David Chalmers, Cvent’s senior marketing director, looks at the three big fears that are still taking hold of event planners, and holding them back.
Fear that technology is too complex
Many planners have been nervous about using technology as it is perceived to be complex and difficult, but the reality is technology is becoming increasingly more easy to use these days. Crucially technology saves time and enhances the attendee experience. This goes back to the points I made in the last article about education and understanding how benefits easily outweigh any assumed disadvantages (link back to first article).
I can think of one example quite recently where I attended an event and they were doing manual registration and ticking names off paper lists. There were long queues – people had to wait half an hour outside the conference centre because they didn’t have the technology in place to speed up the registration process with online check-in and on-demand badge printing.
They were also spending time printing out personalised schedules on paper, but if the organisers had been using a mobile app, they would have had their schedules in the app, saved time and been a bit greener in the process.
Fear that technology is going to go wrong.
According to research from CareersCast, the fifth most stressful job is an event co-ordinator. Even more, the research revealed, than fire fighters, airline pilots and police officers. It’s easy to see why the stress can mount – regardless of the size of the event, the pressure to deliver is on and a missing link in the event chain could prove a disaster. The buck stops with the event organiser. On the face of it, it’s understandable why some events personnel talk themselves out of switching to technology and stick with their tried-and-tested manual processes.
Yet for the occasional sensational story about a technology glitch which reaches our news inbox, technology let-downs are very rare. Most technology suppliers will supply a 24/7 support team and are there to ensure the event runs seamlessly from start to finish, and the best ones will give you a dedicated customer success person and on-site support where needed.
Fear that investing technology is too costly
There is also a perception that technology will add costs to their budgets, but learning how it can help increase attendance and crucially drive ROI is the important driver here.
Ultimately the pressure for event organisers to deliver more and become more efficient along with the pressure to prove return on event investment will mean that doing things manually isn’t sustainable in the short to medium term. It’s no longer enough to only measure attendance numbers but also about lead generation and or customer retention.
Having the right technology means that there’s an opportunity to capture rich data about customers and prospects which can be shared with their sales and new business teams so any follow up campaigns are personalised. How many are using technology during the registration process, getting important insights from session selections and exhibitors they meet and making sure lead information is automatically put into CRM and marketing automation systems which the sales team can immediately access?
As more people use systems to automate and innovate their events, it will become as normal as using email today – especially as young people come into the industry who have lived their lives with online solutions and expect the same at work.