Written by Francesca Sheldrake
‘The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” ― George Bernard Shaw
Communication is key to the functioning of a business in any industry, without it, the operational processes would not flow and nothing would get done. In the events space, it is the same principle except there are other key factors to take into consideration.
- Are you talking to the right person?
- Who’s on the receiving end?
- Are you being transparent in what you are communicating?
- How/where is the information communicated?
- What is the end goal?
Voyage Control provide a SaaS platform that works like an air traffic control system to schedule in vehicles and optimise deliveries to busy transport hubs. We started in the exhibition industry and now work with airports, ports and construction sites where there are significant issues around logistics and fragmented operational processes that our product works to streamline.
Within the event industry, we have to communicate to various stakeholders and combine the information on our product with that of a venue and event organiser. This is because, we enable customisation of our platform to match up with the requirements of the venue/site/event in question. Our client might be a venue or it could be the event organiser but either way, we have to manage how information on our product is communicated effectively to their clients – the end user.
In the past, we have provided the necessary information to the organisers and venues that use our platform and left them to manage how that is passed on to the end user. Either they would communicate this themselves or they would ask us to send the information. We are rethinking this now, as it might be a mistake to assume that this is enough in order to educate the end user on the functionality of our system. When you work with the same product all the time, it is easy to make assumptions that when a particular event, venue or business have used that system before everyone will know how it works. Every year there is a turnover of staff and exhibitors, which means there will always be new people that need to learn about Voyage Control and how to use the system effectively.
So who should be the communicator? There are certain levels of communication to be had with all stakeholders, that being said, we have come to realise that the most effective way to communicate with the end user is probably through the event organiser as that will reduce the number of queries considerably.
Transparency has a vital part to play in all this, for trust and to ensure that all stakeholders involved are clear on what is expected from them. If there is no common level of expectation, it is impossible to deliver and will only result in issues like distrust, confusion and failure.
A couple of months ago, we ran a trial with an event organiser using two of the most logistically challenging venues we’ve worked with in the heart of London. One concern of the organiser was how their exhibitors would deal with the introduction of a new process. We consulted with our client to advise on the best way to communicate a process change, focusing on transparency, positive outcomes and impacts of not following the new process. The result was a customer queries rate 2% of all bookings against a normalized query rate of 5% for similar venues. Not only had we achieved effective communication, we also had a way of measuring it.
Referring back to the quote by George Bernard Shaw, it is a common misconception that when someone speaks, they have ‘communicated’. The message needs to be delivered by the right person, to the necessary receiver with complete transparency; only then when the receiver has understood and can deliver to meet the expected goals, will effective communication have been achieved.