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Located in the heart of Manhattan, Lighthouse International is the world’s leading vision rehabilitation agency. Now marking the centennial of its founding in 1905, The Lighthouse helps people who are partially sighted or blind remain productive and independent. The agency serves as a worldwide resource on vision impairment and vision rehabilitation, and also advocates for its clientele and conducts extensive research at its own in-house research institute.

The Lighthouse’s facilities include five different and fully modular spaces that can accommodate any group – from 15 to 240 people – and are of course fully accessible for guests with and without disabilities. For example, the Lighthouse Theatre is a state-of-the-art auditorium that seats 240 people in cushioned comfort. As well as offering accessibility for wheelchair visitors, there is a two-channel infrared system to assist guests who are both hearing and vision impaired.

The Benay Venuta Hall is a large and popular venue used for every kind of event, from dinner dances to symposia. For smaller groups, the hall can be easily divided into three smaller rooms. The Lighthouse also offers two lobby-level conference rooms that are often used for educational or board meetings, committee discussions, breakout sessions or working lunches, as well as a café dining room with a two-storey wall of windows.

In addition, many New York-area performers and arts organisations in search of affordable rental space book into the Lighthouse Music School for practice, rehearsals or classes, taking advantage of the professional-quality music facilities provided. The availability of excellent A/V allows for many film screenings to be held at this venue. As part of its extensive facilities, the Lighthouse runs a busy Conference Centre with a theatre, meeting rooms and rehearsal space, hosting both in-house and external events. According to Lighthouse policy, non-profit organisations are the main users.

“The Conference Centre is actually an important part of our mission,” says William C. Bechman, Senior Vice President for Administration. “We want to make more people aware of our services so attracting external business does just that. Anyone could have a visually impaired friend or relative, so visiting our Conference Centre may encourage them to refer that person or to make a donation.”

To better manage the booking of these facilities, the Lighthouse installed Rendezvous, NFS Hospitality’s advanced browser-based conference, meeting room and catering management solution. The Lighthouse had previously used MS Outlook but needed a more robust system. “We looked at several systems,” Bill says, “but Rendezvous was the best. It is an excellent software solution.”

Soon after installation, Rendezvous began to produce positive results in terms of capacity – and revenue flow. Bill explains further, telling how “with the scheduling functionality in Rendezvous, we were able to convert some office space on the floor above our Conference Centre into ten new meeting rooms for external use. So the system gave us a terrific new opportunity to expand our facilities and attract more outside business.”

As food service at the Lighthouse was managed by the Compass Group, Bill decided to expand Compass’ role to cover the Conference Centre. Now Helder Silva, General Manager of the Conference Centre, works closely with Annmarie McFarlane, Projects Manager for Compass. Both Annmarie and Helder are enthusiastic about the new installation. “Rendezvous is working very well,” says Annmarie. “We already rely heavily on the daily diary. We especially like all the statistics we get and the fact that multiple users can access the database. We’re all saving a lot of time.” At present, she receives and confirms booking requests by email, but this is set to change.

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