Austin Convention Center

"FileMaker Go for iPad lets staff stay on the show floor helping exhibitors, versus running back and forth to our service desk to grab work orders or change requests…"

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High-tech convention center spanning six city blocks eliminates paper-based work orders, gets 200 percent ROI with FileMaker Go for iPad

Austin Convention Center, the home of the South by Southwest Festival, responds to customer needs more quickly and reduces costs by automating work orders


  • Large convention center needs to automate work orders and change orders to meet exhibitor needs more expediently


  • Convention center
  • Medium business


  • Created a FileMaker work order and validation database accessible on iPad for show floor logistics


  • ROI in four months or less
  • Greater productivity,
    with hours saved each day
  • Easy to deploy
  • Reduced costs and paperwork
Austin Convention Center 1
Joe Gonzalez
IT Services Manager

Managing large convention center events requires quick turnaround and rapid response to customers. Whether exhibitors need Internet connections or power cords, there's no time to waste. That's why, at the Austin Convention Center, maintenance and technical services teams rely on FileMaker Go for iPad to manage all work orders. Customers are impressed when their needs get met immediately, using the industry's latest tools.

FileMaker Go is the best-selling business database app for iPad and iPhone and is part of many custom solutions for iOS like Austin Convention Center's system.

"FileMaker Go for iPad lets staff stay on the show floor helping exhibitors, versus running back and forth to our service desk to grab work orders or change requests," says Joe Gonzalez, IT Services Manager for the Austin Convention Center. "It makes a huge difference in the expedient way we serve customers, and the way customers perceive us."

The Austin Convention Center is a huge facility covering six city blocks and is known for its advanced technology, with miles of fiber and Ethernet cable, over 600Mbps of available bandwidth and providing nearly 6,000 simultaneous wireless Internet connections. It is the hub for annual hot events like South by Southwest (SXSW), one of the world's largest music and media festivals.

Eliminating paper and legwork

When Gonzalez joined the Austin Convention Center, work orders were based solely on faxes and paper. Exhibitors came to a service desk or caught someone on the show floor and ordered the requirements for their booths – electricity, power strips, Internet services, water and drainage – on paper. The orders were keyed into the system, printed out and placed in a binder with diagrams and other paperwork to start deployment or fulfill changes.

"Saying this is a big building is an understatement," says Gonzalez. "Staff were constantly on the go from one end of the facility to another to meet exhibitors' requests. It wasn't the most efficient way to help exhibitors get their booths or meeting rooms ready. Sometimes move-ins can happen in as little as four hours."

Austin Convention Center 2
FileMaker Go for iPad has virtually eliminated paperwork for Austin Convention Center staff.

The short route to ROI

When Gonzalez and Jeff Moore, Database Administrator at the Austin Convention Center, saw another tradeshow solution based on FileMaker Go that listed event sessions on iPhone and iPad, they made the connection that the same mobile technologies could be used to view work orders and digital diagrams for events.

It took only a couple of days to leverage the convention center's existing FileMaker Pro database billing system, altering it to get a new work order system on FileMaker Go for iPad up and running quickly. The new solution is synchronized with the billing system, so there's less manual entry when invoicing exhibitors.

Gonzalez says the FileMaker Go solution began delivering returns right away. "About 10 percent of all orders take place on the show floor, and we estimate saving $12,000 annually because we don't have to travel back to the service desk to fulfill them," says Gonzalez. "We also save about five hours per event by having booth diagrams right on hand. That translates to another $10,000 in annual savings, conservatively."

Gonzales says up-front costs for the iPad systems and FileMaker Go were about $5,500. "With FileMaker Go for iPad, the project payback is less than four months with an annual ROI of 200 percent or more," he says. "Any CFO would love that."

Austin Convention Center 3
Convention center staff have embraced FileMaker Go for iPad; it lets them deliver improved customer service.

Ready-made for teams on the go

Gonzalez explains that maintenance and IT teams are traditionally resistant to change, but Austin Convention Center staffers have responded well to FileMaker Go for iPad. All of them can access work and change orders as well as booth diagrams wherever they are in the facility – avoiding unnecessary footwork. Validation teams then use FileMaker Go on the show floor to ensure that work has been completed to specifications. The database also gives managers visibility into the full event schedule and work order pipeline, which makes planning and staffing smoother and easier.

With FileMaker Go for iPad, the project payback is less than four months with an annual ROI of 200 percent or more. Any CFO would love that.

— Joe Gonzalez, IT Services Manager, Austin Convention Center
Austin Convention Center 3
Show floor diagrams in FileMaker Go for iPad mean big savings in time and money.

Gonzalez very quickly designed the work order forms optimized for the iPad. "We tailored the interface for the iPad, made some text fields and buttons larger and easier for the touch screen, and loaded it up. We did it ourselves, in house, very inexpensively. The FileMaker Go solution started delivering value right away."

"Work order forms that already existed in our current billing system were easily duplicated and redesigned," adds Moore. "Using a development skill-set that we already had, we reworked the user interface with iOS-like elements so that the employees could easily navigate the orders and floor diagrams with one finger. Using FileMaker Go on the iPad, we've been able to produce an application that provides our employees with up-to-the-minute information and the ability to quickly meet the needs of our clients and exhibitors on the show floor."

Austin Convention Center finds the time and paperwork savings significant thanks to FileMaker Go for iPad. "With FileMaker Go for iPad, we save hours every day multiplied across 15 maintenance and six technical employees," Gonzalez says. "We've virtually eliminated paperwork and reduced response times. And the real game changer is that by having booth diagrams we can zoom in on, we've also virtually eliminated installation errors and improved the accuracy of our service placement within a booth. It fits with our high-tech, high-touch image. Our exhibitors are happier as well."



Watch an in-depth webinar presented by Austin Convention Center staff on increasing productivity and ROI with FileMaker. View the Recording

Contact Info for Customer:

Joe Gonzalez
IT Services Manager
City of Austin
Convention Center Department

For FileMaker:

Kevin Mallon
Public Relations Manager
FileMaker Inc.


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