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Abbery hotel, great malvern
Sarova Hotels Case Study

The Sarova hotel group is comprised four 4* hotels boasting over thirty meeting rooms and function suites. Revenue Manager Jon Siberry explained to me that their previous system was becoming unreliable, was not being developed any longer and support was sporadic. Consequently, it was becoming inefficient and a hindrance to the sales and operations teams which prompted him to look for an alternative solution.

At the busiest property, a team of four sales co-ordinators operates the events office. In an average year, they will manage about 1,650 events covering 2,480 event days. Considering their slogan reads ‘Individual hotels for individual people’, it is clear that making sure each event is tailored to meet specific customer needs is an important part of the Sarova success story. events500 has been able to provide a solution which allows each booking to be tailor-made whilst being able to streamline procedures using automation and templates.

The Challenge

“Our previous diary system was no longer sufficient to handle all the intricacies and variables of our events” says Jon. “It was always a limited ability system with poor reporting, inflexibility and very complicated processes for configuring pricing packages and function sheets. Also, it was a lengthy process to enter a new booking which became too time-consuming when recording enquiries etc.” Jon gave me the example that, when it came to pricing, it was necessary to create a whole DDR package for every single pricing variant as there was no ability to have a ‘default’ element to absorb a variable package amount. This meant that at one property, there could be up to 300 different packages, covering DDRs, 24hr Rates, Weddings, Christmas parties, Private Dining etc. In contrast, events500 allows for the creation of packages which allocates the correct proportion of each package element regardless of whether the price of a package changes on a case-by-case basis.

The Decision

The decision making process was quick and easy for Jon. He says that “After one meeting / presentation and a few emails, it was decision made for us!!”
Q. Did you feel confident using events500 after the training sessions?
A. “Yes very. Configuration, installation and training was very good together with post live support, and our teams embraced the new technology with open arms so participation from them was also a big factor in the success.”

The Outcome

events500 has made a big difference to the efficiency of the Sales and Operations teams at Sarova and it has improved communication when dealing with customers and each other. Jon says it has helped the teams raise the level of service quality they deliver as well as revenues for the business. The main improvements they’ve benefitted from since installing events500 are:
• Simplified availability chart for handling new enquiries.
• Improved Function Sheet presentation, looking better for the client and improved communication internally.
• Better reporting on revenues for forecasting etc
• Multi property environment for cross selling, and head office reporting (as in I can now pull my own reports whenever I need).

Further Growth/ Development

The Sarova group is a prime example of how we work closely with our customers to ensure the software continues to advance. Suggestions for development are always considered fully by our development team and, on many occasions, implemented for all customers to benefit from. “We have worked closely with the events500 developers and have mutually supplied each other with many objectives and developments. In many cases, the items were new enhancements for our needs, and in others, they were general improvements and updates for events500 as a whole.”

Colchester United FC
Colchester United FC Case Study

As a multi-use venue, predominantly seen as a football club, the systems used at the Weston Homes Community Stadium were purchased with football ticketing in mind. Over the past four years, their conference and events business doubled, so the need arose for a way, not only to look after their contact database, but also to manage bookings which were previously run using Microsoft Outlook room calendars – “Not an ideal situation and also very high risk” in the words of Michelle Tricker, Head of Sales.

As a busy conference centre with a maximum capacity of 420, the club boasts a commercial team of eight consisting of Michelle herself, five sales staff and two events organisers, all pro-actively looking for new business and managing existing business on a daily basis. In 2014 they held 1400 conferences and meetings at the stadium plus a further 500 events and welcomed over 3600 people to their Christmas parties.

The Challenge

Michelle described the time-consuming processes that prompted her to look into dedicated events management software:
‘A combination of four different systems that didn’t integrate was required for every booking:
1) To book the room
2) To record the customer information
3) To update a function sheet
4) To produce an invoice.’
A member of the team could easily forget to do one stage of the above which could leave the team exposed to mistakes or even lack of payment. Moreover, using an Outlook calendar meant there was a risk of a booking being accidently cancelled with no record of this happening.

The Decision

Our aim at events500 is to respond to any new enquiries in under an hour and we pride ourselves on excellent customer service. We asked Michelle about her customer service experience and what in particular made her decide to switch their existing system to events500 as their events management software. “As part of a larger company, our parent company decided that their existing system was no longer working for them so they wrote an in house sales program. We were given very short notice that we would need to renew the existing software licences on our own or find a solution using the new. The software we had been using was a great sales pipeline management and reporting system for us but not at all practical for day to day room bookings. I had been sent an email about events500 so made a call to investigate further. The demonstration was quickly arranged and it was apparent that this was designed for the part of our business that we had not previously had to give consideration to. We realised quickly that we could certainly make this work for our conference & events business. As part of an IT dominated business this is the first time as a business we have invested in external software.”

