You wish your day had at least 35 hours? You crave for somebody giving you a hand and helping you with half of your tasks? Venues, revenues, attendees, exhibitors, trade show, conferences and exhibitions are words you can't get off your mind? Yeah, you're definitely an event manager all over.
Life of an event manager never gets boring. That's the good thing about it. It comes with quite some hassles though. Luckily, there are solutions out there that make the job a lot easier. The variety, however, can be rather overwhelming.
That's the reason why knowing which solution is right for you, can seem like a daunting task. Still, there are tons of and surely way more pros than cons regarding the use of event technology.
What's trending in 2016?
Recently published statistics for 2016 from Losberger Temporary Event Structures & Modular Construction back up this statement:
|94% of event professionals will buy event technology to boost engagement
75% of event professionals will buy apps to increase engagement with their audience
1 in 4 event professionals expect integration between apps for registration
Sure, one of your objectives for your next event can be to boost engagement and to speed up the registration process. Still, there are a lot of other goals you might want to achieve. And it seems like there is a surge of tech solutions sweeping through the event and exhibition industry. All of them make promising offers like:
- improve the efficiency of your event organization
- cut costs while managing your event like a boss
- drive value from your data and rock the event sphere
- increase revenue and improve your event experience with each event
- drive attendance to your trade show
- strive for higher ROI for exhibitors
- boost engagement of your attendees
- eliminate annoying production issues
All of that sounds just great. But: First of all, how do I know, if I can trust those promises? And secondly, are they actually going to help me reach my goals?
The problem of choosing the right event tech solution:
So, let's get down to business! What do I really have to consider when choosing an event technology provider? Do I go for the registration software that a friend at work mentioned? Do I choose the app that offers a great UX? Or do I just buy the most trendy technology?
Okay, wait a minute! Let's stop right there! I mean, think about it: acquiring an event technology can be a huge investment for your company regarding both, your budget and the time of your team. So, you should really do yourself a favor and not be too casual about this decision.
There is a technology solutions for really anything you can think of when it comes to event management: from booking rooms, mapping projections, seating organizers, mobile concierge, etc.
That's why you should really take your time, do the research, get some free trials, compare different providers in order to be 100% sure that you've found the solution that best fits your needs.
Alright, so when doing your research there are a few hints to take into account. Let's go through them step by step in order to make sure that you find your perfect event technology match and let this love story begin.
10 STEPS TO FIND YOUR PERFECT EVENT TECHNOLOGY
- DEFINE YOUR GOALS:
First things first. Before you even start looking into tech features, you have to make up your mind about your goals. Go through your business goals again and be sure to fully grasp WHY you want to put in place an event technology solution.
You might want to attract more high status exhibitors. Or maybe your top priority is to encourage businesses being made at the event. Or you'd rather focus on the visitors and therefore, your primary goal is to offer an original event experience. Whatever it is that occupies the first spot of your list of objectives, it will answer big part of the question of WHAT you are looking for.
Also, get your team on board and ask them what kind of difficulties they are facing and what their pain points are. This will help you finding a global solution that meets all of your needs.
Attention please! Do not fall for a tech solution, just because everybody seems to be talking about it. Yeah, we already know, social walls, iBeacon, 3D printing and LCD graffiti walls are on everyone's lips. That, however, shouldn't give you any reason to go for one of these technologies.
|Bottom line: Ask yourself WHY you want to implement event technology and WHAT you are trying to achieve. It will give you the answer to what you are looking for.|
- KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE:
Now, that you've made up your mind on your goals, think about your audience. Who are the people that make up your event's stakeholders? What are they looking for? What are their goals? What is it you have to offer in order to meet and exceed their expectations?
Do they pull out all the stops in order to offer the most personalized event experience? Do they need a strong and convincing online presence to promote their event? Is receiving valuable data of their visitors what's most important to them?
Answered all of the questions? Great! You've just build a solid base for your decision on what event technology to choose. You are ready to dig into all the options out there.
- FIND A CUSTOMER ORIENTED PROVIDER
Make sure you find a provider that understands what you just figured out. In other words, look for a provider that grasps your business goals, the challenges you face, and your audience's needs.
Only, if the tech company really gets who you are and who your audience is, they'll be able to supply the right solution for you. If they don't even take the time to figure these aspects out, you shouldn't waste your time with them either. Go on and hop over to the next option out there.
