With an increased buzz about artificial intelligence and virtual reality, it’s no surprise that modern event technology can seem a bit daunting to the uninitiated. Yet, implementing new digital tools into one’s business doesn’t require a computer science degree—nor does it have to entail hours of hair-pulling and late-night calls to the help desk.
In fact, today’s event tech ecosystem is more accessible and welcoming than ever. With countless tools and processes available, even the tech laggards can find solutions that are as simple to use as they are transformative.
The pandemic stirred a rise in virtual events, pushing many event pros to adopt new approaches to how they do business. But as the industry settles back into “business as usual,” it’s time to start leveraging tech to facilitate successful in-person events and the processes that lead to them.
Ready to give your tech stack a much-needed boost? Follow these three steps to confidently navigate the event tech ecosystem and find the solutions that will produce meaningful results.
Audit every corner of your business
An Instagram ad here, a marketing email there—it’s easy to fall into the trap of ‘shiny object syndrome’ when it comes to new apps and software (especially when they’re offering an attractive sign-up discount!). But before signing up for more trials than you can handle, spend some time reflecting on your core business needs.
Think about every aspect of your business, from generating leads to executing an event. Here are some questions to help you uncover areas that need support:
- What parts of your business do not run smoothly?
- Where do you spend more time than necessary?
- What tasks do you dread on your to-do list?
- Do your competitors shine in areas where you struggle?
Looking within your business can help identify the right technologies to solve your biggest pain points and create more flow in your processes. If you’re uncertain where to start, most event businesses could stand to update the following areas with tech:
Marketing and lead generation: How do you get the word out about your brand? Where do you store prospective client information? Setting up a customer relationship management (CRM) system can keep your sales and marketing organized, ensuring you never miss an opportunity to follow up.
Contracts, proposals, and invoices: Oh my! While these documents aren’t the most exciting part of your business, they are essential for getting paid. However, that doesn’t mean you need to invest your time and energy reproducing paperwork, so put it on autopilot and reclaim your schedule.
Client experience: From timelines to design boards, many touchpoints support a collaborative event planning process. While working with clients, step into their shoes and consider whether the experience feels streamlined. Are there gaps in the workflow? Are some of the programs unnecessarily clunky?
When you’ve weighed all the areas that could use improvement, pick the three concerns that would have the most impact if solved. You can’t fix everything at once, so start with the biggest game-changers for your business.
Do your research—and start small
With your shortlist in hand, start searching for a solution to produce the greatest return on investment. It may help to create a spreadsheet to compare options. Note the most important variables to you (e.g., cost, ease of use, quality of customer services, etc.) and evaluate your Google findings to determine the best option.
Then, schedule a call with the sales team to discuss the product and walk through all of the features. While signing up for a trial might seem easier, it’s easy to miss important details or struggle with onboarding when trying to teach yourself. So instead, let their customer success team show you the ropes and demonstrate what you don’t know.
Once you’ve decided to commit, stick with it! It’s easy to lose momentum when technology isn’t set up correctly or implemented right away. So if adding three new tools feels overwhelming, pick one and start there. Then, add another the next month, and so on—until your business is in tip-top shape.
Commit to virtual excellence
Technology is constantly evolving. As it does, your clients will keep adopting new tools and processes. Likewise, expectations will continue to rise every year, so it’s your responsibility to keep up with software updates and new virtual opportunities.
People don’t want to experience unnecessary friction while working with you, so be intentional about embedding tech throughout your process to impress them. From auto-reminder emails to immersive 3D visuals, prospective clients will appreciate your grasp on technology and trust that your business is well-equipped to meet their needs.
It used to be that business tech solutions weren’t for the faint of heart, but those days are long gone. In a hyper-connected world with smart devices always within reach, every creative professional should commit to a modernized approach to running a client-first business. But don’t forget to start small!
Randi Bushell is the founder and CEO of Merri, a collaborative software bridging the gap between event professionals through immersive 3D technology, hands-on design tools, and integrated workflows. Named an industry disruptor by Authority Magazine, Bushell’s commitment to innovation has led Merri to become one of the fastest-growing platforms in the event industry. Randi was also recently listed in Eventex’s 100 Most Influential People in the Event Industry.