Event Planners: Why You MUST Begin Collecting Client Data in 2020

I hope you all have had a wonderful, much-needed holiday break (and hopefully it has helped breathe new energy for you going back into events in the new year)! With January being a slower month for many of us, it is a perfect time to get organized and set up the right systems to ensure we are learning more about our customer needs and providing the EXACT type of product that will sell. Specifically, I am talking about collecting client data. I know, I know, it seems like something everyone wants to get better at, attempts to try, but once booking season is in full swing, client data is back where it started - at the BOTTOM of our to do lists.

Am I the only one that thinks this is crazy? Don’t get me wrong, I have been guilty in the past of putting client data on the back burner and I know now that it has cost me many clients and resulted in SO. MANY. FAILED. MARKETING. STRATEGIES. We all know client data is important, but do we know why? Maybe if we did, more of us would give it the time it deserves. Below, I‘m listing the top 4 reasons why collecting client data is essential in 2020.

1. The Needs and Wants of Our Customers Constantly Change. How many of you have seen another restaurant or caterer offer something for their business and use that information as a framework to what or how you promote your business? I understand the need to stay competitive, but what if the other companies are offering something that the client doesn’t really want? Now, everyone loses. Learning more about the needs of our customers should be a primary focus for all planners. What a customer needed last year may not be the case this year. What was popular during the holiday season last month may be seen as ‘already been done’ to some. In the next month, many of us will begin pushing new items to our email lists and clients. I challenge you to take time to speak to past and current clients and learn more about what they are interested in, whether that be food, amenities, packages, cocktails, etc. By doing so, you’re not only getting ahead of the competition with valuable insight, you are forecasting future trends BEFORE you hear about them from a competitor.

2. Collecting Information Can Be Useful in Future Pitches & Marketing Strategies. As professional planners and marketing specialists, we must stop telling our customers what they want and start serving them based on their needs. I can’t tell you how much promotional junk I receive in my email and on social media for things that I may have wanted a few years ago, but don’t make sense now. Often we promote items or packages that we assume we be intriguing to our customer base, but with no such proof. If you think about it, this is SUCH a big gamble. We only have so much of our customers’ attention and we are using it to promote what we think they want. Just because a client booked a seated dinner party for their birthday with you last year, doesn’t mean they want to be bombarded with seated dinner party specials this year. However, if that client had a good experience, they probably want to work with you again! The key is learning about your clients needs and using that information to create useful, meaningful marketing strategies. Strategies that yield ACTUAL results and don’t end up in spam.

3. Collecting Data Can Provide The Opportunity for a Customized Experience for Your Clients. Aside from marketing to the masses, let’s not forget those special clients who have been loyal to us for years (many of which we tend to remember around the holidays). When was the last time you hopped on a call with them to hear how they’re doing and what they are looking to do this year with their company? Although it may seem like you are wasting your client’s time, you’re doing them a favor by taking the time to hear about their needs and customizing an offer that works for them. Seriously consider the benefits of a call: 1. You are letting the client know you’re thinking about them and you care about their feedback. 2. You’re learning what type of events they have going on BEFORE they come to you (or go to someone else!!). Even if the call yields no events, think about the reach that client has and possibility they may know of a friend or colleague who does need your services. A call can honestly branch out into so many opportunities, as people appreciate not being ‘shouted at’ through mindless marketing tactics.

4. Client Data Can Reveal Where You Fall Short. Obviously, this is never the type of information we want to collect, but it is SO important to hear. If we are always turning to clients that only have good things to say, we really aren’t growing. When was the last time you dealt with a customer who had a bad experience? Did you give a discount and make it go away, or did you take a step further to hear where you could have improved? Here is some tough love: wherever you are in your events journey, you can ALWAYS improve. This goes for me too! Two holiday seasons ago, I had one of the worst catering events of my life. I won’t go into details, but we had a very intricate menu that turned out to be extremely difficult to execute for the amount of people at the dinner party. In addition to that, a contracted staff member stole a purse that we could not recover. I was mortified. My supervisor was on maternity leave, but strongly suggested I visit the client in addition to providing a discount. I really didn’t want to (especially because I was convinced it wasn’t my fault), but I went. I can tell you now that it was one of the best things I could have done. Why? Because I left the client’s office feeling like we were on good terms and I also learned a ton about where we could improve. When a client has a bad experience with a company, they want that company to CARE. Sometimes a discount isn’t enough. What the client sees is that a company didn’t learn from the mistake and may make it again. So even though they got their money back, they may never recommend you again (and that’s the real strain). My advice: face the music when it comes to bad experiences. Dig deep into where you fell short, and review it with your team. It will benefit you 10-fold.

How many of you plan to put client data at the top of your list this year? If you want to learn more on how you can specifically retrieve these details, subscribe to She Said Celebrate below. I’ll be providing a new freebie this week for subscribers ONLY and you will not want to miss it!