There is a definite positive energy found among people who are devoted to changing the world for the better. No where is this more apparent than at a Catalyst Conference. Founded by several influential names across multiple Christian denominations, this series of conventions offers leadership training to those looking to become a Community of Change Makers. There are three locations throughout the year that host the 3 day events; Atlanta, Dallas and West Coast. These three venues have a combined attendance of over 23,000 up and coming leaders. They divide their time between personalized breakout labs, large group sessions featuring talks by proven leaders in business and ministry, and worship sets and concerts.
To be an effective leader, you need to maintain a connection with those around you. You need to stay relevant. This philosophy permeated Catalyst’s approach to their selection of speakers, musicians, resources, technology and point of sale. They wanted to make the best use of available systems to create a personal and hands on experience for the attendees.
Time was also concern. The breaks between sessions are short, and no one wants to miss hearing their favorite speaker while stuck in a checkout line. Long lines could deter people from purchasing available books, DVDs and resource kits, which are an integral part of the take home experience. They provide valuable information to reinforce the messages heard during the conference.
Another requirement of the system was being able to quickly access consolidated reports. Managing inventory and restocking shelves during sessions has to be done quickly. The same is true at the end of the event. Unsold merchandise has to be verified against item reports before it is repacked and returned to the warehouse. This happens within hours after the event is over.
When American Metro was approached with creating a system that is culturally relevant, tactile, and fast with easy reporting options, the focus shifted from a traditional cash register to an iPad setup. There were 3 separate locations in the arena where stores were setup. A total of 20 iPads, loaded with a point of sale app were used. There were 13 iPads setup in swivel stands at the checkout counters and 7 in handheld cases used for mobile checkout. Choosing to have receipts available only through email lowered the cost of rental by eliminating the printers. It increased customer interaction with cashiers by using the iPad for signatures and filling in email addresses. This also allowed the Catalyst staff to gather marketing information.
The mobile units were used to speed up lines. Cashiers would be able to check people out before they got to the sales counter. These line buster measures were successful at helping process credit card transactions. These extra iPads were enough to offset the added time required for customer email entry.
The finance team and the event manager both utilized the online reporting feature. The event manager was able to make sure shelves stayed stocked and adjust prices of underperforming items to help bolster sales. The finance team was monitoring sales numbers after each session and comparing the results to last year’s statistics. This helped them determine that scheduling more time for book signing increase sales for that speakers materials.
The onsite team kept the behind the scenes details running smoothly. Maintaining a secure WiFi network was necessary for iPad reporting and credit card processing. Hotspots were installed at each location to ensure the required connection would be present.
The overall success of the event was evident. Several comments made by cashiers and customers were overheard expressing sentiments of “the iPads were much easier to use” and “how modern they looked”. It seems to be a matter of perception. With the given audience, they are used to their electronic devices looking and acting a certain way. This was familiar to them.
The Catalyst staff was also quite pleased with the performance of the equipment. The reporting features were quick and easily accessible.