Loyalty breeds rewards for buyer and venue

As a
venue manager I can admit to feeling the pressure to continually up my and the
team’s game when it comes to winning bookings in a market that is quite
literally flooded with competing venues.

They might be dedicated meetings and
conference venues, or hotels and restaurants diversifying into room hire for
private and corporate events, or even a cultural attraction, professional
society or association dedicating a portion of its site to hosting events, but whatever
their roots, every one of these venue options is making the event planner’s
pool of choice even bigger.

To stand
out, it’s up to us as venue operators to be offering an experience to our
clients that simply can’t be rivalled elsewhere. In reality, the venues and
suppliers winning repeat bookings from event organisers are the ones who can predict
and respond to requirements before the organiser even realises they are
requirements and they are the ones with a talent for filling the client with
such confidence that they couldn’t possibly consider taking their business
elsewhere for risk of having a mediocre to poor experience.

By
learning to identify what your customer is looking for, you gain a better
understanding of how to increase their loyalty and build a brand ambassador who
shouts about your business. Loyalty isn’t always driven by price alone –
sometimes the way you make a person feel can have a big influence on their
decision to award you business. Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way
that have enabled my venue to attract a high percentage of loyal bookers each
month – on average 75% of our business is repeat.

1 Know your customers

From the
moment you engage with a customer, see them as a long-term part of your
business and take an active interest in them and their preferences. Collect
information. Don’t underestimate the small things like greeting them by name,
knowing what time of year they hold certain events, or who their client list
includes.

2 Communicate with your customers

Whether
a potential customer is browsing your website, calling with an enquiry or
interacting with you via social media, every one of these types of engagement
is a critical part of how you build a relationship between you and your
business. Once you have opened dialogue with a customer, maintain it. Use your
newsletter to tell them about the refurb you’ve nearly completed of your main
boardroom, excite them with talk of the flavours you’ve got on your menu this
month.

3 Offer incentives for their
business

If
you’re going down the route of incentives, the key is to make offers
appropriate so that the customer perceives them as highly relevant, well-timed
and personalised marketing messages; not as an annoyance, but as a value-added
service. Always put yourself in the customer’s shoes and ask ‘why should I
care?’ Can you answer that question with a practical reason? Think about the
different definitions of value – it could be how you go the extra mile, how you
adapt your policies to accommodate specific requests, the types of rate
incentives you offer, or the percentage commission you offer to agencies. It
could even be personalised invitations to special showcase evenings or in-house
events.

3 Know your product

Who’s
buying what? Who’s not buying what? Take notice of spending patterns in your
business and the services that are proving both popular and unpopular and make
changes to keep services fresh and customer focused. Ensure your staff are well
trained to talk eloquently and passionately about everything you do and can
offer. If there are gaps in their knowledge, be sure to initiate training to
remedy that.

4 Train staff in customer service

From the
outset, the event enquiry process should be efficient and your customer should
feel valued and listened to. Make sure your team know who your long-standing
customers are. Train and empower staff to deal with customer queries without
the need to always pass them up the chain. Build loyalty from within by leading
by example. Support your staff – you’ll earn trust if you allow them to fully
own their roles and make decisions quickly.

5 Get feedback

Be
forward in asking your customers to rate their experience immediately after
their event, ideally while they’re still on site. If you don’t ask what you’re
doing well, you’ll never fully understand what you might be doing badly. Be
transparent in how you act on that feedback by letting a customer know that you
have worked to resolve any issues they highlighted, or that you’ve passed on
their praise to the member of staff to whom it was directed. Don’t settle for
acceptable; strive for exceptional in every stage of the event process.

Any comments? Email sarah@mashmedia.net

ConferenceNews Guest Author

Conference News hosts great guests on its pages. Our Blog section is the collection of the best opinions in the UK and international events industry.

ConferenceNews Guest Author

Author

ConferenceNews Guest Author

Conference News hosts great guests on its pages. Our Blog section is the collection of the best opinions in the UK and international events industry.

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