Constructing the future

Despite not having any relevant experience, these two young, bright-eyed inventors created a novel solution for event planners.

Brilliant innovations often come from unlikely sources, and this power duo may have just created the business events industry’s next big thing.

National University of Singapore (NUS) undergraduate Vien Le and alumnus Aaron Khoo have launched Avenevv, a platform where venues can showcase their event spaces, qualify leads, automate quotations, manage bookings, generate e-invoices, as well as receive payments and post-event feedback.

Despite having no formal MICE training, Aaron Khoo (left) and Vien Le (right) have created a product that will help with industry’s pain points

Avenevv, which includes the extension Avenaire for freelance suppliers, currently lists some 100 spaces from more than 30 venue partners. These include InterContinental Singapore, Robertson Quay, City Serviced Offices, Zouk and Arcc Spaces. The platform has since bagged an award under Singapore Tourism Board’s Tourism Innovation Challenge for MICE.

“Event planners face the issue of visualising venues and their possibility for event usage, and physical visits could be a bigger pain point for overseas event planners. We also observed that the process of communicating with many different venue owners is often manually done and time-consuming,” noted Le and Khoo.

With this platform, booking processes – from quote collation to invoicing across various venues and their different policies – can be streamlined. The ecosystem also casts a spotlight on unique spaces that may have fallen off the radar.

They explained: “In recent years, we have seen (strong potential in) alternative uses for under-utilised venues such as restaurants, offices, retail stores, co-working spaces or sports centres. However, being non-conventional event venues, they may not be event-ready.”

With Avenevv, such venue providers are now equipped with a one-stop-shop that merges enquiries, bookings, payment and even refunds.

An outsider perspective
Rolling out this product was no mean feat.

Although Le and Khoo had prior experience in organising academic events in junior college for more than 1,000 attendees, they and their team members from NUS had no prior experience in the hospitality sector.

It was a “chance meeting with a veteran in the hospitality sector” that spurred them to develop Avenevv. Aside from functioning as an events booking platform, it can also collect event data that will inform on trends and consumer behaviours to benchmark the events industry.

To create a solution to address the pain points of the MICE industry, the team conducted rigorous testing with close to 50 corporate and professional event planners.

“They enabled us to better appreciate the intricate process of how decisions are made for B2B planners. There are many factors beyond price: the event theme, objectives, an event planner’s personality and their organisation workflow, the venue operations and so on,” they expressed.

The next challenge – and one of the biggest, confessed the duo – was introducing the concept of automating venue reservations to event planners, “who would always aspire to customise and add a personal touch”.

The pair added: “We also understand that there are certain reasons why most companies stop at listing, as bypassing is a common problem that could arise. The interaction between event planners and venue managers could get very complicated – beyond what a platform can cater for. Most of the time, event planners and venues may interact directly because that is what they are used to doing.”

However, they asserted that the benefits outweigh the concerns of integrating digital booking in the planning process. “When we break down the things that an event planner actually does, manual tasks take up a large amount of time and effort. Instead of focusing on developing great content for the event, event planners are now doing jobs that could be automated with technology,” they stressed.

The team is slowly making progress in converting more planners to the digital side. To entice them, the team is offering the management software for free while working on keeping it as user-friendly as possible.

Not resting on their laurels
Avenevv is off to a good start, but the team is hard at work to bring in more industry partners. Aside from proactively reaching out to organisations and event planners, they also organised the Event Tech Show Asia Pacific earlier this year to raise more awareness about automating event processes and Avenevv.

Meanwhile, community site Avellage – which offers promotional deals to planners and suggestions on new event ideas – was also recently launched. Currently, the platform is undergoing testing and enhancement, backed by feedback from both event planners and venue partners who provide business context and updates on other challenges faced by the industry.

“Given heightening event expectations, what we hope to challenge is the perception that certain events can only take place at certain venues.

“The use of venues has changed over time and that seeing different event possibilities is crucial in sparking new event ideas and concepts for better attendee experience. We hope to drive innovations in the industry with this mindset,” the pair concluded.

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