How To Select Event Management Software (Without All the BS)

Samantha Gilmore

Paper reg forms & hand-scribbled RSVPs sent via fax are soooo 1990.

Not surprisingly, that’s why the most commonly used event technology among forward-thinking event professionals is event management software. In fact, 85% of Eventprofs are using event management software for their events according to research from Event Manager Blog.

Read on to get an honest view on how to select a vendor you can feel comfortable enough to binge-watch 90 Day Finance with (or scroll down to the conclusion if you’re short on time.)

A modern event management software is far more than just a simple form. Event management software helps planners capture valuable information about their different attendee groups & types while allowing them to also create sophisticated conditional question logic, badges, hotel booking features, seating plans, session selection & much more.

Okay, okay—event software may not be the fanciest new thing like AI & VR. In truth, event management tools are kinda veterans. Still, the technology is often the centerpiece of a company’s event tech stack.

New vendors have been flooding the market since 2006. Many companies in the space receive large funding and the market can be quite saturated. 

If you don’t have event management software in place for your events and are using alternative solutions, the truth is you belong to a shrinking minority among your peers. Now might be the best time to shop for a solution (all the cool kids are doing it right?)

With event management software being such an important element in your tech stack, how can you make sure you’re choosing the right vendor? 

 We know you probably have a list of required features, but before you go out scouring the internet for your new BFF, make sure you pay attention to some baseline selection criteria:

 

How to select event management software (without all the BS)

 

1     Event (Tech) experience & background

Let’s say you hire a developer and tell them to build a registration platform. The developer will build a functionally working product, sure, but the user experience might not necessarily be the way that event professionals like to work or attendees would like to register. Too often, this is how event tech companies start. A little experience in the space, some technical know-how, but something somewhere just doesn’t feel right. You’ve probably been there and have seen tools like that.

You need to select an event management software partner that has a team of event tech experts leading the product development, technology & overall leadership.

You need a company that has built events themselves and are deeply involved in the events community. You know, someone who simply gets it!

 

2     Company culture & size

Bigger doesn’t always mean better. Would you rather have a dedicated, hard-working small team with a flat hierarchy and the ability to drive decisions fast or a large company where processes are often slow, answers take too long and there is just no personal touch between you and the team?

 The ultimate goal of every company should be to serve the needs of its customers. When different teams can do whatever it takes to solve your problem and make you happy, guess what, you’re probably getting the results you want quicker.

The problem with large companies is that they often have a strong hierarchy with entrenched processes; they’re missing the personal touch and feedback takes longer. Events are time-sensitive and you need an agile company that can react positively and can make decisions fast. 

 

3     Event technology stack 

Technology is evolving faster than ever. Technology that may be only a few years old is considered outdated today. Event websites need to be responsive and dynamic. The way it looks, the way it feels, the way a user experiences software is crucial. The way it fits into the other tech tools you’re using is even more important. Software written 5-10 years ago may not even be compatible with your other solutions. Make sure your chosen tech tools fit into your “tech stack” and play nicely with each other.

 

4     Event user experience

Getting the registration experience right, both for admins and attendees requires a certain level of empathy for end-users. It requires you to take off your tech shoes for a moment and try to get inside the minds of event professionals and event attendees.

Create registration pathways that feel tailored to each participant with unlimited conditional logic, then drive bespoke on-page experiences with super-intuitive, super flexible visibility settings (hmm, I wonder what platform can do that?)

Again, it comes down to the team behind the product. Do they understand what goes on in attendees’ minds or how stressful event planning can be in the first place?

You can get your sense of the registration experience from a user and attendee perspective by getting a personalized demo or starting a free trial. 

 

5     Reliable support

Support is pretty important. In fact, 59% of event planners agreed that it’s the most important factor when choosing an event technology supplier. You don’t want to be left hanging in the preparation of your event. 

All support is not created equal. Can the support team member at the other end of your request give you only “technical” help (click here, go there)? Or are they able to give you consultative, strategic guidance on how to use their system to get where you want to go? Sure, sometimes you just want answers, but a majority of the time you also want to learn for yourself and get ideas, inspiration, and hear how other users get things done.

 

6     Integrations

In a world where APIs and integrations are a basic must, you need a vendor who not only integrates and partners on a technical level but also at a customer level.

How often do you hear from a vendor: “Yes, we integrate with x, y, z”? How often do you end up pouring all your resources into making the integration work only to find out it’s not quite what they said it was? That’s exactly what you DON’T want.

You want to make sure that your partners and event tech vendors’ advertised integrations are working hand-in-hand to make you and your event successful. 

 

7     Event tech pricing 

We think that per-registration or per-events pricing models are outdated. Why would you penalize someone if they run more events or have more registrations? It just doesn’t make sense to us! Successful events should be a positive thing. Many planners run a wide variety of events, from free to smaller & medium-size events and they shouldn’t have to pay more for extending their portfolio.

Pick a supplier that offers pricing packages based on users. This way you can easily scale up without worrying about dishing out extra cash at the end of the year.

 

8     Ease of use

Learning to use new event technology can be time-costly and occasionally overwhelming. This is even more of a problem if you don’t know how much learning will be needed to use and implement your shiny new event management software.

Pro-tip: Get a demo and have a salesperson run you through the event creation process. If it seems easy and intuitive enough for sales to go through, it probably is.

(This is the part where we would typically tell you how great Swoogo is, but we decided to cut the fluff and cut to the chase. We’d still love to give you a demo of our platform, though. Our team is here to guide you every step of the way.)

Wrap up

Online Event Management Software is no longer the new kid on the block anymore. Yet, it’s still a must-have technology for event professionals and is strategically important.

85% of event planners are using online event registration for their events

Find a vendor that has a track record of running events, working in event tech, and is well connected in the events community.

Choose a vendor that uses modern technology, and focuses on the user experience (an easy button should be at the ready when you are using event management software.)

How consultative is your new vendor’s support team? Are you looking for strategic help or for point and click help?

Does your vendor have strategically important partnerships with other technologies, and do they fit your needs? 

How quickly can you learn the new event technology and how easy is it to implement? 

Always get a demo or free trial first and make your picture before making a rushed decision based on a gut feeling.