It’s a competitive market out there for Brisbane venues. There are so many options for event organisers to choose from, and more and more pop up every week. With so many recent openings, and a few large-scale developments looming large on the horizon, it’s time for all venues to buckle down and make sure you have your toolbox set up and working for you to generate leads, enquiries and customers.
Here are 10 tools that should be in every venue’s toolbox.
Your venue’s website is a foundational tool for attracting, educating and converting potential leads into customers. So it should be visually appealing, easy-to-use and have elements place to capture leads for your sales team.
The images used on your website can really make or break the first impression of your venue. Professional, well-lit photography is a worthy investment for any venue (not just for your website but for your printed material, social media and digital advertising).
It should be easy for your website visitors to find any information they need in around 2 clicks, so pay attention to the site’s design and the priority information your target audience will be looking for.
And don’t forget your website acts as a sales touchpoint for your venue 24 hours, 7 days a week. Many of your customers might be researching venues outside traditional business hours, so we recommend having your function packages and menus available for immediate download. To generate leads (that can be followed up at a later time by your sales team) ask visitors to provide their name and email address to access the download link.
A big opportunity for venues is the Requests For Proposals (RFPs) that come from third party sources. Whether it’s your local convention bureau or a specialist venue sourcing agency, when an RFP is distributed your venue is just one of several who will submit a proposal.
This means your proposals need to stand out from a crowd. Are you using high quality imagery? Do you feature customer testimonials? How can you provide relevant information while making life easier for a busy client?
Perhaps you can create “event recipes” which include not only your venue’s facilities, but also recommended partners that can pull together a fabulous event. By providing information in this way, you will save the customer time and energy, which is a surefire way to convert them to customers.
An effective, up-to-date CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system is vital to the success of any venue. Keeping track of enquiries, leads and customer activity arms your sales team with the information they need to bring business through your doors.
- Who enquired this time last year? Could we contact them now to pre-empt their decision for this year?
- Who were our customers in peak season last year? Can we contact them with an incentive to re-book?
- Who are past customers from a few years ago? Let’s contact them with an offer to return.
The more complete and detailed the information in your CRM, the more opportunities it creates, so it’s important your team updates their data regularly and in detail.
Remember when social media started getting traction and everyone was yelling “email is dead!”?
Hardly! Email is still a strong performer as a marketing tactic, and is another important addition to any venue’s strategy. Targeted campaigns full of valuable information (ideally segmented by customer type so they’re super relevant) can reap great results when done right.
SOCIAL MEDIA (YOUR OWN)
Complete and fully optimised social media profiles are critical to your venue’s marketing efforts. We don’t mean that you have to be on EVERY social media platform – that can get distracting and spread your resources too thin. But if you really understand your target audience, choose the 2-3 platforms where they’re most active, and invest your energy and resources mastering those platforms.
For many venues, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn will provide the biggest opportunities. Audit your profiles and make sure they’re completed and representing your business and brand properly. Check that they are optimised to support your business and marketing goals. And go back through past posts to ensure they’re still relevant and creating a positive image for your business.
Aim to post 2-3 times per week on each platform to maintain a strong presence and keep your profiles active. Your content should show your venue’s facilities, best offerings and ideally show it being used and enjoyed by the customers you’re targeting.
When you have great social media profiles, you make it easy for other people to spread the word about your venue, by sharing your content or recommending you to their friends or in Groups (see below).
FACEBOOK AND LINKEDIN GROUPS
We’ve all seen those posts. Someone writes that they are looking for a recommendation for a venue for a certain number of people for a certain event, and their friends list their favourites in the comments below.
This happens even more often in certain Facebook and LinkedIn Groups. And did you know that with the new Recommendations and Reviews section on Facebook Pages (which has replaced the old 5 star reviews system) Facebook takes note of who has recommended you to their friends and in groups and adds their endorsement to your Page?
So to make the most of this opportunity, you need to do two things:
1. Make sure your profiles are optimised so it’s easy for your customers and advocates to recommend you.
2. Join relevant Facebook and LinkedIn Groups so you can make the most of the opportunities afforded to you when someone is looking for a recommendation. Don’t spam these groups, but keep an eye out so you can be a helpful group member, and can point people in the direction of your property when it’s a good fit.
Are your customers taking photos of your venue and sharing them on social media? Are they checking into your property on Facebook or tagging their location on Instagram? Are they using your hashtags when they post photos of themselves having a great time at one of your functions?
This kind of content is priceless, because it raises awareness of your venue among their friends and followers. And, as an added bonus, it helps you with your own content strategy because you can reshare that content (giving them credit, of course). So make it as easy as possible for visitors to your venue to spread the word. Have Insta-worthy photo locations around the venue. Display your hashtag (in a subtle way so it’s not spammy or distracting from the event’s purpose).
SITE INSPECTIONS / FAMILS
There’s nothing quite like getting someone to your venue in person to help get the sale over the line. It’s a chance to show off every aspect of the property, and to build a relationship with the potential client and find out more about what they’re looking for, and how you can help.
Individual site inspections let you give them your focused attention and provide a personalised experience.
But group famils also let you show off your venue in style, and have the added bonus of attendees being able to network with each other. Bigger famils allow for more of an “event” experience so you can really showcase your facilities and the style of events you can create.
Creating these group famils is easier (and more attractive to attendees) if more than one person is showcasing. Partner with non-competing businesses that share your target market to create a full experience. You can share the cost and invite each promoter’s database (expanding your reach and audience size), allowing each of you to build new relationships.
Referral partners are also worth building. Accommodation partners that don’t have conferencing space, theming companies, furniture hire companies – they will all have their own customers looking for venues. Create offers for their customers that they can promote via email or social media. You may even develop a commission arrangement for referrals.
When creating partnerships, make sure you set expectations and responsibilities up front, so there are no unexpected surprises or disappointments and one promoter doesn’t carry the whole load.
TRADE SHOWS / TRADE DISPLAYS / INDUSTRY EVENTS
There are a number of event industry trade shows held by various organisations throughout the year. Whether it’s the Brisbane Pop-Up, or a trade table at a business breakfast, industry events are another opportunity to meet your potential customers and start building relationships.
The key to a successful trade display:
Prepare – know who is attending and the opportunities on offer.
Build relationships – ideally have one team member on your stand, and another walking the floor meeting people and networking.
Build your database – have an incentive or competition where you’re collecting the details of potential clients.
Follow-Up – following-up with the people you’ve spoken to within a few days.
So while this is not an exhaustive list, these are some of the most important tools you can add to your venue’s toolbox. Take a quick look at your own arsenal and identify which of these are working for you, which might need a freshen up, and if there are any tools that you can introduce to boost your sales and marketing efforts.
If you need support developing your venue sales and marketing strategy, get in touch with the Hospitality Associates team. We’d love to help.