By Mike Doane
Liz Selover, AUA Conventions and Meetings Manager, and her team member, Kaili Johnson, needed a way to manage housing, travel, and registration details for their VIP members and attendees. They wanted something that would alleviate human error and automate their process.
How to treat VIPs with the highest honor
Selover and Johnson recognize the importance of their VIP guests. “We don’t cure cancer,” says Selover, “But we may be hosting doctors who do.”
Because of this, AUA VIP attendees are treated with special attention. Their experience from the airport, to the hotel, to the benefits they receive (ranging from complimentary ground transfers, to sleeping rooms, to registration), are highly curated.
“The doctors we work for are busy,” continues Selover. “It’s our job to make their lives easier and get them through the day.”
AUA started the VIP program to deliver an amazing experience to members who have contributed exceptionally to the organization throughout their career. But they warn other organizations who may want to start a similar program.
“AUA is 113 years old,” says Selover. “We have a stable membership and the ability to offer special benefits to our VIPs.”
She says that smaller or younger organizations may have a difficult time keeping up VIP benefits in tough times. Once you offer these benefits, it can be difficult to take them away.
How AUA uses event management software to manage VIP details
Selover and Johnson knew that event management software could help them keep track of VIP details better. AUA was already working with CadmiumCD, an event management software vendor. They presented the challenges they were facing and asked if this process could be handled using the system.
CadmiumCD project manager Gary Davis worked with AUA to fit their process.
”AUA stored their data in a spreadsheet housed on individual computers,” says Davis. ”When they made a change, they had to share that change with everyone by sending the file. With event management software, AUA now has one central location for all their information. They can give team members access to the data and disseminate it to multiple teams. Everyone now has access to the most updated information in real-time.”
VIP attendees can now log into the system, make their hotel and travel arrangements, submit their dietary and registration preferences, and upload forms associated with any relevant expenses.
“Our members are busy going to multiple conferences and working with their patients,” Johnson says. “This system helps them clarify what information they need to submit and why they’re submitting it.”
“For us,” adds Selover, “It’s now easy to track and understand changes to our VIP attendees’ arrangements in one central location.”
Who is the VIP Harvester for?
Selover reminds us that this system isn’t for everyone. “We’re an organization with a long history and robust VIP program,” she says. “Nonprofits with smaller VIP groups probably don’t need a tool like this.”
She says that she could also see this being a good option for incentive meeting planners who manage hosted buyer programs, as well as corporate conferences that host top CEOs.
A Gentle Reminder
Selover and Johnson also shared an important caveat. Technology makes our lives 100x easier, they said, but it is also important to treat VIPs like… well, VIPs.
“When everything is automated, it’s easy to forget to make that phone call,” says Selover. “You miss out on personal details (AKA the human element) that really make your VIPs feel special.”
Johnson leaves us with this piece of wisdom: “Automate your process, then use your extra time to keep up your relationships with VIPs.”
Michael Doane is marketing manager at CadmiumCD, makers of the myCadmium software platform, an award-winning suite of conference and trade show management products. Visit the CadmiumCD blog for more articles like this.