1.) To Build Event Business You Must Know Your Potential Customers
You can learn a great deal about what your venue's customers want by opening up the doors of communication.
Once you have this information, capture it safely in your customer relationship management system so you can report on it and access it in the future. The better you know your venue's target audience, the more likely you are to deliver on the value they are seeking, book them now and in the future, and benefit from the word-of-mouth advertising that will occur once they experience your stellar service. Knowing your customers can help your venue increase revenue.
What you should find out in order to build your event business:
- Who your event customers are
- Who their audience is
- What your customers are trying to achieve
- When they typically hold events
- How much money they have to spend
- What they expect from you before, during, and after their events
- What other venues they have used in the past or are considering for the future
2.) Establish Your Venue's Brand
If you are consistently delivering on your venue’s brand promise, you can increase loyalty with clients and audiences, get audiences to return, and increase revenue.
The term “revenue” is rooted in the concept of returning. Ironically, the best way for venues to increase revenue is to get clients and audiences to return. To build event business for your venue you must focus on getting clients and audiences to return to your venue (or recommend your venue to others). This requires loyalty on the part of the client or audience member. Loyalty comes from a sense of connection to the brand. A sense that a brand anticipates needs and consistently delivering on quality. This means that you must establish a quality offering that meets the clients event needs; as well as their customer service needs.
Building a brand promise is critical. This should be an offering/statement/promise to customer that is simple to adhere to; as it should be what defines your brands offering to it's clients. Likewise, if this promise if fulfilled, it should be an approximation of the testimony that clients also give to future prospects as a reference.
3.) Enable Experiments
People want to be inspired when they attend your venue. Are you making it an inspiring place to be?
Can your four walls – and everything within them – be transformed to suit the vision of your customers and their guests? Take it from retailers: the sights, sounds, smells, and various touchable things are all strategically oriented to inspire sales. Your venue can also leverage this psychology by evaluating each element of the environment you offer, and creating a one-of-a-kind experience that inspires people to want to stay or come back to your venue.
Visitors want to know that they're event will be in good hands. This comes with feeling comfortable with your venue's felxibility. Can your venue deliver upon the vision on their event plan? What can your venue do to ensure this kind of fluency?
4.) Emphasize The "Second Experience"
The second experience is the continuous flow of entertainment and engagements at your venue.
The first experience is whatever the attendee is coming for: a holiday luncheon, a performance, the main meeting at a conference, and so on. The second experience branding philosophy, taught by Brad Mayne at the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) Venue Management School at Oglebay, is everything else that positively (or negatively) affects the first experience.
If you manage a convention or exhibition center, the second experience includes interactive signage boards that draw attendees’ attention. It’s the comfortable computer kiosks where guests can check email. It’s the accessibility and attentiveness of your concierge. It’s about doing all of these things in a way that sets your venue apart. It’s about meeting those “unexpressed wishes.” These are the things that reinforce your venue’s brand and help develop an emotional connection that turns current guests into future customers.
This experience is what people remember about your venue, and ultimately what can drive recommendations. It's often said that the key to a successful resturaunt is as simple as having goof food. This experience is the "food" that your venue will serve.
5.) Create An Online Space For Your Venue
To build event business, you must think of your venue as more than just a physical space.
Have an effective social media component to your marketing mix. For instance, before the event offer booking discounts to customers if they “like” your venue’s Facebook page. After the event, hold a promotion that enters past customers into a drawing each time they get a friend of theirs to “like” your Facebook page. Blur the boundaries between online and offline. Simply consider every interaction with potential customers as "engagement".
Nearly all consumers (97 percent) now use online media when researching products or services in their local area. With so many people now looking online first to gather information about their options, you need to ensure your convention or exhibition center has a powerful website that is built with both an intelligent front and back end.
Additionally, if your website looks great and captures your brand promise well —yet fails to generate any traffic— what good is it? It's vitally important that your business venue business understands how to properly optimize your site both locally and across the world wide web. Things like page speed, heading tags, content length, keywords, and visitor engagement can cause your business to sink or swim.
6.) Look For Unique Opportunities to Build Event Business
Think outside of your venue's four walls.
Consider a co-op with other local vendors. Jewelers or florists are perfect when you want to attract wedding receptions. Popular local cover bands are a great fit when you want to attract business holiday parties. Develop third-party champions or brand advocates that can help with this.
Talk to other venues. Do you know what other venues are doing to increase revenue? Wouldn’t it be nice to know? Get involved in industry discussions. Join a venue association like IAVM. Go to conferences. Network. Learn! Offer value-add solutions.
Event organizers have so many details and vendors to keep straight, that they will surely see the value in using your venue as their resource for event apps, websites, merchandising and so on.
7.) Attract Non-Traditional Event Customers
Find ways to fill your venue on dark days.
While the definition of “other” or non-traditional events varies from one venue to another, there are still similarities in the approach convention and exhibition centers can take in order to seek out and market to non-traditional event planners.
To build event business, venue management professionals should research where these events are typically being held so you know what you need to do to compete. Learn about what events are “underserved” in the community. Ensure there is a pricing structure that aligns with the needs of the customers, and know what the limitations are (space, etc.); so as to not damage the brand.
8.) Align The Right People To The Right Job
When it comes to sales roles, many venues assign a specific employee or group of employees the responsibility of attracting business from specialized market segment.
Considering the limitless variety of events that may surface, this approach makes sense. However, venues could also consider having someone who primarily focuses on marketing to “other” event clients to ensure that someone is prepared in advance to manage the very unique requests that can be made by people planning weddings, banquets, holiday events, etc. Simply having someone in the right frame of mind to anticipate and react to uncommon requests can go a long way in pleasing non-traditional event customers and realizing new revenues.
Your venue sales experts should be strategically aligned to market segments to maximize sales. Customers want to know that their event is in expert hands, and that the professionals in charge of executing it can fulfill their vision. This is a call-back to an earlier statement regarding brand promises, but a critical one that has resource implications as well.
9.) Put Powerful Tools In Place
Are you are using the right software to manage your venue?
In this industry, the most powerful sources that can erode profits are revenue leaks. The two most common revenue leaks for both business venues and event venues are money left on the table and lost opportunities. When venues have the right systems and processes in place, they capture otherwise lost data and realize more income from the tasks they are already doing.
The events industry is built on relationships and personal connections. So your system should allow you to do more than manage your calendar; it needs to help you manage your relationships. Your system should track all communications and automate follow up activities so you are nurturing relationships. Your system should expand your peripheral vision so you can track equipment, services, and other event details in one place. What are these customers telling you, or more importantly, what are they not telling you? Your reporting should empower you to anticipate customer needs.
Ultimately, to build event business your venue must have the right tool for the right job. The solutions provided at Ungerboeck Software are specifically designed for venue management professionals trying to grow their event business. If you would like more information about Ungerboeck solutions contact one of our software experts today.