- GO FOR A GLOBAL SOLUTION:
As we all know, the aspect of making it all work together is what keeps eventprofs up at night. Too many times, wrapping it all up seems like another mission impossible. And not only the length but also the content of our to-do list somehow makes us think of Les Misérables:
- manage the team and all the aspects of the project
- sell exhibition spaces
- get sponsors
- promote the event
- handle the logistics: venue, stands, guests, etc.
- participants registration
- security at the event
And the list goes on and on. Many events need months of preparation and when the time has finally come, everything needs to run smoothly. In order to easily handle the whole project, look for a global solution that offers:
- registration system
- event website
- digital marketing features
- exhibitor sales management
- trade show floor plan
- lead retrieval
- event management
- event mobile apps
The big advantage here is that you don't have to struggle with a whole bunch of different technology solutions for each of the tasks your event requires.
- LOOK FOR A DATA ANALYSIS TOOL:
If you don't go for the global solution, make sure your event technology is highly compatible with other software, apps and platforms. You want it to seamlessly integrate with other systems like your CRM, registration software, audience engagement tool, etc.
Most importantly, it has to enable you to tap the full potential of your data. Consider that exporting and importing data from one system to the other can cost you a whole lot of your precious time.
How can you keep improving your events and the experience of all of the participants? You need a tool that helps you gather, categorize, manage and use your event's data the most efficient and effective way.
Want to boost sales and make your marketing more effective through your events? Well, go ahead and do so. The right technology does the trick for you. It needs to feature an attendee's' profile capture as well as data about their engagement and interests. That way, you can pitch a highly personalized offer to each of your attendees and give them just what they want.
Furthermore, it is crucial for your success in the long run that you are able to analyze whether you have achieved the goals you set beforehand. Ask for a real-time dashboard that allows you to stay on top of the generated information of your event.
- GO MOBILE:
Does the provider offer an integrated mobile app? The company should enable you to put a mobile app into use for every event. The easier, the better. Some of the must-have features:
- push notifications
- relevant event info
- meeting schedules
Why are mobile apps that important? Let the figures speak for themselves:
|According to a research published by Statistica, applications belonging to the category “Utilities & Productivity” saw a 125% increase in app sessions in 2015.|
- CONNECT BUSINESSES AND INDIVIDUALS:
Each and every event stakeholder is at the event for a reason. The success of your event depends on the participants achieving their goals or not. Your event management technology should help you influence your success in a positive way.
The system should offer a feature that allows your participants to schedule their meetings themselves. This allows you to boost engagement, encourage communication between the right people and therefore, speed up business.
- FOCUS ON PROGRESS:
Since one of your main goals is probably to grow your business, you should find a tech solution that is heading towards the same direction. Why not grow together?
How can you find out, if the provider you are looking at is trying to progress constantly? Check for:
- regular product updates
- new features added
- active and helpful blog
That way, you'll also know, if the company is making efforts in keeping clients informed about relevant updates and upgrades and providing valuable content to the industry.
Choose a solution that you’ll be using for several events and over a longer period of time. Just think of the time you are going to spend getting used to the new system and getting your team trained. Don't waste your time with solutions that you don't actually need. An event technology system should help you focusing on the important milestones of the event management process and not waste your time in an unproductive manner.
Which takes me to a very important point:
- GO FOR FANTASTIC CLIENT SERVICES
Since switching to a new technology solution requires some form of onboarding and can come with some challenges, I recommend you only go for a long term relationship with a technology provider that promises to back you up 24/7.
Look for a service team that offers to walk you through all the features. Do they offer a software demo? Technical support? Trainings? If they are willing to make the effort to assist you in the decision and transition process, they might just be the right ones for you.
- STAY ON BUDGET:
Oh well. This is probably the aspect that we are most aware of. Obviously (and unfortunately), your budget plays a big part in deciding on a event technology solution. However, there's a big BUT: Don't fall into trap of picking a tech company only for offering you a good price.
While staying on budget is one of the priorities in most cases (lucky you, if that doesn't apply to you), your top priority should always be finding the right solution that meets your needs and fulfills your audience's expectations.
Picking your event technology solution is a difficult task. The consequences of the decision you make, will either make you feel on top of the world or down in the dumps. So, you better make sure you take the right one.
You think that you have come across a event management system that will help you reach your goals, make your life easier and all of your event participants happier? The provider has great references and you kind of can't get enough of the free trial? Well, congrats! You've probably just found your perfect event technology match. Go and rock the event industry!
Now it’s your turn: Do you have anything to add to this guide on how to choose the right event technology? Do you have any questions, doubts or experiences you would like to share? I'd be more than happy to read all about it in the comment section below.