Can Venue Management Technology Actually Fix Your Broken Processes?
Venue managers and event organizers have one of the most stressful jobs on the planet. The event business has almost as many moving parts as the Apollo missions, and require organizers to manage multiple parties; who are often far less organized than they are. While almost every venue, facility, event space or conference center has some form of venue management technology to help with these operations, few possess start-to-finish standardized processes that enable the event organizer or venue manager to accomplish all the things they need to accomplish during reasonable work hours. This means long days and sporadic schedules. So how do venue managers make better use of venue management technology to improve these broken processes and run their operations more efficiently?
What does a broken process look like?
A venue management or event organization process could be any part of business or management operations. It could be your sales process; how a lead comes in the door, is closed and turned over to operations. It could be your billing or invoicing process. It could even be your day-of operations. All of these things have processes, and these processes are made up of tiny actions called, use cases. A use case is a single action that describes how a single employee/user interacts with a proposed system/project/outcome and carries it out from function to completion.
Any given process could be made up of dozens of use cases. All of the people involved in each operations process inside of your business have several use cases that they execute to ensure that process is carried out from start to finish.
So, what does a broken process look like? A broken process is a system that is filled with inefficient or undefinable use cases. In many situations, these use cases cannot be standardized and are done by a different method each time they are executed. This could look like an operations staff member who does all of their event detail data capture in a Word document that looks different for every event. These small, non-standardized actions can really harm businesses that carry lots of turnover and operate using limited staff.
The most common process issues for venue managers or event organizers, and how to solve them
1.) Disconnected Systems
No matter the industry, all event businesses that operate using multiple systems for sales, operations, financials, reporting and scheduling run into the same issues. Since accounts, contacts, billing, scheduling and event information are all housed in a non-integrated fashion, event organizers are forced to perform dual-entries, execute manual processes or make constant last minute changes and alterations. This eventually just becomes "life as we know it" for event coordinators and venue managers.
Fortunately, the easiest way for venue management technology to help venue staff prevent these kinds of issues is to fully integrate all of their systems. Businesses should strive to maintain a singular database that can serve as a single source of truth for everything related to sales, operations, finances and reporting. This will make automating processes and managing data significantly easier. Businesses seeking to do this must first evaluate all the different systems currently in place (yes, Excel and Word documents are considered "systems"), and then consider the easiest and most efficient methods for connecting them. Often, this can feel impossible.
Most businesses feel that their processes are 100% unique and require many manual steps and customizations to work correctly. The truth is, there are underlying principles for event businesses that are all the same. Once those items are in place, your business can stack your unique processes on top of those principles to create much more efficient and time-saving practices. We've seen this with our customers for more than 20 years.
2.) Last Minute Changes
The biggest stressor I hear event professionals talk about is last minutes changes. This could be any change. A vendor is running late, a piano tuner is a no-show or a client wants to revamp their entire event the day before it occurs. These things stress me out just thinking about them. I get it. But, how can venue management technology help with these unforseen obstacles?
The truth is that technology cannot precisely predict or deter any last minute changes; however it can help you set better expectations and allow you to respond faster and notify stakeholders more efficiently. Often times, these last minute changes are delivered to an event professional by e-mail or text message. This is not the ideal way to learn about a new challenge or to be issued a change order. This is why it's so important to have technology embedded in your business that works the way your business does.
Being able to respond, act and receive notification around mission-critical changes on a mobile device is one way event professionals are further optimizing their business practices. This doesn't just mean using a phone to send out corresponding texts and e-mails to other stakeholders, it means having smart technology that notifies these people of important changes as they happen. This gives the event professional in charge of responding to the change more time to focus on the issue at hand.
Technology can also strongly impact the accumulation of these last minute changes. Many times, these last minute fire drills can be prevented by capturing and sharing the right data. This means getting all the correct data from the client properly documented and sharing everything they need to know, when they need to know it. For many businesses each one of these interactions is a one-off process. This leads to things slipping through the cracks, and critical items being missed. This means that there are last minute changes sitting below the surface long before you ever hear about them.
Having venue management technology that fully captures and distributes this information to clients and stakeholders alike can ensure that these slip-through-the-cracks errors don't manifest themselves near as often. This means having a database that can capture this information and provide real service elements and functions to your team to share and utilize with clients. We've seen this be invaluable for performing arts centers and conference and exhibition venues that we've helped transform.
Venue management technology can help fix broken processes. Every event businesses is filled with various process that are made up of hundreds of use cases. Every time that someone inside of your organization uses a non-standardized or one-off process in place of one of these use cases, your business is at risk. This risk could look like a missed opportunity, the failure to meet a client's expectation or the failure to even bill an event (we've seen it happen). Ultimately, it's up to every event professional charged with managing a venue or organizing events to ensure that they're comfortable with the risks their business takes. We've seen time and time again that mitigating these risks usually helps reduce the stress of the event professionals involved, and positively impacts the businesses ability to create a better customer experience.
To see how this all works, download a product overview of Ungerboeck's signature offering to venue managers and event professionals.
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