In part 1 of this blog series
, Holger Friesz wrote about the impact of digitization on the venue and event industry. While attending the 11th AIPC Facility Operations Summit in Barcelona, it occurred to me that a lot of the challenges around venue operations and optimized processes in event management can be addressed with the help of “digital”.
The challenges of facility operations and the issue with Excel files
While event planners are constantly looking for ways to get a better return on their investment, operation teams are faced with increasing costs for human resources. At the same time, they need to ensure greater flexibility to serve clients’ increasing demands for agility. Sometimes service delivery can be compared to firefighting: trying to solve any wish of the client while ignoring processes, costs of delivery and - in the worst case - even forgetting to invoice the client for the delivered services. Often, one missing piece that falls through the cracks can have a significant impact on operations. It is therefore essential that sales and booking staff have the possibility to hand all relevant details to event staff without any information getting lost.
We all know how frustrating last-minute changes can be. This issue is often related to files that are locally created, printed and then used within the operational processes. However, everything that happens between the printing process and the actual event delivery, will not find its way into the work order. And no, sending an excel file or a PDF via email to the supplier does not really help here – the data is still not up to date. As a result, event staff cannot react to changes that may occur on short notice or through clients’ on-site requests. Not only does this affect the operational excellence, but it also has a huge impact on client relations.
Operational excellence thanks to improved communication
Communication plays a huge role in digitization, i.e. by offering new channels through portals and mobile solutions to reduce administrative touchpoints. Luckily, digitization has the power to redefine and change communication, ultimately giving employees more time to focus on human touchpoints and to build important relationships. Digitization can be a tool to improve the different ways of communicating, both internally and externally.
- Internal communication: Sales and Operations often operate as silos with disconnected information and different processes that are not streamlined. As a result, staff often puts too much time into sending e-mails and making phone calls to get to the right information. The number of administrative tasks needs to be reduced to give staff more time to focus on customers. The challenge lies in giving individual staff members access to relevant information by team. With a digital portal , for example, venue and center managers can digitize the information flow and control which information should reach which target group in a very efficient manner. Improved quality of service and productivity can be achieved by mobile work order management allowing the operations team to view and complete all tasks – onsite - from any mobile device.
- External communication: Websites and portals can also be tremendously useful for external communication with clients, for instance by sharing prices and availabilities of rooms and services online and enabling customers to make their bookings on the website. Furthermore, digital portals can be used to improve collaboration between venues and planners (or other third parties), thus keeping external partners in the loop with relevant information.
The vision of an ideal event management platform
I very much enjoyed the collaborative work and discussions during our round table groups at the 11th AIPC Facility Operations Summit. We drafted a vision of an ideal event management platform that I would like to share here.
The idea of creating and sharing local files has no more relevance in 2018. As Holger suggested in Part 1 of this blog series, the foundation to digitized event management is a platform that unifies all data, from client information to proposals and contracts all the way to invoices and event information. Centrally accessible to all teams within an organization, a digital platform can be used by the entire venue, ensuring data accuracy and a seamless flow of information at any time.
When data is available in real-time at any time, venues can be especially flexible towards their clients, for example when it comes to receiving last minute orders and on-site changes to the event. With digital portals and mobile solutions, venues can offer seamless service centers to their clients and enhance partner management.
- Data is available in “real-time”, so it is up to date and accurate: Changes on-site are feasible in no time, if event staff has quick and direct access to the database. The result? Happy staff, happy clients, happy center managers.
- Data is entered once, so there is only one single source of truth: Staff saves time because data does not need to be re-entered and errors deriving from manual data entry can be reduced. The result? A seamless flow of information, less frustration among staff and much better communication between departments and towards clients.
Less paper: With all information stored in a digital place, there is no need to print any more. The result? Less stacks of printed work orders in your convention center and reduced paper usage.
I’d be happy to further discuss the idea of an ideal event management platform with you – please feel free to share your comments below.