At last we have some light at the end of the tunnel, with venues able to start operating in a limited way in early 2021. But with spend still constrained, better outcomes will rely on your ability to better target your efforts and engage with prospects and customers.
At NFS, our focus in the last few months has been to create a “holistic” solution set based on 3 significant drivers:
- Data and digital transformation
- Best of breed sales and marketing tools.
Like our integration with Venue Performance, partnerships will support our clients in gaining access efficiently to market data. This is critical to using venue teams effectively and being able to fine-tune the sales and marketing machine to influence buyer preferences.
I also see significant changes on the horizon, from smaller meetings to even shorter lead times and hybrid events as a core proposition.
The days of travelling a long way to get to an event are not likely to return in 2021, so venues will need much greater flexibility on the package front, the technology expertise to support clients and the commercial propositions to win new business.
Data and Digital Transformation
So how can venues best keep abreast of all the dynamic changes in the market to create the right event solutions for their clients?
It starts with the simple proposition: know your customer! To do this effectively, I recommend three key actions:
- Hold deep dive conversations on what has changed in the client organisation. The traditional simplistic approach: “so when is your 2021 sales event planned for, how many will be attending and can we assume a similar package as last year?” will no longer work.
The real question is now:
“Is the 2021 sales conference a virtual event and how can we support you to make this really successful and vibrant?”
These deep dive conversations will provide the solid basis for a plan of action to drive revenue from existing clients. I suggest 80% of effort needs to be made around existing relationships, where trust already exists.
- Extend your horizons from acting on anecdotal information to looking at the emerging market and formulating a plan based on quality data relating to the competitive landscape. This can provide valuable insights on a range of dimensions.
Peter Heath of Venue Performance, an NFS Partner, says: “Knowing how your venue is performing relative to your competitors and the market is crucial – it enables you to make sound decisions supported by data and genuine market intelligence.”
Create a connected venue ecosystem. With a smaller team and more complex events to manage, start by integrating three important processes.
First, integrate online enquiries from multiple sources directly into your booking system with immediate notification to your sales team.
Did you know: you are 70% more likely to close a new deal if you respond within an hour of the enquiry.
Second, embrace digital. Your clients now expect an engaging digital experience, from signage to stunning messaging. If you do not have a head of digital, now is the time to allocate that responsibility.
Third, many venues have not connected the booking and billing process in a seamless way. This creates invoicing nightmares and ultimately delayed collections, which will result in lost revenue. You cannot afford this scenario in 2021, the market will be tough!
Best of breed sales and marketing tools
And now to a topic that is close to my heart – venues working effectively by connecting the sales and marketing effort.
Today, silos of technology hamper the efforts of your events team and reduce the effectiveness of the client engagement process.
The approach that delivers the best outcome is the integration of sales and marketing. Today, platforms like Microsoft Dynamics offer venues an affordable solution to bring together many aspects of the sales and marketing agenda, seamlessly integrating enquiry handling with robust client management and social media support.
This integrated solution better supports end-to-end engagement, which is now critical to convert opportunities.
The tools that are now part of a powerful CRM/marketing platform like Dynamics will be the key to giving venues the competitive edge to both improve conversion and more importantly, to compete in the new landscape which will encompass new venue categories and much more dynamic digital marketing.
NFS clients are now benefiting from full integration with platforms such as Dynamics, with seamless client and contact data synchronisation, real-time venue availability within Dynamics and the full marketing feature set; from HTML proposals to email management and, of course, social media integration.
Goodbye troubled 2020 – it’s time to press the re set button ready for the opportunities that 2021 will bring.
Take a fresh view of your clients’ emerging requirements, make decisions based on quality data, and put in place the integrated technology tool set to support your operations. There’s never been a better time to do it.