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How to make better use of your 24 hours – Time management for event professionals

Let’s face it…there are times when we all feel like our days are much shorter than everyone else’s. 24hours? You feel like they’re gone like the wind. Of course, everyone has this feeling every once in a while; but #eventprofs are likely to find themselves more often in this situation. And although there are times when 24 hours in a day are simply not enough, other times is just a problem of time management…or like a friend of mine likes to say…of life management.

four clocks showing time in London, New York, Tokyo and Moscow

Here are some time management principles that can help you:

Plan ahead

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days,”  said Zig Ziglar. Or, in other words, if you don’t know what you want to do how will you know when you’ve finished? This is why it is vital to set goals. Try to break big tasks into smaller action steps and take them one at a time. Use a to-do list to keep track of what you need to do on a daily basis, it’s one of the most efficient ways to keep you focused on what needs to be done. You can also use a Not-to-do list to remind you which are the tasks that will just keep you busy, without helping you reach your goals. If you have multiple events per month, use an event registration software to keep event-related information in one place. 

Focus on what adds value

If there’s not enough time for everything then you should focus on what adds value to your event. Implementing a cashless payment system is more important than negotiating an extra 1000$ from one of your sponsors (or it should be considering that Millennials value experiences more than anything else). If you don’t have the time for both you should do the task that has the greater long time impact on your business (implementing a cashless payment system will offer your attendees a better experience).

Prioritize your task list

Although it may seem so, not everything on your list is #1. Try to divide your tasks based on their importance and always start with the most important task. A good way for you to do this is by using Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important formula and to “tackle” tasks in that order.

You can’t control everything

Some things are simply out of your control. If there is an electrical problem 2 days prior the start of your event and you are not an electrician…call one. Or two. And let them do their job while you don’t keep your mind busy with this problem. There are experts trying to do their job, you must to yours. The same rule applies to any situation that is out of your area of expertise: don’t let it keep your mind busy. If you can’t fix it you shouldn’t waste your time on it. Concentrate on the things that you can control.

Group similar tasks

It’s easier to get things done if you group them. Need to place 20 phone calls to your suppliers? Book two hours on your agenda for it. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and start making those phone calls. Use the same rule if you have to respond to a large number of emails. Need to meet with your sponsors/partners/? Try to set more meetings in one day –  and use it just for this. We, as humans, are not especially good when it comes to multitasking, so grouping similar tasks will help you become more productive.

Don’t get distracted

Remember that night when you opened your laptop just to watch a short Youtube video and found yourself, 4 hours later, reading about Molecular evolution? Well, this tends to also happen when you open FB “just for a sec”, to check out who shared your hilarious status update. Just received an email? You don’t need to stop what you were doing to check your inbox, email is rarely used in life and death situations; it can wait.

Expect the unexpected

Although interruptions are not necessarily pleasant they tend to appear (almost on a daily basis). So, when you make your agenda for the next day, try to “block” some time just for the unexpected situations that may occur. Some things simply can’t wait. This way you will be able to finish both the list in your agenda and the new “problems” that may occur.

Avoid burnout

The longer you work without a break, the less productive you become. Small breaks will help you stay focused and relax; use the Pomodoro technique to see if it suits you. Fresh air and workouts (or walks) are particularly helpful if you try to avoid burnouts. Don’t neglect your health when you find yourself on a tight schedule, it may become a rather dangerous habit.

We all have 24 hours in a day (i think…) but what we can achieve in these hours depends on how carefully we use our time.

Infographic – Why use cashless payments for your water park?

Cashless payments dramatically improve water parks experience

As the northern hemisphere melts down under the mighty sun I had the greatest idea ever (not!): why don’t I write an article about cashless payments for water parks and how the industry adapts itself. Because what can be cooler (pun not intended) than documenting exotic water parks while you ride a crowded subway to work? But this article walked me around the world, helping me discover incredible destinations, epic constructions, and some interesting ways of using cashless payments within water parks #tech.

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I found up some interesting facts about water parks:

The Waterpark Capital of the world is…Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. But although Wisconsin is home to the biggest water park in the U.S.A. (Noah’s Ark Waterpark) and has more water parks per capita than any other place in the world, the state of Florida leads when talking about the number of attendees; the biggest four locations gathered over 7.2 million people in 2016.

The first indoor water park was built in Edmonton, Canada, in 1985 and was the biggest indoor waterpark until 2004.

The biggest indoor waterpark in the world is Tropical Islands, situated 60 km outside Berlin. The building was initially designed as an aircraft hangar and it’s one of the biggest self-supported halls in the world (the dome is 107 meters high)… It’s spectacular! Tropical Island Resort also opened an outdoor section which helped them bring in over 1.1 million attendees in 2016 (a spectacular 13% increase if compared to 2015).

Speaking of leaps forward, another European Waterpark holds the record for the biggest percentage increase: Siam Park, located in the Canary Islands, opened its gates for over 1 mil guests in 2016, a 15% increase if compared to 2015.

When speaking of the total number of guests the gold medal goes to Chimelong Water Park, from China, which had over 2.5 mil attendees last year; that’s about 600.000 more than South America’s most visited water park, Thermas dos Laranjais.

