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Avoiding the “Oops” Moments

Read the following and think about one thing – could this happen to you?

A venue event manager has a client who is planning a big corporate meeting. The client contact is an administrative assistant that has never planned an event before and is thrilled with the opportunity. She knows if she does it right, it will be a real feather in her cap. One of her tasks is to plan everything for the keynote address to be given by the corporation’s president – a very high profile task in her eyes and she wants it to go off without a hitch. Several weeks before the event, she calls the venue’s audio/visual department and requests the things she needs. The A/V guy says, “No problem,” and the administrative assistant is happy.

One day later, the administrative assistant is having a regularly scheduled call with her venue event manager, who has not talked to the A/V department and has no idea about the requests the client made. This freaks the administrative assistant out. She feels like the venue doesn’t have its act together and starts calling every two to three days to verify information that’s been verified before, wasting a good deal of the venue event manager’s time – all because the A/V department did not share the client request with the venue event manager in a day.

It happens all the time.

How could this happen?

It’s no secret that there are a lot of great software tools out there for running every aspect of your venue. Booking calendars make it easy for your sales staff – and even your customers to see and book available dates. Registration software allows your clients’ guests to sign up to attend events. Financial software helps you keep track of budgets so you know which types of events are the most profitable – and which clients pay on time. But if every department is working on separate systems, you may run into trouble.

Your facility maintenance department may have all of their work orders in a specialized program that doesn’t necessarily share information with the event booking package. Or, worse yet, you may be working off a series of spreadsheets that have to be constantly updated. Or, even worse, you may still have a paper calendar where event staff can actually physically erase events without getting approval first.

The fact of the matter is that separate systems either rely on time-consuming, duplicate data entry and manual processes to correct any keystroke errors, or application programing interfaces (APIs) that have to be upgraded every time your software is upgraded – often a costly and time consuming process.

Keeping it from happening again.

Cross departmental communication is a top priority when planning events – and that requires forethought and planning. Weekly staff meetings can help, but since events move at the speed of, well, events, you know that changes can happen in the blink of an eye. How do you keep everyone on the same page every minute of every day?

Having event management, sales, facility maintenance, operations and accounting all working from a single database allows everyone in your venue to work from the exact same information no matter what. It’s what allows your event planners to look at the calendar and see that hosting a conference during business hours probably won’t work out if there’s construction planned for the adjoining rooms at the same time. It allows you to advise a gala planner that he or she might want to consider using a different ballroom in your facility so they don’t cross paths with the sci-fi convention booked for the same weekend.

A lucky strike extra.

Another added benefit of working in a single, airtight system is reducing the amount of time spent on administrative tasks. No more entering client information into one system for event planning and another for accounting. And, changes made by one department are reflected across the board, so you reduce the hours spent reconciling data between systems.

I’d love to hear how you manage your venue to prevent those “oops” moments. Contact me via email or if you’d like to see an example of how a single system helps one of our clients, check out this success story from the Melbourne Arts Centre

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