AE&ES rebuilds their events business with a flexible labor force

Gary Bordman, owner and Chief Interactive Designer of Amusement, Exhibit & Event Services (or AE&ES), takes fun seriously. In addition to having grown up in the carnival industry, he’s been providing game and amusement experiences for events, conventions, trade shows, meetings, and more for over 20 years.

But just as with so many other hospitality companies, the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a serious blow to AE&ES’s business in 2020. When events began to return, they were thrilled to see inquiries coming in — but didn’t have the staff they needed to take them all on. And if that weren’t enough, constantly fluctuating COVID case rates resulted in a high degree of variability in business. Events were planned and cancelled right up to the last minute, making long-term forecasting nearly impossible.

Bordman knew he’d have to find enough workers to keep up with demand, but didn’t want to waste budget on staff who wouldn’t be needed if an event were cancelled. In search of a flexible solution, he turned to Instawork.

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Challenge: COVID-19 & a worker shortage leave AE&ES short-staffed

Before the pandemic struck, AE&ES had 20 different employees on staff, a mix of both full- and part-time workers. But when COVID-19 brought events to a screeching halt in the spring of 2020 — which continued on for months — the company was forced to let go or furlough many of them.

Fortunately, business began to pick up over time as restrictions and lockdowns eased. While inquiries trickled in, however, hiring wasn’t keeping pace. In the wake of the Great Resignation, hiring in the hospitality industry had become more challenging than ever. Bordman’s core team had been reduced to just a quarter of what it was previously, from 20 in-house employees to five.

With the peak season just around the corner, Bordman needed to quickly bring in new folks to help set up, operate, and take down the games, exhibits, and experiences AE&ES rented out — and slow, traditional recruiting methods wouldn’t cut it.

Solution: A flexible labor force with a top-tier roster

After turning to Instawork’s flexible staffing platform, Bordman was soon impressed with how fast his company could find and book quality workers. In just a couple of months, Instawork Professionals were making up a significant share of his staff.

Instawork Pros helping AE&ES set up for an event — image still by Fox 5 KVVU-TV in Las Vegas.

At a recent event at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, AE&ES sent a crew of 14 people — two of whom were in-house employees, and 12 of whom were Instawork Pros.

“[Instawork Pros are] becoming more of our labor force,” Bordman said.

And perhaps best of all, AE&ES has been able to build a roster of their best Pros they can call on to come back whenever they need them. Pros who do a great job are added as a "Favorite," which gives them early access to any subsequent shift that AE&ES posts — allowing top performers to get first dibs.

Results: Capacity to take on up to 50% more business

In just two months, Bordman saw phenomenal results. 94% of the shifts he posted were successfully filled, with Instawork Pros receiving an average of 4.6 out of 5 stars. Since then, AE&ES has built out a bench of go-to Instawork Pros, with more than 20 working two or more shifts for them.

Agreements with traditional staffing agencies don’t fluctuate according to volume, which often results in businesses either being short-staffed or paying excessive overhead for workers they don’t need. But since there are no fixed-term contracts, AE&ES can hire as many Pros as they need right when they need them. This, in turn, allows them to scale up their labor according to demand — ensuring that no business gets left on the table and no labor budget gets wasted.

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Between a steadily increasing business and a flexible labor pool to power their operations, AE&ES is poised to thrive in 2022  — and beyond.