How do I choose an event management software?
Is it time to start considering an event management system for your upcoming conference or event?
There’s no doubt that event software can help streamline your event planning process, improve attendee engagement, and better connect your conference-goers.
As new technology and software continue to emerge, it’s becoming increasingly clear that event planners need to start utilizing some type of system for their events in order to stay on top of trends keep their attendees coming back year-after-year.
When deciding which event management software is best for your organization, the first step is always to identify the reason for needing it, as each software is designed to help in different areas of event planning.
Here’s how it breaks down.
Registration and ticket sales
Event management systems can offer an all-in-one platform to help event planners build, manage, and grow events through professional event ticketing and registration pages. Through platforms like Eventbrite, event planners can tap into more than 50 million active event goers, have access to real-time sales data, leverage targeted promotions, and build a strong attendee base. With packages for all types of events, organizers can start selling in minutes and track sales from anywhere.
Building a website or landing page
An event website or landing page is often the first impression for potential attendees. And you know what they say, you will never get a second chance to make a first impression, so event websites are extremely important.
Companies like Bizzabo allow event planners to effortlessly create event registration websites and landing pages with unique templates, drag-and-drop elements, and customizable designs. With a holistic approach to event planning, event organizers can manage registration, marketing, and integration all in one location.
Email marketing, automation, and contact management
Email marketing and automation are important tools in contributing to the overall success of your event. Communication before, during, and after your event is key to keeping your audience informed and interested. With automated emails, event planners are able to send the right message at the right time.
Through software like Cvent’s, event organizers can personalize, send, and track email invitations, reminders, and other event-related updates. Their email marketing platform offers customizable email templates, automated invitations, scheduling functionalities, repeat reminders, pre-populated contact data, and email open rates and other delivery data.
Event apps & event networking
Networking is often the number one reason people attend conferences and events and technology is playing a big part in how event planners are able to connect their attendees. Between event apps and matching technologies, event planners are able to create highly targeted networking events that pair people together based on mutual interests.
Companies like SpeedNetworking.com use software to create strategic face-to-face networking opportunities through speed networking sessions, round tables, or targeted connection lists where attendees are able to pre-select the types of people they’re interested in meeting.
If you want to take a more digital approach to networking, companies like Presdo Match utilize an event app that offers integrated LinkedIn profiles, matchmaking services, secure messaging, meeting scheduling, and more.
Reporting and statistics
Data is the name of the game when it comes to event planning. And when knowledge is power, event management systems that focus on reporting and statics are always important. Event management systems like that of Conference Compass offer live Q&A, live polling, and session and speaker ratings.
Understanding what your attendees like and don’t like will help you and your organization know where to focus your efforts and where there are areas to improve.
What kind of system do you need?
When you start shopping for an event management software, or sales people start contacting you, it will be easy to get sucked into a lot of add-ons and features you don’t really need, which could potentially eat up a large portion of your budget.
Get clear about what you need, what you want, and what your goals are before you even start shopping. This will help you find the best software for your event.
Below are a handful of questions that can help you clarify what you need from a platform.
20 questions to ask before choosing a system
- What do I really need from the event management software?
- What challenges do I currently have that I want the event management system to solve?
- What do we want the end result to be?
- How do I define ROI? What would make the software worthwhile for me and my organization?
- What is my budget?
- Do I need it to be branded for my event?
- What features do I absolutely need?
- What additional features would I like to have?
- Who will be using the platform: the event team, the audience, or both?
- What data would be helpful for us to collect about our audience?
- What data and reporting do I need to help me improve my events that the event management system could provide?
- How important is data security and privacy to me and the people who will be using it?
- How much time do I have to choose a system, get trained on it, customize it, and launch it?
- How skilled am I, and my team, when it comes to learning a new technology? Can I manage this, or do I need to bring someone else in?
- Will I need this for a single event or multiple events?
- Which platforms do I want to integrate it with (examples: WordPress, MailChimp, Facebook, etc.)
- What do I have available already to support the platform?
- What devices will we be using to access the software?
- Do I have back-up plan if something goes wrong with the software?
- Am I willing to pay more for a more reliable solution?
Once you have a clear idea of what you are looking for: it is time to go and find the right system.
Recently, our friends over at the Event Manager Blog have created a helpful tool for event organizers to help them sift through the top event management software platforms in 2018 to find the one that is right for you and your event.
Select you budget and event type, then make a selection from roughly 150 possible features to narrow down the software systems that have what you are looking for.
Once you made your selection, the tool will showcase the different systems that meet you needs, with a fact sheet including pricing and features, before directing you to their website.
Before you sign a contract, however, make sure you know exactly what you are getting into: get in contact with the provider and make sure you are very clear about what you signing up for and what you will get out of it.
Below are 20 question to help you avoid extra costs and ensure the system will work for you and your event.
20 questions to ask the event software provider before signing a contract
Don’t get hit with hidden costs and sticky contracts
- What is all included in the base price? What are the additional fees and add-ons?
- Do I have to sign a multi-year contract?
- If I want to stop using the platform and cancel the contract, what is the policy? Are there additional fees to end my contract early?
- Is it a one-off fee, or do I pay per registrant?
- If there is an emailing system, am I limited to a certain number of emails or contacts on the email list?
- If I cancel my contract, will I be charged an additional fee to retrieve my registrants information and contact details from your platform?
Branding: customizing the website and app
7. What are the white label options? Can I use a custom URL and brand the software to meet my event’s needs? Can the platform be plugged into my organization’s website?
8. How easy is are both the website and app to customize? Can I use my events colours, embed images and videos, and brand with our logo without needing a developer?
9. If the software has an email system, am I able to customize the emails with our branding?
Shareability and social integration
10. How will the software help me with marketing the event?
11. How well integrated is the software with social media? For example, is the event registration system integrated with social media so attendees can easily share and help with promotion? Does the app make networking with social media easier?
12. Does the event website design work across all devices? Is it mobile responsive? If there is an app, is it native to iPhone and Android, or is it web-based only?
13. Can the event registration process streamline attendees into our online community?
Easy event registration
14. Is it easy to set and change prices (e.g. early bird tickets or VIP tickets)? Is it possible to allow discount codes?
15. Can attendees register for specific sessions? Do you offer “session registration”?
16. What is the method of check-in (iPads, QR scanning, badge printing)? Do check-in features cost extra?
Get the right info with reporting and support
17. Does the software make reporting easy? What kind of data can I expect to have access to?
18. Do you provide customer service and technical support for both my team and the attendees?
19. Can I monitor event registration performance in real-time?
20. Does your platform integrate with marketing automation or CRM platforms? Do the event integrations cost extra?
At the end of the day, when choosing an event management software, it really comes down to how it helps improve the attendee experience — don’t bother paying for a bunch of services that you don’t need and that don’t actually improve your events.
At SpeedNetworking.com, we’re proud to say that 98% of participants indicate they would want to participate in another event
Interested in finding the perfect speaker for your next event? SpeakerHub helps connect event organizers from thousands of speakers from around the world, for free.
This was originally posted on SpeakerHub Skillcamp.