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Event orchestration | 8 June 2018

7 Tips for Nailing Venue Management

Liv Rafferty

These venue management tips will help venue managers exceed at their roles and event professionals understand venue management more.

The events industry is tough and sometimes chaotic. Clients can be challenging and you will often be working with several at once, each with multiple deadlines to meet.

As a venue manager, you are the first point of contact for your venue when it comes to queries and questions. It goes without saying, you must know everything there is to know about the venue, from the endless possibilities of seating arrangements to the food options to the various health and safety protocols.

You’re a self-titled expert.

On top of this, you need to be an excellent communicator and be able to manage client enquiries and events to the best of your ability.

Here at HeadBox we work with event managers every day. We’ve pulled together a list of our top tips on how to ensure you give your customers the best possible experience, to get more repeat business from event managers and ultimately to nail venue management.

Be Approachable 

Being a venue manager is about constantly engaging with current and potential clients. You will receive enquiries all the time, and being timely and responding to them as soon as you can is essential.

In these modern times, when communication is so instant and social media has opened opportunities for live chats and responses, expectations are high. Making it as easy as possible for guests to contact to you is important.

  • Do you have social media accounts?
  • How about an instant messenger?
  • Do you have a direct dial that enquirers can call?

Once you have multiple channels setup, it’s important to monitor them constantly. From the old school voicemails or the emails that may have gone to your junk folder, to your direct messages on Twitter or Instagram. Organise a methodical system for yourself where you check all of the various channels you work with for potential enquiries.

Responsiveness can be a deciding factor when it comes to new customers.

A study by Lyfe Marketing shows that 42% of Twitter users expect businesses to respond within the hour. If you are not monitoring your social channels you may lose potential customers and deter them from coming back again. Becoming complacent with this could mean lost revenue and annoyed prospects, who will likely not choose your services. 

Be a Clear Communicator

Miscommunication or crossed wires in the events industry can lead to disastrous results and unhappy customers. As the first point of contact for the venue, communication is key.

Communicate the conditions of the venue hire from the offset so clients know exactly what hiring that space entails. This comes down to knowing the venue inside-out. If you manage a conference venue you should know conference requirements like the back of your hand.

Questions for conference venues can be very specific.

  • What kind of flipcharts do you have?
  • What is the specification of your sound system?
  • How many ways can the space be configured to be as flexible as possible?

Knowing all these things and being able to immediately answer the questions from any potential clients will fill them with confidence.

Being a clear communicator should underline everything you do. You are working in an industry that is based on communication and networking. It sounds obvious but we cannot emphasise this enough. You must be a clear communicator to become the perfect venue manager.

One of our favourite venues, Camm & Hooper, gave us some insight into why communicating clearly is an important aspect of venue management.

They said venue managers should work closely with event planners and communicate openly, this way both side can work within realistic parameters because. “Transparency saves time and helps us give the client as close as possible the deal that they need”.

Be Trustworthy 

Clear communication links closely with being transparent and trustworthy. Often event managers assume venue managers will do anything for a sale, which of course is not true.

As a venue manager it’s important to have integrity and only sell a package that is right for the venue and the client. You’re the expert and ultimately you know when your venue is not the right fit.

Stretching the truth about your venue will only come back to haunt you and affect any repeat business you may have the opportunity of securing. Being upfront and honest about what your space offers and any potential discrepancies with the advertisement is important.

Ultimately, this is all about remaining transparent and creating lasting relationships. Sticking to these two things will ensure you receive repeat business and great reviews. 

Organisation

Almost every industry emphasises the importance of organisation. But as a venue manager being organised is invaluable to your efficiency and success.

Learning how to best prioritize your time and organise your enquiries will only help you flourish as a venue manager. Work out the processes and methods that work for you. Constantly review your objectives to make sure you are staying on track to reach your goal. Although to-do lists can seem endless creating one is a foolproof way to make sure you don’t miss any of the finer details.

You could also consider implementing a daily power hour where you put 100% effort into a detailed, deadlined to-do list. Anything you can implement which works for you and the specific demands of your venue. 

