Are Your Patrons Your Best Brand Ambassadors?
Today’s guest blog post is written by Kevin Patterson, Senior Account Executive, PatronManager.
Recently, I was having coffee with a friend. He asked me about an event I had attended with my wife, a fish and chips night at a local English Tea Room. The Tea Room is known in the area for its English ownership, authentic tea selection, afternoon high tea, and special English-themed events; in this particular case, an authentic fish and chips dinner.
My friend Will asked me for my opinion of the evening, and I shared with him just how much we enjoyed it. Will said that he and his wife were initially interested in attending the same event. However, when he went online to buy tickets, he abandoned the purchase as he felt that the total amount to be paid didn’t equal the perceived value he would receive by attending the event.
This event involved purchasing a ticket for a seating time (6:00 pm, 6:30 pm, etc.), and quantities were limited, so tickets were only available online. The cost of a ticket was $35.00, so with a per-ticket fee of $3.50 a couple could expect to pay $77.00 plus tip for the evening, say another $14.00 for a total of approximately $91.00. Though the dinner included a full meal, tea, beer or wine, and dessert, Will felt that this total price was beyond the perceived value provided. He wanted more information, a patron recommendation with which to evaluate his decision.
When a new restaurant opens in your community what do you do? Some people might go immediately, but if you are like me (or Will!), you might wait and talk to someone who has dined there first. If a friend has a good experience, I will give it a try and recommend it to my friends if I have a good meal. If I have a bad experience not only will I not go back, I will not be inclined to recommend it to my friends either. Word of mouth is so important in the restaurant business that it can make or break them.
Never underestimate the value your patrons can add to your organization. Your level of engagement can be a critical success factor giving you the kind of peer-to-peer marketing that can’t be bought. Don’t leave it to chance! Begin by understanding and then carefully shaping their experience.
- What message is your marketing campaign sending to your potential audience?
- When was the last time you went to your website and bought a ticket? How was the process?
- Does your box office staff have effective processes in place for engaging with a patron during a phone or walk-up purchase?
- What is the facility experience when a patron enters the lobby, during intermission, or after the performance?
- How is your organization following up with them post-experience?
By focusing on the little details, you can promote a positive experience while minimizing the chances of something going awry.
For my wife and me, the English Tea Room was not only decorated the way you would find it in London, but the staff, complete with authentic English accents were there to greet you. Our table was dressed and set in the formal style. Tea was steeped for the correct amount of time and the served properly. The meal was presented, and additional information was shared about how different regions in the United Kingdom enjoy their fish and chips. In short, all of the little details were accounted for ensuring the best experience. I conveyed all of this to Will. As a result, he went online and immediately bought tickets for the next event.
Word of mouth marketing had done the trick, but it only worked because a quality experience was delivered. Take time to map out every facet of your experience. Ask patrons for their feedback. Once you put solid processes in place for ensuring a quality experience, your patrons will become your best brand ambassadors. Now, pass me a Guinness!