How to Drive More Bookings

Here’s what the panel had to say at CompSoc 2024:

NDML visited the CompSoc competitive socialising event at the Lighthouse Theatre in London. As well as enjoying the exhibitors and the awards show, we also listened in to a series of seminars, featuring leaders from the UK’s top operators.

Speakers on a panel about ‘driving more bookings for your venue’ included; Luci Cunningham from Airship & Toggle, freelancer Rosie Lewis March, Suzanna Baci from NQ64 and Filipe Borne from Lucky Voice.

We listened in and below we’ve listed the main talking points, these will prove valuable for competitive socialising business or any hospitality businesses looking to adopt competitive socialising into their business model.

Both areas of your business, sales and marketing, need to work in tandem. Ensure a consistent brand and keep communication fluid.

Send plans ahead of time about what’s coming up. This way there is no surprise for the front of house crew when a customer appears with a 50% off notification. Or for example the staff are only given short notice before a major brand overhaul.

With strong communication between the departments more can be achieved, and it helps make all staff members feel fully involved in the business when they are included in discussions. Staff members feel excluded, alienated and forgotten when they are surprised with departmental changes.

Suzanna Baco from NQ64 explains how her business favours walk-ins and has tried to maintain the walk in model. She agrees COVID changed the game, and pre-bookings are now much more popular.

NQ64 have adopted pre bookings but by offering time slots. These special pre-bookings allow for bar teams to forecast accurately for ingredients, busyness and sales, while maintaining that walk-in feel.

Filipe Borne from Lucky Voice explained his business model is 70% booking to 30% walk-in. It depends on the nature of the event, but with Karaoke being their main driver, karaoke is not yet an impulsive trend.

Rosie Lewis March explains that when she worked for Swingers, it impressed upon her the importance of walk-ins. Competitive Socialising businesses always need to make themselves available for walk-ins, and maintain that level.

Each operator then explained what they have done or hope to do to help improve dwell times at their venue. ‘Dwell times’ were a focal point of the CompSoc event; it refers to the length of stay of customers at venues, beyond the time they are gaming or utilising the competitive socialising equipment.

Filipe Borne of Lucky Voice discusses how they hope to improve their concept of karaoke. They are also focussed on adding and improving food and beverage options. This, in tandem with seasonal offers and seasonal menus, should help to improve dwell times.

Bottomless brunch is clear example of how Lucky Voice have adopted their model. Often brunchers would only stay for the two hour period, and then go elsewhere once the time has ended. Venues need to continue to entice customers to stay beyond the 2 hour period, with additional offers or better food menus.

 NQ64 have focused on what their customers are doing while not playing games at their venues. In their Manchester venue they have 55 games but a capacity of 450. As an improvement they created comfortable nooks and crannies for customers to dwell in. These could be spaces in unused corners or under stairs.

To improve dwell times, they also have improved the wall art at their venues as well as upscaling  their cocktail options. Suzanna says its important to create spaces for people to get lost in and private corners can prove very valuable.

Rosie Lewis March says improving dwell times very much depends on the activity. Timed activities such as golf often lose people when the time is up. Businesses need to not let the end feel final, they can do this by offering vouchers or activations for the end of the event. For example, it isn’t publicised, but Treetop Golf will give players a free round if they complete the course in under 10 minutes.

  • Offer Activations
  • Give out Special Offers for repeat visitors – offer these physically at the venue.
  • Avoid ‘flogging dead horses’ – area to avoid according to the panel are; corporate clients, and lunch visitors, as these groups in their experience do not have a good repeat-visit rate.

See our Interview with Competitive Socialising venue, Pixel Bar

Watch the Video