As UK venues get ready for business, what key trends do you need to act on?

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UK venues are looking hopefully towards the reopening of major events. Here, venue industry-watcher Luis De Souza – CEO of NFS Technology – outlines the key trends you need to know about, and how you should be responding now.

The key trends

Hybrid events

This is the biggest trend as we move forward into the reopening. With the capacity of meeting spaces reduced massively because of social distancing, corporate clients are looking at hybrid style events.

This will involve a proportion of delegates in the meeting space and the rest attending via virtual means such as video conferencing.

This trend has meant venues/hotels are having to look at investing in their venue technology provision and also at upskilling their sales team on how to sell and price for such events.

David Parker, Director of Conferences and Events at the Royal College of Physicians (an NFS client), says his organisation has been exploring hybrid events for over five years, but has now moved to a fully hybrid or virtual offering for clients.

He said: “What makes a good hybrid event? Of course, high quality content and a large amount of professional expertise, but simply putting a 4-8-hour conference online does not make it a hybrid event…at least not one that will be viewed! So, talk to the experts, think about the goals you are trying to achieve and then consider industry advice carefully.”

Knowing the competition

In these tough times it’s more important than ever to know the competition.

So benchmarking reports and SWOT analysis on your competitors is vitally important for the sales teams to understand their position in the market and learn to overcome objections and what they might be.

Negotiation

There’s been a lot of press coverage of the reduction of VAT down to 5% for the sector, and some clients are expecting that saving to be passed on.

A good solid WWW (Wish, Want, Walk) pricing grid is key at this time so you are able to understand the pricing for the venue/event and the parameters that sit around that.

You don’t want to be losing business early in the recovery of the pandemic.

Loyalty

Venues believe loyalty will feature very highly in the recovery as clients find venues that work for them, are secure and that delegates feel comfortable in.

They will return to these venues as they know what to expect and receive when onsite.

As ever, building upon longstanding relationships and forging new ones will be crucial to success. Venue management software captures the data that enables you to create targeted marketing campaigns that clients will appreciate.

Online messaging and managing expectations

Clients will undoubtedly be nervous about what to expect when they are onsite, so now is a great time to be working on messaging online through social media channels and also contacting contracted bookings post opening with the expectations of what the event and venue will look like.

Help clients to understand processes that will be in place and how it will impact on their event.

Small but beautiful

Venues are definitely seeing a shift from larger events to a number of smaller ones for Q4 this year, requiring a strong control of available space to maximize utilization.

Conclusion

Venues are still dealing with a number of operational issues, such as sales teams who are still working from home for part of the time.

In these conditions, venue management software is a bigger help than ever before, because it ensures no sales lead is ever lost, and follow-up prompts are automatic.

In response to the crisis, and working closely with our venues clients, we’ve enhanced our Rendezvous Events technology with integration to Microsoft Dynamics, so sales and CRM can be seamlessly connected.

Venues are also working hard to put into place the social distancing and cleaning regimes that give their clients confidence, and using advanced technology to streamline booking and provide services such as zero touch check-in and out.

The result? We feel the most tech-savvy venues are fighting fit and ready to go.

Let’s hope venues can now put this most traumatic summer behind them and look forward to a brighter future. Our good wishes go out to everyone – and our technological expertise is at your disposal to support you through the challenges.