As I was saying…it’s hard to concentrate when things are melting down around you. Fortunately, there are plenty of places that can help us overcome the heat, and water parks and pools are there to help. But you know what is not helping? The need to carry cash and/or cards when we are in our bathing suits…

I’m an advocate of using NFC technology for water parks, a technology that can make the experience a better one for attendees. How? By linking the wristband to a customer account and crediting it (so there will be no need to carry cash around or periodically visiting the locker to grab some more). Also, the wristband can replace the key to the locker, helping attendees concentrate on the only thing that should be important while they are on site: having fun!

“Paper and coin currency in water parks will go the way of the dinosaur,” said Buddy Wilkes, from Shipwreck Island Waterpark, Florida. And I totally agree.

Let’s review the major benefits of cashless payments for water parks:

To business:

    • Reduced cash handling by employees (so cases of fraud or human error are out of the question)
    • Improves transaction speed (a report from American Express states that “contactless transactions are 63% faster than cash and 53% faster than using a traditional credit card”)
    • Order value increases by over 30% (customers have instant access to their money, eliminating the extra step of walking to the wallet will increase the number of purchases)
    • Information about guests
  • Ability to prioritize clients (that pay extra for different benefits)

To guests:

    • Possibility to receive preferred customer benefits (this is the kind of experience that is hard to forget)
    • Reduces the risk of losing the ticket (or the cash/personal card)
    • Eliminates the need for holding separated tickets for different areas on site (the wristband can store all the access information)
    • They can keep track of family members
  • No more need to wait in line

The idea of using a wristband for contactless payments isn’t new and the technology has been used for some years in the industry but this year we witnessed something great. Orlando Volcano Bay, opened in May 2017, took the technology one step further: their waterproof wristband, Tapu Tapu, announces you when it’s your time to use a ride; this smart wearable it’s not just for cashless payments, it also waits in a virtual line for you, so you can do something else until it’s your time to use the ride.

There is one more great benefit of using wristbands for contactless payments (and also to store access credentials and to unlock your locker) and I let it last on purpose; not because it is not important, but because I want it to be the idea that you’ll stick to: going paperless will make a big change to the environment. This totally slipped my mind, but the guys from Waterbom Bali helped me realize how important this benefit is to us all. It’s been over 7 years since they first started using waterproof wristbands for cashless payments and are happy about the improvements made: because they are aiming to be #1 water park in the world that cares about the environment. Maybe this is why people love them some much and voted them as the number 1 water park in Asia in the Tripadvisor TraveleresChoice ranking. You rock, guys!

P.s.  For more statistical data you can check out Statista, Wikipedia or http://www.teaconnect.org/images/files/TEA_235_103719_170601.pdf, that’s what I did :).

How do you prepare for a cashless event?

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Last week was a full one for us here at Oveit; on Wednesday we visited the lovely city of Riga to participate at We are Museums event WAM 2017 – Tech loves Culture, where we met many museums professionals eager to use #tech to offer their customers a better experience; Thursday and Friday were reserved for ICEEfest, Interactive Central & Eastern Europe, one of the biggest  tech-related events in Central & Eastern Europe. At ICEEfest we were in charge with the registration process and also implemented the cashless payment system, offering attendees the possibility to pay using their wristbands. Everything went as smooth as it can so we thought that would be nice to share some insights that can help you to implement this cashless payment method for your next event.

Here are some hints for a better workflow:

Use the right tool, so you don’t have to use 2 of 3 different software products for one event (our friends used Oveit to sell tickets, check in attendees, print badges and set up the cashless payment system). We used our software “as a hole” and made it really easy to associate the NFC wristbands to an attendee and credit his/her account.

Test your hardware. For this event, we used 24 laptops, 10 NFC readers, and 6 thermal printers. It all worked well but you can be sure that we didn’t wait for the first guests to arrive before we (individually) tested every piece of hardware that we were going to use for the big event. We checked and double checked so when the guests started to arrive we knew that everything is in place and any malfunction that may occur can be easily fixed.

Make sure you have enough power supplies and a strong internet connection (it is strongly recommended to use a private network for your apps, different from the one used by your guests).

You will need to host 2 different training sessions for people operating the software: one with the cashiers (that will credit your attendees’ accounts) and one with the vendors. It’s incredibly easy to use the NFC cashless payment system (at least ours is) but you must make sure that everyone knows how to use it (don’t assume that they don’t need to test it first).

Have a crew on site that knows how to use the software and can be of help if needed. If you have access credentials for each selling point it would be best if the “guys on sight” have the ability to reset them (they are there as a backup, to fix any problem that may occur). If someone has trouble remembering how to log in (or what’s the correct password) – they will have someone to ask for help. You use NFC to improve the general experience so make sure that you have someone on site for this sort of problems.

Conclusions

Using cashless payments was a bliss; there were attendees from all over the world at ICEEfest, so you understand why using cash would’ve been a problem. First, not everyone had the time to stop by an ATM and withdraw cash; second, the queues would’ve been huge with hundreds of people trying to figure out which bills to use. This system allowed everyone to use their credit/debit card to top-up their accounts and a simple tap for pay at all the 8 stores available on site. The result?

A payment system that was very easy to use and no more queueing.

 

If you still have doubts about the NFC technology and how it can help you offer a better experience for your attendees I encourage you to read this article, where you will find (almost) all the right reasons :).