Buyers Beware: Tips for Choosing an Event Scheduling App Vendor
(Editor’s Note: If you’re looking for a foolproof method to evaluate an event app vendor, try The Event App Buyer’s Guide. In this free eBook you’ll find a step-by-step process for choosing the best event app for your organisation, as well as a way to objectively rank your options with a numerical score.)
Whilst consumer app adoption has increased dramatically in recent years, for many organisations using a mobile app within the business is a new area altogether. Events are more popular and effective than ever within overall marketing and communications strategies, and event scheduling apps can revolutionise the way in which your events perform.
As head of the UK/EMEA arm of Guidebook, I’ve spoken to many organisations and evaluated many options on both sides of the pond.
Unfortunately, not all event scheduling apps are created equal.
1. Focus on the core: Are your feature eyes bigger than your feature stomach?
Have you ever been to the supermarket on an empty stomach, done your shop, got home, eaten, and then realised you seriously over-shopped!?
The net result is that you wasted money because your emotional mind was stronger than your rational mind. That happens when buying software products like an event scheduling app too. Vendors are all too keen to sell you on all of their features, and those that come ill prepared allow themselves to be wowed by features that attendees quite frankly may never use. (Don’t be one of them!)
If it’s the first time using the technology, start with the basics of what you need and build from there. Analytics, for example can be a powerful tool, however you must have the basic technology that runs the event scheduling app in place first.
2. Building Must be Easy
How easy is it to build the event scheduling app? Whether you build it yourself or enlist the services offered by the app vendor, look for a platform that is robust and straightforward.
The event scheduling app should actually work
It is amazing how many event scheduling apps do not work post production, leaving attendees very frustrated, and event planners hastily putting a positive spin on the event app.
It must be produced on time
Timeline slippage is very stressful for event planners and can have a detrimental impact on the overall event. The more efficient the platform, the more likely you’ll hit the deadline.
It must be easily adjusted to change
Change is a characteristic of every event of every size, and your platform must easily cope with last minute content changes.
3. Be critical of any sales hype
There are commonly claims and counter claims from event scheduling app companies that make navigation to the truth very tricky for buyers. It’s unfortunately a ‘buyer beware’ world. Look for total transparency, and accept nothing less. Here are a few things to look for to mitigate your risk:
Get a free trial
Ask to trial the product for free – if the company wants your business, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Try out the Content Management System (CMS)
Insist on having free use of the CMS (rather than relying on a demonstration in the sales pitch) so you can really see how easy the platform is to use.
Check if they publish their price lists
This is one of the ultimate tests of transparency.
Insist on speaking to a current and past client, and ideally a client that has used this event scheduling app vendor AND a competitor.
Visit their offices
Meet the people that will actually be working on your account.
4. Get at least a bit technical
Most buyers of software in a marketing-related field, such as an event scheduling app, are not technical and can therefore sometimes be bamboozled by technical terms. If you are not technical at all, it is important that you seek support in order to understand and appreciate the value of what is being presented to you.
In the event scheduling app world, for example, you need to appreciate some of the following:
How much of the content is native to the app?
The lower the percentage, the higher the reliance upon data and Wi-Fi. You need to seek out a provider that makes more than 80% of its content and functionality available without data or Wi-Fi (you can test this by downloading one of the vendor’s previous publicly available apps).
How large is their average app?
Building an app is one thing, but building it efficiently takes serious engineering expertise. It’s the difference between a car doing 80mpg, and one doing 10mpg. Which would you prefer? Many apps that are heavy take up large amounts of data and rely greatly on Wi-Fi. As a buyer, you must avoid these apps in order to guarantee a good experience for your attendees.
5. Lastly… how human is your vendor?
Human interaction remains important in the world of tech. Your vendor manages the relationship with the technology and the people that iterate the product development in line with your desires. A good relationship is vital.
However, the big dirty secret in many ‘software’ companies is that people in cheap, offshore factories are doing this heavy lifting, and it’s not really tech at all.
It goes without saying you need to avoid these organisations that have such inefficient set-ups. It is inevitable that your service will suffer at some point in its growth, and then it becomes a matter of when, not if you will need to seek a new event schedule app provider, new relationships, and new integrations. All of which take time, have risk and cost money.
Furthermore, the right vendor should be more than that – they should be a technology partner. Caring whether your event scheduling app vendor is ethical and sustainable in the way in which they run their business is crucial to ensuring that they are in it for the long run.
Finally, the right vendor should have your interests at heart. If they truly believe that event scheduling apps have transformational capabilities, they will want to make sure that you’re using the app and its functionality to the best of its capacity in order to help you achieve your strategic goals.
Looking to choose the best event app for your organisation? Download The Event App Buyer’s Guide eBook. You’ll find detailed information for evaluating and scoring event apps, so that you can easily make a decision and start building the app you want! Fill out the form below and we’ll send it to your inbox immediately.