Q. Was the customer service of a high standard?
A. “Yes, from the initial contact right through to every day help and support we always get a quick response.” Installation and on-site training was completed in August 2013 and the benefits of investing in events500 soon became apparent. “Installing the software did leave us with the issue of working out how we could also use this for our football hospitality side of the business. We’ve found that the development team are always on hand to work with us to come up with new suggestions and further developments to help facilitate this. Over the past 16 months we worked together to make this work for most aspects of the business and will continue to do so over time as new ideas and opportunities arise.”
Q. Did you feel confident using events500 after the training sessions?
A. “Yes, I felt that I picked up the behind the scenes set up quickly from the training and the sales team have been able to move straight on with the new system, complete with our imported data.”

The Outcome

events500 has offered the events team at Colchester United a platform to manage their bookings, data, tasks and revenue all in one place. The time saved on administration allows them to focus on generating new business and ensure that they keep growing and succeeding as a business. Benefits which Michelle highlights in particular are:
• It streamlines work for the sales team.
• Manages bookings in one place – avoids any potential duplicate bookings.
• Integrates with our accounting system to ensure invoices are raised and sent at correct times.
• Reports are transparent and can be used to report on most aspects required.

Further Growth/ Development

To enable Michelle and her team to use the system to book open Christmas party nights with multiple groups of people in one room for an evening, we have developed a combination of two reports that can show every single pre-order and are looking to combine these into one report for 2015. The next step for the stadium is to progress to online bookings and the addition of a pre-order system that customers can complete themselves. Michelle also commented on the way in which events500 has affected their staff turnover:
“The system has in fact meant that when we have lost members of the sales team we haven’t needed to replace them as quickly because the amount of administrative (non-sales) time has reduced. Therefore the sales team already have more time to focus on generating new business in their normal working day. It could be seen as a way for some businesses to even streamline their workforce which could be seen as a positive for a lot of businesses. events500 has also given us the opportunity and time to look for the right staff to join our team without exposing the business to financial loss.”

In Summary

We asked Michelle to summarise how events500 has made a real difference to Colchester United’s events business:
"Having one system that can control and log everything that we do has not only helped the sales team but also the catering team. By giving the catering team “read only” licences we know that we still have total control of the items added but they can look at function sheets and plan in advance for each event. The function sheets are populated from the items added which means that no time is wasted doing duplicate work. I have found that the support team have been very helpful throughout and always on hand to help with any questions or queries. I appreciate that as a business we are very unique and as such we find new challenges to share on a regular basis. More often than not a solution is found within the current system or through further development. I imagine that we will continue to challenge the system and I have no doubt that every development improves the capability and versatility of the software, not just for us but also potential new clients which will in time help broaden the appeal of the system to a variety of businesses.”

The springs golf club
The Springs Golf Club Case Study

I’m always keen to find out what our customers think about events500 and how they’re getting on after installation, so I approached some of them to ask for a few sentences I could use for the testimonials section of our website. After all, customer reviews are increasingly one of the most useful tools we all have when deciding on a new purchase; whether it’s new washing machine or a weekend break.

“Before events500, our wedding, conference and events business was recorded using a function sheet. Whenever an aspect of the booking changed, we had to send manually updated, re-written correspondence to the customer. We also used to keep a record of our events breakdown on an Excel spreadsheet so that we could look back on our past business with department splits for food, drinks, room hire etc. This became quite complicated for weddings and was subject to large errors and inaccurate figures.

This led me to look for a software solution and what a find events500 was! The beauty of events500 is that it records all the information and breaks it down into the different departments automatically. We were able to customise how it was set up to suit the way our business runs. At the press of a button I can call up all relevant sales information including average spend, conversion, outstanding balances etc.

As always a product is only as good as the information you put in. events500 is a logical piece of software that is very easy to use once you know what relates to what (which is all covered in the on-site training) meaning that it is always easy to make sure that the data is up to date and accurate. It creates very professional looking contracts for our customers with all the relevant information on them. They can be updated or amended at the press of a button and then re-sent – so no more retyping of letters! It also creates invoices, pro-formas, function sheets, kitchen sheets and proposals all from one source.

If we have any questions or problems, they’re dealt with immediately which is always key when you’re in the middle of something! Now we’ve got it I don’t know how we coped before. All the information you need is in one place and available to you at the click of a few buttons.”

The National conference center
The National Conference Centre Case Study

As a director of the National Conference Centre and two hotels, Nick Hartland certainly knows what it takes to develop a successful business. A vital aspect is making sure you are providing your staff with the right tools to enable them to manage their responsibilities as efficiently as possible.

“The ways in which events500 would benefit the National Conference Centre were clear from the start. It has saved time in our sales department by reducing their administration and paperwork significantly and this has improved their efficiency overall. For example, we’re able to replicate entire bookings from our regular customers at the click of a button.

The National Conference Centre is a substantial venue with the largest of our thirteen conference suites capable of hosting over 1,000 guests. We regularly host large events which require a lot of attention to detail and events500 enables us to record that detail throughout the booking process ensuring our customers know exactly what to expect and our staff know exactly what’s required from them.

Finally, it was important that the changeover was as smooth as possible, both in terms of technology and staff training. Thanks to their professional trainers and in addition to the fact that the events500 is very user friendly, the software was up and running quickly and all the relevant members of the team were confident using the software by the end of the sessions."

events500 doesn’t just benefit large conference centers like the National Conference Centre; if your venue has events space, then events500 could help your team be more productive.

