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Event Management Software: Evaluating What’s Right for You

September 23, 2013|Julian Archer

Selecting a new event management software vendor? We have compiled a list of specific features to evaluate when going through the software evaluation process.

Events – whether annual summits, local customer forums or small sales meetings – are used by most b-to-b companies as ongoing marketing and communication tactics. Successful event organizers juggle many interrelated tasks and recognize the value of technology. Event management software (EMS) vendors have made available solutions that range in scope from simple online registration tools to multi-module packages covering all aspects of event management.

EMS support falls into five major feature groupings:

  • Event management: Helps organize the logistics of hosting and receiving guests (e.g. location selection, event definition, registration management, lodging, attendee check-in, badge production).
  • Event marketing: Supports the marketing effort by helping to attract the right attendees and supporters via contact management, social media, event mailers, sponsorship packages, online registration pages and event Web sites.
  • Event financials: Offers solutions for budgetary planning, attendee or sponsor invoicing and payment collection (e.g. financial aspects of event-specific third-party suppliers, country-specific accounting requirements).
  • Event operations: Helps manage investments in reusable event assets (e.g. signage, check-in equipment), which must be stored or transported to the next event location, often across national borders. Features may include management and tracking of third-party suppliers, scheduling and tracking event assets, and personnel scheduling.
  • Event measurement: Always includes standard reports and statistics, and may also support event justification metrics and participant feedback measurement during and after the event.
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    In addition to functionality, when evaluating EMS software solutions consider the level of effort required by a non-technical marketer to create a new event or set up a complementary marketing program to all potential participants. Does the vendor have a well-documented, phased implementation method that will bring your event team up to speed quickly soon after product purchase?

    Since marketers are likely to run multiple sales or marketing automation applications, travel management systems or workflow solutions, also assess the ability of the EMS solution to fit within a coordinated IT data architecture. Evaluate the ease with which it is possible to determine a logical data flow, transfer data and maintain data integrity across systems.

    Don’t forget to take into account the financial stability of the vendor, its experience with clients in your segment or geography and the extent of its partner network. After all, if the vendor is likely to continue developing its product, it’s likely to be capable of supporting you in the future.

    Julian Archer

    Julian Archer is a Senior Research Director of Marketing Operations Strategies at SiriusDecisions. He has more than 25 years of international b-to-b demand creation experience within corporate and pan-European field functions. Follow Julian on Twitter @julianarcher

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