Case Study: How zkipster helps the British Council create connections via its events

The British Council is the UK’s international organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities.

It builds connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language. In 2020-21 the British Council connected with 67 million people directly and with 745 million people overall, including online and through its broadcasts and publications.

British Council

Security was crucial for the British Council when considering event management software, so zkipster’s high privacy and security standards and Swiss-based data servers meant we could meet its best practice requirements. The British Council‘s London-based events team took advantage of zkipster’s premium, modular, customizable Enterprise plan when they first came on board in 2019. The busy team of three oversees around 40 British Council events over the course of a normal year, which:

  • Welcome anything from 20 to 1,000 attendees
  • Last anywhere from an hour to a full day
  • Include everything from policy breakfasts to intimate dinners, award ceremonies to large conferences, networking receptions to pavilions representing Great Britain abroad
  • Are hosted at multiple venues: most take place in London, though some are hosted further afield
  • Usually take place in person, with some virtual and hybrid events: the British Council’s high-level stakeholders, board members and trustees tend to prefer face-to-face events
  • Are often turned around within a short lead time of just six weeks

British Council
Cultural Protection Fund Exhibition Launch (photographer Betty Zapata, courtesy of the British Council)

This diverse event program helps the British Council work towards its cultural and educational purpose whilst connecting people from all over the world. Event themes include:

The events team used zkipster to power the opening reception of the Venice Art Biennale for the first time in April 2019, where the British Council hosted 1,000 people, drawn from multiple guest lists, at its pavilion.

“Having zkipster on board has been life-changing – we wouldn’t be able to do the Venice Biennale without it.”

ISABEL CASAL | SENIOR EVENTS AND ENGAGEMENT MANAGER | COMMUNICATIONS | BRITISH COUNCIL

The British Council will be back at Venice from April-November 2022, with the British pavilion showcasing the commissioned piece “Feeling Her Way” by the artist Sonia Boyce. Once again the events team will use zkipster to send invitations, manage guest lists and handle event check-in, but also to comply with local Covid policies, a new consideration for 2022. Here’s how…

Walkthrough of the ‘Garden of Privatised Delights’ inside the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, 2021 (video courtesy of the British Council)

All British Council event communications must maintain its brand identity and have a consistent look and feel. Fortunately this is exactly what zkipster’s Invitations tool is designed to do, and it has a host of other benefits besides:

  • Custom emails can be designed and reused for a broad span of events
  • The British Council can send everything from invitations to follow ups, RSVP responses to general emails via zkipster, all completely bespoke
  • Using zkipster to send event communications has increased accountability, as the British Council team can send reminders and follow ups, and see if emails have been opened
  • Though emails can be automated and sent out at scale via zkipster, they still feel personal to the recipient 
  • The British Council has saved money on graphic design costs, as they easily can add banners, images, logos and more to their emails without the need to bring in a designer
  • The team is also starting to make use of the HTML and templates functions

“The consistency of the branded communications we’re able to create with zkipster has really impressed our commissioners: our emails look modern and polished and are accessible for our guests, regardless of the type of event.”

ISABEL CASAL | SENIOR EVENTS AND ENGAGEMENT MANAGER | COMMUNICATIONS | BRITISH COUNCIL

HRH The Prince of Wales visits a British Council event (photographer David Poultney, courtesy of the British Council)

The British Council events team is making great use of zkipster’s customizable Consent Forms, using them as an accessible way to obtain information and consent for event as well as data protection purposes, for example:

  • Gathering necessary guest details, such as dietary requirements
  • Offering guests the option to join the mailing list
  • Allowing guests to opt out of event photography

“Needing to register or create an account in order to submit details or sign an event waiver can put guests off, especially high-level stakeholders. It’s great that guests don’t need to register with zkipster in order to input their information: the guest portal is so quick and easy to use. It’s user-friendly for the events team too, as all event data is collated in one place for us to access as needed.”

ISABEL CASAL | SENIOR EVENTS AND ENGAGEMENT MANAGER | COMMUNICATIONS | BRITISH COUNCIL

The Consent Forms function has come in particularly handy during the pandemic, as have Form Attachments. zkipster provides extra reassurance for guests and security for British Council stakeholders, who are keen to exercise maximum caution, as event hosts can:

  • Request proof of vaccination or a negative test result from guests
  • Require guests to sign a Covid declaration
  • Remind guests to take a lateral flow test pre-event

After sending and tracking invitations, gathering RSVPs and obtaining guest information and consent as needed, the team also uses zkipster for rapid, straightforward event check-in and registration. The British Council uses guest accreditation at many of its events, and zkipster also provides a solution for those instances when a guest turns up without having responded to an invitation, or a guest’s name is spelt incorrectly on their badge. Badges can be created and details changed instantly within the platform, and new labels can then be printed on the spot; stakeholders are often impressed by this live, personalized function.

“The beauty of zkipster is that it allows us to add a personal touch at our events. Our commissioners think it’s particularly clever that we can add photos to profiles so they can easily identify and make contact with guests at events, and that we can set up text alerts to be sent to their phones when VIPs arrive – it’s fantastic.”

ISABEL CASAL | SENIOR EVENTS AND ENGAGEMENT MANAGER | COMMUNICATIONS | BRITISH COUNCIL

British Council
Cultural Protection Fund Exhibition Launch (photographer Betty Zapata, courtesy of the British Council)

As well as empowering the British Council to connect with its guests more effectively, zkipster also saves time (and a lot of paper!) and makes event processes more efficient by automating tasks that were previously carried out manually, including:

  • Receiving and collating RSVPs automatically. Previously the event team inputted responses manually on an Excel spreadsheet.
  • Identifying no-shows instantly, and in real time. No-shows used to be counted and identified by manually counting up how many guest badges hadn’t been collected at the end of an event, but with zkipster hosts can see exactly how many and which guests have checked-in, live.

“Another massive advantage to using zkipster is that it still works and can be used for check-in even if you’re offline, so we’re not worried if the WiFi drops out.”

ISABEL CASAL | SENIOR EVENTS AND ENGAGEMENT MANAGER | COMMUNICATIONS | BRITISH COUNCIL

Header image: British Council Going Global Miami event (copyright Mat Wright)