Today on the Event Tech Podcast we are talking all about how to choose event technology and why cost should not be the sole deciding factor. Recently, 65% of planners cited cost as the deciding factor. Cost is always a factor when planning events but if it shouldn’t be the deciding factor when choosing event tech then what should be?
Ths topic orginated when Will and Brandt came across the article from G2 Planet, Why Cost Should NOT be the Deciding Factor in Choosing Event Technology (And What Should be Instead). Brandt kicks off the conversation “it raises a very interesting question that’s worthy, I think, of a little bit deeper discussion. And the question that they asked is why costs shouldn’t, well that the statement, I guess, why costs should not be the deciding factor in choosing event technology and what it should be instead.”
Isn’t cost is always a deciding factor?
Will jumps into the discussion with a big stat “when one choosing one technology provider over another, the largest there, 65.3% of planners cited cost as their deciding factor. Wow.” It seems like a big number right?
Brandt is not as convinced, “It’s one of those statistics that’s like it sounds kind of amazing, but at the same time like I can’t help but ask, “Well isn’t that always one of the factors?” I mean if you did this survey about anything, cost is always going to be one of the major factors. I mean, if you said, “What are you concerned about when you’re looking at blenders?” I feel like cost would probably rank pretty highly. It’s not the end-all and be all. And are there -things that you should consider regarding blenders other than costs? Sure. But it’s always going to be there. So I think it’s kind of interesting that that seems to maybe be more so when it comes to event technology.” After all, doesn’t cost always come into play when you are planning events?
Free Usually Not Best
Who doesn’t love free things? It can be tempting to use free software to save your precious budget. But everything comes at a cost and if that cost isn’t obvious it might be a red flag. Brandt explains, “when you’re dealing with registration services that are free or audience engagement platforms that are free or mobile apps that are free, you have to ask yourself, “How do they make their money?” And if you can’t find a good answer to that, I’d be a little leery about that. And so I really try and make a point of even in like iOS apps or Android apps or anything that I buy or get for my computer, I really try and pay attention to how do they make their money. Because if it’s free that means they’re looking at your data or they’re selling your data or they’re aggregating your data or something usually data related. And so that’s kind of my initial and most important caveat, which is why I wanted to get that out right at the beginning.”
Plan Your Event Technology Early
Will thinks a lot of planners are waiting too long to plan for event tech, therefore the budget can suffer. “ I think a lot of times too, because it used to be just more of an add-on, we tend to forget a little bit more that, hey, we can just throw it on at the last minute. It’s not the main professional event. But now tech is getting so central to what we do. Do we want to use it more than that?”
Brandt agrees “Yeah, I think that’s, that’s a fantastic point that a lot of times the budgeting process for the event technology is something that is kind of pushed to the last minute, and it’s not being thought of in the budget early on. And so then as a result, it’s like, “Hey, why don’t we get an app? We need an app. Why don’t we have an app?” And then, “Oh, well we don’t have any money for it. So I guess I got to use one of these free platforms or low cost platforms.” And so I guess in that context, that’s why cost is such a big factor potentially because we’re not planning for it in advance.”
How to Choose Event Technology – What Should Planners look for?
You know that price shouldn’t be the deciding factor but what should be? How should you choose your event technology? Will and Brandt chime in on a few key aspects to look at features, flexibility, and great support. All of these factors play a role in how to choose event technology.
How to Choose Event Technology – Features
Will kicks it off with looking at features “Looking at all those different things and even references on here too. Does it have future features you want, like facial recognition or a CRM integration or things like that. Which is really, really cool. And I think that’s very, very important.”
Brandt reminds us to focus on your event needs “what I would say is not only looking at the power and the functionality but what are the specific needs of your event? What makes your event a little different from the event that was in there the week before? So medical meetings have a different set of standards and requirements than say an internal corporate meeting sales meeting for somebody that sells widgets, or an insurance meeting is going to have different requirements than that medical meeting.”
How to Choose Event Technology – Flexibility Matters
Flexibility is key according to Will. “I think flexibility is huge now. And I think that’s the thing most people take for granted. They can say, “I’m going to work with the DIY option. We’re small. Save money. We can do that.” But what happens when your event goes from being 300 attendees to being 10,000 attendees? You can’t do it. Well, now you’ve got to switch. You’ve got to move data. What if you could build a system that’s flexible along the way?”
How to Choose Event Technology – Simplicity is Key
Brandt agrees but also believes simplicity is part of the equation. “It’s that onboarding process of not throwing too much out at you at any one given time. But then, okay, well now I need to figure out how to do this. Okay, great. We’ve got a module for that or go into these advanced options and you can do that. I’m always kind of fascinated by the design choices behind what’s immediately visible to you as the user versus what kind of gets exposed to you over time.”
How to Choose Event Technology – Great Support
There is nothing worse than trying to get support on software and not being quickly helped. Will believes “support is huge and I think that’s one of the most underrated things because the support team should be a part of your almost IT team.”
Brandt chimes in noting support can be hard to find “ it’s one of those things that takes a lot of thought. It takes effort to do right and to do properly. So I can’t underemphasize how important it is. And yet we still see people struggling with it and still see people kind of doing it on the cheap, which I think again goes back to the point of this article that you, to a certain extent, get what you pay for. So if you’re going with one of these kind of low budget technologies, there’s a very good chance that you could struggle trying to get ahold of someone at you 10:00 AM on a Saturday when you’re having issues.”
And it’s even better to have a tech on-site. When it comes to events issues are time-sensitive so having support that is onsite can be critical Brandt highly recommends it “in case something goes wrong, you’ve got someone right there, that you can talk to about.”
Brandt is an event technology consulting specialist and has a lot of great insight when it comes to having a tech onsite “I judge my value when I’m onsite for a client by how little they have to come into the ballroom. And I think that’s saying something about the support level that you can get with your event technology as well. You can value how little you have to worry about it by letting their team take care of it.” We suggest following Brandt’s suggestions and having technical support onsite for a smooth experience.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to Event Tech there are many factors that should go into your decisions. As with anything in event planning the reasoning for choosing the tech should always go back to your events goals and purpose. Brandt drills in to make the tech work for you “Make sure that you’re not getting the tech because it’s shiny and new, but because it’s going to serve a purpose. It’s going to help you support your strategy. It’s going to help you meet your goals. It’s going to make your attendees’ lives easier. It’s going to really push that all-important ROI for your event.”
Why Cost Should Not Be the Deciding Factor In Choosing Event Technology
The Role of Event Apps in an Age of Change
Christy Lamagna – Strategic Meetings & Events
Everything You Need To Know About Planning Events with Purpose