3 Ways To Give Your Venue A Competitive Edge

Key Insights

  • Create modern, inviting and relaxed zones for members to feel comfortable and inclined to stay
  • Loyalty programs have proven their worth as an effective method of keeping connected with customers

To give your venue a competitive edge, you need to look below the surface and provide a holistic customer experience, as the following explains.

In a competitive marketplace, if a venue is out-dated and tired, there’s a good chance it isn’t reaching its revenue potential. Winners of the Australian Hotels Association (Vic) Awards for Excellence are frequently venues with a strong focus on investment in infrastructure.

“There is a focus on enhancing the whole customer experience, as well as product choice,” says Paddy O’Sullivan, Chief Executive Officer of the AHA (Vic).

Experts agree; there are three ways to revive a venue to ensure its longevity.

  1. Invest in quality interior design

First impressions are lasting impressions: “I can’t overstate how important design is to attracting customers to venues,” says David Oliver, Commercial Manager at Tabcorp.

Dated furniture and fixtures, an uninviting reception area or disjointed layout can turn customers off from entering or remaining in a venue.

Dr Gareth Harvey, lecturer in Consumer Psychology at Bangor University in the UK, says there are decades of research into how design and atmosphere can change consumer behaviour. Customers will linger if they feel a positive association with the layout and design, and there is a direct link between the creation of the right atmosphere in gaming venues and player satisfaction. However, the converse is also true: if customers are uncomfortable, they are less likely to stay.

“Claustrophobic factors, such as low ceilings or narrow aisles, can contribute to consumers feeling as if an environment suffocates them and, as result, consumers cut their visits short,” Harvey says.

Renovations can be a costly exercise but venue owners need to think in terms of investment. The question becomes where to spend the money, prioritising the changes that will provide the best ROI (return on investment). The right interior design strengthens both the brand and the image, and people are more likely to spend more in a venue that exudes quality. At a minimum, keeping the paint and flooring fresh is essential to creating an inviting space.

The judging criteria at the AHA Awards for Excellence include design, ambiance, lighting and music.

“In a hotel setting, a sophisticated hospitality offering is sought after by customers,” says AHA’s Paddy O’Sullivan. “This includes clean, comfortable and attractive facilities that encourage repeat visitation to the venue.”

The most important thing is to create modern, inviting and relaxed zones for members where they feel comfortable and are inclined to stay.

“Ideally, you want your customers to feel almost like they’re sitting in their living room but better,” says David Oliver.

  1. Revamp your loyalty program

“Venue loyalty programs have proven their worth as an effective method of keeping connected with core customers,” says Paddy O’Sullivan.

According to Roy Morgan Research, 71 percent of Australians are members of at least one loyalty program. The value of a well-run loyalty program lies not just in attracting and keeping customers but in developing a quality database, increasing brand awareness and lowering overall marketing costs. Customers who see benefits from a program tend to have reduced price sensitivity while holding stronger attitudes towards their venue of choice.

The database of a good program yields valuable information about customers and consumer trends, allowing operators to target communications to the most profitable segments. A high-revenue customer is always preferred over the more frequent but lower spending customer. Reward programs should always be geared toward the former and rewards based on customer profitability.

“A good loyalty program will not only attract customers into the venue at particular times. It also means venues can benefit from customer feedback – helping them make informed decisions about their venue layout, food offering, gaming machines and identifying what makes customers want to stay longer,” says David Oliver.

The innovative operator will constantly evaluate the success of their loyalty program and adjust as necessary. Should the program be open to all customers or only to a select group? How and when should rewards expire? Are there alternatives that are more flexible and less costly to implement?

  1. Analyse your floor

Most venues receive 60 to 80 percent of revenue from the gaming floor. A savvy manager constantly audits machine performance to determine which machines are providing optimal returns and those that need to be replaced.

People are naturally drawn to the new and novel. Professor Harvey claims this is rooted in evolution.

“In prehistoric times, novelty-seeking behaviour in relation to food variety would be more likely to produce a nutritionally balanced diet,” he says. “Today it may not be so important from that perspective but we have learned to value variety. Consequently, consumers are still attracted to variety.”

It is not just the variety of machine that matters but also the layout of the floor. Strategic managers work with experts on a configuration that will maximise revenue by encouraging customers’ participation while complying with the jurisdiction’s operational requirements.

“The importance is getting the right game, placed in the right location, at the right venue,” says Oliver. “What’s popular for one venue and their demographic may not be right for another.”

Managers should think about longevity rather than the latest fads. Venue operators who concentrate on, and invest in, these three core aspects of their business will be rewarded with a revitalised atmosphere and an increase in patronage.

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