Event venue managers and owners have to take on many different roles in order to shape their businesses into successful hubs of activity for guests. In a single day, your work might take you from bookkeeper, to inventory manager, to crisis counselor if an event goes wrong.
One often overlooked role for managers of event venues is that of community outreach. Networking and forging meaningful connections with businesses and organizations in your community can provide additional business opportunities and provide deeper meaning to the work you do every day.
Benefits of Partnerships
Reaching out to local businesses and organizations to create partnerships serves many purposes for an event venue. Not only do you have an opportunity to spread awareness of your own venue, but you begin to assemble a list of useful, worthwhile connections for yourself and potential renters.
From the smallest town to the largest urban area, people talk. Word of mouth marketing can often be just as effective as inbound marketing or print ads. You just have to do the legwork. Consumers of all kinds are more likely to invest their money in businesses and experiences that they feel add value to their lives. When a potential renter hears about your venue from a trusted source, they’re more likely to take that suggestion seriously and follow up.
Likewise, if you suggest a local flower shop or caterer to renters touring your venue, you’ve added value to the services you offer and sent business back to the community. These types of partnerships can streamline event planning for renters and strengthen the local economy, creating a network of businesses that serve similar clientele.
Create a Solid Referral Network
When you first begin your networking efforts, start connecting with business entities that have built-in connections. Reach out to your local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, or other business organization. See if you can attend a meeting or, at the very least, browse a list of members to see what businesses make sense for you to approach.
Look for businesses that either support services your guests will likely be seeking in their planning process or offer services that you’re not yet prepared to extend through your own business. Approach these businesses with an open mind and leave thoughts of competition behind. Truly useful networking focuses on what can be gained, not what will be lost in partnering together.
When you do reach out, make sure to make a genuine effort to connect and come prepared with ideas for supporting each other’s services. You don’t want to make people feel like you’re trying to get free publicity or that you’re piggybacking off of their hard work and years in service. Instead, brainstorm how you can bring something new to the table and pitch your ideas openly.
Advertise Your Connections
Once you’ve made some quality connections with businesses in your area, it’s time to start supporting each other through advertising efforts. While word of mouth marketing is valuable, adding advertisements such as catalogs and merchant guides that list supporting organizations all in one place is incredibly useful.
Merchant guides, specifically, are a particularly cost-effective form of marketing your business connections. Not only can they be left on display in each business, but the cost of design and production can be shared amongst all involved. This form of marketing your business has a longer shelf-life and can be easily updated to add new businesses and partnerships.
Another way you can advertise your partnerships is to create a renter packet, including your own contract, venue information, and any business cards or pamphlets for your partners. If it makes sense for other businesses, see if they’re willing to extend this service to you, as well.
Look for Opportunities to Collaborate
In addition to advertising in print and taking advantage of word of mouth referrals, utilize your skills as an event coordinator and offer opportunities to collaborate in the real world. Offer to host networking events or vendor fairs for the public during peak event seasons to solicit shared business.
These events can create opportunities for promotions, social media attention, and enhanced connections between fellow vendors. Once again, you can find opportunities to share costs for advertising, catering, and any other amenities you’d like to extend in order to draw in an audience.
The whole purpose of creating partnerships with local vendors and businesses is to solidify your event venue’s place in the community. By establishing relationships with local organizations, offering cross promotions, and creating marketing materials with business information in one place, you increase the value of your services exponentially all while supporting the local economy and making the process of planning events more enjoyable for renters.