Event Software of your Dreams

4 Strategies for Finding the Event Software of Your Dreams

It used to be that only a handful of event technology solutions were on the scene. Today there is an abundance to choose from. The question is, which one is right for you?

If the event management industry were a sea, it would be a very, very large one. According to Forrester Research, B2B events account for $512 billion in annual spend. With that much money going towards event marketing, it’s no wonder that there has been a big push for innovation and new event technology solutions in the past several years.

Yes, the event management titans of yesteryear are still around. However, event professionals and investors are voting with their wallets, and they are voting for new and innovative event solutions. In 2016, new event technology solutions raised $50 million in funding. This funding went to platforms like Social Tables, and Bizzabo among others.

There are many fish in the sea of event technology, but which one is the right one for your needs? Here are four tips to help you figure that out.

1. Use S.M.A.R.T Goals

Before you start shopping for an event management platform, you need to crystallize what your event goals are. As is the case with any technology solution, some event platforms are better suited for achieving certain goals than others. The S.M.A.R.T Goal framework is one of the common ways of determining what you want to accomplish with your event.

Smart Goals

Specific:

The more specific your event goals are, the easier it will be to achieve them. Your goal should be explained with clarity in mind. The less clarification needed, the better.

Example:  Increase event registration revenue.

Measurable:

Along the lines of specificity, you’ll also want to make sure that your event goals can be quantified. Metrics like costs, deadlines, revenue, reach and conversion rates are all great ways for measuring goal achievement. Some event platforms may even monitor these goals for you.

Example:  Increase event registration revenue by 10%.

Actionable:

While it’s great to set aggressive goals, you still want your goals to be within reason. You should set a goal that you think you and your team can reach 50% of the time if you could repeat the event again and again. You can also set an additional “reach goal” that you think your team will reach only 10% of the time.

Example:  Increase event registration revenue by 10%. (Base Goal). Increase event registration revenue by 20%. (Reach Goal).

Results-Focused:

Your goals should measure results, not activities. After all, the results are what event stakeholders like CMOs, sponsors, speakers, etc. will use to manage event success.  Make sure that you select an event technology platform that helps you deliver results.

Example:  Increase event registration revenue by 10%. (Base Goal). Increase event registration revenue by 20%. (Reach Goal). 

Avoid: Email 100 potential event registrants each week.

Time-sensitive:

Unless you’ve come up with a time machine, your goals are going to need to be bound by time. To help you achieve your goal, create a timeline for it and analyze how it will develop and change at different points.

Example:  Increase event registration revenue by 10%. (Base Goal). Increase event registration revenue by 20%. (Reach Goal). Achieve this within 4 months of launching the event.

Once you have smart goals in place, you’ll have a better idea of what you’re looking for in an event platform. You’ll know which software features are “nice-to-haves” and which are “need-to-haves.”

Social Tables Planner Essential

2. Consider the Hierarchy of Event Tech Needs

The impact of event technology on your goals is the number one factor to consider when selecting an event platform, however, it is only one of several factors to consider. The combination of these factors make up the hierarchy of event tech needs. Consider the below image from the Event Software Buyer’s Guide.

Hierarchy of Event Tech Needs

Reliability:

After the impact of an event platform on your goals, reliability is the next important factor to consider. If any part of your event management system is down, it can mean lost revenue, frustrated event goers, and lost data. Selecting a reliable event software is crucial to the success of your events.

Innovation:

In most cases, event marketers will know the essential qualities a platform must perform in order to meet event goals. But at the same time, some event platforms may have innovative new functions that marketers didn’t even think were possible! By investing in an event technology platform that has a history of innovation, you will have access to game-changing solutions years before the competition.

Ease of Use:

From Netflix to Amazon, we’re in the age of easy to use platforms. Platforms that are difficult to use simply can’t compete with those that are built with an intuitive user experience in mind. An easy to use event solution is one that will save you time, frustration and money. This goes for both the back-end solution that the event marketer will be using and for the front-end event app/interface that attendees will be using.

Customer Support:

No matter how great an event solution is, you will invariably have questions or encounter bugs at some point. That’s why you’ll want to have access to a dedicated customer support team to help you troubleshoot unexpected issues.

Customer Success:

Customer success, on the other hand, refers to a dedicated account manager who will be available to show customers how to use the platform, and who can provide customers with helpful guidance year-round. It’s like having your own personal event expert on call.

When it comes to event tech, it’s not about the number of features available. It’s about how a solution fits your hierarchy of event tech needs.

3. Ask Vendors the Right Questions

One of the best ways to figure out if an event tech platform is right for you is to speak with a representative from a software vendor. Here are eight that you should ask.

  1. Can I get a trial of the platform?
  2. Are there fees or add-ons? If so, what is not included in the base price?
  3. Do I have to sign a multi-year contract to use your platform?
  4. How will the customer relationship be managed? Will I have access to a dedicated account manager?
  5. What is your policy should I want to stop using your product? Are there additional fees to end my contact?
  6. What are the weak points in your software compared to the competition?
  7. Tell me about a few exciting product updates your team is working on?
  8. Can I speak with a few customers from my industry who use your platform?

Questions Event Planners Need to Ask Clients

4. Speak with Other Customers

As mentioned above, one of the questions you’ll want to ask vendors is if you can speak with some of their customers that are in your industry. Every industry is unique. At Bizzabo, we’re a SaaS platform. Whenever we consider making an investment in technology, we speak with other SaaS companies in our space and see what their experience has been like using it so far. 

It’s% fair for you to ask a vendor for a referral customer. It’s also% fair for you to find customers on your own using third-party sites like Capterra and G2 Crowd.

Wrapping Up: Finding The Event Tech Platform of Your Dreams

In today’s sea of event technology, there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. Business events come in all shapes and sizes, with different goals and deliverables. To help you find that certain special software for you, remember to:

  • Use S.M.A.R.T. goals
  • Consider the Event Tech Hierarchy of Needs
  • Ask vendors the right questions
  • And speak with other customers

The event tech solution of your dreams awaits!

Click here to get a free ebook for additional help selecting a software solution, including a free workbook and 70 questions to ask event technology vendors.

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Brandon Rafalson
Brandon Rafalson is the Content Marketing Manager at Bizzabo.