By Clare Hodgkinson, marketing executive, Church House Conference Centre
For event organisers time is precious. Today, through advances in technology, event organisers are being given the option to take a virtual tour of a venue, book event space, catering and AV, and make payment at the click of a button. But is this the way forward for all venues?
Are those venues that don’t have online booking facilities regarded as old fashioned and missing out on business? Will all event booking be done online in future?
There are many advantages to online booking, but it may not necessarily be the most practical option for everyone. For venues with similar sized event spaces, online booking could be a feasible option, but for unique venues with diverse event spaces, like those at Church House Conference Centre in Westminster, these are more effectively booked by the in-house events team. That’s because it’s the in-house events team which has the best insight into the most suitable event spaces for the client sourcing a space for a particular event. It’s also because they know the tricks for maximising space.
Having that human element in your booking process means you are talking to an events professional, whether that is via telephone or by coming to a venue to meet their team and have a showround. This one-to-one interaction can have a significant influence on whether a booking is made.
The friendliness and professionalism of a venue’s team is often a crucial factor, and this of course cannot be judged online. Furthermore, it is still widely acknowledged that people buy from people.
In addition to these factors, it has to be questioned whether it is a good thing for clients to be able to see availability. Due to the logic of supply and demand, if a client sees there are very few bookings around the time of their event, they may be inclined to push down the pricing significantly. Furthermore, if a venue is suffering from lack of business, it is unlikely this is something they would want to advertise.
So what’s the solution? Is it about finding a compromise? Having some event spaces and services available for booking online whilst keeping others offline? Or should venues that choose to keep booking offline simply pride themselves in the personal and friendly service they offer? People are, after all, at the very heart of the events industry.