Event tech is growing and becoming an increasingly crucial tool for events — almost two-thirds of planners involved in recent EventMB research predicted that their use of event technology would increase. In the midst of our current crisis, this trend is only gaining momentum. More and more companies are looking to fill the role of event technologist to manage and lead their tech strategy. But not every company has the same event needs. How do you decide whether outsourcing or hiring in-house is right for you? In this post, we’ll discuss staff hiring tips for event technologists and planners and the three questions to consider when assessing your needs, as well as advantages and disadvantages to both hiring an in-house event technologist and outsourcing the role.
It's essential to factor in your overall tech strategy and goals, and to weigh the pros and cons and make an informed decision about which route to take.
Why Hire an Event Technologist?
Companies are starting to view tech as a non-negotiable component of their overall event program, and that's precisely where event technologists can help.
Data collection and reporting are key to events and to being able to determine and adapt event strategy, but many planners still aren't tracking their event experiences well enough. In fact, 55% of respondents in a recent EventMB survey believed they could be better measuring the success of their live events (both virtual and in-person), and 17% said they don't measure it at all. Meanwhile, 76% of job ads currently on the market require event professionals to be capable of analyzing the business value of events.
The event technologist role is emerging as a more formal position to bridge this gap between the required planner skill set and the demand for tech and data at events. By owning the tech stack and strategy, event technologists allow the planners they support to focus on higher-level event strategy.
When hiring event staff, there are many benefits to bringing an event technologist on board. There are also many things to consider, as they can change the dynamic of event teams and shift roles and responsibilities.
3 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Event Technologist
What Does Your Existing Event Portfolio Look Like?
One of the main factors you'll want to consider when deciding whether or not to hire an event technologist is the extent of your tech needs, given the size of your existing event program.
What types of events are you organizing, and how many are you planning per year? What is your event technology budget, and do you anticipate it changing in the future? 52% of event profs surveyed in recent EventMB research expected to spend more budget on event technology next year.
Depending on your event volume, hiring a full-time, in-house event technologist who understands your entire event portfolio can help streamline processes, ensure consistency, and reduce tech costs by sourcing a tech stack to be used across all of your events may be more cost-effective than agencies.
In-house event technologists may also offer value for streamlining data analysis over a series of events. Having one person in charge of data management for all events enables benchmarking and comparisons, which helps you gain crucial insights to inform your strategy and decisions.
What is Your Technology Strategy?
Before hiring an event technologist, make sure you have a solid strategy in place and an understanding of how the event technologist fits into it. You should know why you're adding this position to your team and what you hope to gain from your new team member.
Think about what kind of tech you're currently using. Is it specialized in any way? Do you often need customizations to fit your needs?
If so, in-house event technologists can more easily handle these special use cases. If you struggle to have meaningful conversations with vendors about your needs, an event technologist can be a huge asset. An in-house technologist who gets your company and is familiar with the solutions on the market is better able to convey goals and expectations to vendors during sourcing and implementation.
Does your strategy involve a tech stack that requires ongoing management and optimization, or are you looking more for a one-time setup of a specific tech stack that you can handle moving forward?
If the latter better describes your needs, you probably don't need a full-time event technologist on board — outsourcing the job to a tech professional who can perform the work will suffice.
However, if the former more closely aligns with your tech strategy, you would likely be better off with an in-house technologist. Someone in this position would be responsible for continuously staying up to date with tech trends, evaluating performance, and making recommendations.
What Are Your Security Concerns?
Tech (and especially new tech) often comes with security and privacy concerns, which is something to consider when weighing the option to outsource an event technologist or hire one full-time. Generally, having an in-house technologist in lieu of using an agency gives you much more control over your data.
For example, you don't have to worry about the possibility of the agency retaining data after the conclusion of the relationship, as access to your data will be much more restricted.
In this way, data is kept between your organization and trusted vendor partners without passing through potentially unnecessary third parties. In-house event technologists also allow companies to personally ensure compliance with data regulations, so you don't have to worry about non-compliance when deploying your technology at events.