If you wanted to take this online, there’s plenty of software that’s great for monitoring the little things. Todoist is a software that keeps everyone up to date with all the little things that have the potential to drop off, taking your to-do list online means productivity can be monitored.

Other tools like Slack, Google Team Drives and Microsoft Skype are helping teams transition into a more digital age of organisation.

Deloitte reports that nearly 73% of companies are now experimenting with these tools and are benefitting in unique ways. Not all of them will work for you, but finding the ones that do will increase your productivity and help you nail venue management.

If you’re involved in event management, you may want to research event management software.


Budgeting
As a venue manager or event professional you are often dealing with large sums of money coming in and out of your accounts all the time. Often it falls to you to manage these accounts and the flow of revenue to your venue. Being organised and proficient in budgeting comes hand in hand. If you know when your bookings and deadlines are, you will be able to better organise your finances.

Event budgeting also strongly correlates to being flexible. As a venue manager your income will obviously vary depending on what events you have throughout the year so constantly looking at your budget against your forecasted income and targets is important. So as not to under or overestimate your evenue at the end of the year.

As a venue manager things you must consider include the precise breakdown of costs when hiring your venue; including the overall venue cost, the amount of money behind the bar, the cost of any AV equipment, catering and any agreed damage deposit.

Various tools can help with this process. The old faithful spreadsheets come with helpful shortcuts, so they can be formatted to help you track money efficiently. You just need to make sure you keep it up to date.

Alternatively you could try online budgeting tools like Xero which will prove invaluable when managing large sums of money. Whatever tool you use, just make sure you remain organised and methodical when managing your budget.

Be Flexible

Although you can’t promise everything to clients, being flexible with the weird and wonderful requests you get is important to becoming a reputable venue manager.

Ultimately, its all about being personable, everyone remembers good customer service and if you treat people with respect and take a real vested interest in their event you will create lasting relationships which can only support your business moving forward. 

Being flexible also links with being flexible on budget. If the event manager is open and honest about the budget you and your venue team will be able to work within realistic parameters. Being flexible on budget, within reason, also means you could forge stronger relationships and secure more repeat bookings.

Venue managers we work with often say there are two types of event managers: Those that know what they want and those that don’t.

Both of course will bring challenges.

Remaining flexible when dealing with both types of event planners is important. Those that know exactly what they want will often only define their event success by the granular detail, so expect a picky customer.  

Alternatively, the event planners that don’t know what they want can be an even greater challenge as they will frequently change their mind.

As a venue manager, being accommodating with all kinds of event planners is key to building lasting relationships and to your success as a venue.


Managing Expectations

While you should always try to be flexible, sometimes, as a venue manager being honest and managing expectations is key. Event planners and customers will expect a lot, they can often be demanding and sometimes unrealistic. 

This is where you come in. Managing clients expectations without seeming militant is a skill which takes time to develop. Having the ability to manage expectations is an important tactic in venue management, it will help keep your customers happy and will create lasting relationships.

Customer service goes a long way in the events industry.

Establishing relationships from the ground up is important for getting repeat business and ultimately becoming a trusted and reliable venue.

As a venue manager you are the first point of contact for the venue so a glistening first and last impression is key. 

The importance of managing expectations can be illustrated through this example.

One of our account managers was assured that they could film at a venue. However, when they turned up to the venue on a site visit with their client the venue was actually much too dark with barely any natural light.

This greatly damaged the relationship between our Account Manager and the venue after causing unnecessary friction between our Account Manager and our client. Luckily we were able to find another venue much better suited our client but it just goes to show how important it is that venue managers manage expectations.

Main Takeaways

  • Stay flexible. Working in the events industry if often unpredictable and uncertain – you never know what events will come through the door.
  • Work collaboratively. Being flexible with your clients may sometimes seem impossible but working together will improve customer relationships and ultimately increase repeat business
  • Be approachable and personable. The events industry is based on building relationships with strong personalities. Make sure you’re one of them
  • Stay organised. From managing offline and online enquiries, to keeping your social media manned being responsive is key to nailing venue management.


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