It’s common knowledge that event managers wear many hats and balance endless duties all at once. The title alone doesn’t do you much justice as you’re tasked with 1000 working parts of the event, which may occur more than once a year. So how is anyone expected to manage it all through emails, spreadsheets and event planner apps that provide to-do lists?
If you’re already using an online registration tool or are familiar with the technology, you’re on the right track. Don’t be fooled though, you’re only a quarter of the way there. There are plenty more ways to maximize your organization’s bottom line and events’ value. If you’re just getting started, finding the budget, convincing stakeholders and proving tech’s ROI can seem overwhelming. The good news is – there’s no bad place to start.
Event Management Systems (EMS) should work with you and provide a fully customizable platform for which you can create your own reports, design powerful event websites, user-friendly registration forms and allow for convenient email marketing. These solutions are beyond just ticketing or registration tools. The EMS is the heart of your event management tools; however, don’t forget about the supplemental tools to maximize your strategy.
These other vital components are what process some of the most critical moving parts for both you and your attendees. I often hear event professionals’ concerns and uncertainty of what other tools exist to assist with tasks that live beyond event management. The second most common struggle is getting “buy-in” from management and procurement to invest in additional tools. You’re challenged every day to prove your worth and that of your meetings and as an event tech professional I can confidently say these additional tools should never been seen as add-ons. If you’re looking to join what Aberdeen calls the “Best-In-Class” you need to aim higher with your technology solutions. Best-In-Class does not have to mean most expensive, but it does mean you need to have the technology necessary to advance your organization and your hard work to its maximum potential.
If you’re managing travel for your events, travel integration is the key. Not all event technology providers offer a true Travel Management System that integrates directly into the Global Distribution System (GDS), but the ones that do will open the door to higher rates of compliance, less booking outside of event dates, significant savings and less time spent managing spreadsheets and manual flight arrangements. Your TMS will integrate with your booking tool, allowing your attendees to make their own arrangements through Single Sign On (SSO) or directly communicate with your travel provider. It will check your Pseudo City every hour for new updates and pull everything you need with regards to your attendees travel right back into your TMS. Efficiently managing ground transportation is another headache that can be solved. With up-to-the-minute reporting you can see whose flights are canceled or delayed and make adjustments accordingly – logistics have never been more simplified. This bird’s eye view allows you to stay on top of everything in a more organized manner. You will see who has booked, who hasn’t, who has wrong dates, who will be late, and most importantly savings! The U.S. Travel Association accounts for $99 billion spent on travel for meetings, events and incentive travel. It’s no wonder compliance and savings are among your top priorities.
Which bring us to the brains of the job, the budgeting tool. Spend Management Systems are what evolve your efforts into a full Strategic Meetings Management Program. Incorporating your current (or new) workflow into the SMS will drive compliance and provide deeper visibility into your meetings. This in-depth meeting intelligence will be utilized for financial forecasting, budgeting and modifying your planning best practices within the organization. This is especially helpful if your organization is nationwide or global because it provides communication and reporting unlike anything you were able to do before. Aberdeen has found that users of end-to-end strategic meetings management solutions have experienced:
- 60 percent higher rate of realized and implemented cost savings than those not using end-to-end technology
- Nearly 40 percent higher rate of compliance to corporate policies
- 35 percent higher frequency of events meeting or exceeding goals
- Nearly 30 percent higher frequency of events executed on or below budgets
If these stats don’t blow the socks off of your upper management and procurement teams, I don’t know what will. From the meeting request to reconciliation, your SMS will be the reporting powerhouse you need to see positive ROI, further proving the value of your events. To complete this Best-In-Class, beyond EMS, collaboration you’re still missing one more working part – the mobile app.
Event mobile apps are not an industry trend; in fact, they’re now an industry best practice. Whether you decide to build your own app in-house or outsource, the app should be built around your objective whether it’s to drive sales, networking, lead gen, or brand awareness. The benefits of offering a mobile app make you look like an event superstar and will certainly make your attendees grateful. I know savings is a recurring theme here, but that’s one of the main objectives with strategic meetings management technology. You will save dramatically on printing costs – gone are the days of big, clunky programs or binders. This is also a step in the right direction for reducing that carbon footprint and living up to your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). If you promote your app before, during, and even after your event, there should be no reason for low attendance rates at sessions, your sponsors will get the promotional love they deserve and attendees will be offered the opportunity to network during all stages of your event. Everything they need to make your event the most memorable will be right in their pockets, you just need to be the driving force to promote it and drive engagement.
The most exciting part to this much needed technology is that they all work together and integrate, again saving you exceptional time and savings. With all of these working parts combined, Event Management, Travel Management, Spend Management and Mobile, you will be an unstoppable force within your organization. Management will be pleased with the ROI and dramatic savings, procurement will be pleased with higher rates of compliance and leveraging of negotiations, your department will have more time to focus on the attendee experience and your attendees will have the best possible first impression through a seamless event experience from registration to networking. Remember you don’t have to start big. Starting with an event management tool and continuing to build your arsenal is an acceptable tech growth strategy.
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