Rumour has it that the recession is over and recovery has begun! This may be so, but in the events market it’s still a fact that there is an over-abundance of suppliers and therefore a massive choice – a buyer’s market.

When retail shopping, we tend not to compare products with products – we compare experiences, and this in the end guides where we shop. As venues, it’s hard to resist bigging up” our décor and audio-visual facilities as state-of-the-art”, but in reality, buyers now simply expect top quality facilities in any venue.

The two main deciders in the conference market have historically been location and price, and the former is often a combination of geographical, micro- and macro-location. At first glance, if a potential customer states that the destination they want is for instance Liverpool, and we are in Leeds, the location seems hard to counter in a sales context. And also, in this over-supplied market, price can be tough to beat. This is where differentiation can play a major part, and there are two key differentiators – innovation and service. The experience.

To work to advantage, innovation needs to be creative and constant, because, given the speed of modern communications and mass connectivity, competitor copying can occur instantly. Overnight change is a reality we have to live with.

Excellent service gives us the edge, and if we get it right, can overcome both location and price challenges. I have even experienced examples myself, where good service has even overcome product quality issues! I gave one particular Leeds restaurant – which shall be nameless – a second chance, due to fantastic service, even though the quality of the meal was dire. Suffice it to say that they won’t be getting a third chance regardless of the service!

meetinleeds-heart2There’s an old adage that people buy people, indeed in some cases people are the ONLY experience, for example many products bought from visits by trusted sales reps. Customers will also buy trusted brands without even trying them first. But service is also a major factor in many successful top brands, eg M&S, Prêt á Manger, John Lewis. Once this close association of service, quality and brand becomes complete you’re flying. The idea behind the marketing of these companies is to induce loyalty beyond reason. The creation of loyal customers who don’t quite realise why.

It’s very similar to LOVE.

Brands that have this have actually been called “Lovemarks” (Saatchi & Saatchi).

At the heart of a strong brand, will be a great experience, and at the heart of that are people.

Success needs people who are committed, creative, engaging, professional, pleasant, caring, competitive, enthusiastic, conscientious, and saleable (phew!). Commitment to providing good service needs to be strong Service delivery needs to be excellent, and the product great. Exactly our goals at MeetInLeeds. No wonder our order books are filling!