Venue Consulting

Optimizing Event Venues

Use Weapons of Influence to increase sales by 30% in your venue or company

According to Dr. Robert B. Chialdini Professor of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University, there are 6 ways to Influence people. These universal principles govern how people make decisions. Like dynamite they can be used for good and for evil.

Why Weapons of Influence work

Because we are inundated with information today and we have to decide very quickly, we look for the fastest way to reach a decision. This leads to an automatic response according to what information we have at the moment. We don‘t take the time to look at the matter before us because we have so many other things to do.

This is why the Weapons of Influence work so well, because we automatically respond to external stimulus. So how can we help our customer to reach the decision that mostly benefits them? By knowing the following 6 Weapons of Influence and how they work.

  1. The first Weapon of Influence is Reciprocity
    People always want to return a favor. So what can you give a potential customer? Is it as simple as a cup of coffee or a glass of water? No, because it has to be unexpected to invoke the rule of reciprocity.For instance you can educate your potential customer on your website by giving them information valuable to them. For instance how to plan their corporate meeting efficiently. Or how to increase ROI on the meeting invest. All this free as a gift.It is scientifically proven, that when a person receives a gift, they are inclined to return a much bigger favor. Hence the pervasiveness of free samples in marketing. A small sample of cheese costing maybe 3 cents leads to the customer buying a pound of cheese for 5 dollars.

    Here are some other small gifts that have big potential. For instance, you can send them a handwritten note or cover letter rather than a typed one. Send a ‘Looking forward to doing business with you’ card to a new client.

    Place a postage stamp on an envelope rather than running it through the automated system in the post room (not only is this unexpected but it also communicates a sense of personalization as your message now comes from another person not a machine). Some venues even go as far as giving away free tickets to shows at their venue.

    The most important aspect is the unexpectedness of the gift.

  2. The second Weapon of Influence is Commitment or Consistancy
    We stick to our decisions. We will make up all sorts of stories to justify a decision. This is why it is so important to get the customer to visit your venue.During that visit you ask them how they see their event taking place in your venue. This automatically triggers the commitment and the customer will stay consistent with the picture they have made in their mind of how their event looks in your venue. This rule also explains why upselling works so well.Getting the initial consent from your customer to use your venue automatically lets you sell more services to the customer. Think about car sales. After the initial car sales is agreed the salesperson goes on selling more options to the customer.
  3. The third Weapon of Influence is Social Proof
    We look to others to decide how we will behave ourselves. By pointing out which other companies similar to your potential customers company used your venue (and were happy about it), you make it easier for your customer to decide to use your venue. You can do this online too. Just post some recommendations from happy customers to give your venue social proof.You‘ve probably been influenced yourself when booking a trip by visiting Tripadvisor and seeing the comments posted by people that are like you.
  4. The fourth Weapon of Influence is Liking
    We listen to the advice of our friends and family. Why? Because they are similar to us and we like and trust them. Paying compliments, cooperating with others and being similar in dress or speech lead to liking. This is also called rapport.Build rapport by trying to find out what your clients company does and commenting on that or try paying compliments.Always try to mirror your customer by the way you dress and behave. By doing this you get instant rapport and it it very easy to talk with your customer. It feels nice.

    Just to be sure, this is not the same „liking“ as on Facebook!

  5. The fifth Weapon of Influence is Authority
    So what are the signs of authority? First it can be the uniform of a policeman or it can be the status of an expert. Obviously you can‘t wear a uniform but you can at least wear a business outfit.You first establish yourself as an expert by letting the customer know what you and your company/venue have achieved. Even better is letting somebody else tell your customer what you have achieved. The important thing is to first establish yourself as „the authority“ or „expert“ and then conduct business transactions.You‘ve probably seen commercials where authority is borrowed by referring to other authorities like scientists in scientific studies.
  6. The sixth Weapon of Influence is Scarcity
    We all want to avoid losing something. In fact we are twice as much adversed to losing than to gaining something as my other post explains. We think we are going to loose whatever it is that is scarce it if we don‘t react.Making something like the option on a meeting room scarce by placing a deadline on the option leads our customer to decide faster making it easier for everyone involved to plan a meeting in a timely manner. When making an irresistible offer always put a time constraint on it to invoke scarcity. Thats what the „for a limited time only“ offers are all about.

