Most event planners have probably heard about Google Event by now; it’s the new feature that allows mobile users to search and book tickets for upcoming events right from Google.
This seems like an excellent addition to the arsenal of event marketing and promotion tools. If potential attendees can understand at a glance the what, where, and how of your event, it only makes it easier to promote your event and confirm attendance. Right?
To answer the question of exactly how event planners can use this new feature, we went through Google’s How-to for developers to distill it down to the essentials of what event planners need to know about Google Event Search.
How it Works
Put very simply, all Google Event is doing is taking event information and reformatting it on a handy little text box. Instead of the usual list of search results, it takes everything that fits into the search criteria (ie, “Events in New York”), sorts them by day, and puts them into a short table with the main details and links to more information.
This makes it very easy for a user to find upcoming events in the area. Gone are the days of searching endlessly for something to do! Instead, Google Event acts as a quick directory that can quickly and accurately point a person to the information that they need to buy tickets or RSVP.
How to Get Your Event onto Google
As of the writing of this article, all of the events information comes from some of the major ticketing and registration websites. This includes Eventbrite, Ticketmaster, SeatGeek, Meetup, LiveNation and several others. The list is set to expand over time.
So that means that getting your event onto Google Event might be as easy as using one of those websites. A sure thing, if you will.
But does this mean that your event has to use one of these websites in order to be featured? Not exactly. Although that would be the most straightforward way to do it, Google has also created this document to cover how developers can format events to show up properly.
An important takeaway is that each event must have its own page with a unique URL. Presumably, this is so that Google is able to index your event as its own entity, and give it a separate entry in Google Event. Formatting is crucial; most of the document is about following Schema’s data type definitions, and defining properties so that Google can index the details about your event.
Basically, that means the page for your event needs to have coding that carries the specific details for Google to find. For example, the start date of your event should be set up like:
There are a few recommended properties, but the required ones are: title of event, start date, location, and address. Whoever is making the page for your event should be able to input these properties without issue.
If you don’t want to deal with all of the coding, try this schema generator or the Data Highlighter tool. Note that there’s a bit of set-up, so you may want to get a developer involved if you’re unfamiliar with website coding.
When to Use Google Event
The question you probably came here to have answered: Does my event NEED to be on Google Event?
And the answer is, pretty simply, no.
Google Event is set up to help people find public, ticketed events that are upcoming in the area that they searched for. This already narrows the definition of “Event” quite closely. It includes concerts, art shows, festivals, sporting events, and so forth—but not private events, professional events, or invite-only events.
In practice, this means that if you’re planning an open-to-the-public event, being available through the new feature will definitely be a boost. You’ll be able to catch the attention of potential attendees just by being in the right area. Even if the event is free, consider setting up an RSVP ticketing system (where one can ‘purchase’ free tickets) as a way to qualify, and to keep count of your numbers.
But if your event is private, professional, or invite-only, you might be better off leaving it off.
If you’re planning a marketing conference in San Francisco, for example, you might not want your average tourist to be able to buy tickets for the conference. It’s unlikely to be a good experience for them, and attendees who are professionally interested in your conference will have a harder time getting tickets. This makes your attendee pool less focused, and that makes it hard for your sessions and the event generally to be relevant and engaging.
Getting Your Event Off Google Event
At the moment, there doesn’t seem to be an official way to take your event off of the function. Generally, it’s a good thing for your event to be findable in Google, so it’s strange to even ask the question.
If the support team for the events listing site you’re using isn’t able to help you, you might have to consider use a different site for that particular event (one that isn’t indexed by Google—at least for now).
A more permanent fix might be to build your own events page and simply not use the schema as suggested by Google. By default, a custom-build events page won’t show up on Google Event anyway. In the case where you’d prefer your event to stay out of easily-accessible public traffic (due to bots, scalpers, private events or caution around a mistargeted audience), the best practice is just to use a custom events page and avoid the issue altogether.