From Customer is King to Mr Nobody
City Breaks Press Event in Amsterdam
City Breaks Press Event in Amsterdam

I have not kept track of how many events, workshops and meetings I have organized over my past 35 years in the travel industry, but when I say around a hundred I deem this to be not far from the truth.

As PR manager for the Dutch Tourist Board in London and as a PR agency in the Benelux for the travel sector, these were and are mostly B2B events for media, tour operators, travel agents and MICE professionals. And how I love them! From sifting through suitable dates and selecting nice venues to recruiting participants and inviting visitors. Bringing people together in those face-to-face networking matters!

But despite the enjoyment in organizing these events, after those 100-odd meetings there has always been a gnawing feeling afterwards.  Including these annoying no-shows which I previously wrote a blog about. But the subject of my frustration now is another irritation.

When the event has taken place, you are no longer a customer for the venue. After receiving the invoice you are relegated from Customer is King status to Mr Nobody. It is mind-boggling.

Rarely – very rarely – do we ever hear anything from our location contact person again. Even if you organize your event several times in the same location, there is never any display of customer loyalty in between these events. A suitable location also determines the success of an event to a large extent, so over the past three decades we have repeatedly organized workshops in the same venue for a number of consecutive years.  ut even then, the invoice pops up in your inbox and it’s bye bye.

We hardly ever had a call after an event with the question “How did you like it, are there points for improvement, etc.” and also very rarely have we received an evaluation survey.  Never invited by all those locations for a ‘We have renovated our halls, we would like you to come and have a look’ or ‘Mister Baltus, we would love it if you organize an event with us again, could we invite you for a lunch.’

Event locations consider you a customer until you have left the room/space. After that, you don’t exist for them anymore. Farewell, thank you for your business, goodbye. It is just like newspaper and magazine publishers who pull out all the stops and sprinkle you with gifts to welcome you as a new subscriber. But when you have had a subscription for 5 years, you have become an ordinary number. Keeping a customer is just as important as bringing one in and I am confident that retaining customers is quite a bit cheaper than recruiting new ones.

So my dearest event and location managers – you fall grossly short in after-sales. May I suggest that you improve on your customer loyalty and retention especially after an event has taken place. Because never ever forget that a client always has a choice of dozens of other locations to organize his event. And satisfied customers are often loyal customers – all the more reason for more emotional customer loyalty – especially after sending the invoice – instead of humiliating us to the depths of oblivion.

Marcel Baltus

PS; content of this blog applies to venues in the Benelux and the UK but I feel it may well apply worldwide.