It’s an often-quoted statistic that the biggest spenders on marketing, within the soft drinks industry, are Coca Cola. ‘Why?’, they all say, ‘after all, they remain the biggest selling brand globally?’ ‘Well’, we answer knowingly, ‘getting to the top is one thing, staying at the top, well, that’s a whole new challenge’.
It’s the same with awards and accreditations. How often do we see an award given, high fives and celebrations all round, only to then retreat into normality – or obscurity? – shortly afterwards. The real skill is in continuity. Awards on a shelf or in a cabinet are one thing, but from a customer point of view consistency is king.
Some time ago, almost five years to be exact, EEF Venues arrived as one of the recipients of the VenueVerdict Gold Standard, run quarterly by the incredibly credible bdrc. We were absolutely delighted; this is a list compiled from customer related data, and benchmarks venues against the rest of the industry. This means being good, isn’t good enough, you have to be better than others. Staying still doesn’t work, and if the overall quality of your peers increases, you need to be making sure you remain ahead. It’s one of the reasons that VenueVerdict is such a coveted accreditation.
As a group though, from the moment we were on the list, we wanted to think like Coca-Cola and make sure we weren’t just staying there, but advancing further and further up the list, using the benchmarking to improve every day. Most importantly, we wanted to improve quicker than the rest of the market, and would need to in order to work our way up the charts.
To do this we needed to understand why it was that we excelled so much in certain categories, and where we needed to improve, how could we do better? We put teams together that looked at every aspect of customer service, and we did this in partnerships with the most important group of critiques we knew; our own customers. From there we were able to set targets that challenged our venues, and put in procedures that benefited our customers. What this also did though, was to bring our customers closer to this exercise and make them part of the process; a chance to build those important relationships even further.
As of last month, we’re delighted to report that EEF Venues, as individual venues and as a group, have continued to grow on these listings. We’ve maintained GOLD standard as a group for five years, and won No.1 Small Group and Best Value for Money Group, for the last five years. Only last week we also won a UK Venue Award as a venue group as well. Meanwhile, our outstanding Westminster-based venue, Broadway House, won a London Venue Awards last year in the Group Best Venue Customer Service category, and our property in Bristol, Engineers House, has also been No.1 Venue for the last five years as well. Our approach to retain consistency seems to be paying off.
Additionally, our Leamington-Spa based venue, Woodland Grange was a recent recipient of the Hotels.com™ ‘Loved by Guests’ awards, based on verified customer reviews, and as a group we’ve retained our VisitBritain accredited status as well.
We’re not going to pretend that these accolades don’t give us all a warm glow, and a real incentive, every time they arrive. But we also think they mean an awful lot to our customers. As a venue group, especially with long term clients, we understand that many of our customers see us as their own offices and properties. They share in our success and pride, and have been instrumental in driving us forward.
So, for now, we’ll all glow in our respective pride, but we’re also looking onwards and upwards, to keep on improving and maintaining our spot as a venue group that excels in customer service.