Before you begin to evaluate whether your organization should use event management software, it’s important to know what this technology does.
What is Event Management Software?
Event Management Software is any tool designed to help event planners manage multiple event technologies from a single platform or backend. Event management platforms offer features that impact the entire event lifecycle—from marketing, to onsite management to post-event follow-up. (If they don’t, they’re likely just a point solution.)
Event management software can/may include some or many of the following types of tools:
- Team management
- Registration website and ticketing
- Event marketing (including email and social media marketing)
- Mobile event apps, virtual & hybrid events platform
- Live streaming
- Onsite engagement (attendee networking, gamification and/or notifications)
- Audience response systems (live polls, ask a question, etc.)
- Sponsor promotion and management
- Digital signage
- Data libraries
- Reporting and analytics
- Venue search and management
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Download The EventMobi Sponsorship Strategy Guide to get started!
Should You Purchase Event Management Software?
You may not be sure if the benefits of an event management platform will outweigh the time and resources it takes to purchase, learn, and configure the technology. You may also already have a number of disconnected point solutions to manage your event and engage attendees (like using separate tools for registration, an event app, email marketing, and event survey tools)
All types of organizations and events can benefit from event management platforms, including third-party event planners and agencies who need to manage multiple clients from one backend.
Here are the signs your team could benefit from a unified event management platform.
Sign #1: Over 5+ tools are currently being used to manage and enhance your events.
If you need to juggle multiple different event technologies to engage attendees before, during and after your event—you may benefit from using a single platform.
It would be easier for your team to learn and use a single tool vs. having separate logins and training sessions for every one of your tools. This could include disconnected tools for your registration, survey, event app, audience response system (aka ARS), networking/community, and digital signage tools.
A single event management platform could also save you time since branding effects may be universal across products—saving you more time configuring one tool vs. many.
Sign #2: 1-2 other teams (aside from your own immediate team) are needed to help manage your technologies.
When you have to rely on more than one other team or department in your organization to help manage your various event technologies—such as IT, Product Engineering, Finance, Operations and/or Sales and Marketing—it can take away from your ability to efficiently execute your event.
A single platform means you, as the event planner, are capable of configuring your event according to how you’d like it to be. You can easily make changes without having to wait or go through a complex chain of command. In the end, you save time, streamline communication, and get back the power to control your technology more easily.
Sign #3: You’re sharing licenses/contracts for your event technologies with 1-2 teams (other than your own).
Sharing licenses for your event marketing and management tools with other teams can cause a few issues. First, you may be limited in the number of seats your team can occupy/use since other users across your organization may need access. Additionally, many event management solution providers charge by the “seat” (or individual user licenses).
Sharing license and tools may be economical for some organizations, but it may also make it more difficult to switch providers or negotiate prices if you’re dissatisfied since other teams will have to be involved in the decision making.
Sign #4: You’re not able to negotiate costs for event technology.
When using separate point solutions, it can be difficult to negotiate price breaks or bonus features since your individual spend may be too low to qualify. Spending more with one provider with multiple tools and events can not only simplify your billing but make it easier to negotiate price breaks or ask for special discounts based on your usage.
Sign #5: Your event technologies are not integrated with one another.
If your tools are not automatically sharing data between them, you will have to spend more time uploading data to each tool. For example, if you have separate registration and email marketing tools, you probably need to download a list of attendees from your registration tool and upload it into your email marketing platform in order to send attendees important updates. If that data changes—for example, a new person registers for your event—you’ll have to re-upload the data again. This may cause errors or risk of outdated versions being sent due to human error.
Software integrations between event technologies can solve this problem—that is, if they are provided by the separate vendors and you have budget to pay for potential setup costs. However, a single platform shouldn’t need integrations between its products because all of the data is housed in a single system. This automated data flow can save you time and prevent data version issues.
Sign #6: Building reports and collecting data means logging into separate tools.
When using multiple point solutions, reporting often requires downloading different reports and stringing data together into Excel to share insights across the attendee journey. A single platform can streamline the time it takes to collect and export important event data and uncover relevant event insights for your stakeholders.
Sign #7: You plan multiple events a year, or have multiple teams planning events.
A single solution with multi-event and team management features can make managing events easier. First, finding, organizing, and editing specific aspects of multiple events is easier (vs. multiple events and logins per tool). They can also make it easier to promote and market multiple events to your audience, or view attendee data across multiple events.
Also, a single platform can allow you to more quickly or easily compare data from event to event, year to year. Imagine using one point solution on year in your event technology stack, and then replacing it the next year; this means your data and learnings may be gone, or incomparable depending on the new tool you’ve adopted!
Sign #8: You and/or your technical team struggle to learn and configure all of the event tools you’re using.
Getting the proper training so many people on your team can use your event technology tools can be time-consuming for point solutions, which can have a deep feature set for the function they perform. For example, professional level marketing automation or customer relationship management tools often require long courses to master—which most planners don’t have the time or desire to do.
If your team is strapped for people with the technical ability to manage and edit these tools, it can slow down the planning process and make nimble changes tougher. An event management platform can make learning, using and configuring your event technology simpler because the products are built to work together and are focused on the event planner’s needs.
What Are the Cons to Purchasing Event Management Software?
Some of the potential cons of using an event management software are:
- Costs can be high if you are used to using free or one-time use tools. Many event management platforms can be costly (especially at the enterprise-sized company level). Many may be subscription based and require a year-round contract vs. event by event billing. Look for platforms with flexible pricing options based on features used, number of attendees engaged, and/or number of events—whatever works best for your organization.
- Event management platforms can have less depth in terms of the features and functionality in some parts of their product compared to point solutions, which are usually designed to do only one task—and do it extremely well. Look for platforms that have plenty of customization options, and be sure to weigh the pros and cons of certain features or functions you may lose in favor of saving.
- Not all event management software tools are created by one company. Some event management software is a compilation of a number of acquired event technology solutions–meaning they are not built on the same platform. This can cause reporting and data transfer issues. Plus, it may make it harder to learn all the separate products, defeating the purpose of purchasing a single platform. If this is the case for the provider you’re looking at, ask for a demo that includes multiple products.
- Some event management software providers can charge high fees for API integrations. Ask about integration services or setup costs during the buying process. Also, ask if they have an open REST API key your team can use fo integrations. That will be extremely helpful if you have someone technical on your team who can facilitate building the integration (thereby saving you some costs).
How to Get Buy-In for Event Management Software
The benefits of adopting an event management platform can be as follows:
- Improved buying process
- Time save researching multiple tools in the buying process
- Simpler billing by using fewer vendors
- Can be more cost-effective than license for “best in breed” point solutions
- Better opportunity to negotiate costs with one vendor
- Easier to learn one platform vs. multiple tools
- Single-team management vs. multi-department collaboration
- Simplified reporting
- Streamlined event management
- Branding and files shared between products and tools
- Multi-event and team management of events simplified
- May not need to set up integrations between a multitude of tools
It’s important to look for solutions that offer integrations (custom build services or out-of-the-box), as you may still need or want to use tools your organization has adopted.
It’s also important to search for platforms with lots of customization options so it can be tailored to your event—especially since you may be used to the feature complexity point solutions occasionally offer.