Over a quarter (27%) of booking enquiries to Premier League football clubs did not receive a response and 10 clubs didn’t pick up the phone to engage customers, according to a new survey by BDRC Continental’s Sports and Sponsorship Insight team.
The team’s research revealed a surprisingly poor overall performance among Premier League clubs in handling sales enquiries regarding conferences or business meetings. In a structured enquiry-handling trial, designed to mimic genuine commercial enquiries submitted by phone, e-mail or online, the average score for Premier League clubs was 40 per cent from a possible 100 per cent. This is little more than half the national average of 75 per cent (UK and Ireland) that BDRC Continental records for hundreds of hotels, conference venues and other sports stadia.
Only three clubs posted scores above the national average. The worst Premier League performer didn’t register positive points; instead it notched up a score of minus 34 per cent.
The BDRC Continental Conference Sales Enquiry Handling Survey provided other indications of poor performance, including:
- Fewer than three-quarters (73%) of the enquiries resulted in a proposal being sent to the prospective client.
- The proportion of proposals submitted within the four-hour limit that BDRC Continental set as the deadline for scoring maximum points was 74 per cent lower than the national average of 92 per cent.
- Only seven clubs out of 20 responded with a proposal to all four separate conference enquiries they received. In the case of four Premier League clubs, only one proposal came back, meaning each of the four clubs concerned did not attend to three customer enquiries.
- There was also limited use of the phone to make contact with the prospective client, with 10 clubs not calling the source of the enquiry back, either as a general follow-up or to explain why they could not send a commercial proposal. Only three clubs picked up the phone in response to each of the four enquiries they received.
BDRC Continental submitted four meeting/event enquiries to each Premier League club. These covered a range of events from a small business meeting to a larger function, with two approaches made by telephone, one submitted by email and one via the club’s website.
BDRC Continental assessed the enquiry responses with the standard Meetings Benchmark criteria, used by nearly 1,000 hotels and meeting venues nationwide. The survey examined four stages of the enquiry, from how easy a potential customer finds it to get through to the right person, to needs assessment, manner and approach, and call follow-up. This ensures the “end-to-end client experience” was measured, not just the performance of individual sales people.
Mark Long, Director of Sports & Sponsorship at BDRC Continental, said: “Our survey is an eye-opening snapshot of how Premier League football clubs handle a sales enquiry about their conference venues and packages. It shows very clearly that most clubs could do much better when it comes to converting sales enquiries into valuable revenue.
“Venue management teams should examine this kind of performance. The Premier League clubs are competing with other conference venues – not just other football clubs offering conference facilities and support. Handle a customer’s initial approach badly and you risk losing the opportunity altogether, not to mention the valuable revenue and potential for future repeat business that goes with it.”
Swansea City topped the list of performers with an overall score of 96 per cent, followed by Aston Villa on 95 per cent.
The BDRC Continental Conference Sales Enquiry Handling Survey also recorded the delegate rates per day that were quoted. By this measure, the most expensive football club in the Premier League is Reading FC* (average quoted Day Delegate Rate or DDR of £65.33). The cheapest is Wigan Athletic* (average quoted DDR of £27.75).
CN asked Stadium Experience to comment in response to the BDRC report. Stadium Experience is a stadia membership organisation set up to share best practice within the conference, hospitality and events teams at each of their member clubs, with a view to marketing members venues and making enquiries and bookings easier for the booker.
A statement from Stadium Experience said: “The report is a disappointment and not unsurprising, although there are equally many stadia in the UK covering all leagues that do in fact provide a more than satisfactory response to enquiries including a suitable proposal.
“The report highlights the importance of the needs of an event booker, they need to be able to find the right contact details and speak to the right person in order to make an enquiry and often the website of a football club contains this information buried deep amongst match-day and team information.
“Whilst a disappointment, the reported top five in the mystery call survey are all members of Stadium Experience and the results reflect the top three winning clubs in the recent Football Hospitality Awards.
“Stadium Experience would encourage all clubs in the Premier League to contact BDRC and ask for the results of the four mystery calls to their own club and use this information to make the necessary changes.
“Stadium Experience engage the work of BDRC annually as part of the Football Hospitality Awards to highlight the importance of the sales and enquiry process. This year’s winners Reading Football Club scored 100 per cent in the mystery test call they received.”
*At the time of the research, Reading and Wigan Athletic were in the Premier League.
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