Genuine events logo
Genuine Events Case Study

Genuine Events is a boutique, Surrey-based event Company who manage the diaries for Heatherden Hall at Pinewood Studios, Littleton Park House at Shepperton Studios and Oakwood House in Maidstone. Led by sales manager by Sam Bradbrook, the events team manage 100–150 events a year, varying from weddings, conferences, private functions, production hospitality, launches and dry hire events, so it is crucial that they have an effective, efficient system to manage their processes.

The Challenge

Sam explained the key challenge which prompted Genuine Events to investigate events management software.
“There was constant concern about duplication of bookings as we were working with an Excel spreadsheet before which was not a safe system to use given the number of bookings we were taking.“

The Decision

In this case, Genuine Events approached events500 because it was highly recommended by another of our customers.
“The cost was also a huge factor as it was much more reasonable compared to other Events Booking Systems” says Sam.
Q. Was the training and customer service of a high standard?
A. “Yes, the training was excellent. Plus, if we ever need support we can normally get through to support staff very quickly and get the problem resolved.”
Q. Did you feel confident using events500 after the training sessions?
A. “Fairly. Like most new systems it was a case of getting on with using the program to understand it better. There was a lot to take in and learn.”

The Outcome

We installed events500 for Genuine Events in July 2014 and since then; Sam has been realising the benefits.
She says that “events500 has made my job as a Sales Manager so much easier. Now, I can run off reports, figures and look at key areas of focus for my team members etc. Before, we had a separate excel sheet for Business on the Books – now we’re using events500, I can see the full years forecast at the click of a button.”

Some of the further key improvements they’ve seen since installing events500 are:
“It is quick and easy to look at all of our venue’s diaries to check availability.”
“If a colleague is off work, the most up to date information for each event is all listed in events500 so anyone can pick up the booking if necessary.”
“It’s great for storing all the enquiries from our database mail outs.”

The old hall
The Old Hall Case Study

The Old Hall, Ely is a stunning wedding and events venue in the heart of Ely, Cambridgeshire. We met Alex Morbey, Venue Operations Manager, at the Independent Hotel show 2014 where she explained to us that, following the transformation of their Jacobean family home into a private event venue, the demand for weddings in particular was higher than expected and has continued to grow.

Alex told me about some of the events they’ve got lined up for 2016:
“For this year (2016) we have a total of 100 weddings booked so far and 14 private events. We also have weekly meetings from internal and client meetings, to food tastings and wine tastings. For example, for the week of Monday 1st February we have a total of 19 meetings approx.”

The Challenge

Q. What difficulties were you experiencing which made you realise you needed to change your events management processes?
A. “The events management processes needed to be more streamlined to minimise human error. Also, accounts for events needed to more streamlined.”
Before the installation of events500 at The Old Hall, Alex was using Microsoft Word to create all the documents involved when managing an event. She explained that this meant a lot of time was spent manually updating various documents and the process was prone to mistakes such as items being missed off an event.

The Decision

The reason for choosing events500 was not purely based on urgency however, as Alex explains:
“One of the reasons we chose events500 was because we were able to design our event document templates to our liking. This helps the events management process to become more streamline and gives structure to the system. It also cuts down on human error, improves time management and assists the accounts department by producing invoices and scheduling tasks/reminders for payments for upcoming clients.”
Q. Was the customer service of a high standard?
A. “I felt from the first time I met the team at events500 that they were very personable and understood my requirements. From being at the end of the phone when I needed to ask a question, to tailoring our requirements in events500, the customer service was all of an extremely high standard. My business is all about the personal touch and I feel events500 does this too. Nothing was too much trouble for any of their team. I can highly recommend their services.”
Q. Did you feel confident using events500 after the training sessions?
A. “Our events team did feel confident after our training session but it takes time to feel very confident as with learning anything of this nature. After understanding and using the system more it did bring more questions and also ways to change the documentation slightly.”

The Outcome

Alex tells me that events500 has benefited her and her team in the following ways:
“It has made our event documents and invoicing procedures more streamlined.”
“It has improved the teams time management.”
“It has minimised human error which not only benefits the team but our clients too.”
The team at Old Hall has grown over the last year and Alex has been able to train her new staff on internal procedures including using events500, meaning they get a clear picture of how events are managed with ease.

In Summary

We asked Alex to summarise how events500 has made a real difference to the Old Halls’ events business:
“events500 has made a real difference to our events team and our office but also with managing our events. It has facilitated us in creating new procedures and has also effortlessly meant the events team work more effectively. events500 means that we can keep all the details for one event in one place which is especially important for our weddings. For the weddings we can now include much more detail in our function sheets and this has made them easier to read. Especially when running a wedding day, the function sheets are the events managers’ 'bible' in a sense. Within the accounts department events500 has made a real difference to the time management and effectiveness of accounts. By using automatic tasks it has helped with making sure processing invoices is as efficient as possible.”