If you have ever managed an event, you know it’s a very detail-oriented process. Whether you’ve planned your kids’ birthday parties every year, have been married, or have hosted family or friends at your house, the key to success is in the details.

While some events (having a few friends over for dinner) don’t require such complex timing and coordination, others (a community fundraiser, for instance) require planning amongst several stakeholders. It’s events like these that benefit from an automated scheduling process.

We’ve collected event management best practices from hundreds of organizations across education, government, and religious industries to provide you with eight tips for success. Let’s dive in.

Manual event scheduling vs. automated event scheduling

When organizations use their facility for rentals and internal reservations, many turn to manual processes. Pen and paper, excel, and other tools are more affordable and typically work when there are few events to manage.

However, as reservation and rental requests grow, organizations struggle to manage the intricacies of events manually. Organizations face missed event details, double-booked resources, and incorrect setups. Moreover, unorganized processes often lead to wasted time, confusion, and frustration for your staff. If your organization is up against these issues, it might be time to upgrade to a more automated process. Leaning into software or other tools to manage these events leads to fewer headaches and more streamlined events.

8 tips for event success (and how to move to an automated process)

1. Provide a publically available location catalog

When utilizing your facilities to manage internal or external events, you must have a publicly available record of all schedulable locations. The information you provide for internal staff vs. external community members may differ. Still, if areas of your facility can be reserved or rented, those who can secure/rent a space need to see which rooms and resources are available and when.

Providing details in your catalog, such as photos of the space, floorplans, and rental rates prevent back and forth Q&A emails and save time for your event admin.

In the most basic sense, you can utilize an excel spreadsheet or pen and paper to keep track of your rentable locations and resources. However, this often leads to double-booked event spaces, confusion, and wasted time trying to understand which areas are being utilized. This also isn’t the best way to share these locations with community members or others outside the organization who want to view them.

An automated system removes these difficulties by ensuring a requester can only rent locations and resources that are still available. Let’s look at an example:

Tom is planning a community fundraiser event and expects 500 people to attend. Tom can see in the catalog that the only space that will accommodate that quantity of people is the High School gymnasium. Utilizing an automated reservation portal, Tom can see which days and times the gym is available without requiring back and forth communication with staff.

Once you’ve input the information for the different locations, an automated system can showcase which resources meet the criteria of people booking events and only display available time slots in the catalog. The software does all the work of guiding the reservation process and answering questions for the requester.

2. Enable a self-service reservation/request portal

Those who need to rent or reserve spaces in your facility need an easy process to follow. Whether it’s a web form, a phone conversation, or a reservation portal, ensure you have a straightforward method for requesting and reserving rooms and resources.

Providing a way for individuals to reserve spaces while still capturing all the details you need can save you time and hassle.

Taking down a person’s contact information and event details over the phone or by email is time-consuming for your staff and doesn’t guarantee that all the necessary information will be recorded the first time. Then when details change or events get canceled, all those details need to be manually updated.

By enabling a self-service portal on your website, you can empower individuals to handle all these steps on their own without the assistance of your staff. For example, a tool like FMX can provide a contact form on your website for interested parties to fill out that ensures you receive their contact information, organization details, and requirements for their event. This way, someone from the organization doesn’t have to track down those details later.

After a request is approved, that point of contact can adjust those details or cancel the event within the software if changes are needed. It will automatically notify all the relevant people involved of the change. This automation takes less off your plate and provides consistency to your collection process.

3. Consolidate your communication threads

Event planning involves coordination between many stakeholders. Event information must be made available to the staff, cleanup crew, the person(s) requesting the event, and those in charge of preparing the event. When putting an event process in place, you must have a single line of communication visible to all stakeholders. Events can quickly get out of control if in-person discussions, text messages, or phone calls are lost in translation.

If you’re managing this process manually, you should keep a log that allows your team to input event information and communication threads. So long as all stakeholders have visibility into this log, you can use it as a record-keeping tool to ensure transparency and overall event success.

