Buyer’s Guide: Purchasing Event Scheduling Software
If you’re here, you’ve joined the flocks. Event planners everywhere are searching for effective apps and tools to make event management and scheduling easier. While there are lots of event scheduling software options available, making the right choice requires some planning.
Selecting and investing in an effective tool can be intimidating. There is no ‘best’ event scheduling software. This event scheduling software buyer’s guide will outline what to consider in order to discover the best solutions for YOUR event.
This guide will prepare you to dive in and start comparing different software scheduling options. It starts by breaking down the event, company, and target audience’s needs and distill your goals into points to consider when purchasing online event scheduling software.
2. What is Event Scheduling Software?
First things first: what is online event scheduling software? Despite the wide range of tools on the market, this planning software’s common purpose is to automate, de-centralize, and simplify event planning. At its core, event management and scheduling software allows event planners to communicate with speakers, moderators, attendees, vendors, and sponsors. Each of these groups can customize the event to their specific requirements, while the planner retains overall control of the event.
Event scheduling software helps with planning logistics, as well as enhancing the experience and engagement for attendees and, speakers or moderators alike. Planning software like this can also generate reporting data so you can measure KPIs, capture feedback and improve future events.
Virtual, hybrid, or in-person meeting? Conferences, conventions, educational seminars, or festivals? All of these events, no matter the size, will benefit from the organization and structure that event scheduling software brings. But scheduling software is as much for your attendees as it is for the planner.
3. What Are Your Event Goals?
Don’t jump to conclusions about the best software until you’ve prioritized your goals. You may want all the latest bells and whistles, but the truth is that may have to trade features for a better price, and ranking your goals in priority order will help you get to a solution that fits your requirements. There isn’t a right or wrong answer. This same exercise will help you think through what it takes to organize an outstanding event because event planning software can help create better events, but great events require great event planners.
So, where to start? Ensure that your event goals are well defined. From there, you can identify which features you need to pull off and measure your KPIs. To kick off, here are some initial questions to consider:
- Why is your company hosting this event?
- What type of event are you planning?
- Who is your target audience?
- What will your attendees expect and how can you overdeliver on those expectations?
- What motivates attendees to show up?
- What’s the right blend of learning, fun, networking, and interaction required for this event?
- What is your team able to accomplish on its own and what type of support does your event team need from both your community and your vendors?
- How will you measure the success of your event (during and afterward)?
- Will you charge attendees for the event?
- Will this be in-person, online, or both (hybrid event)?
- And maybe most importantly, what’s your budget?
Your event goals will impact your choice of event scheduling software. If you’re organizing a conference in a large venue with many guests, conference management software with a mobile app is optimal. Your event team will also benefit from an event management app with an attendee registration feature. If you want your event to live long after it’s finished, an online and post-event hosting option is also important, even for in-person events.
4. How to Compare Event Scheduling Software Providers
After pinpointing your goals and potential software features, you will want to prioritize your goals. You might find it easier to simply organize your requirements into three categories:
2) Nice to Have
Make a short list of potential suppliers. Things to consider:
- How mature is the software? How long has the company been in business?
- How well is the software reviewed?
- Does the company make it easy to estimate the price of the software?
- Does the company make it easy to try or demo the product?
Next, it helps to create a spreadsheet so that you can evaluate each platform to see how many boxes get checked and align with your goals.
For example, let’s say you are comparing two different event scheduling platforms:
- One has two Essentials, one Nice to Have, and all your Extras.
- Another has all your Essentials and one Extra.
It probably makes sense to opt for the second option. If the event scheduling app can’t deliver your Essentials, you won’t hit your event goals. This can also help you determine the monetary value when comparing the cost of event management software.
Aside from the specific features of the scheduling program, you need, keep in mind that your online scheduling software should be functional, accessible, and easy to use. This may require more research than what you can accomplish by just visiting a website.
Now start comparing! You can also skim Sched’s comparison guide to event management software providers.
5. How to Verify the Quality of Your Event Scheduling Software
You’ve set your goals, cherry-picked the features, and you’re ready to dip your toes into the pool of event scheduling software. The next step may be more of a qualitative analysis than the quantitative approach above. Once you’ve short-listed the providers that meet your requirements, we recommend:
- Contact a Sales Rep for a demo
- Ask a question of their Support team and gauge the speed and quality of the response
- Signing up for a free trial
- Consulting online comparison platforms like Capterra, G2Crowd, and Trust Radius to see what other customers have to say about the product.
6. Event Software for the Future
The world of virtual and hybrid event planning has bounced to the front of every event organizer’s mind. But it’s a shifting game. What is the best way to engage virtual attendees? It’s not always as easy as you might think. Which formats work best and how can you make both in-person and virtual attendees equally happy?
Here, the right answer may not be one answer but a best-in-class approach to finding the features, easiest, and most cost-effective options by stitching together a range of software providers. You’ll want your event scheduling software to welcome this kind of integration.
7. Resource Requirements
Planning a large event consumes an enormous amount of resources; not just in terms of money but in terms of the event organizer’s time and agony. Event scheduling software comes in many flavors. There are some enticing features out there but you should ONLY pay for what you need.
Full-feature event scheduling software can range in price from $2-$3 an attendee all the way up to pricing at $20-$50 per attendee. Beyond your budget, focus on the features that are efficient for both planners and attendees to use.
You are fortunate enough to have lots of choices when it comes to event scheduling software. The more you invest in envisioning what’s important for your event, the more likely you are to select the right software. Considering the various constituencies and components is critical to integrating them with event planning software. The result of great planning is always great events.