How to Grow your Event Venue? Do the Test!

Event venues are popping up like mushrooms. How do you, as a location manager, ensure that you can keep growing in face of all that competition. Babs Nijdam shares her expertise.

Kevin Van der Straeten
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Event venues are popping up like mushrooms. How do you, as a location manager, ensure that you can keep growing in face of all that competition. Babs Nijdam shares her expertise.


Hi, Babs, welcome to our studio.


Thank you.


With your organization you give event venues advice on how to grow. But now you’re launching also an online tool with tips and tricks.


Yeah. Well, at Sequoia Partnership we’ve created a framework of five different areas, where we analyze the venue and can give recommendations. This guarantees growth. But of course we used to do this on-site at a venue, which means the costs of a consultant are quite high. And it’s not necessarily in everybody’s budget, especially with unique and unusual venues. So we decided to create an online tool to make this advice available for everybody.


But for this episode we also want to share some knowledge.


Of course, yeah.


Immediately, of course. Maybe we can go over the topics, and see what kind of advice you can expect.


Yes, of course.


To start with the first one of the pillars is business.




What kind of advice can we expect there?


Well, what we see quite often is that venues don’t take the time to analyze the numbers, which can give such important information for these venues of where to put their focus. A lot of venues tend to want to do all different types of events and every single client. But not every venue is suitable for every type of event. So to take a step back and take time to look at your financials to see which events are bringing in a lot of money, which type of clients are bringing, are making… are giving you enough revenue, to be able to focus on your active sales versus trying to do everything at once, try to focus on certain types of clients, certain types of events, and therefore trying to be successful to grow your business.


This comes very close to the next topic of course, sales and marketing.


Yeah Well, and with sales and marketing is very important to look at who is your target customer. And from the numbers you can figure out or see some patterns maybe in which type of customers are successful. So if you know who your target customer is, then you should know what they want to hear, and what your marketing messages should be, how you want to portray your venue. In addition, you want to know where to find those customers to be able to talk to them. So making a marketing budget yearly is very important.


And spend some of it at of course.


And spend some of it of course. But also to look at where you spend your money is important. But also to see what type of objectives comes with each area of marketing that you’re doing.


Yeah, of course.


Is it leads? Is it branding? Is it leadership in certain contents to make sure that... And at the end of the year make sure that you evaluate whether you’ve achieved those objectives, and whether the money has been spent the right way. So that the next year you can change the type of things that you’re doing. Or maybe make your partnership with certain media more effective to be more successful in achieving your objectives.


Yeah. Besides business numbers, marketing and sales there is also people.




You have a team at your venue that you need to manage. What are the possibilities there?


Well, I think people are very important within the events business. And one of the things I want to highlight today is that what we see when we go into venues, is that the sales teams and the project teams, generally there’s a certain amount of tension between the two. Because they’re totally different types of people, a sales manager versus a project manager. But it’s so important for them to work together. Because the knowledge that the project managers have logistically is important for the sales manager to know. In some cases we make jokes and say: the sales manager always tries to sell the impossible, and the project manager has to solve that problem. But it’s so important to make sure that you communicate regularly, have regular meetings together, to evaluate what has been successful with certain events and what has not. But also to have some checklists in place. And these can be very simple. It can be in your CRM system or even just a Word document. To make sure that the vital information per event is on that checklist. And you can either say you’ve sent them a proposal for the catering, you haven’t discussed catering. To every detail so that the project manager knows what he or she needs to discuss or tell the client.


Yeah. And the client doesn’t get the same question twice.


Exactly. Which is quite frustrating, so I think that communication is key, to make sure that the quality of your service is at a high standard.


And if we look at the venue itself, is there work to do?


I think what some event managers struggle with is that they don’t necessarily get all the right information. So capacity charts, floor plans with all the technical information, so where power outlets are. Where the emergency doors are, you know, a floor plan that they can draw on to see what different set-ups would look like. Photo material to give an example of what the venue looks like when an event is going on.


I’m glad you mentioned that because we get a lot of press releases. And if we ask venues then for nice pictures to go along with it, then that’s already a problem for some venues.


Yeah. And it’s so important for the project managers and the sales managers to have this basic information. To be able to sell the venue and not spend time trying to look for that information internally. Or, you know, to try and figure out when the picture was taken at an event or something like that, so…


And if you have the rights to put it online and stuff like that.


Exactly. So I think if you have that basic information not only will it save everybody time, but they can focus on other things to sell the venue or to help the client have a successful event. So this information is vital to make a successful business.


And especially with special venues you also have stakeholders to keep in mind.




How do you see that?


I think one of the challenges we see at unique venues that have another priority business wise. So either a theatre or a football stadium, a zoo, they tend to have the priority is their main business. So the stadium is to fill with for football, and events is on the sidelines. So it’s there to fill the space in between. That gives quite some frustration for the team that organizes the events. But at the same time we see a lot of missed opportunity. Because, for example, the stadium, there are lots of sponsors, lots of partnerships, skybox holders. So a lot of corporates come into the venue weekly for a football match, they know the venue. But most teams don’t work together. And to have this venue grow for the events business, there’s a lot of money to be earned. So why not work together and make sure that your stakeholders are in line. And that you have those corporate sponsors of the stadium also organize some of the events. And that doesn’t mean to say, hi, come here and organize your events. But how can we contribute as a venue to making your events more successful. So have that open conversation with your partners and your sponsors.


Venues who want to do the test, where can they find it?


Yeah. They can go to And I’m sure you’ll have the link somewhere below the video as well.


Yeah, it will be below the video of course. Well, let’s all do the tests. Babs, thank you very much for coming over to our studio.


Thank you.


You at home, thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next week.