Mike Jeanes, Head of Sales, EMEA recently represented Priava as part of a panel discussion at Event Lab by Hire Space. Including a range of experts from across the events industry, the panel focused on how live availability and instant bookings are creating a new agency experience and transforming client expectations.
Following the event, we sat down with Mike, to discuss the key challenges that are faced by venues when it comes to live availability and instant bookings. Mike explained, “Live availability and instant bookings are the most effective ways of simplifying booking processes for busy venue teams. The challenge is that there is a lot of resistance from venues who fear that giving too much information to the end client will reduce the volume of enquiries and impact sales.”
According to Mike, venue teams worry about publishing real-time availability and accepting bookings online. They fear that by doing this, they will deter clients from making enquiries which reduces opportunities to suggest alternatives when their preferred option is unavailable. On the other hand, clients prefer and are shifting towards favouring venues that allow them to check availability and make bookings in real-time, without having to wait for a response. So, what’s the solution?
Throughout the discussion, the panel proposed a range of solutions that can help venues to introduce live availability and instant bookings while still encouraging clients to interact with the venues when necessary. Some ideas included:
1. Don’t Show Details for All Venues/Spaces
Mike explains “Using the right technology, venues can limit which spaces they make available to clients to view and book online. By adopting this approach, venues can choose to accept bookings for spaces where they want to generate more bookings. On the flip side, they can then limit visibility for venues that are in high demand, thereby encouraging the end-user to enquire.”
2. Only Accept Online Bookings for Specific Events Types
Another great way that venues can take advantage of instant bookings is to limit the types of bookings that can be accepted online. “Some events aren’t as straight forward as others and require tailored packages,” says Mike. He continues, “venues can choose to accept online bookings for things like day conferences, group dinners, or meetings, but opt to prevent users from booking larger-scale events such as weddings, cocktail parties and gala dinners where a formal required.”
3. Only Accept Online Bookings for Top Clients
For venues that frequently work with event planners, agencies, organisers and bookers, providing live availability and instant bookings for top-performing clients is not only a good selling point, but it also builds trust between the venue and the client. Mike commented, “For some venues, opening up online bookings and availability for all clients simply isn’t a viable option. That said, venues could consider offering this privilege to top-performing clients as a means of incentivising their repeat custom by making it easier for them to check availability and make bookings.” The trend towards live availability and instant bookings is fast becoming an expectation for meetings and events spaces worldwide. With this in mind, venues need to consider how they can adopt this functionality to support and grow their events business while making it work for them.