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[Editorial Notes : At NextBigWhat, we play the role of connector and we are happy to introduce this series in which a few investors will share concept/ideas, which they believe solve a pain point. Anirudh Damani of Mumbai based Artha Venture Partners starts off with an interesting concept based on travel management apps.]
“When you reach an obstacle, turn it into an opportunity”
– Mary Kay Ash, Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics
1. What Inspired This Idea
I had just landed in Goa for a friend’s wedding and was welcomed with the news that I had been mistakenly assumed to be on an earlier flight. In the melee of boarding over 40+ people that had arrived on the flight (that I was noted to be on) and instead of calling me to check whether I had missed my flight or whether I would be boarding another flight, the “cool” wedding planner decided to assume that I was not attending (only if he knew that my friend would cause some serious body harm if I had infact done that).
So with the wedding venue almost 90 minutes away and the closest car atleast 60 minutes out, it gave me time to research whether someone had thought of something better than the manual process of making excel lists and ticking off who had or had not arrived for a wedding or a meeting even after RSVPing (yes, those that show up unannounced deserve to be waiting at the airport!). There were a few blogs from Bizzaboo and Plannerwire and the only thing that came closest to helping with event management was Eventbrite, but it didn’t cover all the aspects I mention below.
2. What is the Problem that I Want to Solve
At any event wherein you have out of station guests there exists a serious headache for the organizer to not only manage the pick-up and drop-off people to the airport, the organizer also has to ensure that they know whether their guest(s) have changed their travel plans or mode of travel. Now throw in a tablespoon of unpredictable weather and you have a recipe for disaster.
Oh! I should remind you of the happy task of actually calling/emailing/whatsapping/calling/texting/calling your forgetful guests to provide their travel details and inform you about the number of guests that will be coming in? If there are any in the party that will need some special attention?
Wouldn’t it be easy if the attendee could email the booking confirmation to an app that not only tracked the flight for them – it shared that travel information for the organiser to track on their end in a seamless and call free manner!
At seminars or corporate events if I have managed to make it to the event location, it is cringe inducing to have to first find the banquet hall or conference room where the event is being held. Then when you find the location (within the location) you sift through the plethora of name tags to complete the “check-in” process.
Invariably at conferences and events there will be organisers that have forgotten to print out a name tag for you and they have to ‘write-out’ your name (always shabbily) on a blank name tag that announces ‘I am not that important to the organisers’. This happened to me after my company was convinced to shell out $400 to be at the event. I was appalled and ensured that the event management company refunded our entire contribution for such a major guffaw.
In reality one should expect the event organisers to know who is entering the event location and before they reach the location within the location their name tags should be ready to be put on the person. Now if you really want to wow someone (and to sell them to come to your next event) how about the person at check-in build some rapport with you, based on the city you just came from? (or a professional question picked from the guest’s LinkedIn profile – only if you really want to get fancy 😉 )
The problem of managing the travel arrangements and check-in processes at an event has a huge addressable market. Organisers are faced with innumerable minor and shifting details. Even if one of them is missed it can ruin the event for that attendee. For the attendees end, a seamless experience where you are in the ‘know’, from the time you enter the airport till you enter the location (within the location J) and get greeted with an insightful question picked from my LinkedIn profile…. I’m in love already!
3. Revenue Model
Create a freely downloaded and cross platform app for all users. Allow them to connect their LinkedIn and Facebook accounts and prompt them to enter their contact details (which can only be shared with organisers of events that the user is attending.)
Now if someone wants to organise an event they can choose a package which is based on the number of attendees that will attending the event and that will be managed through this app. The pricing should be nominal and not exceeding $0.50 per managed attendee in any event.
4. UI/UX and App Experience
It is important that the UI be kept simple and intuitive and the organiser module have the ability to assign different roles to people from the organising team with easy attendee management list.
5. X Factor
There is a virality to the app’s adoption as it has a B2B & B2C service that is reached through events done by event organisers that are spending their marketing dollars. By keeping their charges to a minor fraction of the amount normally paid/spent on event attendees it will create significant revenues for itself while not pinching the organisers pocket.
At high levels of adoption of the app the app developers can also sell travel packages to event attendees and other services through the app.
Infact the app could sell the event it is going to manage!
[Anirudh Damani is an angel investor, serial entrepreneur and an adventure enthusiast. He is the Managing Partner of Mumbai based Artha Venture Partners. Follow him on @showmedamani / anirudhdamani.com]
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