Event planners once jumped from event app to event app—choosing brand A for the fall conference and brand B for the spring conference. But we’ve noticed a trend: more organizations are sticking with one event app and using it throughout the year for all their events. That’s why you not only want to find the right event app for your organization, you want to find the right event app partner for your organization.
Choosing an event app partner is like choosing a team member. You’re building a long-term relationship. Your technology partner should exhibit both hard skills (a good product) and soft skills (a good partner).
Our first post in this series showed you how to find an event app that helps you enhance the attendee experience. Part 2 provided a checklist of event app administrative functions to make the meeting planner's job easier. In this post (part 3), we’ll show you what to look for in an event app partner.
Industry experience and knowledge
Your ideal event app partner understands your type of organization because they’ve had a long history working with organizations like yours. Look for a partner who is an active and committed member of your professional community. In addition, your partner should have a clear understanding of industry trends and follow the latest regulations.
Let’s take the association industry as an example. Make sure the app developer ‘speaks your language,’ that is, they understand association business models, events, and event processes and pain points.
Are they involved in the association community? Do they have good relationships with your existing technology partners, particularly association management system (AMS) and event management/registration software companies?
Are they members of ASAE or other professional societies? Do they attend industry conferences and trade shows? Are they keeping their market knowledge sharp?
Are they industry thought-leaders? Do they take the time to share content on their website that delivers value to the community?
Like and trust factor
How well an event app developer meets your organization’s requirements is of the utmost importance. But you also have to trust your gut. You want to work with a company that’s led and staffed by people you like and trust.
How can you tell if your intuition is leading you in the right direction?
Do you feel good about working with them?
Are you happy or hesitant to pick up the phone when they call?
Have you learned anything about their business culture and values ? Do they align with your organization’s?
Make sure you’re putting your trust in the right place. Can you count on them to always be there? In the event app space, many companies have come and gone. Do your due diligence and verify that they’re financially viable so you can count on them to support the app and continually invest in its development.
Communication and support
You shouldn’t be the only one doing research. Your prospective event app vendor should also research you so they get a basic understanding of your event(s) and attendees. Do they ask questions or just give a sales spiel? Once they get to know you, do they suggest new ideas?
Everyone’s on their best behavior when they’re first ‘dating’ but what will they be like after you get ‘married?’ Examine their communication style during the sales process. How does it match your own? Are they responsive enough? Do they meet deadlines? Are they open and transparent about what they can do and what they can’t?
The people you talk to during the sales process may or may not be the ones who will provide support and service later. What if you have questions during the content import process? What support will you receive?
Ask to meet the people you’ll be working with during development, content import, and during your event. Will you have a dedicated project or account manager whom you can call? Will they be there when you need them? What if your event is on a weekend, will they return your call promptly?
Find out what kind of training resources they provide. Are there tutorial materials you can access on your own time?
Will they go above and beyond to help you reach your goals or are you just another account? A true technology partner considers themselves part of your team—they will be there when you need them and will go above and beyond to help you succeed.
A good event app isn’t a ‘set it and forget it’ piece of technology. It grows alongside your organization and evolves with your needs. Your event app partner should always be thinking about ‘what’s next’ for event apps in your industry.
Does your prospective event app partner collaborate with clients to experiment with new features and functionality? Ask them to tell you about some of the new ideas they’re working on. Find out what’s on their product road map.
Don’t rely on your gut alone to select an event app partner. Talk to client references—a few they provide and a few they don’t. Ask around your professional network to find a few clients not on the reference list. Here are some questions to ask all references:
Why did you pick this provider? What made them stand out?
Did they speak only in tech jargon or did they help you understand the product and the development, submission, and content import processes?
How responsive were they to your questions and/or requests? Did they seem exasperated or patient?
Did they anticipate and alleviate your concerns?
Did your event app stay within budget and on schedule? If not, why?
How did they work with your AMS and/or event management technology partners?
What do you like about working with them?
Where could they improve?
If you were in my shoes, would you select them again? Why or why not?
When you select technology, you are also selecting a team of people. Choose an event app partner you like and trust—one that will be committed to your event’s and your organization’s success.