During the last decade there has been tremendous growth in the range of technology used in the meetings and events industry. The challenge is choosing the right meeting technology tools for the right situations.
Given this, it’s important to wade through the range of options and determine what is the most prevalent types of tools and how they benefit the events industry, according to Tony Wagner, vice president of meetings and events for CWT North America.
To help frame this industry discussion, executives at CWT from around the world compiled their insights about meetings and events technology for readers of About.com. Wagner’s corresponding advice includes the following:
- No single technology solution will meet all event and program needs.
Each technology has specific strengths and areas for opportunity. Of course, some lend themselves better to certain programs than others.
- Event planners should examine their current program and processes.
Which event technology works well and which ones are causing the headaches? Prioritize the list and be sure to measure each potential technology against it at every stage of the evaluation process.
- Event planners should determine how the technology will be measured.
What will success look like and how will it be measured? This must be done before the evaluation process even begins. Measurement will almost always involve providing data back to the planner from the supplier. When evaluating each tool, note existing reports that will help accomplish these goals, and ask about the additional costs involved in custom reports that you may need.
- What is your final desire?
Are you looking to automate the attendee registration process or are you trying to implement an enterprise-wide meetings management program? The more complex your technology, the harder it will be for casual meeting planners to use it effectively. Complex technologies fit better when there’s dedicated internal meetings staff.
- What types of events will be supported by the events technology?
Sales and marketing events generally place an emphasis on creating a flashy website and a more customized registration experience, and may require specific expertise or a dedicated staff to implement it. Internal/corporate meetings tend to have simpler requirements that leverage pre-built templates that are usually easier for users.
- Consider reliable, reputable suppliers.
Ensure the technology providers are financially sound, and have a proven track record. Ask for business references and for an opportunity to speak with existing clients.
- What your budget for the event technology?
Strategic programs can usually pay for the technology investment in terms of incremental savings, but may require a more significant investment in staff, training and technology.
- What technologies must the meetings and events tools integrate with?
Some integrations have become standard throughout the industry, such as integrating with online booking tools. Others, such as integration with an organization’s corporate budget approval process may require custom development work.
Carefully examine the long-term costs associated with each technology option because some integrations carry one-time costs only while others carry per-transaction fees that will be assessed ongoing.
- Ask for live examples.
After the potential suppliers have been narrowed to the top contenders, planners should require them to go beyond their prepared presentation by asking them to demonstrate their tool using a real event that the planner’s organization has operated in the past. This provides an opportunity for the planner to see firsthand how the tool compares to their current tool or process.