Let’s just get this right out on the table: Changing your event technology can be a real pain. Even if the end result benefits organizers and attendees alike, very few event pros get jazzed about putting already scant resources behind exploring the hundreds of options in the marketplace. And the fun doesn’t end after a new platform has been chosen. Then staff must be trained, existing processes must be mapped to the new tool and glitches must be discovered and sent upon their merry ways.
But the reality is, if your organization has outgrown the capabilities of your current event tech provider, making a wholesale change is often the only way to ensure your event isn’t hobbled by the very solution you put in place to help it grow. So, rather than asking what it will cost in time and money to make an event tech change, consider what it’s costing you now to keep things as they are. Preserving the status quo may end up causing a type of long-term pain—the erosion of your attendee experience—that pales in comparison to the inconvenience of integrating a new system.
How do you self-diagnose whether it’s time to switch your event tech provider, and what’s the best way to source a new one if needed? Read on to find out.
To change or not to change?
If you’re on the fence about whether or not you need to change your event tech vendor, give your system a check-up. The following symptoms may indicate an adjustment is necessary.
Symptom #1: Negative attendee feedback. In today’s digital world, a mobile event app is a crucial part of the attendee experience. In fact, a recent survey of app developers showed that their event apps scored an attendee adoption rate of 60 percent or higher almost 75 percent of the time. But beware: If users have a hard time getting your app to work or are frustrated by its non-intuitive interface, they could shift their negative impression about the technology onto their overall opinion of the experience. That’s when the dreaded “I don’t like the app” turns into the even more dreaded “I don’t like the event.”
You can proactively monitor this situation by asking about the app in your post-event feedback survey. Simply request that attendees rate your app, then analyze the resulting reviews. While one-off issues or a random low rating by a user having a bad day aren’t reasons to panic, repeated technical issues, constant attendee complaints and a low average rating are obvious red flags.
In addition to technical performance and ease of use, pay attention to user feedback on the app’s design and feature set. Modern audiences are demanding increasingly advanced technology; what was an industry standard a few years ago could be completely outdated today. This leads us to the next point.
Symptom #2: Your demands have grown, and your platform is falling behind. If “bigger and better” is the unstated goal for every event on your calendar, you’re not alone. Across the industry, event pros are seeing boosts in attendance paired with increases in the complexity of venues and logistics. So don’t be surprised if you now find yourself requiring more event tech tools than you originally started with (yet—yikes!—still have the same budget).
As your event’s demands grow, your current event technology may not always have the features you need to keep up. Does this mean you should immediately ditch your solution and go looking for another one? Not necessarily. If your vendor offers a viable workaround, it’s fine to postpone the switch. However, be sure to pay attention to their plans for innovation. Ask them about their product roadmap: What new features have they released recently, and what’s in development?
If there’s no active product development, your event tech solution is on its way to becoming outdated and inefficient (if it isn’t already). At the very least, expect the vendor to be transparent about their roadmap. If they’re playing hide-and-seek about their plans, it’s time to question your willingness to continue business with them.
Symptom #3: There’s no actionable event data. If you haven’t already, one day very soon you’ll inevitably need to leverage data to improve your event. In fact, according to one study, 76 percent of event planners hired today are expected to collect actionable data that demonstrates event ROI.
And we’re not talking about basic stats here, either. While metrics like the number of app users and survey results are important, they’re not going to help you calculate ROI or empower you to increase attendee engagement. Consider whether your event tech:
- Analyzes user behavior, then leverages it to offer attendees relevant content
- Generates machine learning-powered insights that help you evaluate session success and identify the most engaging topics and speakers
- Allows you to segment users based on content preferences, social activity and other event interactions to create personalized follow-up campaigns
If the answer is no, with every event you’re losing a chunk of invaluable data you’ll never get back. The above tools may seem new, but at the current pace of technology, they’ll be industry standard in one to two years. Those who haven’t adopted them by then will be very late to the game.
So, if your current vendor lacks an advanced event data platform, that’s a solid reason to shop around. Otherwise, when members of your organization’s marketing team come looking for actionable event data, you won’t be able to deliver.
How to pick a new event tech provider
Now that we’ve identified how to tell if it’s time to switch your event tech vendor, let’s briefly talk about how to pick a new one. Keep in mind that migrating from an existing platform is a bit different than starting out as an event-tech newbie. For one thing, instead of mapping a fresh workflow, you’ll be modifying existing processes, procedures and integrations. It’s not everyone’s idea of a good time, to say the least, so you’ll want to do it right.
The good news is that your peers in the event industry have a wealth of information when it comes to tech advice. If you’re part of a larger organization with other departments that independently run their own events, ask what platform they’re using and how they like it. If you belong to a smaller organization, seek referrals from event organizers and event marketers in your professional network.
Once you hear “We’ve been using provider X for two years and couldn’t be happier,” you might think you’ve hit the provider jackpot. And maybe you have—but don’t stop there! The fact that your colleagues “like” their solution is not a guarantee it will suit your needs. Dig deeper and ask peers to share some details about their experiences, including the results they achieved using particular platforms. Start with these questions:
- How easy was it for you to set everything up? Did you have to ask for a lot of assistance? Did you get timely and helpful responses from the support team?
- How did the event app perform? What was its adoption rate? How many messages and photos did attendees post to the event’s social network?
- What feedback did you get from attendees? Did they find the platform easy to use? Did users feel like the tool enhanced their event experience? Did they have any issues with it (bugs, non-intuitive interface, etc.)?
In addition to referrals from your colleagues, there are a number of critical components to consider when selecting your event technology. User experience, customer support options and pricing are just the tip of the iceberg. This handy checklist details points to keep top of mind.
Giving your event technology a comprehensive health check may seem like a burdensome task. But by using the tips and tricks above, you can make sure your solution delivers a great event experience over the long haul. And that’s nothing to sneeze at.
Vlad Dreval is a Customer Success Manager at Attendify. For the last five years, he’s been helping clients of IT & SaaS companies succeed with the products and services they are using by providing best practices and expert advice.