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Fresh insights and best practices for event professionals

How data empowers event businesses: Mitigating slow seasons and thriving during peaks

by | Apr 29, 2024 | Best Practices, Business, Event Management, Event Venues, Industry Intelligence and Research

Do fluctuations in demand leave your event business spinning in the wind like a wayward weather vane?  Event pros today are all too familiar with the feast-or-famine cycle. 

But here’s the good news: you can use business data to not only survive and even grow during slow periods, but also leverage peak seasons for explosive growth. And we’re here to help.

This article dives deep into the transformative power of data analysis for event businesses. We’ll show you how to identify recurring slow seasons by harnessing the goldmine of information hidden within your historical booking data. And we’ll equip you with actionable strategies to mitigate those slow periods and skyrocket your success during peak seasons.

If you’re keeping booking records with sticky notes and Google Docs and worried about the extra work it will take to collect and report on your data, Planning Pod can help with customizable reports and dashboards for insights at a glance. 

Documenting the right data for your event business

Before you can effectively report on data to uncover business trends and opportunities, it is imperative to make sure you’re collecting the right information. When in doubt, our advice is always to collect more than you think you need. 

But the most overlooked pieces of data often come from this category: customer demographics. We can’t stress this enough – this information is ALWAYS worth collecting! Why? Because if you don’t know your customers, you don’t know your business.

If you can identify your past customers based on things like location, budget, and aesthetic, you can use that information to drive growth. But only if you track the data.

We suggest collecting this detailed information from your customers after they submit a booking inquiry and during the lead qualification process. As their trusted event professional, you’re likely getting to know them and their needs deeply anyway – it’s just a matter of implementing systems to document that knowledge. Tools like customer surveys can really come in handy for documenting demographics as you qualify your leads.

Unearthing slow seasons with historical booking data

Historical booking data is a goldmine for any event business. By analyzing this data, you can pinpoint recurring slow periods and plan counter-strategies. 

Remember, booking data can only be leveraged if it’s actually documented – even better if it’s centralized and can be reported on in one place, like an event management CRM (customer relationship management) system

Here’s how to unlock these insights:

  • Identify relevant metrics. The specific metrics you track should directly reflect your business goals. Are you trying to draw in more bookings of a specific event type, or more customers of a certain demographic? If so, both of these are crucial metrics for you to track. Below are a few standard metrics that most event businesses would benefit from tracking:
    • Bookings per day/week/month/year
    • Revenue generated
    • Event type breakdown (conferences, workshops, etc.)
    • Customer demographics (if captured)
  • Clean and format data if necessary. It’s really important to ensure data accuracy and consistency before any analysis can happen. For example, if you’re reporting on customer demographics but haven’t captured demographic info for all of your past bookings, you may need to send a quick demographic survey to past clients or add that information to closed leads by memory. 
  • Time series analysis: This is a fancy term for plotting bookings over time (start with monthly, quarterly, yearly if you’re not already familiar with booking trends for your business). Visualizing these trends rather than looking at a spreadsheet helps identify periods with significantly lower booking activity compared to others. 
  • Seasonality analysis: In the event industry, many patterns are seasonal – weather and holidays have a huge impact on booking trends. That makes it of the utmost importance that you investigate if there are seasonal patterns in your data. Do bookings dip during specific months like summer or winter holidays? Knowing this can reveal trends specific to your location and industry.

Bonus: Advanced techniques for deeper insights

  • Segmentation analysis: Segmenting your historical booking data by customer demographics (age, location) or event type can reveal slow seasons specific to certain customer groups or event types. 
  • Statistical analysis: You can also use tools like standard deviation or moving averages to identify periods with consistently lower bookings compared to the average, if you really want to fancy up your stats. However, with the graphs and visuals that come with an advanced reporting system (like the one we’ve built in Planning Pod), this level of analysis may not be necessary for your business.

Strategies to mitigate slow seasons

Now that you have an idea of the trends affecting your business and their causes, it’s time to strategize. Below are a few tactics that can be used to mitigate your slow seasons and minimize bottlenecks to your revenue.

  • Targeted promotions: Use that customer segmentation data you worked so hard to document to launch targeted email or social media campaigns with special offers for slow periods. This is a great opportunity to discount packages that are low-cost for your business to provide, or to target demographics that tend to book specific, seasonal event types with attractive offers or discounts.
  • New event formats: Think outside of the box with what types of events you can host or book during slow times, and identify them specifically. For example, a conference venue or organizer could host smaller workshops or networking events, or restaurants and wedding venues can offer to host corporate events with a more intimate feel (this is a trend currently on the rise). Once you identify these alternative event types and formats, use promotions to target their audiences strategically.
  • Package deals: A little sweetening of the pot never hurts if you’re trying to boost bookings during slow times. It’s wise to consider bundling your services to create even more attractive packages and services. Maybe anyone that books a certain catering package also receives a certain floral package at half price during winter months. Think strategically about where you can cut back by offering a discount without cannibalizing your revenue streams.
  • Content marketing: While it’s easy to stress about money during slow seasons, there is more silver lining to these times than you might think when it comes to establishing your brand. You can use those times to create high-value, informative blog posts or webinars related to your industry. Or even showcase behind-the-scenes videos of venue renovations to create buzz. All of this plays an important role in establishing you as a thought leader and trendsetter, as well as maintaining brand visibility…not to mention boosting your website’s SEO (search engine optimization), which contributes to filling your sales funnel in the future.

Maximizing peak seasons

And now for the fun part! When you’ve identified your peak seasons, it’s time to think about strategies for squeezing even more out of them (which is much more enjoyable than fighting slow seasons). 

Here are some smart ways to ride the revenue wave during peaks:

  • Prepare with predictive analytics: When you’ve used your past booking data to predict peak demand periods, the first thing you should do is ensure that you’re well-staffed and equipped with all the necessary resources. This eliminates the stress that comes with busy times and allows you to focus more on initiatives that can generate even more revenue.
  • Upselling, cross-selling, and dynamic pricing: These strategies are tried and true. During peak times, you should be offering add-on services or even merchandise to increase customer spending. A concert or performance venue could offer VIP packages or limited-time event merchandise. A full-service private event venue could offer champagne toasts or an extra professional photography session. Bonus points if you review past customer feedback or surveys to get ideas about what you can offer to enhance future experiences. And adjust your pricing structure based on surges of demand. Just be sure to communicate any pricing adjustments transparently to maintain trust and avoid customer confusion.
  • Limited-time offers: When all else fails, creating a sense of urgency is an excellent way to generate revenue. Consider offering limited-time discounts for certain packages (like booking on weekdays or less in-demand dayparts; this actually works in both peak and slow seasons) or early-bird pricing for booking events in a busy season. In any promotional materials, call attention to the limited-time nature of your offer, and your audience will be motivated to take action.

By implementing these data-driven strategies, event businesses can transform slow seasons into opportunities for growth and maximize profits during peak periods. Remember, data is key to understanding your customer base, optimizing your offerings, and ultimately achieving sustainable success.

Planning Pod is a comprehensive event management solution that offers thorough and robust reporting and analytics for any event business. Get started today!