Do UK venues have something to learn from hotels about boosting business?

What have you booked online in the last few months? A show? Rail tickets? A hotel room?

Like nearly everyone else, you’ve probably done at least one of these things.

But are you offering potential clients the chance to book space at your venue the same way? New independent research – sponsored by NFS – suggests that you probably are not.

In a poll of VIP venue representatives, just under half admitted they are not progressing with digital transformation.

What’s more, 53% said their business is not ready for the transition to a more online customer experience.

As leading providers of venue management software, we know venues are complex businesses that can’t directly be compared to hotels.

But is it possible that venues are missing a trick to boost their business with technology?

Let’s face it, for the average British consumer, online booking has become the norm – and mobile use is growing. Earlier this year, it was reported that a third of people had used a mobile to book a hotel room.

Hotels are also using digital transformation throughout the whole process, from enquiry to sales to booking, and even to billing, creating a seamless experience that saves time and money.

So what does digital transformation look like when it’s designed specifically for venues?

Our research, carried out by LondonLaunch found that a significant number of venues are still running their operations with a mish-mash of solutions that don’t share information.

Digital transformation offers venues a chance to replace error-prone processes with a unified system that:

  • > streamlines operations
  • > maximises sales opportunities
  • > improves revenue capture
  • > simplifies billing.

 

Venue management software automates many tasks, saving time and driving up efficiency, while simplifying enquiry handling.

An easy-to-understand user interface makes data entry far more efficient than a static Excel file. Reminders are added easily and actioned in a single process, and follow-up actions can be added rapidly.

Even online booking – as appropriate to the needs of the specific venue – can be added.

A good example is found in the multi-million pound Essex conference centre CEME, which organises 160 spaces across 19 acres with the help of venue management software.

CEME sees the installation of the system as a way to streamline operations and boost customer service, and also to grow revenue.

CEME has used venue management software to automate its rates – it automatically offers public sector clients the public sector rate.

The complex, which includes conference facilities as well as training and learning centres and outdoor spaces, will soon provide clients with an online portal where they can:

  • > log in at any time
  • > see what space is available
  • > make an enquiry
  • > pay online.

 

Centre director Eamonn Cole says the system “will generate revenue from external sources and agents, and it’s also an add-on for our existing clients who at the moment have to phone us to book space.”

In other words, CEME has taken note of the success of digital transformation in the hospitality industry and had the foresight to see its potential for venues.

As the venues survey discovered, online bookings for late availability and small meeting spaces are a somewhat untapped area of revenue for venues, although hotels are already taking advantage.

Today’s venue management software can be integrated with the venue’s website, and when sensitively used can open up potential bookings 24/7.

We’d never suggest, of course, that one size fits all; venues across the UK are incredibly varied.

Some balance the needs of both internal and external users, while others host events and meetings of incredible complexity.

The overwhelming need uncovered by the survey, and emphasised by our VIP guests, is that venues need extraordinarly flexible management software that can be customised to fit their particular needs.

This insight is informing our further development of our technology, and we’re working hand-in-hand with customers such as CEME to create enhanced capabilities that can help encourage even the most reluctant venues into the digital era.

The meetings and conference business is booming – but customer needs are changing. Let’s make sure UK venues always have the digital tools to satisfy their demands completely.

Luis De Souza
Luis De Souza Chief Executive Officer Posted on: November 28, 2018
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