Jay Tokosch is the CEO of Core-Apps, a technology provider and mobile software company for the trade show and events industry.
How Healthy are Your Event Technology Vendors?
Just like any other check-up, understanding the health of your vendors matters because you rely on them to support and execute important aspects of your business. Your event technology vendors are no exception, since the health of their company or platform does impact your entire event ecosystem.
The event technology space has been rife with layoffs, mergers and acquisitions and sun-setting of products that are currently in use by event organizers. These business decisions are not unusual, but do have an impact on your team’s strategy and goals.
So how can you protect yourself from getting involved with a vendor or product that has an uncertain future?
Check out our Top 5 Tips to consider before signing that next contract, to ensure you’re not scrambling to find a new solution when the news breaks that your vendor is failing.
1. Product Innovation is Stagnant
A constant in any healthy event technology business is product innovation. If your event technology partner isn’t promoting new products and has the same stale offerings they did two years ago, that can be a sign that there’s trouble. They may have frozen product development because they’re in the process of getting acquired or worse, they just don’t have the budget to invest in the future of their platform. A good way to get an idea is to ask your sales rep what’s on their product road map. If they don’t have a good answer, that’s most likely a red flag. Core-apps has invested in three powerful new features this year, as an example of how often your event technology partner should be rolling out updates and new products.
2. Follow the News
Has there been buzz recently about massive layoffs by your event technology vendor? Or was it announced that your event technology vendor got acquired recently and core products that you use are going away? If you find yourself in this position, you probably realize now that tracking these types of news stories gives you the knowledge you need to make decisions for the future. And if you think you’re not impacted by layoffs and acquisitions, think again. These can be tell-tale signs that over-leveraged companies are facing deeper problems and you can assume that your next event using their technology is not top of mind for teams facing layoffs or an uncertain future for their products. Consider setting up a Google Alert for your vendors so you can stay in the know, especially before signing your next contract.
3. Create Your Own Vendor Scorecard
Consider putting together a quick list of performance criteria that can help you and your team evaluate your event technology vendors. It doesn’t have to be crazy in-depth. Things to consider include age of the company, expertise of the founders, size of the team, quality assurance systems and customer reviews.
And remember, when it comes to venture capital investors, they come first, not customers. If your event technology vendors are beholden to investors, their company leadership will do everything possible to make them happy, not you. The impact is inconsistent pricing and poor tech support when they make cuts in the work force to keep investors happy.
4. Word-of-Mouth Matters
Want to know if you should move forward with that event technology vendor with the cool booth at that last show? Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Ask your colleagues about their experience with event technology vendors you’re considering before you sign a contract. And don’t be afraid to ask your sales person for references too.
“While it may be true that the best advertising is word-of-mouth, never lose sight of the fact it also can be the worst advertising.”
5. Send Your Top Picks a Survey
Want some quick answers about which event app company to use? Send your top picks the same survey and evaluate the responses. Be bold with your questions. Get to the point by asking things like, “do you plan to shut down the product I’m currently using”, or “how will your staff layoffs impact my event”, for example. A survey to your top choices can be a barometer on which company is the best fit for your long-term goals.
Ultimately, you’re responsible to your leadership about the event technology vendors you and your team select. Ensure you’re doing your homework, by properly vetting the health of your event technology vendors, before you sign your next contract.