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A Matchmaking Service for Set Up and Tear Down

What if you could share the cost of your AV equipment and stage setup with other events using the same venue? There’s a new booking platform for that.

Damian Oracki ‘The sharing economy does not exist — [it’s just] the economy.’

When Damian Oracki started working in the events industry a decade ago unloading trucks and building stages, he noticed one common element everywhere he turned: waste. “We would work for one production company for three days setting up a massive event, and afterward, we would spend 20 hours de-rigging the setup,” Oracki told Convene in a recent interview. “Then, we would work for a different production company setting up another environment that felt almost exactly the same.”

Seeing that pattern of wastefulness inspired Oracki to launch Showslice, a U.K.-based company that hopes to inspire event organizers to share audiovisual, staging, and labor costs with their peers. For example, if an organizer wants to host a training session during a certain timeframe, Showslice will look for opportunities to pair that organizer with another event in the same venue on nearby dates. The model works sort of like an online dating service that unites compatible partners, while also taking a cue from companies such as Uber and Airbnb that have disrupted the consumer landscape.

REDUCING WASTE, CUTTING COSTS

Showslice’s services work across a variety of events, from event conferences to award ceremonies.

As Uber and Airbnb have helped passengers and travelers save money on transit and accommodations, Oracki thinks his model can help event organizers cut expenses. Browsing the Showslice online booking platform reveals a range of deals that can create significant cost savings. Pairing with one other event often leads to a 30-percent discount for each event. If Showslice can manage to find five events in a back-to-back arrangement, organizers of each of the events can save up to 70 percent on their infrastructure expenses.

For venue owners, it’s a winning scenario, too. For example, a venue booked for a morning program might have to turn down evening business because of the teardown process for the first event. If Showslice can find another event that needs to utilize some of the same equipment, the venue can accommodate more business.

Oracki notes that different types of events share many of the same needs. “Let’s say that a big tech company is doing an event with an LED screen,” he said. “We might be able to find a couple getting married who just wants a really awesome screen. An awards ceremony might be able to find common ground with a VIP party or an educational conference.”

Irina Trofimovskaya, a corporate event planner and founder of The MICE Blog, saw Showslice in action when she attended the London Lifestyle Awards, which had piggybacked on another event at the Hilton London Park Lane. “I truly believe that it’s an innovative service for the event industry,” Trofimovskaya wrote after the awards ceremony, “and hope more event stakeholders will recognize the economic and environmental values in sharing production costs.”

EARLY STAGES

For now, Showslice is in its infancy, only operating in venues in London. Expansion isn’t a given, either, as a “that’s-the-way-we’ve-always-done-it” mentality makes embracing the unfamiliar challenging. However, as event organizers face budget restrictions, the ability to reduce some of the hefty expenses of infrastructure and hourly labor could make a big difference. The idea is starting to capture attention. Earlier this year, Eventbrite named Showslice one of its “7 Event Tech Startups to Watch,” while CEI Asia named the company one of the “Top 5 MICE Tools in the Sharing Economy.”

The model works sort of like an online dating service that unites compatible partners, while also taking a cue from companies such as Uber and Airbnb …

The accolades suggest that Oracki’s initial idea is resonating with the industry, but he said the platform is in constant development to refine the technology. Showslice recently unveiled a members-only section where information is shared, and in 2018, Oracki plans to utilize client feedback to update the platform to meet the changing demands of event organizers. As Showslice evolves, new additions will continue to target the challenge that has persisted since Oracki started working in events more than a decade ago. “It’s such a fragmented industry,” Oracki said. “What we’re trying to do is defragment it.”

David McMillin

David McMillin is staff writer at PCMA.