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Event Strategy, Event Technology

Top 4 Hidden Costs Operating Live Events with Spreadsheets or Airtable

by Erin Chesterton
on November 2, 2021
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A lot has changed about live event operations post-pandemic, but has your technology?

Despite the major leaps in attendee-facing technology like cashless payments and biometric check-in—back of house operations teams have yet advance at the same pace. With new challenges like staffing shortages and supply chain constraints from the lingering affects of COVID-19—it's becoming clear that the same fragmented and outdated systems event teams have relied on breed inefficient processes, impeding on their ability to innovate.

If you're still operating your events with spreadsheets or Airtable, you could be leaving more than just money on the table. With the magnifying glass on event budgets going into the 2022 season, now is the time to rethink your approach re-evaluate what you've always done and find a better way, as Nick Schling, Director of Operations at the Farmer's Insurance Open notes:

"With the lapse in events it gave us a pause and the ability to determine what worked but ask if there’s a better way to do it. I've seen a greater adoption of technology and the need for a structured system to operate by is in higher demand."

Learn more about the top four hidden costs facing event teams when operating with spreadsheets or Airtable. We'll explore the pros and cons of staying the same, and provide action steps to help you overcomes the hidden costs from operating with spreadsheets or Airtable. 

Event Portals vs. Spreadsheets or Airtable

As events continue to grow in complexity, you need solutions that can help you simplify wherever possible. But when you're faced to manage credentials for the masses, involving cross-functional teams across a slew of action items is no easy feat. Spreadsheets and Airtable make the speed, accuracy and collaboration required for successful credential management extremely challenging.

Pros to Spreadsheets or Airtable

Despite the obvious advantages of lower costs and flexibility, Spreadsheets and Airtable make the speed, accuracy and collaboration required for success extremely challenging.

Cons to Spreadsheets or Airtable

Stop wasting valuable time and resources with legacy systems that keep you stuck in the past and move forward with Lennd's all-in-one event portals.

Lennd’s portal keeps your logistics and event data honest and makes on-the-spot operational decisions easy. To better understand where your current workflows are falling short, let's explore the top four areas where they are are costing you the most.

Avoid these hidden costs from operating live events with spreadsheets or Airtable

Time is money, and in live event operations—every minute matters. While using spreadsheets and Airtable to operate your event is a cost-saving alternate, there are blind spots that create major time-saving and operational bottlenecks that create far higher costs impacting you in the long run.

The top 4 areas where spreadsheets and Airtable fall short include:

Hidden cost #1—Time delays & approval bottlenecks

Even the seemingly smallest of errors in a spreadsheet can have costly ramifications. When operating events with Spreadsheets you're inevitably operating from the past, and teams are using information outdated from where they are now at this very minute.

Whether it's missing data, scheduling errors or missteps with approvals, spreadsheets or Airtable don't easily integrate across multiple groups or teams, making it challenging to stay on the same page. You lose visibility you need to make accurate decisions and lack the foresight into potential challenges or issues onsite.

That all leads to time wasted tracking down the status of key items which means less efficient use of your staff and internal resources—which are already limited post-pandemic.

How to avoid this cost?

Lennd's robust portal helps teams keep track of every detail and task to ensure everything is organized and everyone stays accountable. This means less time wasted sifting through various emails for approval or tracking tabs on a spreadsheet. The dashboard makes it seamless for everyone to take action on their own tasks, and provide foresight into challenges before they arise.

For event leaders like Sarah Henry of the Winnipeg Folk Festival, adopting one centralized system of communication has never been more important than it is now:

"The biggest challenges has been uncertainty due to changing COVID protocol. We had 6 budgets at one point in time and we were modeling a million different scenarios. With so many groups and details changing on the fly, clear communication has been more key than ever before."

Lennd's portal empowers you to operate from one source of truth, so you can make more accurate decisions, on-the-spot.

Hidden cost #2—Miscommunication & duplication of efforts

Did you know that a study by Mckinsey found that the average employee spends 28% of the work week just managing email and nearly 20% looking for internal information?

Tracking down email chains, slack chats, texts, notes, another google doc. Sharing and re-sharing. Resolving comments, putting out fires, updating statuses. You're juggling every channel to communicate efficiently and effectively.

