11 Practices to Keep Ahead of the Competition as an Event Planner
Myspace. Blackberry. Nokia.
What do they all have in common?
All three were dominant market players. Then, within a short time, they lost their top-dog status to up-and-comers who disrupted the status quo.
Just like these examples illustrate, there is more to a booming business than getting to the top.
As any event planner knows, running a business successfully requires tremendous flexibility and adaptability – anticipating and responding to new trends, and finding new solutions to customers’ challenges.
And keeping that business ahead of the competition requires an entrepreneurial spirit, a future-forward perspective that embraces change, and a vision that inspires peers and colleagues to keep up with the constant innovation.
In an era where information is readily available, every industry is experiencing disruption, and technological innovation is redefining every sector, companies – including event planners – that don’t remain relevant are likely to find themselves in a similar situation to Myspace and Blackberry.
In simple terms: snooze and your business will lose.
Here’s a look at eleven strategies for event planning and practices to stay ahead of the competition.
Set a customer-first strategy
HubSpot defines a customer-first strategy as “an event planning business plan centered around meeting customer needs and creating delightful brand experiences. These plans use special services or features that enhance the company’s value in the customer’s eyes. This builds a mutually beneficial relationship between the customer and the company, making all stakeholders happy in the process.”
Embracing a customer-first mindset requires frequent and open two-way communication, through formal initiatives like focus groups and advisory boards to informal feedback collected from customer service or social media.
As an example, we at Allseated host regular think tanks with venues, planners, and caterers, run software tests with key customers, and continually solicit input from our community. Strategies like these combined with a strong customer service team can keep companies responsive to customers’ changing needs and expectations, giving them a leg up on the competition.
Find a gap and expand your offer/solutions
Another key to staying ahead of the competition is creating a list of competitors, what they offer, and their strengths and weaknesses. Then, take what has been learned about the competition and combine it with the feedback and insights gleaned from embracing a customer-first strategy. Often, there is a gap – an important customer need or want that isn’t being met by anyone else in the industry.
Finding a solution or answer to these identified gaps represent not only an effective strategy to expand your offer/solutions, but also provides a unique value proposition that gives your customers a good reason to come to you instead of a rival.
Several years ago, as the gaming industry began adopting and embracing virtual reality (VR), our development team saw an opportunity to use the tech to redefine event and meeting venue site visits – and that’s how Allseated VISION was born!
Deliver on commitments and promises
Securing a new customer – especially one using a competitor – is always a great feeling. But keeping your company from being the one losing customers to the competition means never forgetting any promises made during the sales process.
An organization or individual that’s good with words and charm can convince customers to give them a shot. But it’s companies that deliver on their promises and commitments that win – and keep –customers’ hearts and soar above the competition.
Just like the adage, “actions speak louder than words,” keeping customers happy means delivering on commitments and promises made and continuing to do so over the long-term – something we take seriously at AllSeated.
Embrace disruption and innovation
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
It’s tempting to get comfortable doing the same thing that has proven to work for years.
But companies that stay ahead of the competition in the events industry have an innate desire for ongoing improvement and aren’t afraid to uproot and disrupt the way business is done. You don’t have to look far to companies like Uber, Airbnb, and Amazon to see the benefits of embracing innovation.
One idea to encourage a spirit of innovation and disruption is simply challenging internal team members to share better solutions. At Allseated, we make it fun with weekly internal competitions or brainstorms to solve an event planning challenge.
Have a future roadmap
While it’s important to stay adaptable and flexible to changing market conditions, it’s just as important to have a road map that visualizes where you want to be in one, three, and five years.
And the vision shouldn’t just live in your head, or that of your company’s president or CEO. We’ve found displaying a large whiteboard in our development office that provides a visual reminder of timelines, key initiatives, and ideas to keep the entire organization aligned on achieving our future goals.
Being open and honest about all aspects of your business operation has numerous advantages for your company. Customers understand exactly what the company stands for. Employees feel like their work matters and work together to innovate or fix problems faster. And everyone feels invested and involved in the company’s success – making it easier to work together to provide value to customers and keeps them from the competition.
Step up your marketing
There’s a good chance other businesses are vying for the same customers as you. But that doesn’t mean your company is like every one of them. Identify a unique value proposition and communicate that story through your marketing efforts is an effective way to move ahead of the competition.
Stepping up your marketing efforts could be as simple as polishing your organization’s website and social media profiles to include images or videos from your latest events. Or perhaps it’s leveling up your event floorplans into realistic 3D walk-throughs that make a client feel as they’re immersed in the space.
Be the best employer
In thinking about competition in business, this may not seem like the most obvious tactic. But your solutions and products are only as good as your team.
Skilled, motivated employees are the foundation of a vibrant, growing business. Being the best employer means not only attracting them but keeping employees happy by creating a collaborative work atmosphere, ensuring they are invested in the success of the company and have a voice that is respected.
Some of the ways we create an open culture are through regular team brainstorm meetings and weekly calls with company executives to share new ideas or ask questions.
Prioritize and reward creativity
Staying competitive is a product of continually developing innovative ideas, which is driven by creativity.
At AllSeated, we encourage and reward creativity from our employees and customers. We crowd-source floorplan examples our customers have created, rewarding them with fun giveaways and prizes for sharing. The practice keeps the creative juices flowing, and gives users new ideas for using the AllSeated platform – which is just one more way they stand out the competition.
Keep up to date with the pulse of the industry
Keeping ahead of the competition means understanding overall industry topics and trends.
Read industry publications, blogs, online newsletters, and research reports, attend important industry conferences like IMEX, or experience other conferences and networking opportunities outside the event industry to identify macro trends that will propel you ahead of the competition.
Don’t forget to keep stepping into the customer’s shoes
Too often, day-to-day operations of an event planning business mean disconnecting from valuable customer interactions – making it easy to lose sight of what clients need to succeed or challenges they’re facing.
Providing ongoing support is one strategy that not only keeps that valuable interface but makes customers successful too. For Allseated, in-person training events with customers, access to an open 24/7 live chat, and having a six-week certification course keep our feet firmly planted in our customer’s shoes.
As each day passes, new businesses emerge, technology changes, and the marketplace becomes more crowded than it already was. Staying ahead of the competition may seem challenging, but as shown, there are opportunities to gain a competitive advantage.
To learn more about how Allseated’s event planning platform benefits your business, contact us for a demo.