 

Use these Weapons of Influence to your customers benefit and you will increase your sales by at least 30%. Let me know how it worked for you by commenting below.

 

10 Tips on Designing Conference Centers

Conference Centers are designed by architects. Architects are chosen because of the iconic designs they have produced and rightly so. That the building looks fantastic is one of the most important factors for its owner. Problems arise when the every day to day business needs are not factored into the design. So here are my 10 most important tips for architects and their conference center clients.

 

  1. Logistics: Ask yourself what makes the cash register ring. It‘s all about getting the most use out of the building. This means events have to get in and out of the building the fastest way possible. So be sure to make the loading bay doors, hallways and elevators inside the building most accommodating to the process of moving goods in and out of the building. Keep the distance to main stages or areas short and as straight as possible. If the main areas are not on ground level, then make sure the elevator is at least 2 X 4 meters large and able to carry at least 2 tons.
  2. Structural Support: Ceilings must be able to support lighting, sound and other event related fixtures that are temporarily installed for the event. The weight can reach as much as a ton per square meter over the stage area. Easily accessible hanging points must be installed to accommodate these additional fixtures. Pillars in a meeting room mean lost revenue to the venue because any seating areas that do not have a view of the stage cannot be sold. The floor must be able to support at least 500 kg per square meter. Anything under that will automatically make it almost impossible to set up an exhibition or display a car.
  3. Acoustics: Sound isolation of meeting rooms from other areas is very important. Things like moving walls or doors to hallways must provide isolation > 52 db. If not it will be impossible to use the space efficiently due to external noise. The acoustics of a meeting room itself must be tailored to speech. Do not attempt to construct a multipurpose room with mixed usage for classic, rock and speech. The ramifications for getting the acoustics right are immensely expensive and always a tradeoff. Never try to hide loudspeakers. A loudspeaker that is not seen is not heard. Try designing the loudspeaker into the room.
  4. Room dimensions: Every meeting room needs a minimum of height from floor to ceiling depending on the intended capacity. This is due to stage and video screen size requirements. The more capacity a room has the higher the ceiling must be. A small meeting room up to 150 people will need a ceiling height of at least 3.5 meters. A larger meeting room of 1000 people will need at least 8 meters.
  5. Cable ducts: Every meeting room should provide easily accessible cable ducts to facilitate temporary wiring. These cable ducts must comply to building codes especially fire safety. This is most important if a multipurpose room is being constructed. Outlets from these ducts must be constructed in a way that allows easy access but prevents tripping.
  6. Electrical Outlets: A high amount of electrical energy is needed in conference centers today because of increased catering demands. Front cooking, plate warmers, ovens etc. need a lot of electric energy. Also temporary lighting and sound fixtures need power. Regularly spaced power outlets with at least 32 Amperes on 3 phases provide enough energy to meet these requirements.
  7. Wall and Floor Coverings: Beside these being aesthetically pleasing they must also be robust. Every event means moving a lot of furniture, equipment and decorations into and out of the venue so the walls and floors must be able to withstand a lot of wear and tear. They must also be easy to clean. Carpets should have stain resistance built in and, by the way, prevent static discharge. As will always happen a wall or floor will be damaged so it is also important to be repaired swiftly and easily so that the show can go on.
  8. Storage Room: Storage rooms are almost always underestimated. They get designed into the original design but somehow get lost in the process as the planning goes ahead. Keep in mind that a conference center will not only have its own furniture to store but also things like av-equipment; decoration; rigging and much more that accumulates over time. Then there is the customer that wants to temporarily store their brochures; congress papers; giveaways etc. Storage room must also be easily reachable.
  9. Back Offices: These are needed in more ways than one. Customers need to be able to have their own organizing room where they can store their personal belongings; hold meetings and even set up a small IT control room. These offices should be located near the registration areas so that distances are short.
  10. Catering facilities: Other than the catering kitchen a caterer needs storage space throughout the conference center in order to store stock for coffee breaks, mobile bars and to clear out used tableware fast without having to move these things through a crowded lobby.