Using static systems like Spreadsheets as your foundation presents another layer of friction, and fall short in providing the visibility into the onboarding or enable everyone to see, follow, and monitor progress. As a result details are missed, communications slip through the cracks and time is wasted.

How to avoid this cost?

By adopting an operations platform with built-in communication tools, you can easily centralizing key updates, tasks and announcements during the onboarding process. Lennd's event portal software helps teams collaborate with multiple people at scale, or drill down for more personalized 1:1 communications. Create automated emails to streamline time-consuming content management and approvals processes. 

Lennd's portal helps your people self-manage the onboarding process and equips you with communication tools you need to keep everyone accountable and on track.


Hidden cost #3—Lack of mobility or real-time data

Eleven times every hour. That's the number of times the average worker checks their email.

Anyone who works live events knows how critical is it to always have the flexibility to work on-the-go. You need to be everywhere, all at once. Your ability to make accurate decisions on the fly is crucial for successful and smooth operations. However, spreadsheets are notoriously difficult to navigate via mobile device. Considering that 44 percent of business professionals say they check the progress of their projects more than 20 times a day, the need for instant access to accurate progress is essential. 

To put it quite simply, operating with spreadsheets or Airtable keeps you in the past and leaves too much room for lost information, or updates. Chase Wilkes, credential Manager at EZoo discusses the value of having one source of truth to operate by:

"Most finance departments on a festival would love to see where all of the money is going in back-of-house operations. So having a crystal clear picture of credentials, assets, and catering by department with exact numbers is a game-changer. When you have 80,000 people coming through your show, you need one source of truth."

How to avoid this cost?

With event portals you can keep teams on the same page and encourage more mobility throughout your live event. Live events are constantly in motion, and you need systems that can support your operations on-the-go.

Dashboards keep you on track and focused at the task on hand, giving you the flexibility to confidently make critical and informed decisions anytime, anywhere. Get the foresight into challenges, before they unfold and come equipped with solutions to take action when they do. Lennd's event portal software is flexible and has built-in communication tools like SMS and email to help you operate smoothly.

Hidden cost #4—Overspend or over ordering with assets, passes or catering

With supply chain driving up costs for your operational budgets more than ever, taking a hard look at your expenses and where you can become more strategic is worth the investment of time. Are you operating from past benchmarks, or starting new each year? How much does wasted meals or extra equipment really cost you?

Assets like golf carts and walkie talkies are more expensive than ever and a small miscalculation could lead to major last minute investments or unforeseen expenses. 

Inevitably, last minute requests happen, but having the foresight to be prepared when they do provides you with more notice to be proactive and strategic in your operations. 

No two events are alike and you must remain nimble, yet organized. Flexible, yet focused. Operating from a spreadsheet doesn't allow for the flexibility you need to accurately assess your budgets and make informed decisions. 

You're also not establishing a sound system of record to reference and replicate. Instead, each year you start from scratch and replicate hours of work which you could avoid.

How to avoid this cost?

Controlling what you can in a time when uncertainty around events is still heightened is key. Lennd provides the infrastructure you need to establish a standard for event operations for years to come. You can clone shows year over year to carry over key configurations or workflows, saving you valuable time.

With that, you can develop operational benchmarks to work towards year-over-year and begin to measure the true impact of these costs on your event ROI.


Using spreadsheets to manage event operations? Time to upgrade

Event portals empower you to eliminate the tedious and error-prone tasks that come with managing your event's credentials, access, catering, assets, VIPs, and more. Beyond time saving, teams who adopt event portal software also benefit by:

Now is the time to set new standards that bring rock solid infrastructure to your ever-changing event management and operations. More than a spreadsheets, Lennd's portal can grow to fit your needs as your team expands and your processes change at a moment's notice.


Lennd's portal is a time-saving alternative to your current event operations workflow and transform your operations for a rock solid 2022.


Lennd is a technology company that builds infrastructure to help bring events of every size to life. From small music festivals to major conferences, sports gatherings and everything in between—event leaders across the globe trust our software to manage their event operations and provide their people with one streamlined experience.

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