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Venues Post-COVID: “Mind the Gap” of Human Business Intelligence

By January 18, 2021 Miscellaney

In the wake of  staggering unemployment numbers in the event industry, venue professionals who remain in their roles may find that another casualty of COVID-19 is a loss of “human business intelligence”—the collective head knowledge and mental record that has literally left the building.

Evelyn Ingram discusses how teams in this predicament may regain their footing, and more importantly, how one might safeguard against this loss of critical information in the future.

It would be an understatement to say that 2020 has been a significant year for our industry. The toll is incomprehensible: lives lost and livelihoods destroyed. Many, if not most, of our former team-mates have been forced to move on from the line of work they’ve known and loved. Many have shifted industries in order to simply survive.

We would love to see them return as venue doors eventually re-open. But we must also consider: How many will actually return? Unless every individual is restored to their prior position, remaining venue professionals may find that another casualty of COVID-19 is a loss of “human business intelligence”—the head knowledge and mental record many brought to the table.

How much historical event knowledge has left the building, never to return? In their absence, remaining staff members may face new roles and responsibilities. What is the best way for teams in this predicament to regain their footing? Moreover, how does one safeguard against this loss of collective intelligence in the future? How can we prevent such a widespread casualty from happening again?

While we have no control over what mayhem rocks the world outside our venue doors, we do have a say in what tools and procedures we adopt to ride out such storms.

The event and venue industry is full of resilient, innovative people and I have been amazed by the way facilities have quickly adapted and evolved. Some seamlessly transitioned to remote work or stepped into unfamiliar interim roles, thanks in part to their investment in the proper technology—which also stores what was once “head knowledge” or siloed information among staff.

Such venues have proved this to be true: strategic systems and tools will be a key ingredient in recovering from the past year and preventing further gaps. There is a myriad of technologies that can help entire organizations rapidly pivot and move forward. The most valuable and impactful will:

  • support remote productivity / adapt to multiple work environments
  • be easy to learn and use across multiple devices, including smartphones
  • act as a central point of truth for business information
  • improve team agility and communication
  • deliver tangible efficiency and cost-savings
  • assist in the identification of business risks and benefits

I’d especially like to reflect on the last bullet point for a moment. As events slowly return, an understandable tendency for venues will be to accommodate any business that might come their way. Indeed, this may be the only way to mitigate “the bleeding” at first. A true sign of recovery, however, will be the day that a venue can use their technology to show past records and data about a prospective event—to evaluate its true ROI and have the luxury of being somewhat selective.

That day seems far off to many, but we can have hope in the knowledge that it’s coming. A good technology tool will not only help venue professionals in the “lean” times—moving event dates, filling in knowledge gaps, and enabling remote work—but it will also empower them to make critical and strategic financial decisions as they relate to the venue’s overall net gain moving forward.

As the event industry returns to some sense of normalcy and venues transition out of “survival mode,” it will be increasingly important to distinguish what constitutes “good” business so that it can be identified, replicated, and cause financial momentum.

Eventually, assessing this data will be the catalyst to go from “surviving” to “thriving.”

While the road ahead is still long, I’ve seen enough perseverance, discernment, and fortitude from the great people of this industry to have every confidence that we can not only regain our former footing, but make steady steps well beyond our prior successes.

Evelyn Ingram is the Vice President of Sales at EventBooking, a software company that specializes in online booking & venue management through their latest platform, VenueOps. She has served at EventBooking for over 18 years, leading a sales team that has garnered over 1,000 client venues from around the world. In addition to her IAVM membership that spans over 12 years, she has also served on the IAVM Membership Committee, Allied Committee, and was named a 2018 “Woman of Influence” by VenuesNow Magazine, a prestigious award in the event & venue industry.

“Strategic systems and tools will be a key ingredient in recovering from the past year and preventing further gaps.”


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