We don’t have to tell you- planning an event is hard work. It takes collaboration, communication, resilience, adaptability, and the right tools to pull off a successful event. If you and your team are relying on outdated or inefficient event management tools, it can take an already difficult task and make it that much harder.
If you need to revamp your event planning and management process, start with the software and apps you’re using in-house. There are plenty of options out there, but how do you know which one will be the best fit for you and your team?
When searching for event management technology, try making a list of all of the things you like and dislike about your current management tools. You should also have a good understanding of how you and your attendees be accessing and interacting with these tools.
The following are 6 of the most important factors to consider when choosing an event management platform.
- Mobile Friendly
Let’s face it- our phones are within arm’s reach almost 24/7. If the most important piece of technology you use is sitting right in your pocket or bag at all times, your event management platform should be accessible through your phone- no exception.
Customers are much more likely to purchase tickets when the purchasing process is mobile optimized. Sites that work seamlessly on mobile tend to have higher conversion rates and put you in a great position for promoting upgrades and on-site specials that can be purchased right on the attendee’s phone.
Mobile optimization is important for the management side as well! As an event planner, you should have the flexibility to easily create, view, and modify your event listing from a mobile phone. From location changes to rain delays, having the ability to quickly access your event, edit the information, and notify customers on mobile is a tool you shouldn’t go without. In addition, make sure your event management platform has real time reporting that can be easily viewed and shared on mobile.
- Compatible with 3rd Party Tools
Many event management platforms boast an all-in-one system, but most fall short on that promise. Rather than shelling out large sums of money on an all-in-one system for ticket sales, data tracking, marketing, and email management, considering finding a solution that easily integrates with the tools you already use!
This can be anything from a ticketing platform that integrates with email programs like MailChimp and Constant Contact, an event management platform that pulls and pushes data easily to an external CRM system like SalesForce, or even just a registration platform that easily connects to social media platforms. At the very least, you should have a list of tools you want to continue using and tools you’d like to implement. If you’re comfortable with a specific tool’s functionality and it works well for you, why abandon it for some legacy piece of software that doesn’t work for your needs?
When doing your research, dig into the details of how every integration works. When you press for more info, you may find that the “seamless integration” boasted by some companies requires much more management on your end that initially advertised. In addition, make sure you know if you have the power to add and remove integrations on your own. If a representative from the platform’s company needs to implement the integration for you (and charges a fee for doing so), you may want to consider other options.
- 24/7 Access To Data
Event planners need to know who has purchased tickets, the type of tickets they’ve purchased, and how they originally found your event. If you don’t know what your top 3 referring sources are (Google, Facebook, Instagram, Eventful, specific email campaigns, etc.), you’re missing out on important information that has the potential to drastically improve your attendance rate and ticket sales.
When searching for a new event management tool, it’s crucial that it tracks this information. If the platform doesn’t include this functionality by default, find out if (and to what degree) they integrate with Google Analytics. If there is an interface where you can add your own tracking pixels to event pages or implement Google Tag manager, it may not be crucial to have this type of function built into the system by default (see #2).
Regardless of how the data is being tracked, make sure that you have a full understanding of how tracking is implemented and what behaviors can be tracked. You’ll also want to be sure you can access your data via easy to use, customizable reports on both desktop and laptop. Remember- if you can’t easily view your reports on mobile, you could be missing out opportunities to increase your sales.
No matter how incredible and perfect a tool may be, it’s only useful when you can access it. If an online or cloud-based event platform doesn’t have a guaranteed uptime of 99.9%, don’t bother with it. It’s very likely that if their uptime is subpar, their tools will be subpar as well.
Both the forward facing and back end platforms need to be readily accessible and working at optimal speed at all times. Do you want to wait 2-3 minutes for a single report to run? What about having the page crash every time your customers view the interactive seating chart for your event? You’ll want to run your potential new platform through its paces and do a good amount of research to make sure the tools you’re choosing are as reliable as they claim to be.
This may be the first item of your checklist of features, but assessing cost can be tricky in an industry that boasts so many varying pricing models. Some providers price their products based on which tools you’d like to use. Ticketing may be one price while ticketing plus marketing tools is another, adding an account rep can add an extra charge, and some can even offer a bundled service at a flat rate. There are also per-ticket fee models, payment processing fees, subscription fees, licensing fees, and pretty much any other fee you can imagine lurking out there.
When you begin pricing new event management tools, have your typical ticket sales figures handy. Know how many tickets you typically sell annually, and have a breakdown of your past online vs. on-site ticket sales so you know what options you’ll actually need. You’ll also want to know how much it costs to get started vs. how much you may be charged monthly, quarterly, or annually. Some providers don’t charge anything upon startup but can run up costs quickly with hidden or add-on fees. Knowing exactly how you’ll be charged, when you’ll be charged, and how it impacts access to your sales revenue are all important factors in determining the best value for you. You may find that, after weighing some of the options, you’re willing to pay a bit more for specific functionality.
- Support and Service
Even if a specific platform seems like a good fit, you may not have the opportunity to unlock your chosen tool’s potential without a solid relationship with your technology provider. Your event management partner should help represent you and your events at all times and should be readily available to answer any questions if their online documentation and help articles cannot.
If possible, try picking a platform that assigns a dedicated account manager or product specialist to your organization. Having a single rep that knows your event and your organization’s needs can make all the difference while you’re gearing up for your event. It also provides some ease of mind knowing that you can contact a specific person rather than contacting the entire company and hoping someone gets back to you.
If you have a hard time justifying the cost of switching to a new event management platform, consider the opportunities to grow revenue and increase ROI with the implementation of new tools. Try framing the switch as an opportunity cost or investment in the success of your future events!