NAB Replaces Four Technologies with One Streamlined Solution
“Everyone says, ‘Do more with less.’ While the financial outlay is not insignificant, it’s about how you take your existing personnel and technology resources and make them more effective, so they can have a financial impact in the long run... We want to improve and grow our show. From our standpoint, this is an investment in the tools we need to do that.”
— David J. Dziedzic, Senior Vice President, Business Development
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) is the premier advocacy association for America's broadcasters, representing more than 8,300 radio and television stations. The NAB Show is the world’s largest digital media industry event attended by leading media, entertainment and communications professionals. In 2009, nearly 84,000 attendees flocked to see 810,000 net square feet of next-generation video and audio content.
Space selection for the 2010 NAB Show was scheduled to begin about one month before the 2009 event, held April 18-23, in Las Vegas. With the economic downturn, 2009 numbers were down, and show management was looking for ways to improve the return on investment in event management technology going forward.
Sales and operations were currently bogged down in four separate systems for managing exhibitor data. Data was redundant and not always in synch. Workflows were inefficient, and account executives spent an inordinate amount of time performing non-sales functions due to system limitations. They needed to spend more time selling.
NAB recognized a2z, Inc., as one of the leaders in event management technology. a2zShow was a solution that could do the work of their four existing applications. In February 2009, NAB chose a2zShow to replace the inefficient systems. To ensure a smooth transition, the a2z team met with sales and operations personnel to review their processes and develop a Statement of Work that detailed how these processes would be streamlined in a2zShow.
“That is a vital step for anyone looking to make this significant change,” said David J. Dziedzic, Senior Vice President, Business Development.
“This would not be successful without a2z’s knowledge of the industry, their products, getting to the core of the issues, and their making suggestions.”
The recommended customizations also included integrating the a2zShow with NAB’s accounting system. By March, a2zShow was up and running, account executives had been trained, and 2010 space selection by phone was underway. In April, NAB used a2zShow for onsite space selection at the 2009 show.
With a real-time view of the floor plan available online, exhibitors had easy access to a color-coded display indicating which booths had been selected to date. When they met with their account executives by phone or on site, they were able to quickly select from available space. “From a customer service perspective, that is a huge deal,” said Dziedzic. “There is nothing more frustrating that having to go through five booths before finding one that is available.”
The Expo Management module enabled account executives to walk exhibitors through the online floor plan without stopping in mid sale to consult a paper floor plan posted on the wall. Instead of using colored push pins to indicate booth status, account executives could reserve booths online, and the change in status was immediately visible to other executives. When sales closed, contracts and invoices were generated within the system and sent via email.
With 1,525 exhibiting companies in 2009, the paperwork generated was voluminous. For 2010, the space selection process was nearly paperless. “We’ve had 20 people filing contracts all day in the past,” said Shawn Canfield, Director, Exhibit Services. “While there is still some paperwork, it’s been reduced by at least 80 percent. That’s freed up time, as well as enabled us to find things. When a question arises, the answer is less than three to four clicks away.”
The space sales process seamlessly integrated with NAB’s financial operations, so that amounts invoiced and paid were instantaneously entered into the accounting system. “Customizations to fit our process and dovetail with our financial accounting package were made smoothly and efficiently,” Dziedzic said. “Meetings with the finance department used to last hours. Now its 30 minutes a month to make sure account receivables and other details are in order.”
Though a2zShow has been in use for less than nine months, NAB sales and operations team members noted these significant productivity improvements:
- Consolidated data management saved time vs. managing data in four locations.
- Real-time floor plan eliminated audits to reconcile paper, online and database versions.
- Virtually paperless system reduced document filing by 80 percent.
- Integrated financial management cut monthly meeting from hours to 30 minutes.
- Customized online forms replaced PDFs, eliminating faxing and redundant data entry.
- Shortened response time improved communication among team members with better data access.
In preparation for 2010, NAB has already implemented a2z’s networkNow! + ExhibitorAdvantage solution for matchmaking, networking and appointment scheduling. “We are very impressed with the matchmaking and search functionality and think it will deliver excellent results for our exhibitors and attendees,” Dziedzic said. “It goes back to having one source vs. two or three.”
The a2zShow Conference Module is also being customized to accommodate NAB’s complex conference planning process. “There is no doubt that the interaction with Rajiv Jain and his team at a2z has been beneficial to all of us,” Dziedzic said. “Rajiv has a background in tradeshows. He understands what we as show organizers deal with on an annual basis, and from the systems side, he understands what can be done about it. His willingness to be available to us has been an asset to our organization.”