You may be familiar with the saying, “Everything seems impossible until it’s done.” Well, that’s a little how I feel in light of all that took place at EventBooking in 2018.
We began the year with a “big picture” goal in mind: to change the way the venue industry thinks about their venue management software—building the fire under the spark that was created in 2017 when we first launched VenueOps. That meant setting a number of lofty, “smaller picture” goals to build upon—from a revenue and bottom line standpoint, to raising industry expectations for customer service, as well as changing a generation-long mindset: that there’s no viable alternative to the existing, relic software to manage larger, more complex venues. Looking back, those “smaller picture” goals could hardly be described as “small” at all.
Sure, many companies can attest to a new-year “kick off” where they lay out various goals and generate excitement for the team to get behind a particular vision, but the beginning of 2018 felt acutely different. I could compare the feeling I had to that of a gold miner, who has a “knowing” in his gut that he’s about to strike the first major seam of the motherlode.
Many others at EventBooking must have shared this intuitive “knowing” and excitement, because the collective ownership and enthusiasm displayed over the course of the year was an achievement in and of itself. Of course, this was the first step in seeing everything else come to fruition.
There are too many highlights from 2018 to list here, but as I reflect I think it’s important to outline a few that had a significant impact on our success for the year:
We Started with a Bang
Few tangible things help people believe in a vision more than seeing sales increase. The first quarter of the year saw a record number of new clients coming on board, which confirmed we were “doing something right” and laid the foundation for the rest of the year in terms of revenue goals.
A Trickle Turned into a River
Like any industry, there is always an incumbent provider that has large market share. Ours is no different, and we set out to show the industry that there is a viable (and preferable) alternative. And in the venue world, people talk! Once one or two particular venues came over from the incumbent, word spread and many more venues came forward to express their interest in VenueOps, as well as their frustration with their current solution. The overwhelming message we heard was, “We want a partner who prioritizes service as well as their software—who listens to us and treats our needs like they matter.”
A Seat at the Big Boys Table
Once you get labeled a certain way, it can be tough to change that perception. Although EventBooking has been a web-based software company since 1999, VenueOps did not launch until 2017. From late 1999 until the “teen” years of the 2000s, our company rose to success and industry recognition through our legacy product, EventBooking Classic. This previous product was known as a “great calendar tool for arenas.” So in 2018 when non-arena venues interacted with our company and our newer plaform, VenueOps, it took some time to change the perception of the tool we were offering.
VenueOps is vastly different from our previous platform. It’s a truly multi-departmental, enterprise tool for the largest and most complex venues—including convention centers, exposition halls, performing arts centers, and yes, even arenas and stadiums. So it was particularly satisfying to see our efforts pay off as we got invited to participate in RFPs and purchasing processes from venues we previously wouldn’t have attracted with our legacy tool. It’s also interesting to note this irony: Many new clients of VenueOps became aware of us through discussions with their industry peers, who could attest to the quality of our previous product, EventBooking Classic, and the service behind it.
We Disrupted the Traditional Pricing Model
Netflix changed the way we thought about paying to watch movies and TV shows, as did Uber and others in their respective industries. We threw the traditional ‘pay by the number of users / number of modules’ out of the window and made unlimited users, unlimited support and unlimited training the new norm for buying VenueOps. I can’t say how pleased I was toward the end of the year when I heard that our competitors were also offering “unlimited” as a way to compete against us—that’s disruption right there!
Some Things Shouldn’t Change – Service Remained First
It grounds me that with so many lofty goals, the simplest one is still the most important — yet so many companies either don’t get it, or can’t deliver it. When we set to work in 2018, we knew that while our product might be new, offering the same stellar customer service was a long-standing pillar we wanted to uphold.
Having spent many years in different event technology services, I was well used to having hundreds of unresolved support tickets at any given time, and fully expected an increase in volume of tickets as we started rolling out an enterprise solution. That would only be natural, right? I shake my head as here we are with around 1,000 venues using our software globally, and our open ticket count is 3! That’s not a typo—that is THREE open support tickets, folks! I couldn’t be more proud of our Client Success team and the total ownership they take to ensure the ticket count never grows to more than a handful.
These are just some of the many things that allow me to regard 2018 as a landmark year of so many achievements, including most profitable year so far, most number of new clients, largest single contract ever signed (actually did 1, 2 and 3 this year!), and as mentioned—the least amount of open support tickets. But probably the most pleasing aspect is that these all tie directly into the four core values we established at the beginning of 2018 as a company:
- Servant’s Heart
- Innovator’s Mind
- Playful Spirit
- Owners Grit
We are so thankful to all of our clients and the venues that trust us to provide them with the best service and software. Our promise to you is to always do the best we can for you. 2019 couldn’t look brighter for us as we’ve set even loftier goals and expectations for ourselves. But I know from the way we delivered in 2018 that these goals are just markers on the way to even better results!
Steve Mackenzie is President at EventBooking, an innovative cloud-based venue management solution that has around 1,000 clients across the globe, and with regular polling of its clients has an unprecedented 99% customer satisfaction level.