Say goodbye to spreadsheets and other inadequate systems
Sunday 25 October 2020
Venue management and planning is a complex job, with many people using systems to manage various parts of the process. Many systems, however, were not created for the cultural sector specifically. We believe cultural venues need a solution designed specifically for their needs.
Technology is now ever present in our home and our businesses and is ever expanding its reach. This is clearly visible throughout the cultural sector. There are tools to help solve issues in most areas of our businesses, with some being more helpful than others.
In this blog post, we will show you some systems that are often used in venue and event planning, along with the advantages (and disadvantages!) of using them.
The first system is spreadsheets. A clear advantage of spreadsheets is that most people are familiar with these, they are incredibly versatile. Yet, versatility does not mean they are user-friendly and even spreadsheets have limitations, especially when you use them for venue planning. Here is why:
- Collaboration is limited: some spreadsheet systems allow multiple users to work together, which is great. But more users mean more tabs and columns. You’ll run into a practical limit: the sheet becomes very user unfriendly. Soon you’ll create a copy for others to work with: not what you want.
- They are not personalised: everyone needs to find and filter the information that applies to them.
- The notification alerts are limited: in Google Sheets you can set notification rules, but the options are restrictive. If you make a change, you can assume the only person who knows is you. One of the main reasons of using a system is probably getting rid of mails and phone calls, thus avoiding confusion.
- They are hard to analyse: Spreadsheets’ ability to efficiently analyse issues with events or schedules is missing. Built-in reporting in venue management systems allows you to report on events in just a few clicks and ensures a cross-departmental standardised workflow.
- Often, large amounts of vital information is missing: By using an event management system and having it integrated with your ticketing system and/or accounting tools you can have live insight to important data such as tickets, registrations and income. If a session turns out to be more popular than expected, you can perhaps move it to a larger room, increasing its potential income.
- Extra work: As spreadsheets don’t always connect to other systems, whenever changes in the spreadsheet are made, your other systems may also need to be updated. This can be a time-consuming process. By integrating your event management system you can ensure your team always sees accurate and up-to-date data.
You’re better off with cloud-based event and venue planning software. A well-thought-out permission strategy and the possibility of running reports allow employees to see the information they want right away.
With personalised notification alerts you are always up-to-date on the events of your interest. And the reporting feature allows you to improve your workflows on the go. This way, you plan, manage and analyse events in a professional manner.
2. Pen and paper
We know many programmers like to make a first draft of the programme with the good old pen and paper. There are, however, some downsides to it:
- First of all, it is quite easy to make a mistake without realising that you have made one.
- There is no button that lets you find information like you find in spreadsheets. A double booking or any other mistake happens before you know it.
- It is not efficient if you have multiple events that are linked to one another.
- Specifying and amending the event’s status (option, cancelled, confirmed…) can be confusing.
- Just one person will need to do the entire planning, as it is not a system that can be accessed easily by multiple people in multiple places.
- Communicating the planning takes a lot of manual work, and the draft programme is not shared with the organisation.
Again, you need cloud-based software that is easily accessible by everyone with a login on a browser and/or mobile app. With user-friendly software you can make a draft planning and move those with drag and drop features. Changes in bulk are also available. You make an event’s status clear with a smart colour coding system. And since event management software is there to make your life easier and avoid mistakes, it should warn you if you are about to make one. Sounds great, right?
3. Calendar software
A third option is a calendar tool such as Google or Outlook Calendar: the online version of the pen and paper calendar. The same drawbacks as for option 2 apply here. A shared calendar can fix the access issue, but it still is not perfect. Calendar software is good to schedule meetings with your colleagues or to set reminders for yourself but not to manage an entire venue.
- The amount of information you can input in the fields is too limited. Want to put in production information or link it to your ticketing system? Sorry, can’t do it.
- It is not convenient to assign specific tasks to your employees and track their status.
Venue management systems more often than not have a general calendar view. But in contrast to a normal calendar there’s much more information about specific events, showing you all the details
such as schedules, resources, price, history, reports… All you need to know is easily accessible in a few clicks. Preferably, there is a built-in roster planning system
or there is at least the possibility to integrate
with specialised staff management tools.
4. Task management tools
We do not want to detract from the good qualities of task management tools such as Asana, Monday, Trello or Wrike, but we do not think they are fully featured for venue planning. They are perfect to divide and follow up on tasks for internal projects, but...
- They lack a graphical user interface to get an overview of the planning.
- Many task management tools are poor when it comes to allowing users to take a step back and get a grasp of the bigger picture. It’s hard to see the entire room planning and event statuses.
- Since they are not designed specifically for the cultural sector they lack functionalities, such as the option to book resources or have an overview of available materials. Therefore, they are less intuitive than venue management systems because they are not made for it.
- Again, reporting on your events and processes will be a lot more difficult. Smart integrations with other tools designed specifically for the cultural sector allow you to retrieve critical data very easily. General task management tools often do not have this option.
Specialised event planning software however, allows you to have a clear overview and an in-depth view of specific details.
Moral of the story? Embrace the future and use well-thought-out venue planning systems that include every aspect of event planning you need!