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10 Min Read

Event Automation Series Part 2: Capturing Inquiries & Converting Bookings

In part one of this series, we learnt what event automation is and why venues choose to automate their processes. In this post, we explore ways of automating the early stages of the event management process, including capturing inquiries and converting bookings.

The Six Stages of Effective Event Management

Six Stages 2

How to Automate the Process of Capturing Incoming Inquiries

The first stage of the event management process is capturing the incoming inquiry, confirming availability, and providing booking information to the prospective client.

Here are some examples of ways that you can automate the inquiry process:

  1. Web Forms - Provide a better customer experience by implementing an integrated web form on your website, allowing prospective clients to submit an inquiry at a time that suits them – even outside business hours.
  2. Live Availability - Publish live venue availability on your website so customers can search for their preferred booking date/time or select an alternative if their first choice is unavailable. Real-time availability accelerates your booking process and increases occupancy during underutilized dates, i.e., off-peak periods, mid-week dates, non-game/non-event/non-match days, etc.
  3. Event Calendar - Publish a live event calendar on your website to showcase high-profile events and bookings from well-known brands. In doing so, you will build trust with prospective customers by showing them that you’re a reputable venue that is in demand.
  4. Email Templates - Create standardized email templates including relevant attachments (i.e., function compendiums, menus, booking forms, audio-visual/furniture/theming packages, etc.) to streamline communications and save time.
  5. Automated Lead Assignments & Notifications - Use your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to automatically assign new leads to relevant staff members and send them an email to prompt them to respond when someone submits an inquiry via your website. Automated assignments and notifications ensure a better customer experience, as they will encourage a faster response time from your staff.

Using Technology to Improve the Conversion Process & Secure More Bookings

The conversion stage of the event management process is when an inquiry becomes a confirmed event booking. Like any sales process, to improve conversion rates, venues need to provide the best possible experience to customers and give them the information and tools they need to confirm the booking.

Here are some examples of ways that you can improve the sales process to increase conversions:

  1. Sales Dashboards - Keeping on top of active opportunities is paramount to speed up the sales process and increase conversions. The easiest way to do this is to display relevant metrics on your CRM dashboard for all sales staff so they can find and refer to relevant information with ease, for example:
    • Open Opportunities List – Generate a list of your open opportunities, which will act as a chase list of clients for you to contact.
    • Forecast Report – This report should include all confirmed event bookings to compare them with budgetary/Key Performance Indicator (KPI) targets.
    • Pipeline/Status Report – Create a report that displays how many inquiries you have and their relevant statuses so you can see where they are in the pipeline (i.e., lost, tentative, verbally confirmed, confirmed, etc.).
  2. Automated Proposals, Quotes, Invoices & Contracts - Take the time and the guesswork out of creating proposals, quotes, invoices, and contracts by creating templates with standard fees for venue hire, food, beverage, furniture, equipment, staff, and security. Relying on technology to calculate costs reduces the risk of calculation errors. Furthermore, add your booking terms and conditions to your templates to ensure prospective clients understand what they are committing to when they sign off on the proposed costs.
  3. Automated Reminders - Use your CRM to set reminders for you to complete sales-related activities like follow-up phone calls or emails to customers with outstanding inquiries, contracts, payments, etc.
  4. Waitlists - Use your CRM to create a waitlist for new inquiries on dates that have been booked. Waitlists will help you identify who is next in line in the event of a cancellation and prevent you from losing potential revenue.
  5. Digital Signatures - Close sales quickly by allowing customers to sign quotes, contracts, and other agreements using digital signature solutions instead of manual processes like printing and scanning physical documents.
  6. Digital Floor Plans - While site inspections are a great way to showcase the venue's potential, what happens if someone can't visit in person? Floor plans and room diagrams can help prospective clients understand how their event will look within the venue and encourage them to book.
  7. Online Bookings - Self-service bookings portals are the ultimate solution for capturing and converting inquiries because they empower customers with the tools they need to manage their bookings in their own time. Here are some prime examples of venues that benefit from online bookings solutions:
    • Councils & Local Government Facilities - Community members can manage one-off and recurring bookings for social, sporting, and recreational events and activities.
    • Corporates - Staff and stakeholders can book meeting rooms and other workspaces for meetings and events.
    • Stadiums & Arenas – Members and fans can book corporate suites and VIP boxes on and off matchdays.
  8. Online Payments - Offer an online, integrated payment portal to accelerate your payment and reconciliation process and give your customers the payment methods they prefer, i.e., credit cards, wallets, direct debit, etc. Not only with this help improve cash flow, but it will also allow you to provide better customer support with access to detailed payment information.

Want to learn more about Event Automation?

Download our eBook to learn more about how to automate every stage of the event management process.

Download eBook

Or read the next post in this series - Event Automation Series Part 3: Preparing For & Delivering Events.