Venues that are succeeding in attracting business bookings “have personalities that stand out and draw heavily on creating a distinctive experience”. Andrew White tells us how
The events industry is all about getting people together to interact, whether it’s a seasonal celebration, sharing knowledge, a farewell to a colleague or a personal milestone; the objective is to bring people together. And for an industry that promotes itself for ‘face-to-face interaction’ more often than not we shoot ourselves in the foot, guiltily hiding behind a computer screen.
Ask a festival, event or conference organiser their favourite venue and I will pretty much guarantee they will mention not only the venue but its sales and marketing contact at the same time. This is because people buy from people and the events industry, as well as the success of the supply chain, is built on personal recommendation, not mass social media, endless e-shots, poorly conceived flyers and some rather dubious print adverts.
Jay Danzie, a popular personality in the media world, once stated: ‘Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after an experience with you becomes your trademark’. This quote has gone viral in the business and motivational speaker world. It packs such a punch, it’s almost a literary slap across the face! It’s amazing that something so simple can be so powerful, despite the fact we are brought up to display manners, respect our elders, not to be shy and to try and offer up interesting conversation. The workplace is so often clogged up with online interactions and faceless transactions, and Jay is really only re-interpreting the values we were brought up on for a new generation.
In the business world – with messages being rammed into our subconscious 24/7 – having a persona is a sure fire way of being remembered in the constantly updating arena of social and online media. And in a sector that promotes ‘face-to-face interaction’ it’s imperative that whoever is driving sales and marketing for your organisation has one hell of a presence; a trademark.
Getting to the buyers and decision makers in events is increasingly hard, therefore venues need to look beyond online norm. That said, for some time familiarisation visits have been a key way of connecting with existing and potential buyers. But with drop out rates as high as 50%, these events are on the wane along with faceless drinks receptions for potential buyers.
Visiting decision makers is increasingly hard too and often agencies are asking for a fee, a joint marketing fund or to go on a waiting list to be able to present to the intermediary event bookers. For the venue it’s a vicious full-circle; back to mass mailing, e-shots and bad advertising. The venues and spaces that are doing well are the ones that, as Jay Danzie encourages, have personalities that stand out and draw heavily on creating a distinctive experience.
There are some fantastic examples of how capitalising on your personal brand can drive relationships, enquiries and business at venues.
Start with LinkedIn as a vital way to engage with existing and potential customers. Widen your circle to the relevant groups that could benefit your business and get involved in conversations. But be sure to portray a personality, as corporate whitewash won’t cut it – you need to have a voice to stand out, engage and to interact. Use the forum not only to widen your network by engaging with new contacts – get involved in conversations, debate and also ask questions. Tag in others who you think will help amplify your post and always be sure to thank people for their contribution. Remember: bring things back to being personal.
You will also be amazed at the power of the handwritten word, a thank you or a meeting confirmation written in your own hand has a huge impact. If you are bringing people together, think about what would make them come and why your event is different. Very few people can take time out of their day to attend an ‘open house’ and in the evenings they will have family ties or long commutes home. Therefore a champagne and canapé reception just doesn’t cut it any more. People like content driven events where they can learn something, they like events that offer an insight and behind the scenes glimpses and, most of all, they like it at a time that means they can either arrive at work justifiably late or leave justifiably early. Breakfasts work as long as you plan to get people back to their office for 9.30 or 10.00, and late afternoons work too as it gives people the chance to get home or even on to another event.
Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace, cared for by independent charity Historic Royal Palaces, recently launched its new events space – the Albermarle Suite. Destination management companies (DMCs) were invited to arrive at the palace before it opened to the public where they were whisked away on a horse drawn charabanc around the stunning formal gardens. Breakfast was enjoyed in the Albermarle Suite before guests were able to experience an exclusive roof top tour of the palace. The team went the extra mile to treat guests like royalty and showcased why an event held at Hampton Court Palace is one that will be remembered for years to come.
The Grand Brighton
The Grand Brighton sponsored one of the recent beach huts at the Luna Cinema that was held on Brighton Beach. Event planners were invited to enjoy the film and were given the kind of hospitality that would be expected in the hotel. Situated directly opposite from the hotel, guests could see the property, get to know the events team better and enjoy a movie at the same time. An excellent use of business with pleasure.
Conquer the Forest
Center Parcs launched a new teambuilding competition earlier this summer designed to showcase its events offer to agents, potential clients and press. The competition took place every Monday over three weeks at Woburn Forest in Bedfordshire and saw teams of four attempt to Conquer the Forest by partaking in two activities – a Pedalo Time Trial and Laser Combat Tournament. A dedicated microsite was launched featuring a live leader board so teams could track their scores. The campaign was a great way for attendees to experience Center Parcs as an events and teambuilding destination first hand with their team.
Whatever event or manner you look to engage with your buyers, remember your trademark. Whether it’s a handwritten note or a statement – people buy people and this business is built on personal recommendation. If in doubt, remember Jay’s knockout words: ‘Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after an experience with you becomes your trademark’.