Customer Experience and How the Events Industry Can Use It As a Key Differentiator

By Katy Mullet | 3 min read

This is the first piece in our series on customer experience and the hospitality industry. Stay tuned for more ways to exceed expectations and delight your guests. 

What is customer experience (CX)?

The Harvard Business Review defines CX as “the sum-totality of how customers engage with your company and brand, not just in a snapshot in time, but throughout the entire arc of being a customer.” So you may be an expert in hospitality, but the time a guest spends at your venue is only one part of the puzzle. They’re looking you up online, checking out reviews, observing the process to make a reservation or book an event, and making decisions before they’ve even seen your space in person. CX is made up of every touchpoint where customers interact with you, not just when you’re consciously interacting with them. 

Gone are the days of being compared to the venues in your neighborhood. Your guests aren’t just comparing you to what’s nearby, but the brands they see online. As tech companies improve online experiences by making them more seamless and intuitive, they become table stakes for everyone else – including you. Speed, online availability and the ability to customize are not just delighting the customer anymore, they’re expected whether it’s requesting an event space or signing a contract. 

Improving Your CX

While that may feel overwhelming, there’s plenty of ways that you can enhance your guests’ experience, whether you’re communicating with them online, over the phone, or even in person. We’ve drilled it down to the three T’s:

Time

With artificial intelligence and real-time customer service, time is of the essence when responding to a guest. In fact, 64% of customers expect you to interact with them in real-time (Salesforce). While you can’t be available 24/7, there are plenty of ways out there to help automate and therefore speed up customer interactions. By listing your availability on online marketplaces, allowing guests to reach out online, and getting back to guest questions as soon as possible, you can meet and exceed their expectations. 

“I feel like the 24 hour response time is no more, it’s within the hour that people want information. It’s important to be able to respond quickly if you want to capture that business.”  – Kelly Barber, Events Director at Truluck’s 

Technology

You don’t need to have the latest in technology to provide a great customer experience – but you should at least meet expectations. And that’s not easy when 76% of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations (Salesforce). According to PwC’s research, 80% of American consumers say that “speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service” are key to a positive experience, and there’s plenty of technology out there that can help. From marketplaces and reservation software to POS systems and event management software, there’s a lot of options to make touchpoints along the customer journey easier. And it’s also important to keep doing your research – as new tech develops your customer’s preferences and expectations will change. 

Transparency

According to Zendesk, 95% of customers tell others about a bad experience and 87% share good experiences (Zendesk). While reviews can be a headache, monitoring them regularly and responding is critical. Your guests and future guests are online both checking and leaving reviews, so make sure to be an active participant in the conversation. Asking for feedback – both in-person and online is also helpful. You can start by asking for feedback after an event over email prompts. Showing you’re aware of guests’ needs and have a willingness to improve goes a long way in providing a positive customer experience or even turning a negative experience into a positive one. 

The Payoff of CX

What would a concept made famous by major tech companies have anything to do with your venue? The biggest potential payoff is increased loyalty. And that can mean significant business for you since repeat business is a much easier sell – there’s a 65% chance that a guest who’s booked with you will book again compared to the fact that there’s a 13% chance at converting a new prospect. And the experience they have with you will make or break their interest in booking again with you – 57% of people stopped buying from a company because a competitor provided a better experience (Salesforce). 

CX as a Key Differentiator for Your Events Business 

As technology and expectations evolve, so should you. And the venues that do it right earn more than just positive reviews. 67% of customers say they’ll pay more for great experiences (Salesforce). Great experiences mean a pricing premium, so as your CX becomes a differentiator, you can increase your earning potential. Start with the three T’s and stay tuned as we dish out more tips on how to improve your CX all along the customer journey.

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Katy Mullet
Content Marketing Manager

I'm the Content Marketing Manager here at Gather. Outside of writing and creating campaigns, I love to try new restaurants here in Atlanta or wherever I'm traveling.

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