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Future Proofing Your Online Event Management Software, Part Two

February 19, 2010

Interviewer: What sort of things do you need to consider when you’re choosing the right kind of event management software system?

DL: It’s important to consider what would you like to do – what would be the ideal model today if you had a green field site that could do whatever you wanted it to do, and then look further down the track if you can; five years time/two years time, what’s it going to look like for your business? Then come up with a list of key points that you need your solution to meet in order to get to that end goal. Then you can start looking at products and solutions. Get products in, making sure to ignore the tinsel and the glitz around the products; they all look good, they’ll all demo well, they’ll all look fantastic in an hour’s presentation, because all event management software companies can do good presentations! Look at the company behind it, look at the how seriously they take your business processes and look at how much time they’re willing to invest in working with you to understand what you do. If they’re just going to sell you a box with a bit of software in it and a support and maintenance contract, that’s probably not the company for you, if you’ve got a long term view of how you’re going to take your event management solution. So look for a company that’s going to work with you, that’s going to be there for the long term, that’s going to take your ideas on board. Because you’re the person, as an event manager, who is doing the job. The software company – they don’t do the same job as you. They create the software. So a good software event management software solution company will want your ideas; so listen to what they’re saying in response to the ideas you’ve got, and then formulate whether you think you can work with them in the long term. It’s all about relationships.

Interviewer: Over the next few years, how do you see the event management software industry developing?

DL: The economic situation is having a huge impact on the event management market place; there is a reluctance to leave your desk. If you’re not at your desk, you’re somewhere else and you’re not adding value to the business. So people are reluctant to leave their desk. The online WebEx/GoToMeeting/online meetings, there’s a relatively large explosion of that, especially in the US and it’s started to gradually come into the UK and Europe. We’re a bit more reluctant to do online events – they’re a bit ‘strange’ to us and we’re more used to getting in our cars and going on the train to physically attend an event. But with the pressures of the economy, online events will become more and more prevalent.

Equally, social networking such as Facebook, Twitter is creating a level of personalisation. The whole ‘Amazon’ experience online is what people expect. People who go onto Amazon and buy a book, they’re told what other books are in the same subject, and this is exactly the same with events. If you’re booking on an event you want to be able to see suggestions such as:

– Here’s an event that may be relevant to you

– Here are some others events you can look at

– Here are some other subjects surrounding the event

– Here’s a book about the event subject

– Here’s a DVD you can buy to prepare yourself

– Here’s a hotel that’s near your event

So you can’t just look at it in isolation of the event, it’s all the bits that go around it as well. People’s perception of what they can get from an online experience is rising exponentially, and the software industry and the web industry are racing to keep up.

The focus in the future will also be with the integration into the back office systems. A lot of online event systems aren’t integrated; they’re not integrated with CRM solutions, you can’t therefore get personalisation in place. Personalisation is crucial if you’re going to deliver an online experience that adds value to the customer, personalisation is essential. Without that you’re just providing a ‘me too’ type experience. One delegate may register to attend a ‘Yacht Master Sailing Course’ and someone else is going on a ‘Competent Crew Course’ on a yacht; they’re completely different experiences that the two people are having, and so they have two completely different sets of expectations. One may be a leisure sailor the other may be a professional. The professional will want a professional experience, and the leisure sailor will want a leisure experience. Getting it right, and getting the interests of communities together and interfacing that with other systems is going to be crucial in the next two to three years. That is what will differentiate the events companies and the events solutions that will drive forward in this economic downturn and as the economy recovers, and those that just stand still.

This article the second and final part of this interview. Please search for Part One to gain a full understanding of how you can future proof your events through investment in a comprehensive event management software solution.

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