Based on our own research, repeat business bookings for summer conferences typically range between 70-80% from year to year. With many conference departments operating as self-sustaining, that figure represents a significant amount of annual revenue on which the department is dependent. Therefore, it is paramount to monitor rebooking activity year on year.
When inquiries are used to capture rebooking requests, it is easier to identify which customers have requested to rebook and which customers have not. For those who have not, it could be an early alert to you that something may be amiss with the customer.
Taking care of business
However, is every piece of repeat business the best business you can book? Most campuses will have a mix of customers who range from easy to difficult and whose revenues range from low to high. However, just because a customer has high revenue does not always mean they are worth keeping.
Periodically, you should conduct a review of your customers following the 80/20 Pareto principle. The principle was discovered by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. The basic definition of the 80/20 principle is that 80% of your results come out of 20% of your efforts. From a revenue standpoint, 80% of your revenue should come from 20% of your efforts.
To conduct an 80/20 review, first take your list of repeat customers and rank them by revenue top to bottom. Next, rank the list by who takes the most effort/time energy? Now compare the list. Ideally, your high revenue comes from the lowest effort, or at least if you have a high effort customer, they should also rank high in revenue.
Identify the high effort, low revenue customers. These are who you may want to target and consider your options. Could you end the relationship or move them to a different time of the season when less of an impact? Could you refer them to another campus who needs the business? Could you renegotiate their rates? When you are effectively tracking inquiries, you should be able to determine if you could replace them with a new customer who would yield better results for less effort.
It is important to know exactly what is in your potential business backlog so you can make informed, calculated decisions.
It all comes back to tracking
Tracking incoming inquiries may, on the surface, appear to be a time-consuming activity. However, by tracking all inquiries, from both current customers looking to re-book and potential new customers, you will have important empirical data necessary for making the best decisions for your operation and your campus. If done properly, the time spent maintaining the data should cost far less than the revenue gains you achieve from using the data.