accesso Blog Series: Managing Your Multi-Venue Installation
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.
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.