5 Reasons Why You Should Stop Using Spreadsheets to Manage Your Events

July 31, 2019

Al Torres

Al Torres is the co-founder and president of SummitSync, a meeting automation platform used by companies to increase the success of their event marketing investments. Al is a multi-time entrepreneur and seasoned executive with over 15 years of experience in sales, business development and growth strategy.

Imagine you’re managing a team of sales reps attending one of the largest conferences in the world. Now imagine that you can stay back at the office and see the meetings that each sales rep has scheduled, where the meetings are located, and you won’t have to chase down your team members to update everything post-event.

Sounds like a fantasy, doesn’t it? We all know that the reality of managing meetings while attending or sponsoring conferences and trade shows means spreadsheets on spreadsheets on spreadsheets. You need your spreadsheets so you have some semblance of organization heading into events and can say with a small bit of certainty how many meetings your team has scheduled, when and where they are, a column for notes for post-event follow up, a list of who you know you’ll need to chase down to fill in their notes, etc. Sound familiar?

There are several limitations to using spreadsheets for meeting management, including:

  • No transparency among team members. Team members have to rely on their meeting manager to tell them what locations are available and at what times, leading to many questions that could be answered elsewhere.
  • Version control. If you’re using spreadsheets, you risk team members not having the most up-to-date version or creating their own version to make notes on and ignoring the updated version. Google Sheets helps alleviate some version control issues, but accidental erasures and changes can be more prevalent.
  • Things get missed. No matter how thoughtful and thorough we are, we are only human, and humans are prone to errors. Because of the manual nature of spreadsheets, prospects and meetings are certain to be accidentally overlooked, meaning your team is missing out on crucial meetings.

Now let’s go back to that fantasy at the beginning of this post, the one where everything is organized for you. What if we told you that can become your reality? 

How, you ask? Through a new technology that simplifies the conferences and trade show experience called meeting automation. Meeting Automation Platforms automate the tasks and activities for which you typically rely on spreadsheets and landing pages. MAPs also help create more successful meetings and prove that you can measure the value of pre-booked meetings at conferences and trade shows.

Below we’ve outlined five reasons why you should stop using spreadsheets to manage your meetings and jump into the world of meeting automation.

  1. Manage Everything From One PlaceWith meeting automation platforms, you can have your prospects, events attended/attending or sponsored/sponsoring, calendar invites, ROI analysis and more at your fingertips. And because everything is logged automatically and syncs with your CRM, the reliance on others to input their data entry becomes virtually non-existent.

Benefits: Saves time; Syncs with CRMs; Everything is in one place.

  1. Transparency Across TeamsWith meeting automation, team transparency becomes a reality. Sales reps are able to see if there are conflicts in scheduling at pre-set locations and what locations they’ve been granted access to. No more last-minute scrambling and rescheduling to secure the VIP space for your VIP prospect—everyone is where they are supposed to be.

Also, if you’re a manager of teams, you’ll be able to see how many meetings each prospect has scheduled and the number of prospects assigned to each sales rep. With this information, you will be able to make budget-saving decisions. For example, if Jim Halpert has scheduled 17 meetings at PaperCon and Dwight Schrute has only scheduled two, you can decide to assign Dwight’s two meetings to Jim, thus saving your department thousands of dollars.

Benefits: Helps with budgeting; Teams are on the same page.

  1. Fewer MistakesAs we mentioned above, spreadsheets are prone to errors because of manual input. These errors can lead to missed meetings, overlooked prospects, wrong locations...the list goes on. When you use meeting automation to schedule and manage your meetings at conferences and trade shows, your calendar is synced and updated with changes, thus eliminating such a large margin of error. Which leads us to our next point…

Benefits: Fewer errors; Reliance on manual data entry is eliminated.

  1. Multiple Calendars – No Longer a Thing to TrackLet’s be honest: going back and forth between calendar invites and spreadsheets to update changes in time, locations, attendees, etc., is annoying. When you use a meeting automation platform, you eliminate the middleman. Any changes you make to calendar invites are automatically updated in your event notes. 

Benefits: Calendar automatically updates.

  1. Track and Prove ROIOver $570 billion is spent each year on attending conferences and trade shows, and yet, most companies don’t have a system in place to account for if their efforts are successful and turning into deals. And if you’re (un)lucky, you’ll be the person assigned with tracking down receipts, meeting notes, whether meetings took place, and making sure your CRM and that darn spreadsheet are updated.

By tracking meeting occurrences and notes, you’ll be able to attribute ROI to events where your team had a presence and the source of opportunities, and then track year-over-year performance to inform your decision-making process on what events to attend the following year.

Benefits: Year-over-year performance data; Attributable ROI

In short, meeting automation can bring your team into the 21stcentury. As B2B marketers, our goal is to sell, sell, sell, and meeting automation has been shown to shorten sales cycles and move prospects through the funnel faster. Do your spreadsheets do that?


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.