with its employees — which pulls together everything into one place. Therefore, the company brand gets associated with all of the work employees are out doing at conferences.

The other side to the product is aimed at larger organisations, and that’s about private coordination of event marketing strategy. We realised if you look at a company like GitHub, it’s sponsoring dozens of events every year and has loads of really fantastic people speaking. Coordinating that internally is a full-time job for more than one person.

We found this pattern repeating among other companies — if they’re taking events-based marketing really seriously, there’s a huge amount of work behind the scenes, keeping track of sponsorship deals, figuring out events on the radar and working out who’s going where. Keeping track of everything can be difficult because there’s no central place where people are reporting to.

Our internal tools — the private side of Lanyrd Pro — are all about solving that internal coordination problem. They enable companies to see the full data about what its organisation is already doing, and then privately start building up that calendar, adding notes and labels. That’s far better than a huge email inbox and terrifying spreadsheet. It’s a much more finessed tool that builds off of the highly structured database of events we’ve already got in place.

.net: And that then feeds back into the standard site?
SW: That’s exactly right. If we’ve got companies actively using Lanyrd to plan and promote the events they’re involved with, it means the quality of the listings available on the site goes up because the companies are actively helping to curate that information.