The Vendor That Does It All

I’ll save you some time… there is no vendor that does it all -- competently.

Still, association professionals think it is a possibility. Of course, there are companies that actually provide every service – registration, mobile app, expo, abstracts & speaker management, disclosure, evaluations, credit claiming, handout management, LMS, and Membership– and actually do a few of them really well. But no one does all of them well. 

I guess I am trying to figure out why so many association professionals find this “all in one” solution important. Maybe they never had vendors that worked together for their best interest?

Years ago, one of our clients had the most successful conference ever and the most cutting-edge conference we had ever worked on at the time. About a year out, she gathered all of her vendors on a conference call and explained what she wanted to see the next year onsite. She stated that she didn’t need to know the details; those were up to all of us – just make her vision a reality. We did! Her conference was cutting edge at the time. We all worked together to come up with our best. We made each other better in the process. Our mutual client’s trust was the driving force. And she had the authority in her organization to make it happen. Since then, we have tried to work in this manner as often as possible – if the client allows. 

However, sometimes, we encounter clients that do not allow vendors to communicate. All communication moves through the association’s IT department. It is very rare for this method to produce innovation. I think it drives the thinking that the IT company needs one point of contact and, therefore, has started transforming our industry into companies that “do it all” and do a few things “well.” 

Over the past 5-7 years, it has been common for association vendors to acquire or merge with other vendors to form a company that “does it all.” The issue here is that the companies they purchase or merge with are not the companies that are successful association vendors and their products are not able to accommodate the complex needs of medical & scientific associations. And, they do not have knowledgeable teams behind them.

Many associations jump on board with these “do it all” companies. The stories I have heard from clients as a result have been just terrible. One client told me that when their abstract management company purchased a subpar registration company, they found out a few weeks prior to the conference that onsite registration staff was not a thing with this recently purchased subpar company. Talk about stress and scramble at the last minute!

The reason why most of these “do it all” companies are created is to have a company that can be sold to a Private Equity company for a great price. 

They are not created to be the best solution for association clients. 

If you are looking for quality solutions with a knowledgeable team to back it all up and work with you and your other vendors, look to an owner-run company - one that is not for sale. They are working their business each and every day. They know their clients and care about what they need, and they work alongside their team and want them to be their best for the clients. 

Owner-run companies that are not for sale and have no investors, like Planstone, are in business for one reason: to offer their clients the best solutions, to save them time (oh, yes, and to make money).  We want them to refer our company to their industry friends or take us with them when they change positions. 

As my competition has been purchasing subpar companies in their efforts to be a “we do it all” company, I have been forming alliances with owner-run vendors in our industry. This way, if you want a company that “does it all,” we here at Planstone can do that for you with our best-in-class vendor partners. If that is not what you want, you are in charge and can choose who you feel is best for your organization. We here at Planstone have integrated with almost everyone and have no issues making sure your data gets to where you need it to go effortlessly.

Always remember – there is software, and then there is Software with Service. We pride ourselves in the knowledge base we have formed here at Planstone to add to and make our software the best solution in the industry. I often get to choose to offer something not because it makes us more money but because it helps our clients save time and be better. It’s a choice I am proud to make and grateful for the opportunity. 

Please contact me at or Tom Heneghan at to discover a company that doesn’t do it all, but what we do offer, we do very well. I look forward to meeting you and talking about your organization and how we can help you move forward in the future.