Sandy Hammer, co-founder and CEO of AllSeated explained why the cloud-based event management platform, originally developed in Israel, has chosen Manchester, specifically The Lowry Hotel, to launch its technology in the UK: “You have amazing properties there and I was truly blown away. I only know the bit of Manchester where my aunt lives, so when I started to visit venues and spaces in the city centre, I was in shock! Manchester is going to be a big place for us.”
Calling from Tel Aviv, the tech entrepreneur was thrilled to reveal that she had familial connections to the North West. A Mancunian mother and an aunt who still lives in the city keeps Sandy affectionately tied to the Manchester community, and so it is seemingly almost kismet that AllSeated chose Manchester as the focus of its first foray in the UK events market.
“We’ve had meetings with Marketing Manchester which bids for the global conferences, and they are really excited about us and are really behind us. We’re also going to be running an event with them soon. The Manchester Hotelier Association is going to be holding a meeting at the end of September and wants to make an adoption of AllSeated in their properties and destinations.”
AllSeated targets both event planners – especially those organising weddings – and hotels that wish to create an authentic sensory experience that transports clients with a virtual reality walkthrough of an events space. The luxury five-star Lowry Hotel in Salford is the company’s first UK venue to work with the technology. Sandy adds: “Now if you go to the Lowry, you can put on a VR headset and be totally transported into their property, you can see tables and chairs and decors set up and all different set-ups. It’s really amazing.” Sounds pretty futuristic to JLife! But the technology is being used today, Sandy reveals: “One in every 10 events in the US is being built in AllSeated!”
Sandy, an experienced veteran of the international events industry, was pretty disillusioned before founding AllSeated in Netanya. After nearly 20 years as a corporate planner, she became frustrated with the industry’s reluctance to move with the times, with many still preferring a pad of paper over any tech that could help them avoid those last-minute slip-ups. It was the meteoric rise of taxi app firm, Uber, in 2010, which inspired her to take the entrepreneurial leap: “It was the year that Uber digitalised the taxi industry and I thought to myself, we’re professionals, everything has to be 100% accurate and running like clockwork, but we don’t use any tools, just print-outs, lists and a pen. It’s ridiculous!”
A year later Sandy had sourced a business partner in the form of software entrepreneur Daniel Anisman and assembled a team of gamer tech engineers to create AllSeated. “I wasn’t looking to change what planners do but looking to improve the tools we use to make us more efficient.”
For event planners, the AllSeated operating system provides a collaborative planning environment for venues, planners, caterers and vendors to streamline processes and increase operational efficiency.
Sandy was keen to emphasise just how helpful this tech would be for a soon-to-be-wed couple throughout organising a wedding, ensuring that every supplier hired remained on the same page, literally, as the cloud-based app keeps everyone up-to-date with amends such as renewed seating arrangements, table decorations and floorplans: “No more emailing PDFs and out-of-date lists back and forth!” rejoices Sandy.
How did she find heading up a team of vastly talented engineers all working towards her vision? Sandy explains that the intensity of the task meant that the team quickly became “like family” and is keen to point out that she would not be having the success she does now, such as access to 40,000 event planners and 25,000 venues worldwide including Hilton hotels, without them. An advisory board of respected event planners and caterers came on board too, including Ron Ben-Israel, the Israeli chef and owner of one of New York’s finest couture cake studios and star of TV’s Cake Wars: “We immediately hit it off and he became a major influence…people spend a lot of money on the cake and the floorplan and table plans can ensure that there is enough room for it.”
And there’s something built in for those struggling with the dreaded A-list and B-list guest-list woes, too: “For brides we market it very heavily toward the smart guest-list builder as the average wedding is around 100-120 people (not like Jewish weddings!) so many have to spend months and months painfully narrowing the list down, so we created the builder especially for that, even though many corporate businesses use it now too to keep a track on numbers for events.”