With over 300 event technology platforms on the market and the industry currently on the rise, it can be very daunting to know where to look and who to trust. If you’re new to virtual events and the technology world, it can be confusing to understand what technology is right for you, and how you can save time and money finding the one for you.
In this blog I will be covering how, as an event organiser, you can save both time and money in simple steps when choosing your event tech. It’s important to avoid wasting time and money when taking your events virtual, this is your insider track of information to make sure you make the best choices for yourself and your company. Ashanti recently spoke about this topic at IBTM 2020, you can watch the full video on demand here.
What is the context we’re in right now? Well as I’m writing this, we’re currently in our third lockdown in London and restrictions seem to only be getting tighter. It’s estimated that 75% of events will be online by 2024, that means that every 3 in 4 events will be taking place virtually. If you’ve been flicking through your LinkedIn lately, you might see the ‘die hard’ or ‘live event enthusiasts’ saying how virtual events will end. We can see the trends are moving towards virtual, and we can definitely expect to see it in our future. We’re starting to see brands use virtual events to recruit, and many companies now pivoting their usual in person event to online too. This trend is not slowing down, so whether it’s virtual, hybrid or just a one time digital event - we’re going to see the case rise of this.
Where was the market a year ago and where is it going?
Based on predictions from Grand View Research, the global events market size was valued at $78 billion in 2019, and is estimated to grow to a massive $774 billion by 2027. That's a whopping growth rate of 23.2% in less than 10 years. We’ve recently seen event technology companies are fundraising large rounds. Eventbrite secured $225 million, Run the World secured $15 million and Hopin raised $6.5 million - this is massive for the event tech industry.
If you look at what was happening, pre Covid, you’ll see there were pretty standard event technology companies out there that might help you with aspects of face to face events like on site registration. Since March 2020, their place within the market has skyrocketed in developer based platforms and innovations to introduce software to integrate your events virtually. There is a lot of choice, so if you’re in virtual events now for the first time, you may be overwhelmed with the information out of there.
Choosing event technology
On average, buyers are spending over 16 hours on event tech demos. To put this into perspective, that's two full working days. We have seen as insiders, that the sales demos that event tech companies are conducting typically last an hour. Which is fine if you only attend one, right? As humans, we like options. How often do you look to buy an item, and buy the first one you see? This is an awful lot of time, especially if you’re attending quite a few demos. Demos of course are needed, to find out about the platform, the functions and how it could suit your event. However, we will be discussing a way for you to narrow down this search.
When speaking to Tess Vismale, Chief Event Executioner from iSocialExecution, she discussed that “organisers need to create personas not only for attendees but a persona for the event” which is really important. Have a clear strategy of your event, understand what you want from it, who you want to attend and what you want your attendees to take from it. Tess also said how important it is to be “content driven”, so to decide upon your event and the content first, never look for the technology first.
Have you got the correct internal resources?
Digital skill gaps can be an issue and something to think about before you agree to take your events online. This does not only impact the events industry, we’re finding that digital literacy is lower than it needs to be. If you’re not used to using social media, or your company is only used to organising live events - if you don’t have a level of competence in this sector of digital skills, fill it. We’ll be discussing how you can improve your competence further in the blog.
So, what are the risks of choosing the wrong event technology?
Like anything, there are risks to choosing the wrong technology. So we’ve discussed how the market size is growing, and the challenges that teams are facing of not having enough time for event tech demos, but also maybe not having the competence of hosting virtual events - but what's the risks?
Well, to begin, of course there's the risk of wasting money on an event technology that you can’t understand, or don't enjoy working with. The second risk, is that you spend a lot of time searching on Google, or maybe through LinkedIn with your stakeholders, trying to find the right technology for you. This all leads to frustration, that we’re seeing many event organisers end up with. The main frustrations we’ve found from speaking to event organisers are below:
Top 5 things to consider
If you have a demo planned this week, why not write these considerations down, or have this blog up for when you’re on the demo to refer back to.
