1: Special facility – sports venue
3: Special facility – attraction
4: Special facility – attraction
5: Conference center resort
6: Luxury boutique hotel
7: Specialty goods
8: Special facility – full-service venue/nightclub
Question 1: How do you find new business? What methods are giving you the best ROI or not working anymore?
1 –Optimized our search engine [for Google and Yahoo] searches. Getting at least 10-20 hits [leads] per week.
3 –Updated our website and added an introduction video and a 360° tour. Also using Google keywords and email blasts offering discounts and specials.
2 –E-mail blasts or [some sort of] monthly contact. It generates responses, though not always a lead. [Phone] calls are not working anymore; doing fewer tradeshows.
1 –Monthly mailings [e-mail blasts]; being involved with many organizations and hosting events.
4 –I’m 100% on the phones, it’s working. I follow-up the call with e-mail.
8 –Hosting more events to get people in to experience the venue first-hand. E-mail blasts and discounts help. We’re doing a little bit of everything.
3 –Working hand-in-hand with caterers — a co-op, to share advertising space and split the costs. Advertising more (it takes awhile [to see a return]). Years ago you didn’t have to advertise as much. Waiting for the phone to ring is not working …
8 –Negotiate with vendors [for lower prices] to bring the overall proposal price down. Don’t be afraid to ask.
2 – If it’s less, so what, you’re booking [in regards to offering discounts and getting vendors to lower prices].
6 –Most of [our] business comes from [our] Web site … Finding people to partner with; touching other markets; using Facebook; and getting people acquainted with your venue. Once you’ve gotten them in the door you practically have them. So it’s [about] getting the word out.
4 –Lunch meetings work for me because I don’t have a travel budget (territory only consists of Georgia).
1 –Trading services work. Ubarter.com specializes in connecting people and businesses to trade services.
[Everyone agreed social networking works because it targets niche markets.]
Question 2: How is your organization dealing with operational cutbacks/reduction in staff? How are you maintaining or ensuring customer service with a skeleton crew?
2 –We let go of two people (for budget reasons), so we had to change our market segments.
1 –Everyone is doing a four-day workweek; we rotate days off. We try to avoid voicemail (always have a live person to answer phones) because it’s a missed opportunity.
3 –Fifteen people are gone; the events department is only a few people now. We’re not drowning every day with business since the economy is down, so it’s only really busy one day [a week]. I leave my e-mail on my voicemail because e-mail is much easier. There’s not enough time to stay on the phone for 30 minutes. For some reason, people don’t check the Web site as much, so I attach a sales kit and Web site link [in outgoing e-mails].
2 –I’ve noticed people are using the economy as an excuse to cancel and not pay fees for attrition or cancellations.
Question 3: How do you keep customer service high during the tough times?
8 –Instead of saying we don’t fit your budget, say ‘I can’t do this, but let me put together what I can do.’
Group responses: Don’t cut. Scale back. Find creative solutions after finding out the client’s budget. Be upfront and don’t go over budget.
3 –Post testimonials and accolades [around the office] as a morale booster.
PYM –Keeping morale up ensures quality customer service during stressful times.
1 –Take your staff out for drinks.
3 –We split duties regardless of the title. We have weekly meetings where people can let loose and say whatever, an office venting session. We keep it light at work. [When things happen and staff are upset] I’ll say ‘it’s really not that big a deal or I joke around with the staff and fire them like Donald Trump.
2 –Team outings and dinners at co-workers homes.
6 –We feature staff on our Web site in addition to testimonials. It’s good for staff, but also neat for clients when we are trying to market our atmosphere.
7 –I have a staff of one, so it’s hard to keep up with everything. My husband helps and I have friends and family that volunteer.
4 –Instead of hiring seasonal sales help, we use Georgia Tech co-op interns. [The positions can] lead to paying jobs in the summer.