Top Six Things to Look for when Being Pitched an Event Registration Solution
Vendor selection is a necessary and sometimes tricky part of an event manager’s professional life. Comparing and contrasting products like online event registration can be difficult enough without factoring in what is said, and left unsaid at the negotiation table. Here are our top six things to look for when being pitched an event registration solution:
- Substance versus Style:
Style is important, but substance is much more so when selecting a registration vendor. The product may look slick, but will it do what you need it to do? Make sure that you see some real examples of registration forms done on your potential vendor’s system. See if you can get them to build you a demo featuring your requirements and branding, and not just have them show you pre-made forms that may not be relevant to your business.
- Customer Support:
Get the idea of the service level that their support team really provides by dialing your prospective vendor’s support line, or sending a question by email. You’ll get an idea of the hold and response times, and a sense of how helpful the support will be when you really need it. Take particular note to see if you can call the same agent directly, or if you simply get placed into a high-traffic call centre queue.
- Corporate History:
What reputation does your vendor carry? Have they been named in any lawsuits? Take your prospective vendor’s name, and enter it into Google along with terms like “review” or “lawsuit”. You may be surprised at what you find!
- The Fine Print:
As much as it seems like common sense, read every point on the service agreement that is sent to you. The most important points may not be highlighted:
- Are you being forced into a minimum term to use the service?
- Is there an automatic renewal clause? If so, are you guaranteed the same rate or lower once renewal rolls around? Watch for terms like “Then Current Rates” or “Market Rates” when examining this clause – this gives the vendor freedom to increase the fees with renewal.
- Are there penalties if you cancel?
- Who owns and has rights to use the collected registration data?
- Are you pressured to use additional features that are from obvious affiliates, such as venue selection software? Your vendor gets a kickback every time you use these “free” extras.
If your account manager dances around these points, you might want to put them at the bottom of your list.
- Comprehension of your business needs:
If you have specific requirements and are unsure if the account manager fully understands them, have them reiterate your needs in writing. If they don’t understand what’s required of their product, how can they provide the service? If you are getting a written quote for a registration provider to set up your registration form for you or for custom work, the quote should clearly state what work will be done and for what cost. If you get a quote that simply states an hourly rate with a time estimate, you might be in for a nasty surprise. A company that is confident in their product and service will have no problem giving you a proper scope of work and a fixed price so you know exactly what you are getting.
- Your own instinct:
Trust your gut! If you feel that an account manager is leading you down the garden path, they most likely are. When you tell them that you’re not sure, and that you’ll call back with an answer after careful deliberation, do they call you back incessantly anyways? Are they very aggressive? People tend to know on an instinctual level when they’re being played, but they can sometimes be overcome with a few loud promises. Listen to that inner voice that says “Warning!” – It could save you a lot of time and frustration down the road. A professional sales person will:
- Ask questions to understand your exact requirements.
- Let you speak without interruption.
- Do what they say they will, when they say they will.
- Be very clear on price and terms.
- Recommend a different solution if they feel their company isn’t able to fully meet your requirements.
Justin Dyck is one of ePly Event Registration’s account managers. He’s worked with large corporations, as well as tiny non-profits. He knows when to speak, but more importantly, he knows when not to. Justin’s priority is to find out exactly what you need, and to give you the tools you require to make a truly informed decision.
Justin will be at the IncentiveWorks 2012 Trade Show in Toronto, ON August 21 and 22 – meet him and ePly President Jim Romanik at booth 738 to learn more about the ePly Event Registration System. For more information, go to http://www.incentiveworksshow.com/