How Social Tables Made Diagrams Easy at the University of Miami

The University of Miami events team has been using Social Tables with great success during the past three years, as the cloud-based software helps to provide seamless planning and coverage of events — both big and small.

Responsible for more than 80 events each year, including university-wide (ex: commencement volunteers), college-based (ex: lecture series), and stewardship (ex: groundbreakings, dedications, ribbon cuttings) events, the team offers a variety of services to internal clients such as consultation, day of logistics, and full coordination. Most events take place between August and May during the busy academic year.

This product has increased our productivity and accuracy during the planning stages

Alba Carreras-Vazquez, Executive Director of Events Management, University of Miami

“The whole system is so helpful,” says Alba Carreras-Vazquez, Executive Director of Events Management at the University of Miami. “This product has increased our productivity and accuracy during the planning stages, but more importantly it’s done so at the actual event. Once the event starts everything happens so quickly that having this technology available really makes us all look like superstars!”

Today, Social Tables helps Carreras-Vazquez and her team of five better assist their clients with the entire process, and they find that the grouping feature and the ease of moving tables on the layout make it an effective tool for seated events. In addition, the ability to add important notes for specific guests that can be seen upon registration has proven key to providing a great experience.

Social Tables helps registration go by quickly for the guests, and text alerts ensure the organizers know that someone has checked in. For example, they allow Development officers know when a specific donor has checked in. Check-In also gives the team immediate stats on how many people have arrived, which is especially important for seated events and helps them make quick last minute changes on the spot.

Carreras-Vazquez elaborated, “Tags allow us to filter lists for important sub-lists of the guest list, such as Trustees, Inductees, etcetera, so that registration staff can greet guests accordingly. We also use the tags to mark guests who have special reserved seating. We can filter by those guests who have checked in with reserved seating, and make adjustments at the event in real time.”

In addition, meals tags allow the team to track special dietary needs for their guests so that they can inform their caterer when that person has arrived, and where they are seated. And, the “Guest of” feature allows the team to quickly identify everyone in the guest’s party, even though they may share different last names, for a faster check-in, and also to be notified of any cancellations if they arrive without them.

Carreras-Vazquez’s team also reviews attendance statistics and makes notes on the percentage of guests and their arrival times, which allows them to know how to set up staffing needs for registration in the future. By maintaining a record of attended versus not attended through Social Tables Check-In, they can then reflect that data in Raiser’s Edge for easy reference for future planning and recurring events.

Social Tables was extremely helpful to the events team during the Presidential Inauguration dinner, an event held in a tent on the campus green and attended by about 500 people from around the world. It also turned out to be a rainy evening, adding a little more intrigue to the planning and seating.

“Having the [Social Tables] electronic layout assisted in the planning of this event for both plan A and plan B (rain plan),” offered Carreras-Vazquez. “Using Social Tables for this seated event allowed us to group certain guests together and seat them according to the criteria set forth by our lead development team. The seating layout is so easy to use. Even if we were moving a group or a table, it was an efficient and clean process.”

“Gone are the days of sticky notes on paper layouts, scratching out names with pen/pencil, and printing and editing multiple times during the seating process. Social Tables allowed changes minute by minute, and it helped us know where we could seat any walk-ups. The other great feature was knowing who had checked in without having to walk to the registration area, which for this event was very crowded and hard to get to because of the rain. Social Tables allowed the University to shine.”

Alba Carreras-Vazquez, Executive Director of Events Management, University of Miami

While in the past it would take the events team as much as eight hours to devise a seating plan for a big event, Social Tables allows them to pull that together in a quicker and more efficient manner. The editing and sharing features, along with the accuracy of Social Tables has streamlined the process and provided valuable information that assists in future events.

“You need Social Tables in your toolbox,” exclaimed Carreras-Vazquez. “It’s like a hammer; no toolbox should exist without one. Available training options and the live chat feature make it a breeze to learn and utilize fully.”

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