Quality speaker management software is an essential component to a large scale annual conference.
Just as the pandemic changed the conference format for associations, societies and universities from in-person to virtual, and from virtual to hybrid, it also changed the marketplace for software vendors.
Here are four questions that will help your organization determine the best speaker management software platforms.
A lot of speaker management software never needed to cater to a virtual audience and was built to complement in-person events. For the most parts these platforms have little to do with hosting the conference and play a behind the scene role during planning.
Now there are more providers like OpenWater that can deliver the software to plan and host a virtual or in-person conference. These providers offer additional efficiencies by reducing necessary vendors, and consolidating administrative workloads under one platform.
Every event is unique, and there are big disparities between a university career fair and an academic symposium. For academic associations and societies a large-scale conference comes with significant time and resources dedicated to managing abstracts, posters and coordinating peer review.
Therefore, conference planning is as complex as the event itself, and in which case a lot of DIY virtual platforms are limited.
While there are plenty of light weight virtual platforms for a fundraiser or marketing event, there aren’t as many that can streamline the entire conference planning cycle for speaker materials, and session planning.
In our experience hosting hundreds of large scale conferences we’re finding that the second time an organization went through a new conference format the amount of support that was needed from an outside vendor decreases.
Which brings me to one of the most important aspects of shopping for speaker management software, that is scaling up and down support.
No one wants to spend all day on a support chat, just as nobody wants to overpay for virtual attendee support. At OpenWater, the conference software is as important as the team’s that support our clients.
Understanding the levels of support and how that will impact your annual event is critical. Too often we hear from conference managers that their virtual platform was limited and their member experience was fragmented from using multiple DIY platforms.
A lot of events include an award, or announcement of a recipient for a grant, scholarship, or fellowship. Consolidating software platforms so that the same abstracts software can be used for awards, or scholarships is another way associations can alleviate the hassle of multiple vendors in order to create efficiencies and save money.
The best speaker management software is different for each event, but for a majority of associations the right speaker management software can do these three things well; both host a conference and organize materials, deliver a virtual component alongside an in-person component through an app, and offer tiered levels of support.
OpenWater will appeal to associations, academic societies and universities that have a rigorous conference planning needs and at the same time need to host an efficient virtual conference with an in-person component.
Cvent will appeal to events that have a high profile and depend on entertaining a large audience. Cvent will not appeal to associations that are on a budget.
PheedLoop will appeal to conference managers that are focused on both hosting an event, as well as collecting materials for the conference. Even though PheedLoop is great for charity fundraisers, there are no capabilities to manage a grant or award in conjunction with an event.
Pathable will appeal to conference managers that are primarily focused on the event itself, and don’t have additional responsibilities related to collecting speaker materials like abstracts, posters, or a call for sessions.
Socio.event is a power suite of in-person and virtual options for conferences that will appeal to the same audience as CVENT in terms of creating a higher production value hybrid event.
OpenWater was able to tell us what we needed, their experience was evident from preparation to the last session of the conference. We utilized the training materials for attendees, speakers and room moderators. Great support combined with an easy to use platform enabled our team to impress our members.
Senior Operations Manager