Industry Update
Supplier News21 September 2018

5 Reasons to Add AV Management Software to a Hotel’s 2019 Capital Budget

Industry reports show that small- to mid-size hotels are placing a higher emphasis on hotel technology to meet planners’ demands; Self-managing AV equipment process with AVaStar will drive revenues

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Electro-Media Design

Recent reports are showing that the meetings segment of hospitality is flourishing, and technology is of critical importance to event planners in venue selection. Meeting facilities with lodging - which hosted 87% of meetings 2016 according to the PwC Conference Center Report - need to put more focus on managing their built-in and portable audiovisual equipment to meet planners' expectations in 2019. Inventory management, break/fix ticketing, cost accounting and expense management of a hotel's event technologies is often overlooked. However, when properly orchestrated via cloud-based software and a mobile app, a hotel can turn AV into the second most profitable department in a hotel, behind rooms.

To breathe some life into this often-ignored, revenue-generating department, Electro-Media Design has developed AVaStar, a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform that ensures all event equipment and meeting services are being delivered and meeting customers' expectations. AVaStar empowers the staff that self-manages AV services with the tools and resources needed to keep things under control. Staff can avoid surprises and cut down on last minute pop-ups with scripted sales prompts and packages that ensure complete orders before the event. It also supports staff with setup and troubleshooting procedures that quickly overcome challenges that arise. And, when it comes to service and maintenance, AVaStar's ticketing system and maintenance schedule reduces downtime and ensures that everything works.

Consider this:

  • 2.2 million meetings took place in the United States in 2016, representing $316 billion in direct spending; Meeting facilities with lodging hosted 87% of those meetings (PwC).
  • The total addressable market to hotels was roughly $176 billion, or 56% of the $316 billion in direct spending for the industry (PwC).
  • Technology is becoming critically important in venue selection, as incoming generations are demanding the latest in technology advancements to stay engaged and interact with meeting content (IACC 2017 Meeting Room of the Future™).

"PwC reports that 'centers of all sizes are focused on developing flexible space that can easily adapt to meeting organizer needs,'" said Jeff Loether, president of Electro-Media Design. "While large centers are budgeting to increase the size of meeting-room and pre-function spaces, create grand entrances, and add natural lighting, small- and mid-sized centers are planning to enhance the attendee experience with technology. It's these smaller meeting facilities with lodging that typically self-manage their AV and lack any type of resource or support system that provides a professional template. They typically struggle through the process and sacrifice potential revenue and profit. It's for these hotels that we created AVaStar."

Electro-Media Design is the foremost consultancy in the meeting, entertainment, and event technologies and acoustics. The company has provided consulting services for more than 1,000 projects globally including hotels, conference and convention centers, and has written the brand standards for audiovisual and acoustics design for many of the industry's leading brands. In 2018, EMD released a new, digital platform to guide hotel staff in providing technology services to event planners and customers.

Here are 5 reasons why operators need to budget for AV Management software in 2019:

1. Maximize Revenues with Scripted Sales for Non-Technical Staff

When staff do not understand AV technologies, it makes it difficult for them to sell - or upsell alternatives - to event planners. Within AVaStar, venue-specific service packages are created and customized to drive sales and eliminate errors and omissions in equipment orders. This decision-tree process prompts staff to ask specific questions. Depending on the planners' answers, the salesperson then moves on to the next question. It's an easy-to-use analytical tool that builds a billable package of AV technologies.

2. Ensure Equipment Performance by Tracking AV Equipment Lifecycle in Micro Detail

When the person managing AV processes is also responsible for other tasks, managing inventory often takes a back seat. It's not enough to just know which systems are in-house (built in), which are portable, and what can be brought in from a third party. What is sorely lacking is the ability to track AV equipment across its lifecycle. When was the equipment purchased and from whom? How much did it cost? Is it still under warranty? If it is under warranty, who holds the service contract? How many times has the equipment been repaired? Who repaired it? How many times has it failed? What did it cost to repair? Where is the equipment stored? How often is it used? At best, hoteliers use sticky-notes, index cards, whiteboards, and maybe excel spreadsheets to answer just a few of these questions. AVaStar gives operators an at-a-glance synopsis of each piece of equipment in micro detail, enabling even the most novice sales person to ensure planners are using equipment that works each time, every time.

3. Ensure Proper Service Ticketing of Broken/Fixed Equipment

Preventive maintenance procedures are in place at most hotels to ensure that capital expenses are functioning properly. Unfortunately, many hoteliers fail to add AV technology to their PM schedules. The best way to ensure that AV equipment will work prior to an event is to implement a service-ticketing program. If equipment is malfunctioning and needs to be serviced, a ticketing system (that includes barcode labeling and scanning, or inventory asset tags) will let staff know where the item is in the repair cycle. AVaStar tracks where the equipment was sent for repair (internally or externally); how long the item is out of service; when the repair was completed, and if the item was put back into inventory; if the item needs replaced; or if staff needs to find other workarounds to meet the planner's needs.

4. Manage Expenses by Tracking Costs and Revenues of AV Equipment, Even Equipment and Services Provided by Third-Party AV Services Vendors

Once hotel teams begin driving revenues from AV equipment, they will need the ability to measure and manage those revenues as well as associated costs. AVaStar is built to do just that and more. While tracking revenues is important, AVaStar also identifies the sources of revenue. Did the money come from equipment the hotel owns or rents? How much labor was paid for staff to manage the equipment? Did you need to hire outside labor to run the technology? Was additional equipment like rigging, Internet, or electric services required? What did the labor cost for that endeavor? How much money is spent on equipment rental? Can the hotel reduce its expenses if equipment was purchased vs. rented? If yes, how much and how quickly? AVaStar is designed to make hoteliers more efficient with their spending. It identifies top line revenues and bottom line costs quickly. And it helps ensure that all AV related costs are allocated properly, not falling into the "Banquet-Other" category by mistake. Even when outsourced third-party vendor equipment and services are needed, AVaStar will help manage them as well.

5. Access AV Data on the Fly via Mobile App

Operations staff - who are usually not tied to their desks - can manage most of the above via the AVaStar Mobile App. It brings AVaStar's desktop functionality to staff's fingertips.

"Until we released AVaStar in June, no software like this - created specifically for managing AV in a single venue - previously existed," said Eric Bracht, AVaStar managing director. "Why wouldn't hoteliers' budget for a single, dedicated platform for conducting all AV technology activities? If you operate a meeting facility, and you use non-technical, in-house staff (like the catering or banquet manager) to oversee AV services for these events on top of their normal, everyday duties, it's exhausting your resources. Chances are, these staffers are not comfortable with the added responsibility, planners aren't happy because their planning contact lacks the knowledge to support their technical requirements, and owners aren't happy because revenues are falling through the cracks.

"The best way to meet planners' expectations in 2019 and capture significant lost revenue is to budget for AV Management software," Bracht said. "The smart investment is in a solution that is built by hospitality's foremost AV technology experts. To learn what AVaStar can do for you, just give us a call."

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About Electro-Media Design Ltd.

Electro-Media Design, Ltd. (EMD) is an independent consulting and design firm with global experience on more than 1,000 projects since 1990. EMD is the leading industry-recognized global thought leader in in meeting, event, and entertainment technologies for hotels, conference centers, and institutional facilities. EMD are the go-to experts for hotel and facility management brands, as well as technology industry trade associations. EMD provides a full range of services in acoustics and technology consulting, from surveys and master plans to project/procurement management, commissioning, and training. EMD does not sell, install, or represent any manufacturers or products. Visit us at or call (301) 355-5050.

Barb Worcester
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