Marketing your venue space to event and meeting planners doesn’t have to be hard — in fact, capitalising on the multi-billion-dollar event industry should be quite easy (and extremely profitable).
In a time where experiences are favoured over material goods, consumers are eager to invest in experiential offerings; a shift which has businesses changing their marketing approach entirely.
For the hospitality industry specifically, this represents an exciting opportunity to tap into an evolving market that, previously, was somewhat inaccessible due to a flawed system rife with setbacks and unqualified RFPs.
But with the tools in place to empower a digital booking experience, hotels can finally meet the demand of planners to provide the landscape for a unique and personalised event.
After all, demand for meeting and event space is growing at a rapid pace and offers a significant revenue opportunity for hotel properties.
So, how can hoteliers make the most of this trend and effectively generate new leads and book meetings, conferences, trade shows, seminars, conventions and more? We’ve compiled a list of 5 ways to market your venue space and appeal to the modern planner.
1. Take it Online
The best way to market to prospective customers? Meet them where they spend the most of their time — in this case, that’s online. With tight deadlines and robust requests, modern planners are looking to vet, book and confirm properties in a timely, efficient manner. This simply can’t be achieved with the manual processes of the past (think: endless email exchanges, phone calls and unanswered RFPs). Rather, the digital planner requires a digital solution that allows them to move from Point A to B in a seamless, informed fashion — and with just a few clicks of a mouse.
With an online booking portal designed specifically for group bookings, hotels can readily advertise their venue space to prospective planners with live availability, instant RFPs and booking, turnkey packages and so much more. With all desired information housed in one place, planners can ensure that each request is qualified and likely to transition to a confirmed reservation. After all, with real-time visibility for your function space, you’re always ‘open for inspection’ — even when you’re not, to ensure you never miss a lead.
2. Develop Customisable Packages with Local Experiences
Personalisation is a major theme in the hospitality realm right now, and events are no exception. With this in mind, hotels should curate a variety of customisable, turn-key packages that can meet the evolving demand of creative planners. This could include specialised menus and beverage packages, decor options, wellness upgrades, local attractions and partnerships, extended-stay offers and so much more. Providing packages at a glance further streamlines the booking process and enables planners to select a property that can meet and exceed their demands.
3. Floor Plans, Virtual Tours and More
Achieve global booking potential by advertising detailed floor plans and virtual tours directly on the booking portal. Rather than arranging and waiting for an in-person tour/inspection, your property can welcome customers from anywhere with a 3D virtual site inspection, to make the decision to book that much easier.
4. Instant, Online Booking and Payments
Even better than a quick and efficient booking process? Instant, worry-free payment methods. Using cloud-based software, your property can provide 24/7 booking access and support (on any device) with instant payments through 25+ supported payment gateways.
Not only that, but hoteliers can generate instant, custom reports, budgets and forecasts all in the same place. To further cultivate relationships with planners, hotels can also encourage customers to participate in automated surveys and receive instant, valuable feedback and testimonials.
5. An Integrated Sales & Catering Venue Management System
Utilising one robust, comprehensive management system is the best way to ensure your sales team has all the tools they need to effectively market your venue space. With centralised communications, quotes, automated email marketing and SMS campaigns (all entirely customisable), hotels have access to everything they need to engage with qualified leads.
After you’ve automated some or all of your group processes, go back to the beginning. Review your target markets. Narrow down where you think you can reach them online. Then let them know you’re making group bookings at your hotel easier with online booking.
The benefits of a modern sales & catering system for any hotel are abundant. The cost per sale decreases. Fewer unqualified leads means increasing the time sales can spend on real, qualified leads. A
dditionally, sales teams can give more attention to the details that do need to be handled by a person, which means extraordinary customer service and a better chance of repeat business. And a priceless benefit is a happier sales team: because who wants to chase dead-end email leads more than half the day?
About the Author
Lauren Hall is the award-winning Founder and Chief Executive Officer of iVvy / www.ivvy.com.au
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.
Since its 2009 launch, Lauren has overseen iVvy’s continued growth and global 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. Lauren has also won 4 prestigious Global Stevie Awards for Best New Product, Entrepreneur of the Year, Innovator of the Year and Entrepreneur of the Year (Asia Pacific). She has been awarded the Queensland iAwards for Best Innovation in the Digital Economy, as well as Gold Coast’s Business Woman of the Year, Innovator of the Year and was presented with the Gold Coast Mayor’s Award for Innovation.