How much do you know about venue marketing for the meetings, incentives, conferences & events (MICE) industry?
The way you portray your venue online has a huge impact on leads and revenue. A great marketing strategy can mean the difference between a thriving MICE business and a mediocre one.
Here’s how you can reach more planners online and catch their attention.
1. Know your audience
As with any digital marketing, it’s essential that you understand who you’re trying to reach. Knowing planner priorities and challenges will help you tailor your marketing so that it’s more likely to appeal to them.
Gaining this deeper understanding may take a bit of research, but it’s worth it.
Apprehend planner challenges and priorities with these insights:
Based on our findings from the global edition of the 2019 Planner Sourcing Report here’s what we know about event planners:
- Planners are busy
- 11% of respondents manage 11 or more events per year, 37% say they organise 50 or more events per year and 16% said they organise more than 100
- Planner budgets for certain events are on the up
- 56% report increases in fundraiser budgets, 55% report increases in trade show budgets and 54% report increases in conference/seminars/convention budget
- Planners want speed, efficiency and professionalism
- 59% say that lack of professionalism will prevent them from returning to a venue and 32% want better attention to detail in RFP responses
If you’d like to learn more about event planners, read the full global report here. Hopefully, this information will give you fresh insight into the minds of your planners.
2. What makes your venue or hotel special?
Identifying your venue’s unique selling points – that is, qualities that resonate with your audience – will hugely benefit your resulting return on investment (ROI).
So, what kind of things do planners search for when they source venues – and more specifically – things that you can market?
With so many talks of climate change, sustainability is a talking point too big to ignore. Of even more importance, businesses are beginning to view it as a priority for 2020.
According to meetgreen.com, a typical conference attendee produces 1.89KG of waste per day, and of that, 1.16 goes to landfill. If we then expand that into a 1000-person, three-day event, that’s 5670KG of waste (the weight of 4 compact cars). 3480KG of that goes to landfill.
Promoting sustainable practices has garnered a lot of attention in the past few years. Promote the ways your hotel is leading change and you’ll attract more planners and more guests.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR)
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the act of companies operating in ethical and sustainable ways for the benefit of society and the environment. Like sustainability, it’s something companies are thinking about more and more.
According to the UK Small Business Consortium, 88% of consumers say they are “more likely” to buy from a company that “supports and engages in activities to improve society”.
People want to feel that they are creating change, no matter the industry. UK travel managers will gravitate towards venues that can support this.
Set up & décor
The way you organise your meeting spaces can have a big impact on how successful your venue marketing campaigns are.
Not only are attractive setups and décor central to great marketing. Planners also want attractive, Instagrammable meeting spaces so that guests post about their experiences on social media. Every month, one billion people use Instagram (Hootsuite).
This strategy is two-fold, because not only does it benefit your planners, it also encourages guerrilla marketing for your hotel. Getting guests to post pictures of your hotel is surprisingly simple, too.
First, start by providing a hashtag related to your hotel and the planners’ event for people to include in their posts. Then make sure every element, from food presentation to your meeting room set-ups are visually appealing.
3. Venue marketing is all about first impressions
Planners are busy people and will be quick to make decisions when they come across ads, listings or profiles. You need a way to grab their attention from the get-go.
Make your company profile shine
Your profile on whatever supplier network you use is your first step when it comes to venue marketing. According to the 2019 UK Edition Planner Sourcing Report, a quarter of all UK planners (25%) submit an RFP based on a venue’s available photography.
On the search results, capture the event planners’ attention by gearing your listing description towards your target customer base with concise, meetings-specific text.
Your venue description should feature the top facts you want event planners to know about your property. Key selling features, spectacular amenities, and location benefits will all help give a compelling reason to dive deeper into your profile.
Images need to be varied and high quality
Venue marketing is all about showing planners what you can offer. Images need to give planners that first taste of what an event in your venue could be like. Take Hilton Prague Old Town’s example above.
Planners are looking for an all-round experience for their guests. The images here are varied and give three snapshots of what guests can expect.
Once you’ve chosen your images, it’s important to include an enticing description for each. For example, if the image is a meeting room, you can describe its best qualities and if applicable, a bit of history attached to it. Anything that will give planners a reason to want to hold an event there.
Speaking of meeting space…
You will need to include all meeting space options and their capabilities. For each, add a description and fill out all details available to you. The more you can provide your planners, the better they can assess your venue.
Give suggestions through popular attractions
Planners know that their guests will want to visit local attractions, especially if they are travelling abroad for the event. What better way to do this than to display them on your profile?
4. Content marketing
Venue marketing doesn’t always have to be digital marketing. Developing a great content marketing strategy is a great way to engage and attract planners to your venue.
Content allows you to communicate to and reach your audience subtly – your readers should feel in control at all times.
The way to do this by creating blogs and collateral that genuinely help your readers, with the aim of being a source of thought-leadership and aide.
Do your research
What’s important to your audience? What type of content, style of voice and topics would they appreciate? Do you understand their challenges, priorities and responsibilities? If the answer is yes, then you’re already a step towards creating a fantastic content marketing strategy!
You’ll also want to analyse what your competitors are doing. You can use tools such as Ahrefs to compare their performance with yours.
Search engine optimisation (SEO)
Search engine optimisation (SEO) will help you reach planners organically – that is, on search engines like Google or Bing. How good your SEO is will determine how high you appear on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Download this ebook: SEO Best Practices: The Hotelier’s Guide to Getting Found Online to learn more about SEO for hotel and venue content marketing.
Measuring content marketing metrics
Initially, you will find yourself looking at how many views a particular blog gets. This is a key metric, but don’t rely solely on this one. Other metrics include:
- Bounce rate
- Exit rate
- Traffic source breakdown
- Social shares
Hubspot has a great blog explaining the key metrics you should be tracking. Take a read here.
5. Social media marketing
Social media marketing (SMM) should tie in with your venue marketing. It can help:
- Increase website traffic
- Build conversions
- Raise brand awareness
- Improve communication with audience
Channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are probably the first that come to mind when you think about a SMM strategy. But, you might also want to consider discovery engines like Pinterest or location-based platforms such as Yelp and FourSquare. Before you start, you need to consider a few things in order to make the biggest impact possible.
Like content marketing, you need to consider your audience demographic. What are their favourite channels? Where do they engage best and what content works best with them?
For example, according to the Global 2019 Planner Sourcing Report,
Millennials are heavily influenced by their peers and the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) culture. They tend to follow their friends’ social media posts more closely than other generations. More than ¾ have admitted either being influenced or purchasing products based on the Instagram they follow (both friends and influencers).
Choosing the right social media channels
Choosing the channels that will deliver the best ROI will depend on your audience. Each channel requires a different approach and wording.
For example, the way you communicate on LinkedIn should differ from the way you communicate on Instagram. The most popular channels for Millenials and Gen Zers are Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat.
Nowadays, entertainment-based channels such as Youtube have also become largely popular with younger generations.
Paid social media
When it comes to venue marketing, one of the best ways to reach your target audience is through paid social. It’s cost-efficient and many channels offer granular targeting capabilities.
If you’d like to learn paid social best practice for venue marketing, WordStream offers up some great tips!
Venue marketing is a key driving force of attracting event planners to your property. Venue sourcing is a stressful process and with planners being so busy, you’ll help them out by showing them exactly why they should use your hotel or venue. Whether you’re using a supplier network, social media marketing, content marketing or a mixture of all, you will find a huge pick-up in MICE business as you attract more planners.