What makes the perfect venue space? This is the precise question which keeps planners up at night, as they vet prospective properties to bring events to life. Location, amenities, customizable packages, rates, unique offerings – these are all factors which separate one venue space from the next, laying the foundation for a truly memorable, share-worthy event.
Of course, not every event will demand the glitz and glamour of a Hollywood gala. But as a hotelier, getting event planners to notice your venue can mean a huge boost in revenue. Even better, those attendees could very well become loyal, long-term guests — that is, if you’re able to ‘wow’ them during their time on-property. Whether you’re a hotel, conference center or restaurant, spreading the word about your venue and effectively marketing it to prospective planners should, without a doubt, be one of your main priorities.
1. Make it (Really) Easy to Book
Ask any event or meeting planner to detail their biggest obstacle(s) when booking a venue, and they will likely tell you it’s precisely that: booking the venue. For years — scratch that — for decades, the process of finding, vetting, and booking a venue space has been something of a manual disaster. One which, in the world of event planning, where tight deadlines are guaranteed, causes a great deal of frustration and unnecessary headache.
Largely due to a lack of dedicated booking technology, planners were often left to manually locate and chase down venue leads, engaging in a game of phone or email tag simply to get a few initial questions answered. After those questions? They need to ask about availability, schedule a site visit, clarify package details, and then formally confirm their reservation. In the case of an unqualified RFP, those planners would have to start the process all over again — sometimes countless times — before finally landing on an appropriate and available venue space. Without a tool in place to streamline this process, booking the right space for an upcoming event was much more complicated than it needed to be.
Fortunately, the days of manual group booking processes are behind us. Hotels and venues are finally able to rely on a platform explicitly catered to the needs of event planners — and the event spaces which hope to win their business. With the help of a group booking platform, planners can refine their search by event type (meeting, events, conferences, corporate functions, etc.) location, date, and the number of attendees. This helps to filter out unqualified spaces, while planners can easily scan through properties online and access critical information including: live availability, virtual tours and floor plans, customizable package details, quotes and so much more. Once they’ve settled on the perfect space, the booking and payment process is also streamlined within the cloud-based, online platform. Sure, it’s not quite as easy as one-click Amazon check-out, but in the eye’s of event planners, this is as close as it gets. As for hoteliers and venue owners, the use of modern booking technology helps to reduce costs, capitalize on last-minute bookings, unlock analytics with advanced reporting, and establish a more positive and responsive relationship with planners.
2. Customize, Customize, Customize
When it comes to events, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. After all, the hospitality industry is — quite literally — built on the provision of memorable experiences. Events come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from the number of attendees to unique F&B needs, lodging options, or advanced technological requirements. Sure, it’s nice to offer a beautiful room and great food, but many events will require so much more than that. In this sense, flexibility and personalization can make or break the success of an event space. Hoteliers and venue owners also have to consider if their space is well technologically-equipped, if it can accept different vendors and decor options, if it offers good acoustics and if it has any certain share-worthy elements.
Are the F&B and lodging packages customizable? Does the space offer Virtual Reality (VR) capabilities? What other unique elements will grab the attention of attendees? Will the planners have the undivided attention of sales representatives to ensure they can work together to bring their event vision to life? These are the considerations which planners use to determine the best fit for their event and, ultimately, the more a hotel or venue space can personalize their offering to planners, the better. With these critical identifiers listed in detail online, planners can navigate their vetting process with ease while hotel or venue representatives are able to dedicate their energy to what matters most — the planner, their unique needs, and their guests.
3. Information is your Advantage
At a glance, it would be easy to assume that price is the largest influence on a planner’s decision to book an event space. Curiously, studies demonstrate otherwise. Recent reports found that meeting room information is the most important factor in the decision, more than the cost of the facility, attractions, exhibit space, food service, previous experience, sleeping rooms capacity and tech support. While this may come as a surprise, there is an important lesson to be learned here — information is powerful. When it comes to the booking decision, and offering awesome event spaces for planners, hoteliers and venue owners should provide as much detail as possible. Features and amenities galore, ensure there is no guess-work attached to the booking process when event planners consider your space. This, especially, is where an online booking platform comes in handy, ensuring planners have uninhibited access to critical details relating to your property.
Research also shows that word of mouth is essential, meaning planners will actively seek out others’ advice and feedback about a prospective venue. With this in mind, hoteliers and venue owners should not only leverage technology and superior service to solidify their reputation, but they should also ensure online feedback about their space is easily accessible. As such, it’s ever-important to realize that each booking is not a transaction, but rather, the start of a long-term, valuable relationship.
Choosing a venue is one of the most important, albeit sometimes difficult, decisions that event professionals face. With the right technology and framework in place, hoteliers and venue owners can cater directly to the needs of prospective planners, making the decision to book the easiest part of their job.
About the Author
Lauren Hall is the award-winning Founder and Chief Executive Officer of iVvy. Lauren is a passionate entrepreneur with more than 25 years’ business management experience at Executive and Board level, successfully building multiple companies from startup to strategic and financial exit. With a background in programming, accounting and marketing, Lauren’s expertise spans manufacturing, retail, advertising and technology industries in both South Africa and Australia.
She co-founded iVvy in 2009, overseeing our growth to 1,000 clients in 13 countries and expansion to New Zealand, Asia, Europe and North America.
Ernst & Young recognized Lauren as a future global leader of industry through the EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women Asia-Pacific program for 2016. Lauren won three International Silver Stevie Awards for Entrepreneur of the Year Globally 2016, Innovator of the Year 2016 and Entrepreneur of the Year Asia Pacific 2016 and recently was named Gold Coast Business Woman of the Year 2016.
iVvy offers meeting planners the ability to search, compare, book and pay for function space, catering and group accommodations online, 24/7. By providing conference centers, hotels, restaurants and cruise lines with an integrated revenue management and distribution platform, iVvy equips Venue Operators with the tools they need to manage inquiries on any device, anywhere. With enhanced reporting and analytics, Venues are provided with greater visibility over their business so they can yield their meetings & event spaces to maximize revenue.
With offices in 5 countries and a global team providing support 24 hours a day, iVvy’s groundbreaking, cloud-based software offers scalable solutions that tackle core issues faced by the travel, MICE and events industry, and continues to service the world’s leading hospitality groups, major corporations, travel companies, government offices, associations, universities and nonprofits.
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