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Technology is what makes our events tick. Think about it, in this day and age how would you even begin to host an event without using one piece of technology? You couldn’t! By now, we are all accustomed to having a ticketing or registration platform to collect attendee information. It would be too hard to go back to having a hand written list or an excel sheet of people attending.
With event technology being an integral part of events, it is important to put the right time and effort into sourcing the technology that you will use. One online search will not do the trick; you need to spend months prior to your events analyzing what your needs are and finding providers that will be able to fulfill them.
In order to find the right technology for you, there are a few things that you need to do to prepare:
- List your needs or pain points that you need solved
- Know what to look for in a provider
- Have strategies for closing the deal
Once you have those three points outlined, you are ready to start the daunting process of finding new technology for your events.
What Do People Want?
When it comes to technology for events, you can find anything from a seating planning tool to a mobile concierge to intercept packages as they arrive at your event location. There really isn’t anything you can’t do with technology today. However, not many of us have bottomless budgets we can pull from to get everything we want. That is why you need to pick and choose wisely on what you really need assistance with. In a recent survey we conducted with over 240 event professionals, we were able to determine what the biggest pain points are for planners today and where they are looking for technology to help.
- Time Management – Any event planner (or anyone working for that matter) can sympathize here. There are not enough hours in the day to get done what needs to get done. We need more time or solutions to help enhance the process for completing tasks on deadline. This is where project management tools can come into plan. There are many solutions available that allow you to collaborate with your team, making it easy to stay on deadline.
- Budget – As was mentioned before, not many have a bottomless budget to work with. We need to pick what we implement carefully. As a planner, many times you need to work with the budget that the client gave you and what do you do if it is small? You might not be able to implement it all. You need a solution to help keep you on track and make sure that you are not overspending.
- Data – It is everywhere these days. While it can sometimes be easy to obtain, the problem lies in how do you manage and use this information to better serve your attendees or future events. You need to have a tool in place that will allow you to compile, sort, manage and properly utilize all this crucial information.
What Are the Must Haves from a Provider?
Once you know what problems you are looking to solve, you can then move on to sourcing the right technology provider for you. In the event management software space alone, there are hundreds of solutions that you could choose from. When you start to narrow down the list and get on calls with providers, there are a few must haves that you should look for before you sign.
- Playing well with other solutions
Gone are the days when one solution can be everything to everyone. You need a provider that integrates with other players in the market. You need to have an ecosystem that will allow data to be passed seamlessly from one solution to the next.
- People who continue to innovate
Don’t go for a provider who is stuck in their ways. Find people that continue to innovate, whether that be routinely adding new features, acquiring different solutions or providing essential content pieces to the market. This often comes with companies who have a proven track record of retaining clients and providing a solution that meets their needs. That is extremely important – look for their latest announcements, ask for case studies, etc.
The most important thing when working with cloud and web technology is ensuring that your data and information are safe. It is not only your information on the line, but your clients and attendees as well. Make sure that they meet all compliance standards.
- Globally accessible
If you are doing business internationally or don’t have that typical 9 to 5 work day (and honestly we know no one in events does) you need to make sure that your solution can provide you with support 24/7. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong with events and the same can be said for your technology provider. You need a solution that will have their team available at all hours to answer your questions and solve your issues.
- Ease of use
Who wants to go through weeks or months of training just to be able to use their registration software? No one! When going through a demo, make sure that the interface is easy to read and looks user friendly. If you can get a free trial, test it out and see if you are able to do basic tasks on your own. You don’t want to have to email support over and over again with questions.
Closing the Deal
Now that you know what you are looking for and have a provider that has met all of your must haves, all you have to do is sign the contract. Seems simple enough, but again we know budget is a constraint for most organizations. You need to find a way to get the best bang for your buck!
During your research you looked at a few different providers and their features, so use that to your advantage. Point out areas of weakness in the solution that you are going to invest in or areas with another solution that maybe seemed to have more functionality. In order to win your business, the provider may be willing to throw in discounted services.
If you have a hard close date for when you need contracts signed, use that as well when negotiating. If a provider knows that you need to sign by the last day of the quarter or you have to pass on the deal, they may be willing to lower the price a bit to get you to commit.
While staying on budget is obviously the optimal goal and best situation, don’t just pick your provider because they are giving you a good price. Yes a good price is enticing to sign, but you need to make sure that they really offer the best feature set for you. Make sure that you feel confident about:
- the tech solving the critical issues and points that you listed when you start searching
- your relationship, services, support with this provider. It's like choosing a doctor, you need to feel comfortable with this technology and their team
- being able to grow together. This can mean several things, from the need to plug new features or tools, how to deal with issues, etc. Try to picture your technology like a passenger in your car: the technology (and the provider) needs to help you to reach the destination you defined.
Technology is a must have for any event, so when looking at your wants and needs make sure that you have a strategy in place when it comes to sourcing the right provider for your organization and events. Don’t just pick the top rated player in the market, you need to do your research and make sure that they meet all the must-haves to do business with. Once they check off everything on your list, you still have one more chance to negotiate and get the best bang for your buck. While it is important to stay on budget, make sure that you are getting the best deal available with the best product that solves all of your pain points!