Maintaining effective communication becomes much easier with an automated process. Using FMX, you can automatically keep a single line of communication amongst all stakeholders. Many organizations say, “if it’s not in FMX, it didn’t happen!” This attitude positions organizations for success because it ensures all details are in one location. Furthermore, you can notify all stakeholders whenever someone has an update or poses a question.

4. Partner with a 3rd party payment processing solution

Processing payments is arguably one of the most challenging parts of renting your facility to outside organizations or community members. Often, organizations process payments manually, which requires collecting checks and other forms of payment and then manually updating the invoice to reflect these updates. (This is when you say a little prayer that nothing gets lost in translation and that the check clears.)

3rd party payment processing allows the community member to pay the invoice right away through a secure, 3rd party vendor. The payment is validated immediately, so your organization doesn’t have to worry about bounced checks or invalid credit cards. The person paying the invoice also has the peace of mind that their financial information is protected through an industry-certified provider.

Automated 3rd party payment processing removes the time spent collecting checks, manually updating invoices, and communicating back and forth with the debtor(s). Your organization only needs to worry about sending an invoice, and the 3rd party payment processing system will take care of the rest.

5. Better organize your bookkeeping

On the other side of payment processing is sending invoices, paying deposits, and tracking outstanding balances.

While most organizations store this information in a spreadsheet or other tracking system, event managers often miss payments or forget to send invoices without automated reminders. A computerized system can alert you when someone adds a payment and show you at a glance all the invoices that are outstanding or overdue for quick and easy follow-up.

Ensure your team has an easy way to identify outstanding balances. FMX provides a real-time view of all overdue invoices, with links to the contact information of the person responsible for the invoice. It also quickly shows total amounts outstanding, paid, and overdue invoices for easy access to those metrics.

6. Keep a central calendar of upcoming events

When managing events, a calendar is the best tool to see what’s approaching at a glance. Whether using it as an internal tool, a public-facing tool, or both, it’s pertinent that the calendar stays up-to-date to keep stakeholders on the same page.

An internal-facing calendar will show all the upcoming events and the associated details. To further refine your process, see if you can allow each department to filter for the events they are involved with (for instance, the kitchen sees a list of all the upcoming events involving food needs).

A public-facing calendar for community members will often show which sporting events, community activities, or other events are upcoming. FMX allows this calendar to be posted on an organization’s website, making it easily accessible.

If you’re manually updating the calendar with events, it can get rather messy. Events get canceled or moved around, and it’s easy to forget to make these changes in two different places. By using an automated event management system, the calendar will always stay updated in real-time, reflecting when new events get added, times or dates change, or if an event gets canceled altogether.

7. Set up a building automation system (BAS)

Often, events occur outside your organization’s regular operating hours. Many facility teams must come in early or stay late to unlock doors, turn the lights on, and turn on the HVAC. This adds additional stress and inconvenience to your team’s plate.

With a building automation system, you can schedule HVAC units to kick on, doors to be locked and unlocked, and lights to be turned on and off following your event calendar. Not only does this save time, but it also optimizes your utility costs and ensures your facilities are prepared for every event.

8. Automate your data tracking and reports

If you rent out your facility, your organization likely needs to record facility usage and track revenue. Manually tracking this information can often lead to wasted time, inaccurate data, and countless headaches.

FMX allows you to build robust reports and dashboards to track the KPIs most important to your organization or your specific event. Track total revenue from all events in the fiscal year, see how much time your team spends to set up events, which type of events your team spends the most time on, and more.

If you use FMX to manage your rentals and reservations, the dashboards automatically account for these events as they are added to the catalog. 

Summary

With the proper system and processes in place, event management doesn’t have to cause headaches across your organization. An automated system like FMX’s facility scheduling software can provide the following capabilities:

Get started automating your event management processes today!