Businesses have capitalised on the pandemic to strengthen their online presence and with a captive audience of home workers the site of delivery and takeaway drivers is now commonplace on our streets.
It’s not just Amazon and restaurants which can capitalise on this online boom. With the right approach, venues can harness online technology to target clients effectively to create more sales opportunities.
A moveable feast
Over the last year, venues have pivoted to offer more hybrid and virtual events. Organisations such as ICCA are reporting higher attendances than ever – albeit from a computer screen.
A recent industry event found that 55% of delegates were concerned about attending large scale events. While the evidence may point to indoor events being perfectly safe it will be some time before venues achieve pre-2020 occupancy.
In the short to medium term, small meetings represent the best opportunity to improve venue occupancy and to bring in much needed revenue.
With venues repurposing their space to encompass new client needs such as hybrid meetings and letting their spaces out as flexible office space, the booking of smaller meetings and short term bookings is set to grow.
Such meetings are ideal for an online experience as they have minimal complexity and the online model can easily accommodate a wider trend for shorter lead times – planners can book at their leisure.
How to embrace the online opportunity
For event planners and venues alike, the move to online booking makes sense:
It is so convenient – for planners it means they can book at any time long after your sales team have gone home
It saves time – planners can make multiple bookings far quicker than using the phone and with less margin for error
It optimises your time – your sales and reception teams can focus their time on more lucrative and complex bookings which require a personal touch
It is automatic – thanks to integration between the venue booking system and the website all booking details are entered automatically – no need to rekey data ever
Open for business 24/7
Event planners – like everyone else – are living in a world when business is transacted 24/7 online. They want to be able to access information in real-time all the time and any time and they want the convenience of online booking.
For you – offering an online booking capability means you never need to miss any opportunities. Are they looking for something last-minute? They can turn to your site for help anytime they like – check availability, input their requirements for their event and make payment. No more waiting for a response in the morning from your sales team – it is instant.
This process saves a lot of time for your clients and it also saves time for you. Thanks to online bookings there is no need for a formal RFP process – simply make the space available to book online – the venue booking system takes care of the selling process.
For more complicated bookings we recommended that as part of the online experience venues offer a call back for an RFP option on the booking form. Online capture of prospect details ensures that you never miss a sales opportunity.
With automated payments, your accounts staff spend less time chasing small payments and it is great for cashflow too!
No more admin – more time to deliver a great the guest experience
It is frustrating for sales teams to be spending their time on needless admin. Thanks to online booking the admin is done by the client. Integration between the online booking and the venue booking system ensures that all the client information is passed straight through to the system.
With no time wasted on producing RFPs and taking order details for small events, sales teams can focus on following up and closing sales for more lucrative events such as weddings. Time wasted on data entry can be invested in productive and revenue generating activity such as client show arounds and following up proposals.
A great digital experience for your clients
Your time is precious and, crucially, so is your prospects.
Thanks to integration between the venues’ website and the venue booking system it is now possible to create a fully automated digital experience.
Look beyond the booking form. Online venue booking systems now offer greater flexibility with “widgets” offering the ability to present booking buttons and your availability calendar across your whole website.
As the venue booking engine is fully integrated with these widgets, your clients will be delighted that they will always have access to live availability.
Integration with third-party booking sites
A key trend is the growth of venue aggregator sites such as Venuedirectory.com which offer planners a choice of venues in one time-saving website. Progressive providers of venue booking systems are responding to this opportunity by providing seamless integration between these sites and the venue’s live availability.
It’s a win-win for bookers and venues, as it provides a seamless booking experience and a great promotional opportunity for venues.
It’s a view echoed by Michael Begley, CEO of Venuedirectory.com as he recently noted:
“Digital integration is the latest opportunity to offer further efficiencies and the best possible service to everyone. It’s exciting that so many venues, from worldwide hotel groups to dedicated venues, are recognising the benefits that this can bring.”
Traditionally, once a booking was made it would become a task for the sales team to create and then chase unpaid invoices. Thank to integration between the payment gateway and the venue booking system this whole process is eliminated. Invoices are generated and payments taken automatically at the time of booking – a great outcome for both the sales teams and accounts.
In the current climate it makes sense to promote your venue online while customers are predominantly online and while the nature of the venue offering is skewed towards smaller and hybrid events. With the rise in aggregation sites and an emerging generation that largely transacts online rather than on the phone, digital is the way forward.
Luis De Souza, NFS Technology CEO comments, “The online booking experience represents one of the most effective tool venues have to develop new business, given changing demand patterns as well as a greater willingness of the buyer to opt for a pure digital experience”.
Whether you choose to promote your venue via your website or an online directory or both you need to provide the most seamless automated experience possible.
Integration between the enquiry form, the third-party website and your live availability via the venue booking system is the key to online success.