Long Term Solutions for Dark Days
There’s been some talk here lately about various approaches to solving the ever-present issue of dark days in your venue. Certainly, a multi-faceted approach is necessary when tackling such a pervasive and persistent problem but if you really want to put a permanent dent in this difficult situation, thinking about the long game has to be a part of the process—along with a willingness to go big.
That said, here’s three things you can do to put the kibosh on costly dark days for the foreseeable future.
Diversify Via Demolition
I don’t have to tell you that competition between venues is at an all-time high. What worked perfectly well 30 or 40 years ago just simply isn’t cutting it anymore for many spaces. That was certainly the case for one of our clients, The Lakeland Convention Center.
Built in 1974, in its heyday, it was one of only three arenas in the state of Florida. Fast forward to present and it’s now in a pool of 20 competitors (overwhelmingly younger and newer competitors), including several in nearby mega-destination, Orlando.
With the understanding that small solutions were only ever going to result in small improvements, Lakeland went all-in on a significant renovation to revamp their main space to be a more versatile, multi-purpose area that will better allow them to attract smaller events such as conferences, meetings and tradeshows while still catering to some of their larger, existing events like concerts and sporting events.
It’s always difficult and scary to think about major structural changes, particularly when your product is an actual physical structure. But sometimes, a big change is the only way to fill in stubbornly persistent holes on your calendar.
Bend The Booking Process
What’s the average lead time from schedule to show in your venue? I’m betting it’s a few weeks at the bare minimum. But how would it change your ability to fill space if you could shave that down to same-day? After you finish rolling around on the floor laughing, sit back down and read on to find out how you can make this a reality in your venue.
In November 2008, leadership at another Ungerboeck client, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre looked around at their under-utilized space and came up with a bold plan to boost bookings in these neglected areas. The resulting TenOnCall program provides same-day access to one of 10 flexible meeting spaces along with an innovative all-day dining concept that offers buffet style meals in a central atrium to walk-in clients. In combination with a simplified contracting process, clients here are now able to create exceptional meeting experiences with virtually zero planning.
While this particular strategy does work best in a high-density, urban location, it’s likely that it could be scaled to fit the needs of venues nearly anywhere.
Tap Internal Resources
I’ll forgive you for mistaking this suggestion as a throwaway, but it will be much harder to forgive yourself if you stop reading right here and miss out on the most self-sustaining suggestion in the bunch.
The truth is, even if you make a big splash with the ideas I’ve suggested, the quest to fill dark days will continue. Put yourself in the best possible position for the future by incorporating idea generation and innovation into the culture of your organization. At Ungerboeck, we call this the “whole enchilada” approach to brainstorming and it goes like this:
- Preschedule regular brainstorming sessions, at least once every six months.
- Make this mandatory for everyone. And I mean, everyone. Some of the best ideas often come from the most unexpected places/people.
- Put out the word ahead of time that actual participation is required. Knowing they’ll be expected to contribute means people will come already armed with ideas and/or you’ll have enough half-baked ideas at the end of the session to be able to piece together something useful.
Looking for more big ideas to help you beat dark days? Download our latest EBook to find examples of what’s working for other venues just like yours!