Three simple steps to function booking success

11 June, 2020 by Vanessa Cavasinni

Melissa McGroder is the CEO and founder of My Marketing Department (MMD), a marketing service specifically aimed at hospitality venues. It’s MMD PROJECT service delivers project-style solutions for everyday hospitality marketing problems, and getting a pub’s functions lead pipeline sorted is right up MMD’s alley. Below, McGroder shares her tips on optimising a venue’s functions package take-up.

Can I access your function pack 24/7 online? I hope the answer to that question is YES.

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But I also sincerely hope that the vehicle for getting it to me (even if it’s 2am on Sunday morning) results in your sales team having access to my details in order to follow me up.

As an online shopper, would you like it if you had to wait for a call back to find out how much those new runners cost? Of course not. The 29-year-old shopping around for birthday party ideas feels the same. She wants to gather all the information online, at a time that suits her, and browse her choices.

But what if she calls your venue instead? She’s on her lunch break, and just needs to know (like, right now) about the availability of a particular space on her chosen date. Can she get an answer straight away? Can she come in straight after work today to have a look at the room?

Implementing a few digitally savvy tricks can help solve a whole lot of back and forth.

STEP 1 – INBOX GATEWAY

Here’s an example from a bar/restaurant we worked with in Manly.

You won’t download their function pack from their website, but it can arrive in your inbox as soon as you ask for it – 24/7. This simple database-building technique resulted in an additional 355 valuable contacts in their database within the first two months. Since the COVID shutdown, the venue has received an additional 50 function inquiries to bulk up the latter (and hopefully more prosperous) end of the year.

As a simple sales tactic, imposing a “gateway” that requires the enquirer to enter their email address to have your function pack delivered to their inbox immediately is the first step.

The key benefits of this approach are:

  1. Genuinely interested parties should have no problem with entering their details.
  2. The enquirer can still receive the pack immediately – no waiting until business hours. This is a solution that works around the clock and will satisfy urgent need or impatient enquirers.
  3. Your sales team then have a “warm lead” list of all potential function bookings to follow up.
  4. This “follow up” can be automated with email communications at predefined intervals set within your database management platform – for example, 24 hours later an email can be set to go out asking if they had any questions etc.
  5. This entire process can build your database for future communications, and each person added this way will have verified you as a sender by ensuring your emails do not go to junk.
STEP 2 – NO VOICEMAIL ALLOWED

Ensure that all functions inquiries by phone lead to human interaction; even if it’s not with your events manager. If the right person isn’t available, avoid diverting to voicemail at all costs.

The enquirer is in the zone – shopping around and looking for answers right now. It’s generally either going to be related to availability or pricing, both of which can usually be solved by even a junior staff member given the right tools. But having a mechanism for recording the enquirer’s name, email and phone number at a minimum is key.

Even the most basic functions booking system should allow any staff member to view the availability of spaces on selected dates and add the details of new enquirers who have phoned or walked in.

STEP 3 – CALENDAR AUTOMATION

To be clear, the ultimate goal for any function sales team looking to nail a sale is a site inspection. Getting a potential client to physically walk through the door, view the space in person and interact with your team is the best way to get that deposit paid and secure the booking.

To give that junior who answered the phone in Step 2 the tools they need to satisfy their phone enquirer, they’ll need the confidence to schedule a site inspection at a suitable time, directly in to the event manager’s calendar.

Apps like Calendly allow users to schedule meetings at suitable times, directly in to a person’s Google, Outlook, Office 365 or iCloud calendar. These can also be integrated on to your website, meaning that the all-important call-to-action is not “call us on….”, but “book a site inspection directly in to our calendar here.”

Follow these three basic steps to get your functions lead pipeline working for your business, while also building up that increasingly important database.