As the vice president of operations for a
destination management company, I have the task of streamlining
operations and increasing profitability. One of the quickest -
and easiest - ways to do both is to go paperless. Here are a
few steps we have taken at Just Right! Destination Management
to shift to a paper-free operation.
Our company requests JPEG image files from our clients, and we
use these files to create custom signage. Before we went
paperless, we might have printed more than 20 copies of the
logos alone for each event. Using iPads allows our business to
open the logo in either the Photos app or iBooks. The result is
sleek-looking signage that doesn't bend, smear, or wrinkle, and
if it needs to be personalized, it can be changed on the fly.
Right there, in the moment, on location.
Affordable tablets and handy apps make going paperless easy and
efficient. Tablets can also improve workflow and are sure to
impress clients. When we started testing the use of iPads, I
borrowed them from everyone I knew, including my 11-year-old
stepsons. I was lucky that they were willing to part with Angry
Birds for a few hours so that we could see how and if going
paperless would work.
We discovered that digital signs worked really well, but my
staff found they also presented a new set of challenges. It
could be cumbersome to juggle an iPad as well as a paper
manifest. Before we could go entirely paperless, I had to find
an app that would allow us to keep track of arrivals and
departures and to check people off as my staff greeted them.
I found the solution in the app Check In Easy. It wasn't
designed specifically for airport arrivals, but it does the
trick. We now upload manifests, which allow us to check
passengers off as they arrive. It also keeps everyone's iPads
synchronized so that if a passenger unexpectedly shows up at
another area of the airport, we can still account for him. This
also keeps our clients happy because they can look at the app
and see what is happening in real time.
If we need to update a sign, we don't have to run around
looking for somewhere to print, we just change it on the iPad.
On-site staff members can make notes in the app if any issues
arise so that I can see them right away. It also makes billing
at the end of a program more efficient. We no longer need to
pay someone to sort and distribute the manifests and signage.
All we do is click and upload.
Going paperless makes us look cutting-edge and makes our
arrival and departure days significantly easier, and also saves
us money and time. On an average 400-person program, it would
take a ream of paper for signage and manifests. Between ink and
paper, we estimate an annual cost savings in the thousands,
which is well above our cost of investing in the technology.
Our next big push in going green is to make our collateral
100-percent digital. I'm searching for good apps to distribute
electronic business cards, and we're optimizing our proposals
and invoices for the web.
To wrap up this discussion, I'll leave you with my top three
tips for going paperless:
1. Test the waters before you invest in the technology. If you
and your staff are comfortable with using the apps and
customizing the signage, it may be time to go for it.
2. Remember that you don't need the newest tablets for your
programs. Purchase used or refurbished technology to save
money. If you want to buy new, be aware that Apple is adding
less-expensive options to their iPad portfolio, such as the
3. Train tech-savvy staff first and have them train those who
aren't as accustomed to working with this technology. It will
help those at different operational skill levels more easily
Scott Mifsud is vice president of operations for Just Right! Destination Management. Using a specialized boutique approach, Just Right! Provides “one-stop shop” service that makes clients feel as though they have a partner in every city. Just Right! offers many services around the country including transportation, dining, hospitality, decor and entertainment, team building, and concierge services.