In a high-tech world, the last of the low-tech event sectors is plugging in.
Event staffing has for years been a rather “hands-on business” in which third-party brand ambassador providers recruit and manage staffers for the agencies that work directly with brand clients. These staffing partners relied on a mix of phone, fax and email, and in many cases recruited B.A.’s using classified ads.
Years later, staffing providers began developing powerful databases that would allow them to quickly and efficiently locate and manage staffers. The initial reporting was slow, occasionally inaccurate and didn’t capture the kind of qualitative information many marketers pined for.
That was then. This is now. With the proliferation of mobile and web-based technology, the staffing sector is getting upgraded as brand ambassador providers develop staffing management dashboards (let’s just refer to them as SMDs, shall we?).
SMDs provide a single technology platform for sourcing event staffing needs. Some event agencies have their own SMDs, used to track programs, capture data and “self-report.” But the bulk of the dedicated SMD action comes from the staffing agencies themselves.
The primary functions of any staffing dashboard fall into four categories: hiring, communications/management, reporting and database maintenance. In the old days, the entire process was executed on paper. A call for staffers would go forth from a brand, and staffing agencies would hit a file cabinet, full of files on staffers, organized by location, demographics and sometimes a ranking system. Once an eligible group was identified, each potential team member had to be called individually and interviewed to check availability and initial fitness for the program. After that, further interviews had to be scheduled to narrow down the field to the desired number. During events, little or no instant communication was possible, unless an event had a telephone on hand, and before cell phones, this wasn’t always possible. Finally, after events, reporting was filed on paper via mail or courier, eventually making its way to the brand client who almost never saw raw data.
Thanks to today’s mostly web-based software platforms, the hiring process takes a matter of days instead of weeks, communication is instantaneous and database management is simple, searchable and re-definable according to any parameters a brand specifies. And, most important to brand-side marketers, raw data from live events is available within a day, if not almost instantly, and key metrics are automatically highlighted within an online dashboard, accessible anywhere and anytime.
But not all dashboards take the same approach to meet these ends. Here, EM takes a look at five SMDs to get an idea of how they make staffing an event more efficient than ever.
Offered by: AIM Agency, San Diego, CA
Functionality: Event planners mine the software database for workers based on any number of client-defined factors. The staffers are trained within Dash, and only those who pass get to go to work. During the event, the SMD tracks which staffers are working and collects the end-of-day reports filed by staffers, all of which is available to the client by midnight of the event day.
Offered by: MyPromoJobs, New York City
Functionality: MyPromoJobs is designed to be a one-stop shop for staffing any event, whether the client is an event management agency or brand-side client. The event owners post a job and the requirements for the staffers needed, and appropriate staffers are allowed to apply. One interesting feature is the rating system. Event managers rate the staffers and models they previously hired, and the staffers rate employers, too.
Offered by: Encore Nationwide,
Functionality: Part database solution, part staff recruitment engine, part communications and tracking portal, E-Pass is an online hub that blends staff sourcing, data-capture, reporting and training. Agency clients use the system for everything from selecting staffers to implementing online webcast-based training sessions to creating recap reports to invoicing and billing. The staffers themselves receive proprietary profiles they can update with photos, information, comments and so on. E-Pass is adaptable to in-house systems, so agencies can integrate it with their own event management software.
EPS Tracker 2.0
Offered by: EventPro Strategies,
Functionality: Through the hiring process, EPS Tracker 2.0 is designed to take charge of testing and training, in addition to paperwork for tax withholding and human resources. During events, instant communications from staff managers via real-time communications on smartphones keep clients informed about events on the fly, while the SMD compiles the submitted data for daily metrics reports.
Offered by: Shiftboard, Seattle, WA
Functionality: An online staffing solution used by venues and companies looking for an in-house employee scheduling system, Shiftboard has potential for event managers. It allows managers to create multiple venues for single events (or jobs), so multi-leg mobile tours, for example, can all be managed within one system. Staffers, once hired, log in and choose from pre-created open shifts and schedule themselves for work. The software handles legal requirements, like the number of hours allowed per worker, or making sure shifts are evenly distributed and that there is no overlap.
Website: shiftboard.com EM