Sometimes, even satisfied customers will check out your competitor next time.
According to the Harvard Business Review, satisfying customers does not significantly increase their loyalty to a company or business. In fact, there are dozens of examples of companies going under even though their customers reported being satisfied.
For hotels and venues, earning planner loyalty requires a combination of many things — great service, communication, flexibility, value, convenience, trust, and more. That’s no simple task, but it’s worth it: According to Invesp Consulting, the cost of winning a new customer is five times higher than the cost of keeping an existing one, and a 5% increase in customer retention raises profits by 25% to 95%.
How can you differentiate your property and service and show planners that you are their partner throughout the event life cycle?
Showcase the Team as Much as the Space
Ed Iannarella, president of Stonehenge Consulting Group, recommends selling the uniqueness of your people as much as your product. While showcasing your property’s meeting spaces and unconventional venues is important, the sales and event teams are likely to have an even bigger impact. Make sure they’re putting their best foot forward. During the booking process, highlight how your staff is better equipped than others to help planners deliver successful, memorable events — whether it’s because of their experience, knowledge, persistence, intelligence, or something else.
The site visit is an especially key part of the process because, according to Iannarella, potential customers will remember people more than places. It’s not all about selling — it’s about making a personal connection. A planner’s visit is often your only chance to show off not only your property but also your team and service, face to face. Give visiting planners as much information as possible, and make sure to listen to and address any concerns they have upfront. Introduce the planner to staff members who are likely to be working their event, rather than letting them interact only with the sales team. A great conversation with the chef or audiovisual team may just make the difference.
Follow Up With a Great Event Experience
Getting a meeting or event booked at your venue is only the beginning to creating planner loyalty. You also have to deliver on your promises for a successful event with personalized service and experiences. Make sure your staff is proactive in helping planners overcome any last-minute challenges leading up to and onsite at the event.
That can make all the difference for planners like Leanna Mosquera, who organizes educational events for AxoGen, a human tissue company. “If the staff is just outstanding and we don’t ever have to ask for things — they just anticipate our needs — we are automatically willing to go back to that property,” she says.