If security is a top priority and you want to maintain exclusive control over your data, you should consider bringing on a full-time event technologist.
Event Staff for Hire: Your Own In-house Event Technologist
- As with an internal employee, an in-house technologist will have a better overall understanding of your company's vision and processes, which will better position them to design a tech strategy that supports the organization’s goals.
- An event technologist on your team can streamline workflows in various internal departments as they have an intimate understanding of how they interact with events and ready access to their feedback. For example, they can work closely with sales and marketing teams to translate event data into insights about what to market based on what received the best engagement.
- In-house event technologists don't have a limited view of one or two events like an agency might. Instead, they can manage your entire event portfolio and make purchasing decisions at an organizational level. This not only simplifies the process and lowers administrative costs, but gives them more negotiating leverage as they bring the full potential business portfolio to bear on any deal. They also help to ensure brand consistency by overseeing and managing branding across all the tech platforms being deployed.
- An in-house technologist gives your organization control over the continuity of your tech strategy. Having defined that strategy and set up the tech stack involved, they can pivot more easily and responsively to changes in your needs. By keeping the knowledge of your tech setup in-house, they can also minimize inefficiencies and risks that can emerge after potential agency relationships end.
- They'll also be able to better and more easily communicate and negotiate with suppliers, leading to stronger relationships that can benefit your organization. The suppliers they choose to work with aren't biased or determined by preferential agency arrangements.
- As the title suggests, an in-house event technologist represents a full-time hire, which is a longer and (likely) more expensive commitment for your company. However, it may help to save on tech costs and agency fees in the long run, so those should also be added to the balance sheet.
- Adding a full-time member to your events team can potentially confuse roles, so it's important to delineate responsibilities and make sure everyone is on the same page. It's a good idea to create ana onboarding program to ensure the team understands the event technologist's role and how to use their expertise, and vice versa.
Outsourcing Your Event Technology Needs
Bringing on a full-time hire may not always be the best option. Depending on your goals, there can be many advantages to outsourcing the event technologist role as well.
- Since outsourcing doesn't represent a long-term commitment, you can hire tech experts on an as-needed basis to assist on certain events or tasks. This is ideal if you want a tech-heavy event but plan them infrequently, or don’t intend to use the tech setup throughout the year.
- Outsourcing your tech needs is a good option if you’re still exploring the benefits of an event technologist and determining how they might fit into your organization. Instead of hiring one right off the bat, you can take the time to assess the potential value. It can be an important step in proving the value of an event technologist to your organization's leadership and justifying an eventual in-house hire.
- You can generally be more particular in choosing an outsourced event technologist in terms of specific experience within your event type. With an in-house hire, you get more coverage in terms of management of your full portfolio and event technology needs. Still, you may need to compromise when it comes to a particular experience when assessing the budget for their salary. In-house hires, therefore, may require a bit of a ramp-up period to get up to speed on your specific industry and needs.
Most of the other advantages of hiring in-house translate to disadvantages of outsourcing.
- Contractors or agencies are not generally as familiar with company processes and culture, meaning (potentially) reduced efficiency and overall alignment on company vision.
- Agencies may be biased toward preferred vendors as opposed to selecting who's best for the company from all available vendors, and data may not be as secure in agency hands.
- If different consultants or agencies are brought on to work on different events, consistency may end up suffering. As a third party in vendor communications, they can slow down the approval process and prevent relationship-building potential between you and the vendor.
In the end, both options come with their own benefits and disadvantages, so it's important to fully understand your tech needs and overall goals to effectively weigh the options available to you before you begin to hire event staff for this role.
Hiring an Event Technologist
Event technologists can add a lot of value to an organization and help bring tech strategy and deployment to the next level. The most important step is determining whether or not to hire for the role in-house and how best to capitalize on what an event technologist brings to the table based on your company's needs. This may mean outsourcing, depending on several important factors, such as your current event portfolio, tech strategy, and security concerns.
For more information about this role, check out our previous post: Event Technologist: How to Become an Event Tech Expert.