America’s Center Convention Complex returned to hosting events in early June. (Getty Images)

St. Louis convention complex adds integrated products from EventBooking, Simpleview

America’s Center Convention Complex has returned to hosting events and has a new integrated venue management/marketing and communication software from EventBooking and Simpleview to help staff get the facility back on track amid the coronavirus disruption.

The selection of EventBooking’s VenueOps platform and Simpleview followed “a comprehensive review process” involving a number of vendors, according to Darren Ison, chief technology officer with Explore St. Louis, operators of the America’s Center Convention Complex.

EventBooking and Simpleview was selected based on its “proven track record in handling similar destinations and venues” and the integration of scheduling, event and customer relationship management capabilities offered by the combination of the two companies’ software, according to Ison.

Chief Marketing Officer Brian Hall said that integration of capabilities is especially useful to Explore St. Louis because, unlike other facilities where the venue operations staff is separate from the convention and visitors bureau staff, America’s Center is run, marketed and booked by a single entity. 

“We book everything that we cook,” Hall said.

Explore St. Louis had relied on “a patchwork of solutions that had led the organization down a negative path in terms of not having systems that spoke to one another,” while the new combination “gave us the vast majority of everything we need in a bulletproof package,” Hall said. “We found a couple of cities that had purchased the exact same combination” and were pleased with it.

“With their legacy system, they were basically using it for a calendar to see and book events,” said EventBooking President Steve Mackenzie. “With VenueOps they will utilize not only the calendar but operational pieces. Prior to selecting VenueOps they were doing it manually with Microsoft Word.”

Hall said, “We love the integration of sales and marketing and event management into a single solution and having all the information about a customer that is required at every touchpoint.”

The pandemic has prompted staff reductions, so improvements in efficiency and productivity are all the more crucial, Hall and Ison said.

Mackenzie said that the configurability of the software makes it suitable for venues from museums to stadiums. 

EventBooking has added about 300 venues to its roster of clients since it introduced VenueOps three years ago. Ease of use is the biggest improvement Explore St. Louis will enjoy, he said.

“The average person only needs an hour or two of training as opposed to a week or more under the legacy system,” Mackenzie said. “Second, the time it takes to process end-of-month reporting has gone from 1 1/2 days to five minutes.”

Creating bookings will go from a 30-minute process to five minutes and staff across the organization will be able to look at the calendar in real time, he said.

The company’s pricing model is based on sellable space rather than the number of users, with a typical contract term of three to five years, Mackenzie said. Explore St. Louis has a five-year deal.

Hall said the downtime that came with the pandemic offered a good time frame to get the new platform up and running.

The convention center complex, which includes The Dome at America’s Center — former home of the NFL Rams and the site of last month’s “American Ninja Warrior” tapings — reopened in mid-May and on June 8 began hosting limited events such as dance competitions and executive meetings.

The facility has filed for Global Biorisk Advisory Council Star accreditation and is “fully prepared and equipped” for a robust return to programming, Hall said.

Sales staff has moved a number of events into 2021 and beyond, Hall said, adding that all parcels have been secured for a planned $175 million expansion. Plans call for city and county bonds to be issued to pay for the project.

Editor’s Note: This story had been updated.