I know I’m showing my age, but do you remember watching the TV show, “It’ll be Alright on the Night” in the 80’s, narrated by the dulcet tones of Denis Norden? The shows followed a simple format, with Norden delivering a humorous piece to camera of nightmare outtakes.
With venues also ‘live on stage’, ensuring that everything goes to plan and that there are no disasters is the most important thing for the venue and of course their clients.
As venue teams, we share a common bond with the likes of It’ll be Alright on the Night; we’re in the business of show-business and we want to put fun and excitement at the heart of everything we do, but, with a greater number of new venues entering the supply market and existing venues making improvements to their offer, we’re all operating in an increasingly competitive environment. It’s no longer good enough just to be good at the ‘functional stuff’. The question is - what makes a good venue great?
The functional expertise of a venue events team is of course crucial to ensure every possible scenario is covered off to the nth degree.
But taking the above as a given, it’s essential to be aware how you make your customers feel. Venues need to walk in their customer’s shoes, recognising that organisers, exhibitors and visitors are equally important because it’s a virtuous circle. Study their customer journeys at every touch point and rank yourself: how did we do?
It’s a realistic probability, however, that with big crowds and busy schedules, that all-important customer journey can be taken for granted. You may have put on a great show, but do you really know, for example, how your venue is perceived for ease of location? How long has it taken your visitors to get to your front door and what was their experience like, be it by car or by public transport? Do they feel a sense of anticipation as they approach the venue? Do you help them to stay connected with their customers by offering a robust Wi-Fi solution? In short, what does a venue need to do to stay ahead?
Venues need to be continuously looking at ways to improve, and as venue marketers we need to be fresh-thinking in our approach and willing to take risks, which should make it easier for our customers to succeed and for visitors to get the most out of their experience.
The NEC is known industry-wide for being one of the best operators in the business; a safe pair of hands and yes, very functional. That’s a great endorsement, but the NEC wants its visitors to feel a sense of anticipation and excitement too. The recent re-brand and customer journey work ensures the team are on the road to achieving that.
With the customer experience becoming more and more sophisticated throughout the hospitality industry, both on the high street and in a B2B environment, generating excitement with a focus on “experiential” is increasingly common and the functional elements taken as a given. Through building an emotional attachment with your brand and customers you can give your venue resilience in a changing market and enhance your stakeholder relationships.
Stay in touch with your customers’ changing needs and aspirations and never stop searching for new and innovative ways to surprise and delight them. In doing so, it will be Alright on the Night.
Venue Marketing Director
The NEC, Birmingham, B40 1NT
T: 0121 780 4141