To earn future group business from past clients, it is of course essential that you provide the best service possible onsite. But it's also important to continue to engage with them after the event and stay on their minds as they make future sourcing decisions. Why? Repeat customers boost the bottom line. It costs five times more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one, and a 5% increase in customer retention raises profits by 25% to 95%, according to Invesp.
Here's how you can ensure this continued business by finding avenues to engage with the planner after the event.
1. Make a Great First Impression: Event Planners Think of Hoteliers They Know, Like, and Trust
For venues to stay top of mind with past planner customers, it's essential to build a relationship and cultivate the know, like, and trust factors. By doing so, you can make sure that they consider your venue in the future.
Past clients obviously know you already. But you want to help them get to know you and your brand on a deeper level. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Share data. Did you collect any beneficial data about the event? For instance, if the planner wanted a greener experience, data about the event's carbon footprint could be important information for their stakeholders. Sharing that in a thank-you email allows them to know and like your venue's capabilities, building a positive relationship and positioning you as a partner in their success.
- Provide a valuable resource. Planners are busy. One way to get them to think about your venue after the event is to continue to provide them with valuable information. For instance, create a helpful calculator on your site or a downloadable budget planner. When you offer resources they need, they return to your site over and over and come to trust you as a credible partner.
- Use technology for efficient planner service. Help event planners get the information they need when they need it. Adding a chatbot to your site means they can get their questions answered even when your sales department is closed. Announce the addition of this helpful resource in an email so planners know and trust that you're working to give them the best service.
2. Show Your Appreciation for Their Business — and Their Great Work
Building a relationship with past planner clients begins with providing a stellar event experience. After that, you can show that you continue to value them not only as paying customers but also as people who deserve to be recognized for their hard work and who have helpful opinions and experiences. Try implementing these ideas:
- Leverage social media. Post compliments about the amazing event on your social media profiles. Make sure you include their hashtag so they get additional exposure. Seek permission to feature them in your company newsletter or on your blog. Make sure to pass along information about the social media traffic, shares, and engagement on those posts to the event planner.
- Create a fun post-event survey. These days, experience surveys are common. Every business is doing them. While that shouldn't stop you from soliciting event planners' feedback about your performance, you want to make it enjoyable for them so they will take the time to answer and help you improve. Short surveys are best, just one to three questions. A simple Net Promoter Score-type survey suffices, or try using emojis to signify feelings instead of number ratings. It's fun and will help differentiate you from all the other surveys.
- Drive future bookings with discounts. Some hotels provide discounts when multiple events are booked at the same time. This gives event planners an incentive to come back to your location. Others offer loyalty programs, comped rooms for repeat events, and more. Offer these benefits to your clients in a thank-you email or phone call after the event.
3. Use Technology to Continue to Elevate Their Planning Experience
Planners usually stick with venues that implement the latest tools and experiences. If that's your hotel, showcase your dedication to innovation through experiential marketing. It's an effective way to make a lasting impression. You can also use it at event planning trade shows to reconnect with past clients.
Marriott embraced this trend through its virtual-reality campaign that transported guests to its locations across the globe. You can use this same technology to create virtual walkthroughs of the event planner's setup and design, letting them create in a virtual sandbox.
With increased competition and nontraditional properties entering the market, hoteliers must engage planners past the actual event. By strengthening your relationships with your existing and previous customers, you'll generate lucrative repeat group business.