This year has been extremely difficult for any industry, but the looming pandemic and ongoing social distancing continues to be particularly challenging for the event management industry and the event venues whose business is all about getting people together. Still, despite the complicated landscape, people are finding ways to celebrate life’s events (births, marriages, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) and are still booking up venue spaces for late 2020 and beyond.
So let’s not tarry and get your wedding venue, convention center, conference venue or event facility back on track with these seven venue management tips.
#1 – Ditch the time-wasting paperwork
The old school way of doing things may feel more concrete and productive, but moving from bulky binders to digital files and timesaving software can make the venue operation process between you, your staff and your clients smoother, quicker and more organized. Busy vendors, suppliers and clients no longer have to worry about making an in-person appearance just to pay a bill or produce a signature.
Some typical paper trail items you should make digital include:
- Client or vendor contracts. Don’t battle busy schedules just to grab a signature. Contracts and other agreements can be sent and signed digitally.
- Payments. Paper checks aren’t exactly extinct, but they’ll eventually find their way next to cassette tapes and landline phones. Letting customers pay balances online gives them the opportunity to pay how they want. It also makes it easier for you to collect payments by the posted due dates.
- Floor plans. When guests walk into an empty room, it can be hard for them to visualize how it will look and feel when it’s filled with tables, chairs and people. Digital floor plans allow you to make true-to-scale layouts that help customers visualize how guests will fit (or why they may want to upgrade to one of your other multiple venues that have a larger seating capacity). It’s also a great tool to share with the set-up team to avoid questions, incorrect table placements and the need for the venue management staff to be present through the entire process.
- Invoices. Automating your invoicing process will notify clients about payment obligations and gently nudge them when those obligations haven’t been filled. Streamlining revenue keeps things clear and consistent and keeps you paid on time.
- All the nitty-gritty details. Share everything from the catering menu to banquet event order to special requests in a quick email. Digital files also make it easy to send the same document to multiple people like hosts, their event planners and your venue staff.
- Whatever else is collecting dust. Pretty much any process done on paper can be moved online. Save time, space and trees by going digital.
#2 – Do you reuse it? Then make it a template
And while you’re going digital, turn it into a template. Instead of recreating the wheel every time a new client books space in your event venue, supply yourself and your staff with custom-branded templates. Having a standard style for proposals, contracts, invoices, etc. makes it easy for venue management to fill in the blanks with the event details, ensures essential information isn’t forgotten and saves your staff countless hours. And because you’ll only have to sit down once to create the template, it’s worth spending the extra time to customize it with your event venue’s branding, turning things like your proposals into professionally polished sales pitches that will leave a positive impression with your clients.
#3 – Fool-proof your calendar
The calendar is probably one of the most important tools for an event venue. Double booking, overlapping times or forgetting to add in a buffer for clean-up and set-up between events can leave you with some uncomfortable conversations and rightfully irate clients. And if you’re working off of a physical calendar for which there is only one copy, you’re more likely to make false promises or scheduling errors.
Syncing electronic calendars can help staff see the most accurate availability, book dates as soon as a client confirms and instantly share the information with other team members. The best venue management software platforms like Planning Pod also send you alerts when conflicts occur and allow you to color code bookings for an easy visual reference as to which rooms are booked and whether it’s officially reserved or on hold for a lead.
#4 – Upgrade your marketing efforts to reach your target audience
Well-strategized digital marketing planning is a critical component of venue management. It can enlarge your pool of prospective clients, nurture them through the marketing funnel and increase viable leads. And with all of your clients hanging out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms, you should be mastering a social platform or two and pairing it with automated email marketing campaigns. Most social platforms also offer a wide variety of free or affordable marketing tools that let you quickly narrow your niche audience, create compelling campaigns and track whether or not those campaigns are working.
To ensure your digital marketing tactics are successful, you may want to add experienced marketing professionals to your team and take advantage of software that allows your venue manager and marketing team to manage your venue marketing tactics proficiently. Ideally, you’ll want to create a bucket of great content and ad campaigns that will attract new customers, guide them through the marketing funnel and lead them straight to your doorstep, ready to sign on the dotted line.
#5 – Improve the attendee experience for your clients
Guests not only want to be wowed when they attend an event, they expect it. While it’s usually up to your clients’ or event planners’ jobs to focus on the extras that can make the event pop, there are things that venue management and staff can do to spice up the party and close the deal. Remember, creating memorable moments is a trick venue managers can use to land more sales and even add value to your venue booking price with optional add-ons that clients can’t say “no” to.
Some ways to enhance the attendee experience include:
- Providing online ticket sales, reservations and at-the-door check-ins
- Ensuring accessibility for all of your guests with handicap accessibility and properly distanced seating to meet social distancing protocols
- Upgrading your WiFi plan to manage heavier usage for conferences and large corporate events
- Offering technology rentals for extra microphones, speakers, projectors, digital screens, lighting, etc.
- Assisting in virtual events and live streaming with A/V integrations, camera setups and even equipment (a trend that will be enhanced in the post-COVID world of event planning)
Doing some collective brainstorming can help you come up with a list of “extras” you can offer your guests to secure more sales.
#6 – Track inventory more efficiently
Most event venues offer more than a room. They also provide chairs, tables, plate settings, cutlery, bars, stages, banner stands, electronics and more—and without a proper inventory list, it’s easy to come up short a chair or two the day of an event. Creating a dynamic inventory list can help you quickly allocate materials to an event, see what’s available and what’s reserved or out for repairs, deduct broken or missing items, and alert you when you’re due to come up short. This can ease up the tedious task of manual lists and free up event management and other event staff to take care of other pressing responsibilities.
#7 – Streamline processes and improve organization with software and tools
Streamlining your processes and gathering data, communication and event notes into a central location can help you and other staff members keep track of details, changes and client exchanges. It can also reduce frustration and confusion for staff members and the client. However, while online tools and platforms can either make your life easier, it can also just as quickly create a new kind of chaos if not done correctly.
Instead of introducing a mix of apps, software and online programs to your current process, you should consider available venue management software that incorporates several (or preferably, all) of the tools you need to create a smooth, streamlined process – from venue lead and sales management to bookings to billing.
For more great ideas on how to boost your venue management game, visit the International Association of Venue Managers website.