accesso Blog Series: Managing Your Multi-Venue Installation

**accesso** Blog Series: Managing Your Multi-Venue Installation
Multi Venue Blog Header

Man­ag­ing a sin­gle venue can be chal­leng­ing and com­plex, so when your busi­ness grows to include mul­ti­ple loca­tions, it can be dif­fi­cult to find ways to accom­mo­date that growth with­out see­ing expo­nen­tial increas­es in cost – and gray hairs! Luck­i­ly, new advances in tech­nol­o­gy have made it eas­i­er than ever to man­age oper­a­tions across mul­ti­ple venues. Mak­ing sure you have a clear plan for man­ag­ing your tick­et­ing and point-of-sale imple­men­ta­tion can do won­ders for reduc­ing stress, stream­lin­ing oper­a­tions and help­ing you scale your busi­ness in a way that ben­e­fits your bot­tom line.

When imple­ment­ing a tick­et­ing and/​or point-of-sale solu­tion for a mul­ti-venue busi­ness, you’ll have to decide what kind of serv­er con­fig­u­ra­tion makes the most sense for your busi­ness. This deci­sion will impact the way you man­age your busi­ness oper­a­tions and may also influ­ence staffing choices.

Two of the most pop­u­lar serv­er con­fig­u­ra­tions are site-spe­cif­ic servers and cen­tral vir­tu­al­iza­tion servers. Broad­ly, a site-spe­cif­ic serv­er set­up would involve data­base servers installed at each site of a mul­ti-venue prop­er­ty, while a cen­tral vir­tu­al­iza­tion serv­er set­up would uti­lize a sin­gle serv­er, vir­tu­al or sta­t­ic, con­tain­ing either mul­ti­ple data­bas­es with each data­base being des­ig­nat­ed for a sin­gle venue loca­tion, or pos­si­bly a sin­gle data­base shared by all venues. Each option def­i­nite­ly has its pros and cons, so how do you decide which solu­tion is best for your business?

One of the most impor­tant aspects of select­ing the prop­er serv­er imple­men­ta­tion for your busi­ness is assess­ing your venues, the pack­ages they will offer and their sup­port­ing net­work infra­struc­ture. Will your venues all share com­mon pack­age offer­ings? Do the loca­tions of your venues offer ample infra­struc­ture to sup­port reli­able inter­net con­nec­tiv­i­ty? Will each venue have onsite IT staff to sup­port any serv­er main­te­nance needs, or will a sin­gle cen­tral IT team serve all venues? Once you’ve had a chance to exam­ine these ques­tions, you’ll be pre­pared to take a clos­er look at your options and decide which imple­men­ta­tion is the best fit.

To exam­ine the pros and cons of a site-spe­cif­ic serv­er set­up, let’s explore a poten­tial use case of a group of ski resorts in New York, all locat­ed far apart. The resorts require fast calls to the data­base and use intranet to accom­plish this. Tick­et val­i­da­tion occurs through a WAN con­nec­tion to each serv­er, which allows skiers to use a sin­gle piece of entrance media for all prop­er­ties. In this sce­nario, site-spe­cif­ic servers would be an ide­al fit and would allow max­i­mum uptime of data for the home resort. The servers could be vir­tu­al­ly installed at each venue, and with each resort main­tain­ing its own data­base onsite, the poten­tial for dis­con­nec­tion errors from a main data­base is elim­i­nat­ed – ensur­ing that staff will always be able to prop­er­ly serve their guests. This can be espe­cial­ly valu­able if heavy snow inter­feres with nor­mal inter­net con­nec­tiv­i­ty! The down­side to this set­up is that the resorts will incur high­er infra­struc­ture and IT staffing costs to main­tain each serv­er local­ly, and some data main­te­nance will also need to occur to repli­cate data for report­ing purposes.

Multi Venue Blog Reporting

Alter­na­tive­ly, let’s take a look at anoth­er case sce­nario where we have a group of aquar­i­ums owned by a sin­gle par­ent com­pa­ny. The urban loca­tions of these aquar­i­ums afford them reli­able net­work con­nec­tiv­i­ty, with a small cen­tral­ized IT sup­port team sup­port­ing the var­i­ous venues from their head­quar­ters office. This com­pa­ny would like­ly ben­e­fit most from a cen­tral­ized vir­tu­al­iza­tion serv­er set­up, which would main­tain low­er IT staffing costs and allow for the use of a cen­tral host­ing com­pa­ny such as Rack­space® or Ama­zon Web Ser­vices. This con­fig­u­ra­tion allows the aquar­i­ums to cen­tral­ize their data­base man­age­ment, run reports for all venues more eas­i­ly and poten­tial­ly also bet­ter man­age prod­uct offer­ings if they are able to con­sol­i­date to a sin­gle data­base. So what’s the down­side? Well, if for some rea­son net­work con­nec­tion is lost, the indi­vid­ual aquar­i­ums would be unable to prop­er­ly serve guests at the admis­sion counter. In addi­tion, if the var­i­ous aquar­i­um loca­tions share a sin­gle data­base, prod­uct changes could poten­tial­ly cause issues at one or sev­er­al of the properties.

To recap, site-spe­cif­ic servers offer great pro­tec­tion against down­time in sit­u­a­tions where inter­net con­nec­tiv­i­ty may be less reli­able. They allow for vir­tu­al instal­la­tion if desired, and since each venue main­tains its own data­base the risk of a sin­gle data­base change cre­at­ing issues at mul­ti­ple venues is elim­i­nat­ed. How­ev­er, site-spe­cif­ic servers also cre­ate high­er infra­struc­ture costs and may intro­duce unwant­ed com­plex­i­ty when try­ing to pro­duce reports to reflect the busi­ness over­all. In com­par­i­son, cen­tral­ized vir­tu­al­iza­tion servers allow for sim­pler report­ing process­es and can also reduce staffing costs as there is no need to pro­vide each loca­tion with an IT team. Cen­tral­ized vir­tu­al­iza­tion servers can also sim­pli­fy oper­a­tions by cen­tral­iz­ing man­age­ment of pack­ages, and if all loca­tions have very sim­i­lar pack­ages there may even be the oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­sol­i­date to a sin­gle shared data­base. With this stream­lin­ing you unfor­tu­nate­ly also intro­duce some risk: net­work out­ages may leave all venues unable to make sales, and if all venues share a data­base, prod­uct changes could poten­tial­ly cause issues at one or sev­er­al properties. 

Still not sure which solu­tion will work best for your busi­ness? A com­pe­tent tech­nol­o­gy part­ner can help you eval­u­ate your options, and pro­vide insight and guid­ance about what dif­fer­ent serv­er imple­men­ta­tions might look like across your prop­er­ties. At acces­so, our IT experts are always hap­py to work with our part­ners to eval­u­ate how we can best sup­port them and their busi­ness­es. Con­tact us here to learn more.

Stephanie Hor­wath Sales Engi­neer

Stephanie has been with acces­so for 5 years, although she has been famil­iar with our solu­tions for much longer! She first start­ed using our acces­so Sir­iusware solu­tion in 2010 in her role as the tick­et­ing and guest ser­vice man­ag­er at a ski resort. Trav­el­ing the world is one of her biggest pas­sions. When she’s not help­ing our clients dis­cov­er inno­v­a­tive ways to use our acces­so Sir­iusware solu­tion, she and her hus­band love explor­ing the cul­tur­al and restau­rant scenes in Philadel­phia, spend­ing time with their 8‑month old daugh­ter and vis­it­ing the beach with their beloved dog.