There’s no refuting that the events industry has experienced a fair share of disruption in recent years. However, a key difference between surviving and thriving is a company’s ability to adapt to meet customer needs. Mark Upham, the Sales Director at Conference Care, reflects on when his organization evolved from a high-touch, face-to-face account management style to incorporate virtual. “We [couldn’t] afford to sit still so we adapt[ed] our business…we’ve moved into the world of virtual,” Upham said.
Agility has always been an important quality for organizations catering to meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) but today it’s even more important. A recent article from Hotel Management asserts that lockdown taught the industry, “to be prepared and also brace for the worst possible outcome.” In fact, for companies in the industry, “adaptability is the only way to survive change and keep moving on.”
Thynk recently had the opportunity to speak with Mark Upham on how organizations in the MICE industry can continuously adapt their strategies to succeed.
When it comes to delivering good customer service, employee retention matters. “I think part of that strength comes from employee retention,” Upham said. “Of [our] 50 employees, more than half have got over five years service…that gives us real consistency and knowledge with our customers.” Long-standing employees hold valuable institutional knowledge that ultimately helps organizations better serve their customers.
Remaining relevant requires that organizations really understand their customers and adapt according to what they want and need. “It's really about how we [can] remain as close as possible to our customers; account management now is crucial,” Upham said. “We need to understand their needs and objectives.”
To stay in sync with customer needs, Upham’s team takes a hands-on approach. “Every team member does more than 50 site visits per year, in conjunction with our customers for a specific event or fact-finding to find new venues,” Upham said. Partnership and high-touch account management is very important to Upham’s organization. “We want to be seen as an extension of their business and want to be their partner [which] come[s] from having a really strong implementation plan for a new customer,” Upham said.
When customers are satisfied, there is a multiplier effect. According to Upham, “creating a great event experience is really powerful marketing.”
“People go to an event at your venue or your hotel and [if they had] a great experience they'll go out and they'll sell that for you.”
Responding to customers in a timely manner is an important first impression to make, especially in today’s age of instant gratification. “The speed and quality of the response [is] absolutely crucial,” Upham said. “It [used to] take [us] 20 hours to respond to an inquiry and that's just not acceptable. “First past the post doesn't always mean you win the business but it gives you a great opportunity.”
Making a strong first impression also has a lot to do with a venue’s website. “I think one of the key things [is] how a venue showcases their property digitally,” Upham said. Customers are checking an organization’s website before making inquiries, so it’s important for digital properties to be informative and easy to navigate. “We've really got to embrace that art of
digital selling,” Upham said.
It’s hard to continuously improve and evolve without a strong discipline around data management. With the right tools, forecasting and reporting can enable organizations to calibrate business goals. “‘[Organizations] will really need to work [the] CRM because [there] may be accounts that sat dormant for two years,” Upham said. “Focusing on the sales pipeline [is] really important.”
Thynk simplifies and automates sales, operations, and data management for the hospitality industry. Book a demo today to learn more about how Thynk helps customers like Conference Care.