In preparing the content for my Venue Sales Accelerator course, I interviewed dozens of planners and asked them what their pet peeves are when it comes to venues. In random order, here they are.
1. Not disclosing pricing on the initial inquiry
Too many venues still cling to the old-school “Get ‘em in to the space, make them fall in love, then hit ‘em with pricing” mentality. That simply doesn’t fly anymore, particularly in a world where people are used to being able to check pricing and availability instantly online (think airline tickets, restaurant reservations, and the like).
2. Not having photos and floor plans available during the tour
Typically venue sales managers conduct site tours by showing the event spaces first, and then sitting down to review floor plans and photos of their space being used for different events. Planners want to see these visual aids while they are in the specific rooms, to better help them picture their events taking place there. Too often the planner will not “see it” and abandon the site visit before even having a chance to look at those things.
3. Providing the Same Site Tour Regardless of the Type of Event
Good venue sales managers customize their site tours to suit the specific event needs of the person they’re showing. If it’s a fund-raising event, they talk about where the auction checkout could be held, or how they’d light the silent auction display. If the client is doing a production-heavy event, they point out the rigging points, loading dock, and options for early set up. Getting the same robotic tour regardless of event type drives planners crazy.
4. Not Having the Space “Show Ready”
This is particularly a challenge with non-hotel venues such as lofts, nightclubs, and other alternative spaces. A common sub-complaint among planners: “Learn to work the lights!” It doesn’t do any good to have great lighting in a space when the person leading the site tour doesn’t know how to operate the lighting control panel.
5. Not Responding Quickly Enough to Inquiries
A planner calling a venue with potential business. That should be a top priority for the venue sales manager, right? Then why are so many planners complaining it takes too long for them to hear back from their venues? I know everyone’s busy, but surely venues can find a way to get back to new inquiries within a few hours. At the very least, shoot an email to say you got the message and will get back to them at a certain time, so you don’t leave them hanging.
6. Banquet Event Orders Missing Data
Planners spend months going back and forth with their venue contact hammering out specific details on room set up, timing, food and beverage specs, and numerous other items that change frequently. Few things are more frustrating to a planner than showing up on site to find out that some of the key event details never made it onto the venue’s banquet event order (B.E.O.), or whatever the on-site captain is using to run the event. I understand venues and planners use different production documents, but making sure the B.E.O. contains accurate final details is part of the venue’s job.
And there you have it: six things venues can do, which cost them nothing, that can dramatically improve the experience planners have with their spaces.
Howard Givner (@hgivner) is the founder and Executive Director of the Event Leadership Institute.