Bringing new tech to your event is easy; you just go to the event tech store, pick out what you want, take it home, unwrap it and press the big green "on" button.
Clearly there's more to it, and there are more opportunities for things to go awry, mistakes to be made, and issues to occur.
We've put our heads together and came up with eight "dos" and "don'ts" for implementing event technology at your events. If you're ever had a problem with tech at your events, there's a good chance you made one of the mistakes we're going to address below.
But, no worries! With tips you'll have smooth sailing as you reap the benefits of event tech (#winning #amazingconferences #eventprofoftheyear)
First, one note on the difference between "implementation" and "integration". "Integration" is the technical act of connecting tech tools to allow the transfer of data via an API. Implementation, as we're using it here, is the broader process of getting set up with tech so it's ready for you to use. We have a helpful Event Tech Integration Cheat Sheet if you'd like to know more about integration.
1. DO Approach Event Tech Strategically, DON’T Pursue the “Shiny New Object”
The most common mistake event profs make when it comes to even tech? Bringing in tech because everybody is talking about it, a competitor is using it, or it just seemed fun. This puts the horse before the event tech cart.
Instead, be strategic and ensure the technology fills a specific need. After your event, ask yourself where the gaps were and what opportunities exist to do better next year. From there, determine if a process change or technology would best address those gaps and opportunities. Many times, a process fix will be the best option. Only if tech is the best option do you want to move forward.
2. DO your research
As event tech suppliers, we see this time and time again. The people who are most informed and know what they’re looking for are the people who find the best solutions. If you want to have success with your event tech, do you research. Cast a wide net. Read what the industry experts say. Talk to peers. Read the reviews. The more you know, the more of an advantage you’ll have.
3. DO focus on the problems you’d like the tech to solve, DON’T get hung up on specific features.
Here’s a fact: the maker of any event technology is going to know their software, and what it’s capable of, better than the consumer.
This creates an opportunity for you. When talking to event tech providers, bring them a list of problems you’d like their software to solve and ask them to demo how their product can address your needs. They know the software and what it’s capable of. If you dictate the features you want to explore, you’ll limit the ways they can help you. Bring them your problems, but let share how their software can help solve them.
4. DON’T overwhelm your internal teams
Tech takes time to learn and adjust to, no matter how user friendly it is. Making multiple major changes to the tech your internal teams use is a recipe for disaster. Big changes are okay, but give your teams time to adjust and learn how to adjust their processes. Asking your teams to learn multiple new platforms with the stress and demands of an event and things are liable to blow up in your face. Know your teams, and how much change they can handle, and avoid overwhelming them.
5. DO ask about training and help resources, DON’T ignore them until launch
Here’s an insider tip: the amount of training and help resources offered by tech companies can vary significantly. You don’t want to have a signed contract for a tool you don’t know how to use and have no way to learn. Ask about the training and support the software company provides.
The other half of that coin is using those resources before you launch — and no, the night before doesn’t count! As we said, even the simplest tech takes time to learn. Give you and your teams time to learn the tech that’s going to be powering your event. If you’re going to be flying an airplane, you want to be properly trained and have logged time in a simulator before getting up in the air for real! Do the same with tech for your event.
6. DO set up an implementation timeline
Consider this an iron clad rule: tech implementation takes time, usually more than you expect. Accounts need to be created, software configured, and training completed.
This is a major concern for those of us in events, because we deal with immovable deadlines. The event’s going to happen when it’s going to happen and either your tech is ready or you’re not using it.
After signing a contract you’ll have a kickoff meeting with your customer success representative. Use this opportunity to create a detailed implementation timeline that dictates what will be done and when. Get feedback from customer success and make sure they feel everything is feasible. Make sure everything will be ready when you need it and know that things always take longer than expected.
Want to get ahead of the curve? Talk about implementation timelines during the sales process and make sure everything will be ready in advance of when you need it.
Check out our Conference Planning Timeline and learn what essential groundwork needs to be complete first (and what can wait)!
7. DO Test
This one sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how frequently organizations go live without testing their new tech. Here’s a truth: there will *always* be optimizations to make and issues to iron out. You can either take the time to test before going live, and have your internal teams be the ones to discover those problems, or you can go live without testing and have your customers or members be the ones who find the problems.
8. DO view reporting as an ongoing process; DON’T view it as just a post-event task
The amount of data event technology can collect is overwhelming, in a good way. We do our events a major disservice if we only look at the reporting and analytics after the event, where it can only benefit a future event. Instead, have reports set up that that address your KPIs that you can check regularly and adjust course as needed.
Event tech implementation isn’t difficult. It just requires forethought and planning. Luckily, as an event prof, that’s where you excel. Follow these dos and don’ts and you’re sure to have a positive experience with your tech.
You can start with this complimentary Event Tech Budget Template, a flexible planning and budgeting tool for an event of any size.