This article, by Noelle Leavitt Riley, originally appeared in ‘Venues Today’ and is republished with permission. Original content can be found here.
Brian Chia got his work ethic from his grandparents, who lost everything when the Japanese invaded Singapore during World War II.
“My grandparents had to rebuild their lives after the war,” said Chia. “They exemplified that daily grind mentality. Growing up, I saw the amount of work they put into their lives.” Chia’s parents continued to set the tone from their small computer fix-it shop, where they worked 12-hour days, and where Chia learned about hardware and software in addition to the value of hard work.
Initially, Chia thought he wanted to be a fitness instructor. “I got into the event booking business by pure luck,” said Chia, recalling how his friend worked at a small company called EventBooking and got him a job answering phones in 2011. But Chia doesn’t answer phones at the Knoxville-based event-management software firm anymore.
Rising through the ranks at lightning speed, Chia, 27, is now Director of Client Success at EventBooking—a role that has taken him around the world as he ensures that customers are happy and understand the booking software he helped design. Chia’s job is multifold. He’s in charge of customer service, as well as creating, launching and maintaining booking software for the ever-growing company. He also travels. A lot. From London to Beijing, Chia has helped venues with EventBooking’s products with his in-person touch and training.
“Brian is solely responsible for the success of EventBooking in China,” said John Platillero, founder of EventBooking. “He trained all the staff in China, as he does here in the States, so that they were then capable of training others.” Platillero saw Chia’s potential early on. “We created a position for Brian because we liked him so much,” he said. “Brian has an analytical side and a creative side. He’s not a mushy-huggy customer service person. He gets things done in a polite, professional way. He sets the tone for how to do things properly and we hire people around his personality, who are mushy and huggy,” Platillero said, laughing. “I can count on Brian,” he said. “He’s a steady hand-on-the wheel.”
Last year, EventBooking began redesigning its core venue management software. Brian was appointed the head of the new initiative. This meant that in addition to his client services responsibilities, he guided a team of software engineers so that each cycle of the development process was tailored to clients’ needs and workflow. In his current role, ensuring great booking software is his priority—and Chia beams with pride when talking about next generation software. “Our event booking software is in most of the top arenas today. We’re in 50 percent of the top 100 arenas,” he said. “We’re continuing to evolve the system as we get feedback,” Chia added, noting that the company’s software is completely web-based and clients can access everything from their mobile devices if they so choose.
The company has swelled from a mere eight employees who were there when Chia started to the 25 people there today, each of whom are very customer-driven. “Learning about how the venues operate and the exposure to the industry is extremely fascinating to me,” said Chia. “I was an outsider to the industry and now I get a look into the actual running of venues on a daily basis.” Chia’s less enthusiastic about the repetitive and tedious work that goes into the actual building of the software. “It’s part of the job, and I’m not complaining about it, but there are things that are not so fun,” Chia shared. Chia’s happiest when he’s solving problems for EventBooking customers and recalled a time when a performing arts center client in Texas thanked him for “giving her back time in her life. She said that something I created made certain tasks take minutes instead of hours and she now gets to spend more times with her kids. It was a fulfilling moment.”
It’s not often Chia goofs up, but the one time he did taught him a valuable lesson. “I was just two years in when I accidentally deleted every account for one of our major venue management clients. Everything went offline for about half an hour. Luckily our technical team was able to restore it all.” Having learned from the fumble, Chia always reads things at least three times now before taking action. As his career grows, Chia can’t wait to see what will be invented next for venue software.
“I think it will be exciting to see what technology will become available in the next 10 years,” he said, and added, “I’d like to be a part of that.”