When it comes to investing in event tech such as conference planning or other event management software, there are a handful of key considerations that will help your organization find the best fit. This process goes beyond the obvious consideration of what kind of events you offer, in terms of content and format, to include critical questions about how you—and any vendor you might choose—get things done. Here are five key questions to ask that will help you narrow down your search for the right solution.
1) What kind of technology user are you?
Are you tech savvy, or will you want help with implementation and operation? Whatever your style or preference, make sure the vendor can provide the support you need—and that there aren’t any hidden service fees that go along with it.
Also consider if you can you use the software you’re buying out-of-the-box, or will you need customization? Find out how flexible the vendor can be when it comes to meeting your unique needs. That being said, don’t be too quick to reinvent the wheel. The best solutions are built around best practices in your industry and should be usable without extensive modification.
2) Can the vendor grow with you?
Identify your long term needs. Technology changes quickly, and you don't want to get stuck in a contract with a technology provider that no longer offers the best solutions for your current needs, and can't evolve to meet your growth goals in the years to come.
If you're looking at a system that looks and feels old, then it probably is. Ask the vendor if their team and their tech is ready to evolve along with the events industry.
3) How easy is it to use?
Seems pretty basic, but user-friendliness is something you should investigate thoroughly before you buy. A few specific things to look for:
- How fast do the pages load?
- How well structured are those pages?
- How steep is the learning curve?
- Can any user, whether they're an admin, a track owner, speaker, or attendee, use the system quickly and easily?
- Can users perform the necessary tasks from a single login, or do they have to log in and out of the system just to wrangle one project?
- When it comes to managing a large, complex system, seemingly small inefficiencies add up quickly.
A fast and friendly user experience not only improves your quality of life, it significantly improves overall efficiency.
4) How easy is it to manage and use your data?
Beware the hidden data trap. Be sure to find out the ease of getting your data into the vendor’s system. No less important: How easy is it to get your data out again? Some vendors hold their clients hostage by making it difficult to export their data when switching to another vendor, either by dragging their feet during the transition period, or by charging exorbitant export fees. Make sure to ask about this, and pay attention to the fine print.
Take a close look at the vendor’s partner network. Are they partnered and integrated with other leading companies? Companies succeed these days by partnering with other successful companies. A vendor with no partners should be a red flag.
How many channels and platforms are you using to connect with your attendees (website, mobile, onsite signage, etc.)? Look for a vendor with proven integrations to other best of breed event technology. This eliminates custom integration costs and nasty, last minute technology fails leading up to show time.
5) Can you try before you buy?
Does the vendor offer a free trial? How about a freemium version? This has become the standard for many cloud-based tools, such as analytics and business intelligence, but has yet to be widely adopted in the event tech industry. Be wary of signing a long-term contract based on nothing more than a brief demo and a proposal.
Here at Hubb, we encourage everyone to try before they buy with a free trial account. We want organizations to find the best possible event tech solution to fit their specific needs and goals. With this list of questions, you are well on your way to being a smarter event tech buyer.