“As an event planner who is constantly creating event venue diagrams, technology has played a big role in enhancing sales and enhancing our user experience from start to finish,” says event prof Judy Belcher, CSEP, PBC, Director of Catering & Event Management for the Sheraton Commander Hotel in the heart of Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA.
Belcher, who oversees a team of 30+ catering managers, housemen, banquet servers, and bartenders, shared that Allseated OPS and Allseated VISION event tech tools are not only intuitive and easy to use for her and her team but also for event planner clients designing events within the hotel too.
In a recent chat, she shares more about using event tech to streamline operations and sales and the impact on client satisfaction.
How have you been using event tech within your department?
We were early adopters of event tech, bringing it into our team about seven or eight years ago. We began using Allseated OPS to create 2D and 3D floorplans. First and foremost, it’s super easy to use, and quite intuitive – not only for me as a planner constantly working with diagrams for my venue but also for clients coming into our space. I can give hosting or planner responsibilities to our clients, and they can easily use the video tutorials to run the program themselves.
I trust that when we’re using the tools, they’re showing us in the best light. For example, with the 3D views in Allseated OPS and now that we have Allseated VISION, I can drop all of the desired items into the plan, and clients can visually see what fits within different room layouts. It helps us tremendously to set expectations on what we can do, or illustrate if we switch the room configuration, how more people can fit into the space.
These event tech tools are also a great way for us to collaborate, which has been a great selling point for our property. For example, being able to do 360 virtual tours, and then show how we can instantly change the room layouts to illustrate what a client is looking for, makes both of our jobs easier.
How does using event tech help your team too?
Since COVID, I have had a whole new team come in. Allseated made it easier for me to onboard them because of its training tools and resources.
For example, several new team members attended Allseated’s educational webinars, which are extremely helpful because they’re offered frequently on a variety of topics. If I have a new person coming in, I direct them to start with the videos for training versus me having to start from the ground up on how to use the platforms.
Then, once they’ve participated in a couple of webinars, I give them some simple floorplans to create for clients. It’s a great way for them to put into practice what they learned.
How has the use of event tech changed throughout your career?
I have a very unique perspective in that I have been with my company for 22 years. When I first started at the hotel, we had zero technology in the sales and catering office. We carried around a giant book that had our function space in it, and we would mark room sets out in pencil. We would type our banquet checks and event orders on a typewriter, on a triplicate form.
I went from having nothing to personally having the first modem in the hotel and helping build the property’s first website. I’ve always been an early adopter of technology when it was affordable and when I thought that it would make a difference.
Any technology that enhances or helps us get people into our live event spaces to have a celebration is extremely important.
But there is a fine line between melding technology, which we absolutely need because our customers demand it, and the value of one-on-one personal interaction and relationships, which at the end of the day, helps us make money.
Utilizing Allseated’s tools gives me an advantage because it’s a perfect blend of being able to share our spaces with clients, but at the same time, incorporate the personal touch customers expect.
Event technology may continue to change and improve event planning processes, but the event industry has always been and will continue to be, about connections. Any way that technology can enhance those interactions, it’s a big benefit to all of us.
For more information and education on using event technology and other planning trends, tips, and advice, read the latest on the Allseated blog.