As the meetings industry trudges into 2014 amid a seemingly stable forecast, there’s one part of the sector that is red-hot: technology. From registration to tools that monitor and project costs to enhanced branding to gamification, there’s a tech company for that.
The Meeting Pool, a new player in the event-tech genre, has gathered volumes of information to help planners make prudent decisions about tech solutions for meetings. The brainchild of co-founders Dahlia El Gazzar and Tara Thomas, the event-tech decision engine highlights key components and offers comparisons of dozens of well-known and not-so-well-known companies.
With the help of El Gazzar and Thomas, Smart Meetings is highlighting 10 tech companies that are making a difference in the meetings industry. For more information about event-tech tools and apple-to-apple comparisons, go to meetingpool.net, which has drawn 500 users a day since its inception in June.
Event Management Companies
According to Thomas, there are literally thousands of companies involved in event registration. While the event-management companies described below have stellar registration capabilities, they also offer platforms ranging from budgeting to email marketing to table seating.
Active Network Business Solutions, backed by parent company Active Network, has implemented Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) solutions throughout 53 countries and in 14 different languages. Known for robust service, Active’s newest offering is Smart Events Cloud, which integrates SMM and event-marketing technologies to bring “big data” to meetings and events. It combines the best capabilities of its industry-leading StarCite SMM and Conference event-marketing technologies, allowing organizations to view all meeting and event activities, including spending, ROI and event analytics.
Cvent software is used to plan events, find venues, manage membership data, create mobile apps, send surveys and develop strategic meetings-management programs. Its popularity has much to do with an expansive data base of more than 200,000 hotels and venues that planners can use to make site selections and send out RFPs. In November, Cvent launched its Promotions Hub, which provides a centralized location for thousands of promotions from hotels and special-event venues, making it easier for planners to find and take advantage of special offers.
Certain offers powerful branding capabilities that do not restrict customers to pre-formatted templates. Because it relies on a single, integrated platform, Certain ensures that attendee interactions consistently reflect a customer’s brand. By integrating with marketing automation and CRM systems, Certain helps customers incorporate events into broader sales and marketing initiatives designed to move prospects through the buying cycle.
Etouches grew out of the event-management services company, Global Executive. Its event management software is making its mark with tools that assist meeting professionals with table seating for guests, room assignments and booth placements at exhibits, among other offerings.
Pathable, an event-experience suite, has its own specialty, partnering with the likes of Cvent, Active and Certain. After registration through those services, attendees go to an event’s Pathable site for agendas, handouts, speaker profiles, schedules, exhibitor and sponsor listings, interactive trade-show floor maps, attendee profiles, discussion forums and online community.
Mobile App Companies
According to El Gazzar, a key contribution from the next generation of event apps is the expansion of real-time analytical capabilities, giving planers instant feedback while an event is under way. Analytics also help foster lead generation, with apps serving as matchmakers to connect attendees with exhibitors and suppliers.
EventMobi stands out among event app companies thanks to technology and customer support, according to Jonah Wolfraim, its communications manager. In 2013, it introduced the Fusion app, which can be used on all smartphones, tablets, desktops as well as offline. Fusion technology also means there’s no app store to worry about and every aspect of the app can instantly be changed on the content manager. To ensure clients and their attendees make the most of their experience, the EventMobi support team offers creative tips, quality checks and post-event analytics debriefings with every event app.
DoubleDutch has distinguished itself with a laser focus on attendee engagement leading to actionable data. In a DoubleDutch app, everything is interactive: content, exhibitors, speakers and even communications among attendees. While other vendors attempt to bolt Twitter hashtag searches onto to their static apps in an effort to go “social,” DoubleDutch was designed from the ground up for maximum engagement. Every DoubleDutch app is built upon a central activity feed that showcases interesting event interactions such as trending sessions and exhibitors, thus driving even more engagement. DoubleDutch apps generate substantial data to optimize future events and connect buyers and sellers.
QuickMobile has built more apps and serves more Fortune 100 companies than any other event app company, according to Jeff Epstein, director for product and channel marketing. Winner of the 2013 PCMA Innovation Award, QuickMobile offers cool features such as “Like-Minded,” which mines attendee profiles to find matches. It also specializes in interactive floor maps, lead capturing and advanced gamification, allowing event organizers to leverage mobile technology and tendencies toward achieving their objectives, including sales, education, networking and membership targets. MobileVenue is an app designed specifically for hotels, resorts and convention centers.
Other prominent app companies for meeting professionals to keep on their radars include Zerista, which specializes in lead generation and lead management, and atEvent, an event marketing-engine specialist.