 

These are the major issues I encounter while consulting with my clients. Of course we can go into much further detail but just implementing these tips into the design will get you most of the way to having a profitable conference center.

If you have any other ideas please feel free to comment below. Thank you!

The Caterer and the Event Planner

We know how important Caterers are right? I could rant all day long about what I think they do wrong but…

Event Planners cannot live without them so they might as well join them and see to it that the Caterer is every bit as successful as they can be. So what are the most important things a Caterer needs from the Event Planner? Here are a few suggestions.

 

  1. The exact and timely information on how many people are to be catered to. This isn‘t just the amount of attendees! There are always other groups of people like the crew or artists that have special catering needs and at specific times.
  2. Can the location provide enough electrical energy for hotplates, front cooking stations etc. You would be amazed at how much energy is needed to heat up food! If there isn‘t enough electrical capacity, is it allowed to use other heating means?
  3. Make sure the caterer informs his setup personnel exactly which electrical outlets can be used. I have experienced many an angry client because someone plugged in the hotplate and killed the presentation.
  4. Where will the buffets be set up? Providing a good floor plan is essential to not having to move everything around till it fits.
  5. Where can catering stations, storage, space for catering personnel (changing room) etc. be set up?
  6. What exactly is the load-in, load-out situation? Do pathways cross with other event service providers or do they share a loading dock? Always allow extra time for these situations.
  7. What is the timing for setup? When will the tables be setup and made available to decorate and place plates? You don‘t want your lighting guys ruining the set tables just because you forgot that they have to be able to get to their lights.
  8. Maybe more important and often forgotten is the timing for teardown. A lot of frustration can be avoided if a schedule is agreed upon. Everybody wants to get home in a hurry!
  9. Also think about how loud a setup in a lobby can be and that it might disturb the event in the adjacent room. Let the caterer know when it is appropriate to setup the coffee break.
  10. Does the location provide water outlets and means to dispose of wastewater?

Keep Your Exhibition and Conference Space Clean, Please!

I visited a trade show the other day and frankly I was amazed at how the floorspace looked. In front it was all razzly dazzly. The exhibitors took great care in keeping their exhibition space absolutely immaculate. Then I had to go to the mens room. The entrance was hidden behind a partition. It was quite hard to find. But then I went through the space provided in the partition and what was I confronted with? A large empty space filled with garbage, building materials and workers taking their break. I had time to take in the scene as it was quite a way to the mens room. To say it was appalling is an understatement. And I have experienced this in more places than one. Be it in America, Europe or the Middle East it seems this is a worldwide problem. Not only is it a problem in exhibition centers but also in convention centers and hotels. Why does it seem like nobody cares?

 

Who is responsible for this you might ask? Well let‘s see. There is the worker that might be responsible. I don‘t know. There is definitely the floor manager from the exhibition center whome I would think can be held responsible. Come on guys. Nobody can tell me it‘s too expensive to keep this part of the exhibition floor clean. Not even to mention the health and fire hazards it presents. There are a few simple things that can be done:

  1. The floor manager, hall manager or who ever is in charge should inspect the exhibition space at least twice a day. And please don‘t tell me there is no time for this. If you want to keep your customers and visitors happy you will find the time.
  2. The workers responsible for keeping the place clean should be encouraged to do so on their own. That means they have to know exactly what to do. So training is very important. If they are not capable of understanding simple instructions, give them pictures of how the place should look.
  3. Have somebody not on your staff inspect your venue that knows what the customer expects to see. This way you get an outside view. Everybody that works in a venue gets blind spots over time and therefore will not be able to see things that a customer will see and will not like. As an outcome of this inspection you can generate a checklist of things to look for before, during and after the event.
  4. As a floor manager have a check list at hand to make sure you have taken care of everything before the event starts. Remember to do this every day of the event. I always see the quality of the venue deteriorate towards the end of a multiple day event.

 

By implementing even just one of the above suggestions you will greatly improve  customer and visitor satisfaction. And that will generate more revenue for your location.

I promise.