How to choose the right events platform? The 7 key questions marketers should ask tech providers.
Updated: Oct 11, 2021
One of the most important lessons we have learned in the past months is that we need to be prepared for any scenario. While virtual events certainly have their benefits, live events will always be an important part of any robust event program. How do you keep agile when things get messy?
Today, we need to approach events differently and consider how we can deliver our marketing strategy in a new environment. The challenges that marketers are having are diverse and evolving. When you’re stuck in multiple excels or in a game "who needs to do what" with all your suppliers days before the event, you’ve probably thought – there has to be an easier way to do this.
There is: Event Management Technology.
You don’t need to pull your hair out managing room blocks or spend the night before an event printing out hundreds or thousands of name badges. With the various types of event management software available, you can create the right mix for you to decrease the time spent on manual tasks, increase productivity, and better prove event ROI.
When researching and analyzing event management software, there are many options to consider and questions to ask.
Implementing a technology-driven way of delivering events can be the answer that gives control and the big picture you need to show ROI, for any type of event or purpose. Choosing the right technology can be difficult when you look at the tools there are on display.
Having the right event management platform at hand allows you to focus on what is the most important for your brand: reaching your marketing goals by delivering the right message to the right audience.
Delivering an event requires a lot of planning, preparation, coordination, and organization that can make or break your event. It all comes down to the event management software you use. As you compare your software choices, keep an eye out for these top elements that can give you the edge you need to be successful.
7 important questions when evaluating an event management platform, as you are looking to see which event solution fits best your needs and objectives, look out for these important aspects.
1. Does it have end-to-end event management functionalities?
Technology is essential to planning successful meetings and events. What used to be a largely manual process has evolved as our dependence on technology has grown. Event management software saves time by supporting you to get rid of the excel sheets, provides increased data and analytics, cuts down on manual planning processes, and helps prove event success. But what is it?
Event management software is that particular technology that supports you in planning and delivering events, from start to finish. It has many layers and functionalities all built around the marketer's needs.
It focuses on all important event phases, from event registration to mobile event apps, and there is a wide range of capabilities that involve attendee engagement and experience with your brand. While you can purchase different pieces of tech that satisfy immediate event needs, there are full platforms that offer everything an event organizer could want when planning a meeting, event, or conference. The benefit of a platform versus bit-by-bit solutions comes down to integrations, data and analytics, and ease of use.
What to look for in an Event Technology Provider?
All in one: Can I have a one-stop shop and have my needs covered by one solution provider?
Experience in events tech: Has the solution been used for long? How long have they been doing this? Are they experts in the field?
Their customers: Who is using this tool? What type of companies have they been working with?
Level of scalability: Does the provider specialize in small, social events? Large corporate ones? Does their tech scale?
Great customer service: How can they support me with my events? It takes time to onboard and to learn new technology. Choose a provider that will be able to give you the tools to succeed and provide the needed support.
A partner: Will I be treated as a priority? Can they share best practices? Look for a company that doesn’t just want to hand off a product and never speak to you again. Product experts help marketers become even better at delivering events that make an impact - and thrive because of the valuable feedback from their customers.
2. Does it cover all types of events + In-person + Virtual + Hybrid?
You want to provide a consistent and high level of service for your event, no matter the size, to drive internal and external customer engagement. Your marketing mix is relying on a diverse pool of event types. So you need to foster consistency for your brand messages in all your touchpoints, no matter the size.
An event management platform is also about delivering an exceptional experience to its audience throughout the year. Not just once. Having all your contacts' data and audience key insights provides a comprehensive overview of your different customer segments. How about having them integrated with your other marketing or sales tools? Keeping them in one place gives you better control.
With centralization and process comes consistency. You want to create an event experience, whether virtual or in-person, that embodies your organization’s brand values. Event management technology makes the overall experience better. It improves registration, event marketing, event execution, and data and security. It’s all about creating a meetings and events program that can be controlled.
Throughout 2020 when only virtual events were safe and practical, many organizations began recognizing the benefits of a virtual event, like reaching audiences around the world who wouldn’t be able to travel to an in-person event.
The tricky part of this project is finding software that is built to efficiently operate a hybrid event.
Look for features like a mobile app that can engage both in-person and virtual audiences at the same time, for example. If you want your event to have a virtual component for remote attendees, the stakes are high for your event management software. A single technical glitch could make your event inaccessible to attendees and ruin all of your planning and financial efforts are being wasted. That’s why you need to select an event management platform that has expertise in running events of all kinds.
Choose a company that already has a trusted reputation for running omnichannel multi-purpose events smoothly.
For your event to run successfully, you need to be able to control as many aspects of the process as possible. This is why you need event management software that is highly customizable.
This goes for both the functionality and design of the platform. On top of offering a variety of activities and feature settings for your event, technology should also give you capabilities for branding the audience-facing areas of the platform.
3. Can I automate venue sourcing and RFPs comparison?
When organizing a meeting or an event, the first challenge to overcome is finding the right place to host your event fulfilling all your requirements. This part is time-consuming and can bring some extra pressure on launching the event on time. Whether you are sourcing a convention hall or a hotel, finding the right place at the right price can be both stressful and energy-draining, not to mention making sure you are staying within the required budget.
