How to book more events in tough times

If you want to energise the venue sales department after a downturn or sales slump, here are the best strategies to grow your function, event & wedding sales fast.

Start with clear events outcomes and an agreed plan

Get everyone’s agreement on a basic plan for event sales in the venue. Organise a meeting with the owner or manager and sales team to get alignment and agreement on the desired events outcomes.

  • Clarify venue goals & targets and find out the KPIs – key performance indicators
  • Review and measure your sales statistics – enquiry count, conversion rates etc.
  • Learn about key competitors and know your own venue

Get the 5 venue sales basics right

These 5 tips are useful for the First 90 Days

  1. Assess and make the most of what you already have – your venue features, crm (diary or database), your website, online reviews and your referrers
  2. Have a good look at your current and past venue bookings. identify the seasonal variations – busy & quiet times and potential clients
  3. Review your current marketing collateral – videos & photos and events packages
  4. Create a venue calendar on the wall and start an annual marketing calendar
  5. Ask past customers and prospects for their feedback on what they liked and would have improved. Find out what could prevent others from booking your venue and fix it!


What works to boost functions & event sales and beat the slump

Many venue business owners focus on getting more leads and enquiries to grow. but new leads and venue marketing can cost a lot of money & take a lot of marketing time & effort.

Clearly, if you are paying for event enquiries but are not ready or able to convert them – then that is very costly and wasteful. You need to be ready to handle more event enquiries.

Make sure that you are doing “everything you can with what you already have” by following these 5 Business Growth Strategies – in this priority order.

  1. Increase venue average spend $$
  2. Convert more enquiries into sales
  3. Aim to protect and increase your margins
  4. Get more repeat clients and referrals
  5. Do more marketing and get more event enquiries


A detailed venue action plan to fill your venue with profitable events

  1. Increase venue average spend asap

You can make more money right now from every event by offering the right pricing and selling more extras & add-ons

  • review your functions & event pricing – volume up=prices up, supply and demand pricing
  • sell more extras and add ons – ask upcoming customers
  • create an “extras menu” with pictures
  • Read this BLOG on offering more extras and addons


  1. Convert more enquiries into sales

You probably already have some event enquiries coming in.  Learn how to convert more of them into a sale before seeking lots more enquiries. Improve your conversion rate.

Your conversion rate will vary depending on the quality and source of the enquiry. For example repeat past clients are far more likely to book than enquiries from a Facebook Ad campaign.

  • Study function sales techniques – train your staff to spot and help with incoming enquiries
  • Upskill venue front of house team in sales they are 1st point of contact for enquiries
  • Quicker response to enquiries – 1st responder is much more likely to get the booking
  • Asking better questions & listening – learn which questions to ask
  • For every enquiry – always get their contact number & name so you can follow up
  • Provide your direct contact number and hand out business cards to everyone
  • Improve your offer – functions pack, photos, videos and testimonials
  • Use more photos – links to photos website with hero photos
  • Follow-up call next day after enquiry – always establish the next step
  • Always offer multiple date options – “by the way have you considered (options)?”
  • Use automated responses and best email signatures
  • Calls to action – always offer the “next step” in the sales journey
  • Know and promote your venue key points of difference
  • Prepare and use email templates for faster better quality responses
  • Use/add testimonials, quotes and reviews – where possible – ask for reviews


  1. Protect and increase your margins (don’t sell cheap functions)

Many venues and function salespeople will discount prices when desperate for sales. This is just lazy selling. Aim to avoid discounting and selling cheap events to boost your sales. Make sure you focus on explaining the value before stating the price.

The final result of discounting, selling low price events and cheap functions is a usually spike in wage costs and food costs and a rapid decline in venue profit. Avoid selling volumes of “profitless events” that just wear out the venue for little return.


  1. Get more repeat clients & referrals

Your venue will grow if you can get existing clients to “come back and tell others”.

  • Deliver an awesome customer experience – if not, find out what the biggest client “ouch factors” are and rectify them if possible
  • Be friendly and grateful – have a positive attitude – fond farewells
  • Acknowledge the event organiser (make them look good at event)
  • Seek more feedback after the event
  • Maintain past client relationships and follow up
  • Follow up previous functions and clients for referrals and repeats
  • Target repeat business first


  1. Do more marketing during the slump & get more event enquiries
  • Use a crm and really work it – send e-news to past clients
  • Get a great website – content & seo
  • Add more content – videos>pictures>words
  • Improve your google my business listing – gmb
  • List on function & event directories
  • Use more function signage in the venue
  • External event signage
  • Build your online reputation and reviews
  • Facebook /instagram & social media posting of clients, couples and events
  • Attend expos / run open days
  • Make more calls – pick up the phone
  • Send emails to local big business groups
  • Join local networking groups
  • Create an annual marketing calendar with special events
  • Target EA/PA buyers & hotel concierges


Kevin Kosky