The struggle is real: selecting the best event tech for your company is almost the same as deciding what kind of car you want to buy.
The impressive variety of digital tools can drive even the calmest Buddhist monk crazy.
From event management software and event mobile apps to event planning systems and registration platforms, you have more than enough options to choose from.
And as if this isn’t enough to keep you awake at night, you also must evaluate them all, feature by feature, to see which one is the best for you.
How to choose the best event tech (the traditional version)
For those who aren’t familiar with the hustle of choosing a digital tool, here’s a quick preview of all the steps you must follow to evaluate the best event tech:
Step #1. Establish your budget and write down the needs you have
The obvious first step when starting your search for the best even tech is to decide how much you’re willing to spend.
This will help you understand your limitations.
After you determine your budget, you have to decide what problems you want to solve.
Although it’s not uncommon for people to search for event technology without knowing exactly what they need or are looking for, it’s always better to know your requirements.
This will really make a difference in ensuring you pick the best event tech for your needs.
For example, if you’re only looking to set up a registration platform for the event, you don’t need an all-inclusive event management system.
If you’re only interested in boosting attendee engagement, your best bet is an event mobile app.
But if you want to find the best event tech to accompany you during the entire life cycle of the planning and marketing processes, you’ll definitely need powerful event management software.
Apart from understanding your intentions, you’ll also need to know if other features will solve any of your burning pains, such as sending mailing campaigns, printing badges, and building sites.
The more specific you are with your needs, the better.
It may take some time to truly understand what you require, especially if you aren’t an event professional.
You must foresee all the logistics, branding, or marketing challenges, and seek out a digital solution.
Step #2. Make a list of event management software and platforms
At this stage, get ready to put on your research hat, because you’ll likely spend many hours browsing different brands and websites.
But before reaching that point, you must find these brands first, and this is when Google becomes your new best friend.
Usually, you’ll search using words such as “event management software,” “event mobile app,” “best event tech,” etc., and delve into the results, channeling your energy on understanding if certain brands are worth your time, attention, and money.
Make a list of the ones that spark your interest.
Step #3. Evaluate the features of every brand
While assessing each tech brand, you’ll have to consider a series of selection criteria.
Do you want all-inclusive event management software that allows you to neatly communicate the brand of your event and also engage your attendees during the conference?
These are the features you have to investigate.
Are you looking for something that will help you set up a payment platform and, at the same time, design a B2B matchmaking dynamic?
Look at each brand’s features (if they’re listed on the website) and see what the event management system can do.
To make this step easier, you’ll have to be very specific when defining your needs and requirements (going back to Step #1).
Step #4. Weigh the social proof of each brand
Apart from evaluating each event tech brand’s features, you’ll want to do your homework on looking up case studies, social media presence, and testimonials and customer reviews for each brand.
After all, you don’t want to end up purchasing an event tech system that has no experience in helping their clients or consistently negative reviews.
Again, this task will take some time.
Chances are from fifty satisfying results, you’ll narrow down your search to about five. Patience is definitely a virtue in this step!
Step #5. Select a few brands and try their trial versions
The last step is to check out the brands you’ve decided to focus on by trying out their trial versions.
Obviously, you won’t have access to the entire platform, but a trial version will give you an idea if the brand is worth your time (and money) or not.
If you’re happy with a few trial versions, you can easily schedule meetings with a representative from each brand and ask for more information.
After each meeting, you can decide if the solution you found is suitable and corresponds to your needs and requirements.
As you can see, these steps take up a lot of time, and unfortunately, won’t guarantee satisfying results, meaning you could follow each of these steps perfectly and still be unsure how to choose the best event tech.
This is why I want to introduce you to the total cost of ownership concept (TCO).
This one technique will help you speed up your searches and ensure that you truly select the best event tech for you.
The total cost of ownership (or increasing the chances that you’ll find the best product)
How do we usually decide what kind of car to buy?
There’s so much to take into account: brand preference, engine capacity, safety features, personal preferences, energy efficiency, price, colors … the list goes on and on.
However, there’s one more thing you’d be looking into: the total cost of ownership, or in other words, the lifetime costs of owning a certain car.
What’s the gas mileage? What’s the cost of repairs? Is this car expensive to maintain? How much will the insurance cost?
By collecting the answers to these questions, you’ll get an estimate number that will help you understand the TCO.
Once you have that TCO estimate, you have the necessary information to make a decision.
For example, let’s say you’re trying to choose between two cars you like.
Car A has a higher sticker price than car B.
However, in the long run, car A will require much less in maintenance expenses than car B.
Normally, having this data, you’re more likely to purchase car A, since its TCO is significantly lower than car B’s.
The same principle works for choosing the best event technology.
This one simple technique (calculating the TCO) can help you reduce the search hustle and make it easier to select the digital tool you need for planning and marketing your events.
How to choose the best event tech by evaluating the TCO
Although TCO revolves mostly around the money you’ll spend on owning a car, when it comes to event management systems, we can also include resources such as dedicated time and energy when using the planning tool.
Considering this, here’s a list of factors to take into account when determining the TCO for an event management system:
#1. Onboarding and training
If you think that all of your problems are over once you purchase an event management system, you’re wrong.
Usually, it takes lots of time and effort to understand how complex planning tools work.
Some software startups provide training classes as an onboarding procedure, and teach their customers how to use the newly acquired tool.
Apart from that, obviously, you can distinguish the best event tech by asking the brand representatives how simple it is to use.
The good news is that there is all-inclusive event management software out there that requires zero training and can be applied immediately.
#2. Functional coverage
An important element you must consider is the ratio between the onboarding and the functional coverage.
There are event tech platforms that have a wide spectrum of features, but the training is extremely complicated and time-consuming.
The same thing can also happen with planning systems or event apps with a poor range of solutions.
On the other hand, you may have all-inclusive event management software that requires only an initial introduction to the system.
Depending on the functional coverage you want to cover, make sure to choose the least complex planning system that can provide you with the greatest variety of solutions.
#3. Software maintenance
According to the consulting firm Seer, “Software maintenance costs will typically form 75% of TCO.”
This may include the corrective maintenance (solving system issues), adaptive maintenance (modifying a feature to keep it relevant), perfective maintenance (improving the overall performance of the system), and enhancements (continuous innovations).
#4. User support
Is help desk support free, or is there a fee? Will you have immediate access to a friendly customer service representative who can provide helpful, real-time assistance? This will also add to the TCO.
#5. Data export
What if you already use event management software and decide to search for a new one? Be aware that transferring data from one system to another can cost money.
This will increase the TCO and may cause you to think twice before going with new event management software. However, if there’s no cost to export data, then you’re already one step closer to identifying the best event tech.
Will you have immediate access to upgrades, or will you have to pay for new system implementations? How much will these upgrades cost you?
Will these upgrades affect the data you’ve already introduced? Will you be able to use the old features without having to pay for the new upgrades?
Answering these questions is essential to understand the TCO.
Every company is unique. Every event is unique. Not all event tech developers can foresee all the needs you have.
That’s why, even if you find the best event tech that perfectly corresponds to your needs, you may also need personalized features.
However, be aware that any customizing will eat into some of your event management technology budget. So make sure you take that into account when selecting your event tech platform.
Choosing the best event tech can take long days and rigorous evaluation. However, keep in mind that purchasing an event planning system won’t end with gaining access to a variety of functionalities.
Be it by investing time and effort or shelling out more money, you’ll keep spending on these digital tools.
That’s why, to avoid unpleasant surprises and ensure you’ve selected the best event tech in terms of both functionalities and ROI, make sure you evaluate the total cost of ownership.