Giving your guests comprehensive information and clear direction about their housing options has proven to be very lucrative for live events.
Post authored by Lynn Wirch, Director of Operations, Live Events
I began working with our live event clients on their housing programs because it became clear to me that many of our clients didn’t recognize how much money they were leaving on the table.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the myriad of important details of event production that clients were simply neglecting to create a strong housing strategy.
To increase the chances of your guests booking within your block, your housing information must be easy to access and simple to understand. Equally important is that people like to have options and a compelling reason to book within your block.
Communicating these options and explaining the benefits of booking through your block are essential elements to increasing your housing numbers. By working on several successful housing strategies with our live event clients, I have come up with four simple things you need to consider when trying to maximize your room block bookings.
- What are the top five things your guests need to know about their housing options?
- Is your website organized so your guests can easily access the information they need?
- Are you being straight to the point and not losing your guests in filler and fluff?
- Are you using various outlets for sharing your information to reach a broader audience?
They Need to Know
I noticed many clients’ websites were hard to navigate and had buried their housing options. Housing information should be front and center. Be clear about why your guests will want to book their housing through your site, rather than through a travel site, so they’ll feel confident they’re making the best choice. Because your guests may need some hand holding, a step-by-step navigation process that helps them understand at each turn what they should do next is a must. Also, it’s important your guests not be overwhelmed by the process. Getting too much information at once tends to increase the drop rate before the process is completed.
An Organized Website
I recommend you review your website again. How are your most important and actionable items positioned? Are they presented in an easy-to-find and easy to digest way? What about your messaging? Does it directly communicate to your audience’s needs in a language they’ll most likely understand and respond to? Where are you posting this information outside your website? Are you using social media to its maximum capacity? Are you creating timely updates and reminders for your guests about their housing needs?
Get to the Point
If you provide your room block information in a meaningful and digestible format, your guests will be more apt to understand their options. And when you duplicate your message across multiple channels you will reach more people and can convert more guests into room block users. By doing these few things, you will reach a broader number of your guests.
Last quarter, we worked with a marathon team who wanted to increase their housing block usage. They recognized that the amount of people they were bringing to their host city was much higher than the amount of people who were booking through their housing block. We reviewed their site and considered all the issues I’ve mentioned. We moved information around on the site making it easier to understand and navigate. We increased marketing in both email and social media, and published reminder messages in their event newsletter. We created incentives, such as giveaways, for guests that booked in the block. In addition, we overhauled their hotel contracts. All of this resulted in an increase of 30% in room nights sold prior to the event. While our final pick-up numbers are still being calculated, our preliminary figures are already pacing ahead of last year by more than 20%! In addition, we’ve found double the amount of rooms in our audit compared to the year prior!
Other clients including the Houston Marathon, along with Otakon, and AnimeBoston, have also enjoyed huge success this year because we implemented several of these strategies. They changed their approach and heavily promoted housing on social media which led to a significant spike in their housing numbers.
Another good example of implementing strategies is our work with FIRST Robotics. We discovered that late bookings for their event was a serious issue. We addressed the problem by developing a program that would help the teams that were qualifying late in the process get their housing booked easily and efficiently. Both the client and guests were thrilled. The client because this was a challenge that was dramatically affecting their housing numbers. The guests because it greatly reduced their stress about obtaining housing at the last minute which led to greatly enhanced overall experience with the event.
We’ve seen that housing is often an afterthought for our clients, but we’ve proven that with strategic methodology, including promotion, visibility, easy navigation, and explanation of all the benefits, our clients have seen results. When you have a plan laid out that considers the experiences you want to create for your guests, it’s easy to implement that plan, and you are sure to increase your revenues and enhance your guest experience.