Whether you are a part-time or full time event planner, you’ve likely suffered a heachache or two organizing your event. Common issues include managing session registrations, sourcing payment solutions, easily collaborating with your team, and communicating with attendees.
But there’s another headache that many overlook: the challenge of sourcing event meeting scheduling software. There are hurdles to actually buying meeting planning platforms that need not contribute to head throbbing..
Here are the most common problems when purchasing event meeting scheduling software and some tips on how to overcome them.
Having a limited budget for event meeting scheduling software
This year has marked the highest rates of inflation in forty years and there is plenty of evidence that event inflation is dramatically higher than what consumers are facing.
Planning great events with drastically higher costs has event planners scratching their heads. When just hosting an event doesn’t seem financially feasible, it’s hard to justify. Event management software can certainly help improve planning efficiency, but the cost is something to wrestle with.
It’s often difficult to decipher how much conference management apps actually cost. Many meeting planning platforms hide their prices, so you’re forced into sales calls and demos just to receive a preliminary quote. This makes event management software comparison shopping a laborious process that eats away at your planning time.
It’s frustrating to sit through a few meetings only to discover that the cost is $10, $20 or even $40 per attendee when you are trying to save costs.
At those prices, it’s understandable if you give up the search right there and go back to paper and spreadsheets to plan your conference.
Choose an affordable solution.
Fortunately, low-cost event meeting scheduling software exists. Platforms like Sched charge just a few dollars per attendee and have transparent pricing on their websites.
Double-check if non-profit discounts are available.
Some platforms offer non-profit event software pricing. Ensure that you ask and factor these prices into your event management software comparison.
Focus on the planning features you absolutely need.
Meeting planning programs get expensive when you start adding extras. Focusing on a core set of functionality required to deliver a great event is a great way to save money.
Understand that meeting planning platforms can save money in the long run.
While it may seem like a large initial investment, event scheduling software can reduce costs that appear in other areas of your budget. For example, you’ll save on printing costs, staffing, ticketing, and event websites.
Overcoming the learning curve
Once you’ve chosen an event meeting scheduling platform, learning how to use it can be daunting. Even if you become an expert user, you face another roadblock: training your team and attendees to use the platform effectively.
When organizing an event, your time is already precious and likely overstretched. How can you ensure that investing in a meeting planning app is worth the hassle and doesn’t become a time drain? How do you quell fears of losing important information if someone uses the tool incorrectly?
Select an event scheduling software with just the features you need.
When comparing event management software, you’ll find plenty of platforms with an overwhelming number of features. Skip the bells and whistles, and opt for a tool equipped with the necessities for faster adoption (and enjoy the associated savings).
Create an internal software champion.
Whether it’s you or another team member, elect a go-to person for your chosen platform. It’s their role to learn the ins and outs and communicate with the event management software’s support team. Event planning companies with strong support teams are willing to invest time to train the trainer and help both raise the team’s ability to use the software and speed up the resolution of real-time issues.
Check the level of support you’ll receive.
Approach the support team even before you purchase the product. As a rule, companies that are good at answering pre-sales questions are also pretty good at supporting customers after the sale. When requesting quotes, ask the sales team how much support they give for set-up and during your event. How can you get in touch should an issue arise – via email, live chat, or by submitting a ticket? Indicators of good customer service include assistance with launching webinars, technical support, connecting with speakers, pushing your sessions live to attendees, recording sessions, and monitoring chat during your event. Assess your event team’s ability to get to grips with the software and select a package that covers their needs.
Try before you buy.
There’s no better way to evaluate the ease of use than by using a trial version to start setting up your conference, meeting or event. A good free trial version should allow you to do most of what you would do with a paid version. You’ll also want to look for trial software that allows you to add administrators so that you can collect ease-of-use data from colleagues.
Getting buy-in from your boss
While you might be convinced of the benefits of event meeting scheduling software, getting a green flag from your boss might be more difficult. Many organizations rely on internal buy-in from multiple stakeholders, each with different priorities for purchasing decisions.
Common objections include a less-than-tech-savvy attendee demographic, limited budgets, technical complexity, and a need for extra staff training.
Cater your pitch to your audience.
Adjust your pitch according to who you’re presenting to.
- If you’re appealing to Finance, focus on the actual costs of the meeting planning app, potential savings from improved efficiency and thus the return on your investment. The finance team is also going to be interested in generating revenue from the event, including the ability to offer paid registration options.
- For a member of the Events or Professional Development team, demonstrate how the tool can assist with achieving any event goals, and improving attendee communication and engagement.
- Technical team members want to understand the level of set-up and maintenance assistance provided, and how the platform can be integrated with existing systems. Some teams will want to do this themselves. In other cases, organizations opt for premium packages that include setup support.
Practice, Practice, Practice.
One more time, practice your pitch before you pitch. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Have I anticipated any potential objections?
- What key questions will they have for me?
- Have I done enough research or do I still have knowledge gaps?
Let’s imagine that you’ve justified the costs, your team is delighted with your new event meeting scheduling software, and event planning just got a whole lot easier. The next roadblock is ensuring that attendees use your meeting planning app.
Thanks to the pandemic, attendees are increasingly tech-savvy. However, many still hold the old ways close to their hearts and aren’t ready to go paperless.
If it’s your first time using a new event management software, communicating the new system to attendees and creating awareness can be problematic – particularly for repeat attendees who are used to your old systems.
Have a soft roll-out plan.
Encourage attendees to hit download by including most of your important event information in your meeting planning app. Have a printed option as a backup but make it by request only. Make sure you’re promoting the app in places attendees will see it such as social media.
Get post-event feedback.
Ask for feedback on the implementation in your post-event survey. If user adoption went terribly, you’ll get insight into improving the attendee experience for future events. If your attendees were thrilled, it could be a signal that they’re ready for you to up your game next year and include more technological solutions.
Communicate the value of the software to attendees.
When announcing your new implementation, focus your messaging on how the event meeting scheduling software will help overcome attendee problems. For example, in-app messaging aids networking, and personal session schedules can help attendees have an overview of their days.
Make support available.
Let attendees know that support is available if they need it. Depending on the platform, this could be a member of your team or the platform itself. You could also set up a help desk during the event for anyone running into trouble.
Many companies offer premium packages that include dedicated support resources for pre and post-event. They’re designed to speed-up the resolution of any issues. Consider upgrading to one of these packages.
Purchasing event meeting scheduling software can seem daunting at first. However, event management solutions should be that – solutions.
With some advance planning, you can tackle any red flag when buying meeting planning apps and reap the rewards of your future investment.
There are a multitude of tools on the market. If you’re struggling with your event management software comparison, check out this Event Scheduling Software Buyer’s Guide.