We went to the vendors themselves to find out what they consider the must-ask questions. Here’s what they suggested:
1. What is the pricing model? Is it variable? Or is it a fixed cost regardless of number of events, registrations, or reports? What will be included in my total cost of ownership?
2. Do you collect any fees or commissions from suppliers?
3. Do you have references? (Note: Contacting references should be done only after a planner does his or her own due diligence, says one vendor.)
4. How is your software going to help me provide information at each step of the process that shows the value of our meetings to suppliers, management, stakeholders, and procurement?
5. How many people are on staff with firsthand experience in the event industry?
6.. Can we test-drive the software on an actual meeting?
7. Do all areas of your meetings management platform integrate together? Are there any data integrity issues?
8. How knowledgeable is your support team? Will they be available when I need them? Do you have a strong reputation when it comes to client service?
9. Am I your “client” or your “product”? (The vendor suggesting this question notes that, “Even Google—the leader in search engine advertising—eliminates all advertising in its enterprise e-mail applications, as clearly differentiated from its consumer G-mail offering.”)
10. What is your track record with companies and programs like mine?
Meetings industry technology speaker and author Corbin Ball, CMP, also suggests the following questions:
11. When was your company founded?
12. How many people do you employ? What is the number of “core service staff”—the people who are most directly responsible for delivering the service I am buying, such as engineers, customer service, and support?
13. What level of data security, backup, and disaster recovery do you offer to ensure integrity of customer and event data?
14. What happens at the end of the? How do I get my data back if I exit the contract?