We were reading Event Manager Blog, one of our favorite blogs, when we came across something interesting. The post was their Event Trends Watch, a list of 100+ event trends "transforming the industry". In the introduction, before diving into the extensive numbered list, they called out one important trend ahead of everything else. We'll quote it in its entirely:
"Another factor shaping event tech is the coming together of companies to offer one-stop-shop experiences. Integrated services are the hot sellers this year."
As one of the founding members of the Event Tech Tribe, an integrated services partnership, we've seen first-hand the value of one-stop-shop experiences from best-in-breed providers.
If you're not familiar, the Event Tech Tribe is a partnership between seven independent companies that coordinate technical, customer service, and marketing. We each focus on our best-in-class tool, but we also seamlessly integrate with each other. Want to work with only one of us? Great! You'll have an amazing experience. Want to work with three, four or all of us? Also great! We're like event tech Legos; you can easily snap together to build whatever your event needs.
There are four key benefits to integrated partnerships we think you should be aware of.
Because creating the connections between two software platforms requires development work, there is usually a cost for the client when creating an integration between two platforms. However, those connections already exist between integrated partners, like the Event Tech Tribe, so you don't need to pay for them to be created.
2. Turnaround Time
Similarly, integrated services work together now. Because the connections already exist, you don't need to wait for a development team to build the integration. This means significantly less setup time.
3. Better Customer Service
This is an important — and often overlooked — benefit. We're a big fan of integrations under any circumstance, but it's important to understand that an integration is an arranged marriage between two companies. Sometimes they're natural partners and they fall into a great working relationship.
Other times, you’re bringing together two organizations that have significant differences in approaches to things to like customer service. If one company is customer-centric and highly responsive but the other isn't, it could be a frustrating experience for everybody involved.
Integrated partners are a different story. They're together — married, if you will — because they pair well, and they've proven they can work together over time. Their existing relationship of choice means its easier for them to proactively address potential problems.
Here's two examples that illustrate this.
Years ago, we integrated with another event tech platform. While we liked the company, their approach to customer service was lacking (to put it charitably). Whenever a problem would arise, customers wouldn't be able to get the other company to return their emails / calls / bat signal. The customer would then come to us, the other half of the partnership, to try and resolve the issue but we were unable to get the other company to respond in a timely matter either. The result was a customer dissatisfied with both of us, we were mad at the partner, and the partner...well, we don't have a clue what they were thinking.
Contrast that to the Event Tech Tribe. If problems arise, we have systems in place to proactively address them: we have a weekly call setup between Tribe members, we have a Tribe-wide Slack set up that allows us to easily ping each other and address issues, and we all know each other. We've all been working together on a near-daily basis since the Tribe began, over a year ago. If an issue arises with our integration with EventOPS, we're not reaching out to a customer service inbox or calling the general office number, we're reaching out to Chris, somebody we know and like professionally and personally who we frequently work with. The customer benefits from the strength of that relationship.
4. A Proactively Strategic Relationship
Because we work together so closely in a committed, long term (professional) relationship, integrated partners can think strategically for their customers. The leadership of the Tribe-affiliated companies spend a lot of time proactively thinking about how to improve things for meeting planners. How can we make a process easier, how can we all use data one platform is collecting, how can we enhance inter-Tribe connections that help event managers market better or save time? This is a level of strategic thinking you don't find with typical integrations, where the focus is on doing the bare minimum to have a working connection.
That's why we agree with Event Manager Blog and think that integrated services are great. But what should you look for when evaluating integrated partners? What are the hallmarks of a strong relationship? Here's what we'd ask and look for:
1. Ask for a case study on how a client has successfully used the integrations in the past.
2. Talk to a customer who has worked with the integrated partners and pick their brains on how things went and how road bumps were handled.
3. Get all the partners on a call and talk through how the integrations will work. Pay special attention to how familiar they are with the integrations but also to the relationships between the various company. Do they play off each other? Do they seem like they have a close working relationship? Does it seem like they have a true partnership?
That's it! It should be clear when companies have good prior working relationship that you can benefit from.
Want to learn more about the Event Tech Tribe, a finalist in the 2017 Event Tech Awards for Best Partnership? Reach out!