Success Story

How The Island Quarter Made Over £33k in Upgrades and Experiences in 6 Months With SevenRooms

5 min read

Apr 22, 2024

Island Quarter Events & Experiences

The Island Quarter in Nottingham, England, has it all — flats, offices, restaurants, bars and event spaces. The sprawling destination attracts an array of guests with tree-lined pathways, canal views and a mixture of retail and leisure. 

But getting guests there is one thing. Getting them to return is another. 

As The Island Quarter’s Sales and Marketing Manager, Liam Morgan, asks, “How do you keep a steady stream of people flowing into the venue?”

The answer is unforgettable events and experiences — and event management software that allows for seamless integration and data collection to support them. 

We spoke with Liam about how The Island Quarter grew guest retention by 10% in a year and generated £33,000 ($41,000 USD) in upgrades, experiences and prepayments revenue in six months with SevenRooms' software. He also shares his best tips for keeping tables filled and ticket sales flowing. 

Retaining guests with exceptional events 

With two busy restaurants, Binks Yard and Cleaver & Wake, an outdoor music stage and wedding and conference spaces, The Island Quarter has no shortage of ways to attract customers. But just like any hospitality venue, guest retention is a crucial goal. That’s why the team focuses on events to keep customers coming back year-round. 

But these aren’t your standard, garden-variety events. 

“We host creative events throughout the year. Sometimes people don't spend anything, but it keeps us at the forefront of people's minds. When they think about going out for dinner, they remember our venues since they went to an event here.”

And their strategy is working — The Island Quarter has seen a 10% growth in guest retention in 12 months, thanks to its personalised experiences and curated events. 

However, managing multiple venues and monthly events comes with logistical challenges. Especially with a distributed workforce of in-venue staff and remote corporate team members. 

“We needed an event management system that was fast, easy to use and accessible via phones, iPads and computers — and for people working from home,” Liam says. 

Integration capabilities would also be vital.

“The main reason we use SevenRooms throughout the majority of the business is the integration. SevenRooms is great at integrating with our till system, QuadraNet. It also integrates with our CRM system, Airship, and our guest Wi-Fi system, Wireless Social. It integrates with everything, really.” 

Liam also appreciates how SevenRooms allows him to collect, manage and analyse guest data from a central database. 

“The key to success is data. We've grown our database from zero people to over 30,000 in a year. It’s incredible. And it’s all coming from different channels: people booking online, buying event tickets, signing up for our email list and using our guest Wi-Fi. With SevenRooms, the data is aggregated into one dashboard, and it’s really easy to use.”

The Island Quarter’s playbook for driving repeat business through events and experiences 

The Island Quarter uses events to keep a steady stream of customers coming to its venue and to generate awareness for its restaurants. In fact, 50% to 60% of the company’s revenue comes from events.

The following tactics helped the team increase reservations, repeat guests and ticket sales through SevenRooms’s reservation and event management software

1. Capitalise on seasonal events and Instagram-worthy moments

Events are a revenue driver for The Island Quarter. They’re also a year-round funnel for its restaurants. While The Island Quarter hosts regular cheese and wine nights and shopping events, it’s the innovative seasonal events and music festivals that really grab guests’ attention. 

“One of the hard parts of living in the U.K. is getting people outside in the winter. So, we brought in glass-covered igloos featuring heaters and speakers. We used SevenRooms’ booking widget to make it simple for customers to book an igloo versus a restaurant reservation to avoid confusion. We put it on sale, and within 48 hours, we had 400 bookings.”

A photo-worthy setup like this practically begs for selfies and social posts, turning reservations into valuable user-generated content that boosts brand awareness. 

Liam notes that hosting seasonal classes can turn your venue into a festive annual outing for guests. 

“The biggest event we do during Christmas is wreath making. We hold countless classes that sell out because people absolutely love that.”

Keeping The Island Quarter in customers’ minds past the holiday season is easy when its music festivals attract an impressive array of star power — there’s no shortage of press and attention when people like house music DJ Sam Divine, 80’s sensation Martin Kemp, Manchester’s very own icon Bez and DJ/personality Gok Wan.

But holding big events on a regular basis isn’t possible without technology that can keep up, and Liam says price comparison is essential to maximising your return on investment. 

“SevenRooms’ fees are lower than other platforms like Eventbrite. With Eventbrite, you have to pay per event — even if it’s free. So, now, we’re not paying additional fees or ticket sale commissions.”

2. Implement prepayments and deposits to reduce no-Shows 

No-shows and last-minute cancellations can hurt profitability. As Liam says, “We were getting no-shows, and as a business, that makes it really hard to forecast labour and revenue.” 

To combat this, the team started asking for card details for reservations and deposits for larger groups. This simple change led to The Island Quarter generating over £21,000 ($27,000 USD) in prepaid revenue in the last six months. They also doubled the number of reservations with prepayments in one year. 

“We use SevenRooms’ restaurant management software to collect card details. Securing card details for reservations is really important because the no-show business of hospitality is massive. We could do a Sunday lunch for 150 covers, and if we didn't take card details, half of them might not show.”

Liam recommends asking for deposits for big groups — and letting SevenRooms’ reservation software handle the rest. 

“One of the newest features of SevenRooms is Auto-Cancel Paylinks. It’s an absolute saviour. During Christmas, we get over 100 inquiries per day. The good thing about SevenRooms’ platform is we can collect a deposit for group reservations. The system will hold the table for 48 hours. There's no admin involved. It also helps with our labour costs, because instead of having two receptionists, now we only need one.” 

3. Keep booking policies simple 

While collecting card details and deposits has been successful for The Island Quarter, Liam notes that it’s not right for every reservation. 

It’s essential to consider guest quantity before asking for a deposit and to have simple, transparent policies.

“Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. If you’re only booking a table of four, would you pay that deposit? Be realistic when making your policy. And make it easy for customers to book tables and attend events. The easier you make these details, the easier it’ll be to see success.”

4. Drive revenue with upgrades

Pre-paid add-ons are an easy way to increase customer satisfaction and revenue. This is why The Island Quarter uses SevenRooms’ reservation software to offer enticing upgrades and collect payments during the reservation process.

For example, this is what guests see after selecting a reservation time for their fine dining venue, Cleaver & Wake

With this strategy, upgrade sales increased from £54 ($68 USD) to £2,182 ($2,718 USD) in just three months — nearly a 4,000% increase.  

Liam recommends offering upgrades, like champagne or chocolates, to help make customers’ special occasions more memorable. And taking advantage of SevenRooms’ guest auto tags to make the process seamless. 

“At our fine-dining restaurant Cleaver & Wake, customers have the ability to preorder flowers and champagne. We set it up through SevenRooms so each of these upgrades receives an automatic tag of ‘flowers.’ Then, we simply pull the report each morning and it takes us two seconds to send it out to the people to pull the flowers.” 

5. Customise SevenRooms’ booking widget with your branding

Consistent branding helps create a cohesive identity, whether guests are buying event tickets or booking a reservation. 

Liam recommends using SevenRooms’ customisable features to keep your branding consistent for customers. 

“What we love about SevenRooms’ booking and event widgets is that they're completely customisable. You can change the colour and font to make it look like it’s a part of your website.”

The right technology can do it all

Improving guest retention, reducing no-shows and running successful events require a strong marketing strategy and the right technology. 

Ready to learn how SevenRooms’ event, reservation and marketing automation software can help you host revenue-driving events and boost guest retention? Schedule a demo today.