By Eric Murphy, Concierge.com Founder & Managing Director
This article originally appeared in BizBash, March 2019. To read the original, click here.
Remember when you ran your events using 15 color-coded spreadsheets and had to manually (and painfully) update each one when something changed? Total. Nightmare. For those of you who have taken the plunge into event management software, it has made a tangible difference in the success of your events, right? Not so fast.
Event management software has been a blessing for event pros, blossoming into a massive industry with countless companies providing endless options for managing event invites, registration, ticketing, itineraries, seating, travel management, and check-in, to name a few. Cvent, the industry’s 800 pound gorilla was acquired by Vista Equity Partners in 2016 for a whopping $1.65 billion. And ticketing behemoth Eventbrite went public last year (2018) with the intent to raise $230 million. Then there are the hundreds of other relatively smaller companies that serve a variety of niches. It’s safe to say it’s a mature and growing industry that has saved event professionals countless hours.
Here’s the curse though — and this happens to be the case with technology in general — we are quickly learning that reliance on technology can have a negative effect on customer (or guest) satisfaction and people need human to human contact, especially when you’re dealing with VIPs. I have always said technology is only as good as the people behind it and it rings even more true in the event world.
How great is great service? Sure, you might love the convenience of making and managing restaurant reservations on OpenTable, but imagine a high-end restaurant without a knowledgeable waitstaff to present the menu, offer suggestions, discuss the wines, or provide attentive service. Regardless of how good the meal is, exceptional, warm, and personalized service makes or breaks the experience.
I know there are a lot of people reading this that will say they prefer text messaging, chatting, or mobile ordering at Starbucks because they prefer not to interact with people (wait, that’s just me?). But again, that stems from convenience and saving time, not from the heart. Even a simple smile and “hello” with a stranger can add to our feeling of belonging, our need for human connection, and our overall wellbeing. I will take that a step further and say that real connections can be formed through any type of humanization, whether that’s in-person or just in the way an experience feels personalized.
The bottom line is that events are about people; people connecting with other people. And events are often designed to connect people with a cause, a brand, or an idea. Technology has made a huge difference in creating efficiencies and streamlining event and guest management. But, the Concierge.com team believes that technology without humanity creates a risk that cannot be overstated.
Think about each touchpoint associated with your event, from the first invitation to the final thank you, and put yourself in the guests’ position. How can you maintain, and even enhance, the humanity required to create a meaningful connection, where a guest truly feels something, whether that’s a sense of belonging, a feeling of importance, or basic appreciation for their presence? Try this: Next time you pick up your mobile order from Starbucks, get the barista's attention, make eye contact, and say, “Thank you” or “Have a great day!” See what happens.