Event tech tips for corporate event planners
“Forget talking about event technology, it’s time to take action!”
That was the rallying cry from our power-packed panel of event insiders on our recent webinar, “Event Tech Tips for Corporate Planners.”
Christy Lamagna, CEO and Master Strategist, Strategic Meetings & Events; Danalynne W. Menegus, Editor, Corporate Event News; Wayne Crawford, VP Sales, Core-apps; and Dahlia El Gazzar, Tech Evangelist + Idea Igniteur, DAHLIA+ Agency drew on their deep experience planning, producing, managing, consulting and running corporate events to share the benefits of a strategic event tech plan.
Read below for a recap of their seven tips from the webinar to make your corporate event tech investment pay-off.
Tip #1: Rethink the RFP
We recommend corporate event planners rethink the event tech RFP – at least in the traditional sense of how these mammoth documents and proposals are traditionally used. “The RFP process needs to be reformed…it should be a ‘request for collaboration (RFC)’ instead.”
Rather than being a series of boxes to check, the RFC becomes about planners sharing their executive strategy plan in order to find an event tech solution that supports the overall goals. And shifting that focus from platform features and screenshots to working together to achieve the overall event strategy sets up a collaborative partnership that’s a win-win for both planners and event tech providers.
Tip #2: Understand your attendees’ interests and profiles
Just because you purchase event technology doesn’t mean your audience will embrace it. As an example, Lamagna explained how going paper-free might not be realistic if your audience is baby boomers.
To know if and what kind of event tech will be a good fit with your audiences’ interests and profile, Lamagna suggested gauging interest by sending out a survey, or watching your audiences’ behaviors at an event.
But Lamagna cautioned, “don’t become a victim of shiny object syndrome. Partner with your technology team on how to best meet your audiences’ needs, slowly adding new technology ideas that will bring your audience along with the event improvements and enhancements you’re trying to make.”
Tip #3: Look for seamless data integrations
Crawford said there isn’t an event technology company who can do everything end-to-end. As a result, it’s important to look for event technology providers who offer seamless data integrations. His advice: “find a best-in-breed company who excels in their particular solutions, but who also plays nicely in the sandbox with others by passing data back and forth between systems.”
Crawford suggested asking these three questions to providers to understand their data integration capabilities:
- What do you do well/what areas do you excel in?
- How do you work with other organizations/what APIs do you have?
- What companies do you work with to provide a seamless experience?
Tip #4: Look for scalability and pay for what you need
In the words of Menegus, “since there are often hidden costs, free or low-cost event solutions don’t always provide the best option.”
If a price seems too good to be true, Menegus suggested asking why. Ask if it’s sponsored or the company is a loss-leader.
On the flipside, Menegus also cautioned about paying for capabilities you don’t need. “Instead, look for a system that will grow and allow you to add on as you need.”
Crawford suggested looking for an event tech supplier with a feature-rich platform with functionality that can be tailored to different situations. “It might be important for one planner to engage their audience year-round, while for another it’s important to help attendees find exhibitors and navigate an exhibit floor.”
Tip #5: Dig deep with the right questions
After learning the hard way, both Menegus and Lamagna stressed the importance of asking tough questions to any potential supplier. For example:
- Have you worked with companies with similar event profiles? If so, can you provide references?But Menegus said if they don’t have references, that doesn’t mean to automatically rule them out.
- What kind of tech support do you provide, and what are your hours?Lamagna shared one example of needing tech support at 2 a.m. and not being able to get in touch with the support team. “To be honest, most event crises always seem to happen in the middle of the night, so be sure to ask about their hours and who provides support.”For example, is there a limit on how many hours of support are provided? Is there an OT or emergency upcharge? Is there a dedicated support person who knows you, your goals, your needs and your platform? If not, where are calls routed to, and what hours is the call center staffed?” Lamagna said knowing these answers can play an integral factor in your decision-making process.
- In the case of an outage or lack of data security/privacy compliance, who’s responsible? And what contingency plans do you have in place?Menegus suggested both planners and event tech providers need to collaborate on a scope of work and contract that’s a good compromise for both. Outline different scenarios like an unexpected outage or other issue and who is responsible for each situation.
- What kind of reporting and analytics do you provide?Crawford mentioned this is a largely underutilized area. “Ask to review the off-the-shelf reports that an event tech company provides, as well as the additional analytics or insights that can be customized or tailored to your needs.”
Tip #6: Collaborate!
To streamline workflows, increase team collaboration and improve efficiency, all the panelists stressed the importance of a collaborative effort between planners and event tech providers.
One way to improve collaboration is to host a tech summit. El Gazzar said, “bringing all parties together helps to map out data flows, identify gaps or overlaps, and brainstorm new ideas for using technology to improve the experience – whether that’s for attendees or planners.”
Menegus emphasized the importance of collaborating to minimize integration points too. “Whether you’re working with one vendor who does everything, an agency who does it all, or multiple partners, the fewer integration points you have, collaboration will likely be easier.”
Tip #7: Embrace emerging technologies
The panel touched on a lot of popular technology buzzwords, including chatbots, augmented reality (AR), personalization and attendee tracking. It’s important to keep an eye on these emerging technologies because they have yet to be fully integrated into events.
Crawford pointed out there’s an important difference between an emerging technology and an emerging tech trend. “Technology is a platform, while a trend is typically a sub-feature within a technology like Pokémon Go is to AR.”
Before embracing any emerging technology, Menegus reminded that it’s important to first focus on your audience. “It’s important to know your audience at heart, and what they’re interested in. Combine that knowledge with what your budget can support and that will give you a better idea of what these emerging technologies mean for you and your event.”
Bottom line—get the most out of your event tech investment by:
- Focusing on the overall event strategy, goals and desired end outcomes
- Understanding audiences’ interests and needs
- Integrating as much as possible
- Looking for scalability and adaptability to fit your needs now and in the future
- Asking tough questions to determine if’s a right fit for all involved
- Bringing together all internal and external stakeholders
- Keeping an eye on emerging technologies as it relates to your event audience
To learn other ways event technology can be used to streamline registration, improve efficiency and unlock additional revenue streams for corporate events, schedule a time to talk to the Core-apps team.