Venue sourcing tools simplify the venue search. Move away from basic internet searches, email writing back and forth, phone calls, and use a tool that can compare venues side by side and help you submit RFPs easily. Using a trusted venue sourcing tool can shorten your venue search by allowing you to specify your search, reach out to venues more quickly, and manage those responses.
What to pay attention to when evaluating a Venue Sourcing Tool:
Request proposals from multiple venues with one single RFP
Compare space details side by side
Track and record savings from the initial bid to the final, negotiated price
Take notes and upload photos from site visits
Store and share a standard set of terms and conditions for venues to access and review
Load and track budget information
4. Does it help with Event Marketing?
Event communication is key to event success. Not only that, by understanding how your events fit into your marketing mix you can use events as a tool to drive business goals. Therefore, event marketing isn’t something to be ignored. Event marketing covers email marketing, social media promotion, a branded event website, event registration, and more and largely occurs before the event happens.
Event marketing is the process of getting attendees to your event. But, it’s also the use of events as part of an organization’s marketing mix. As event success and improvement are critical, data and analytics have a bigger role to play when it is thought of as part of the marketing mix. When it’s about getting the event started on the right foot, event technology solution is the key.
Keeping your audience engaged is one of the most important parts of making a successful event. It’s the difference between whether attendees are satisfied with the experience and whether they lose or gain respect for your business after the event.
Choose an event management software that offers built-in features to engage your audience. For example, look for gamification features that speakers can use to make the event more fun and encourage attendees to stay tuned.
For more on attendee engagement and the multiple touch-points, see our blog post dedicated to this topic.
What to look for in an email marketing tool:
All your contacts are stored by segment and level of importance
Customizable email templates to match your organization's branding
Ability to schedule dates and times to send automated invitations, reminders, confirmations, notifications, and more
Pre-populate contact data
Track open rates and undeliverable rates
Ensured delivery of readable emails by sending in multi-part MIME
A/B Testing to determine most impactful messaging
5. Does it provide an Event Registration Website?
To create the buzz and get the word going about your event, you need to have a central hub that your invitees can access providing all event information & details.
A great event registration website helps you increase registrations without the headaches associated with spreadsheets and paper forms. From managing invitees and registrants to multiple events, automation gives you the ability to do more with what you have. Even better? With an easy-to-use event builder, you don’t need to learn how to code to build a great event website.
An event isn’t an event without an event registration website.
What to check for event registration website functionalities?
Can build custom and branded event websites
Can restrict access rights to key individuals
Show agenda & speakers bios
Promotes event sponsors on your website
Offers dynamic, multi-track, multi-session registration
Provides modern registration page templates
Allows simple event cloning
Offers configurable restrictions and permissions
Has self-serve registration that attendees can modify, cancel, and get refunds from
Allows for a built-in content library for policies, brochures, maps, floor plans, and more
Has configurable event approval workflows
Uses automated waitlists and capacity management
6. Does it come with a Mobile Event App?
A mobile event app provides a content management system, allows for attendee engagement and exhibitor engagement, and a way to measure and prove event ROI. Attendees need their content all in one place - and you need an easy way to upload, organize and update all of that content. A mobile event app should provide schedules, maps, exhibitor and sponsor profiles, speaker bios, session-related content, and more to attendees.
More than that, a mobile event app can grow your ROI through mobile sponsorships with valuable engagement touchpoints. Most importantly, a mobile event app needs to be intuitive and stable. Your provider needs to offer the metrics to prove your apps’ worth to your event partners, sponsors, and your own leadership team. Your app's backend should have dashboard functionality to track the metrics most important to you, sponsors, and stakeholders.
What to look for in a Mobile Event App:
Social media integrations, aggregated social feeds, social monitoring
Q&A and live polling
Lead collection + qualifying
Additional sponsorship revenues
A native app for Android + Apple iOS devices PLUS an HTML5 web app
Metrics + reporting
Testing + QA
7. How good is the Reporting Module? Does it measure Attendees’ Engagement Scores?
Was your event a success if you don’t have the data to support it? Your key stakeholders won’t think so.
A post-event report can have many formats or shapes. However, the target is the same, to prove your event was a success and you delivered all your set goals. It can be a report, a presentation, or even an email. While format matters, the most important element of reporting is to provide stakeholders with the relevant data on how the event delivered event goals. The event report can be thought of as the follow-up to an event proposal. Where the proposal outlined the event purpose, goals, and budget, the event reporting guide is the follow-up.
It is the document that reviews the success of your conference or meeting and pin-points the business impact to all the parties involved.
And, without data, you don’t know how to improve your performance. A reporting and analytics tool allows you to track attendees' journey, capture data, and analyze that information on all touch-points in one place. You will be able to better understand revenue opportunities that validate your event ROI and set the scene for your next budget requests. Reports can give you more event details before, during, and after your event to prove its value.
With the right event marketing and management technology, event data is easily accessible. At times, the amount of data about attendees and the event can seem overwhelming, which is why having built-in reports is important. Choosing what metrics to look at and understanding what success looks like for each event means that marketers can activate data to work for them. There is no guesswork.