Validar enhances efficiency of SmithBucklin’s user group client organizations.

SmithBucklin, the world’s largest association management and professional services group, is the only company in the world with a specialized technology user group practice. With its unparalleled skills, best practices and experience, as well as the industry’s most comprehensive resource base, global software giant VMware looked to SmithBucklin’s expertise to enhance growth and maximize the potential of its fast growing VMware user group program (VMUG). The VMUG and SmithBucklin relationship transformed what began as loosely affiliated groups of VMware customers to a self-sustaining, global nonprofit organization.

Today, VMUG has an independent board of directors and an ever growing number of individual members and regional chapters around the world. With the help of Validar’s resources, including On-site Registration Manager, Exhibitor Lead Capture, and Event Insight Manager solutions, VMUG efficiently executes more than 300 regional events each year. “We love that Validar solutions are scalable for any event size in an efficient, affordable way,” says Victor Bohnert, VMUG’s executive director. “And, at each event, Validar solutions capture metrics that allows us and event sponsors to gauge performance—which is quite unique and valuable.”

With the help of Validar solutions, SmithBucklin and some of its client organizations like VMUG have been able to:

  • Reduce overhead costs
  • Attract high-caliber sponsors
  • Downsize or expand resources quickly to support VMUG growth around the world.

Streamlining World- Class Events

SmithBucklin helped VMUG look for ways to orchestrate dozens of events efficiently and affordably, and using traditional event solutions was not an option. “You’d typically need five to seven temporary staff to check in attendees waiting in line,” notes Bohnert. “The staff would manually sort through stacks of paper and print badges. It’s highly inefficient.”

In contrast, Validar’s On-Site Registration Manager speeds and streamlines the check-in and registration process. Registered attendees quickly check in and print badges at self-service kiosks, reducing the need for staff resources. “The efficiencies and cost savings are huge,” says Bohnert. “We can cut on-site staff resources by up to 60 percent, which drastically reduces travel expenses. The attendees also think it’s cool; it’s amazing how many people comment on it.”

Because VMUG events are admission-free and increasingly popular, they attract numerous walk-ins. With On-Site Registration Manager, attendees can easily be accommodated—without bogging down the registration phase of an event. Validar requires no manual collection of registration information from walk-ins. Staff simply directs walk-ins to designated kiosks to provide their information and print out badges. There’s no interruption to the registration flow.

Hot Leads, No Lag

VMUG finances its events in part through corporate sponsorships. Providing a simple way to capture lead information from attendees is crucial to attracting enthusiastic sponsors. To assist in this process, Validar offers sponsors scanners the size of a USB jump drives, making them unobtrusive for sponsors who may have only a tabletop dispay at their booths.

Sponsors have been impressed by Validar’s Exhibitor Lead Capture. Sponsors see how quickly and accurately Validar scanners capture lead information and they often ask for more scanners. Plus, sponsors receive near-real-time access to lead information. Validar uploads attendee information from scanners to the Validar Event Insight Manager and provides each sponsor with login credentials to view their leads. Sponsors appreciate the efficiency and the fact that they can leave an event with hundreds of leads in hand.

Real-Time Event Dashboard

Validar solutions also help on-site and remote staff keep tabs on events in real time. As attendees register at kiosks, the data is sent to Validar’s Event Insight Manager, which can be accessed by VMUG, other SmithBucklin client organizations or sponsors from anywhere with an Internet connection. “Processing and reporting data from events becomes effortless,” says Bohnert. “Validar’s exceptional solutions let you easily determine, at any given moment, who’s attending, where they are, what they thought, and what they’re telling others.”

Proven Flexibility and Scalability

SmithBucklin, on behalf of its client organization International Avaya User Group (IAUG), selected Validar to help support the 2011 International Avaya User Conference, 10 times larger than a typical VMUG event.

In a day and a half, 3,500 attendees’ badges were printed with help from Validar’s On-Site Registration Manager. In addition, Validar drastically improved lead retrieval, which once took a week or two after the event. With Validar’s Exhibitor Lead Capture, leads were delivered to partners almost immediately. Also, Validar’s pricing allows improved capability at a lower cost.

Strategic Partnership

When asked what makes Validar such a good partner, Bohnert explains, “Validar offers a multifaceted solution that not only spurs efficiency, but it also transforms registration from a utilitarian to strategic function. Validar gives us exceptional registration, lead retrieval, and segmented reporting capabilities all tied together in a single environment. Plus, Validar provides an easy way to measure event performance against specific objectives.” Bohnert concludes, “Our events require a high degree of efficiency and scalability, and Validar’s solutions work just as well for 300 attendees as they do for 3,500.”