1. First off, one off or long term?
You need to consider whether this event is your first ever online event, just a one off or an event you’re going to be planning long term. These all affect the choice you might make when choosing your event technology. Some platforms are geared up for the first time, maybe just for small to medium virtual events. If you’re doing it for the first time, you understand team members really need to be upskilled in this area. If this is your first time organising an online event, it would be sensible to choose a piece of technology that is simple to use. If it's a one off event, you’re more than likely to find yourself better off by finding a technology software you can pay outright opposed to investing into an annual license - where you may not find yourself using the platform there after. Annual licenses do cost more than one-off events so would not be suitable for this strategy, however these are very suitable for those who may be planning a long term strategy. Whether you’re looking to organise a series of events for this year, look into platforms who offer this solution.
2. Know what you want and need.
This is so important when looking to organise a virtual event, go old school and make a list of your wants and needs from your technology. Write down your non-negotiables, the features that are essential for your virtual event. Have a think about what’s more important, whether that's the budget and how much you invest, or the attendee experience with the opportunity to network. Have a think about your hierarchy of needs, as this will guide your choices that you make. When you get into the sales demo, be firm with yourself and the sales manager, let them be aware of your non-negotiables. When speaking with Tess, she discussed that a checklist of needs is imperative. Not only a list of needs, but group them in terms of their priority.
3.Questions to ask on the demo
Always check the level and quality of the customer support you’re being provided. There’s been some cases where event organisers haven’t checked this, something goes wrong at the virtual event (such as a stream going down, or attendees can’t log in) and no one is on hand to speak to. Platforms may say they have email access, but what does this mean? Clarify with them, whether someone will be on hand 24/7 to help you with any queries, whether it will be a chatbot or a real human being.
Check the access and control of the platform. Find out from the event technology companies what access you have of the ‘backend’ of the dashboard. You need to understand how much control you have of what is uploaded, and whether you will require training of this.
The big question everyone needs to be asking their potential event technology platforms - are there hidden costs? When you go into the sales demo, you will know what you need in terms of functions (live streaming, networking, on demand content for example.) Check if these functions are included in the package, and whether you will be required to pay additional fees. This is why the hierarchy of needs is so important, before the demo makes this list so you know what features you will be requiring.
4.Seek unbiased advice
It can be a minefield when trying to navigate your way through the virtual space if you’re new, we’ve given the information above but the list goes on. Of course, once you’re on a sales demo their job is to sell - so they probably will want to tell you all the right things about the platform. We recommend seeking unbiased advice in advance. This will give you a picture of what event technology platforms are on the market and what they do, and their USP’s.
Before you make it onto the event technology demo, have a think about how transparent the company is from the beginning. Have they listed their pricing on their website? Does their website mention their capabilities? There’s no use asking about a specific feature, to be told it will be introduced in a years time. You want to understand what options are available to you in the here and now whilst you’re making your purchase.
With many platforms on the market, it can be overwhelming and distressing. We hope this blog narrows it down so you know where to start with your search. There’s many ways to save both time and money on event technology, so use the hints and tips above to avoid unnecessary costs or hours on event tech demos. You need to engineer successful outcomes, so choose a team member you can fully train on tech digital skills and to go out on these demos to fully understand them for your event. Below are a summary of top questions to ask the event technology platform when on demos:
1- What's included in the package?
2 - What support is available?
3- Can you facilitate or enable my objectives?
Ensure to always have your hierarchy of needs, and to reach out for unbiased advice if you want more guidance on choosing technology for your event.
EventMind does not endorse any particular virtual event platform or software. We review the platforms available on the market monthly (through a combination of client feedback, test events and demos). If you're looking to make online events simple, or want trusted and unbiased advice, then contact the team today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 0330 133 3485. We are always keen to get guest contributors on our blog, if you'd like to write a blog on our site and be fully credited, please email email@example.com.