Choosing A Bookings System For Your Venue? Here Are Some Things To Consider

Elevate Your Nightclub with the Perfect Booking and CRM System

Choosing A Bookings System For Your Venue? Here Are Some Things To Consider

If you're reading this, you’re deeply entrenched in the business of catering to VIP clientele. Your day-to-day involves managing big egos and high-calibre celebrations, recognising familiar faces, and ensuring service quality from reservation to departure that justifies a 100x markup on bottle prices.

You wouldn’t dream of asking a VIP server to pour shots using an egg cup. Why? It's roughly the same volume and cheaper, but it would be inconsistent with the premium experience your clientele expects. And you'd be right to refuse because every aspect of your operations should exude luxury and precision.

Yet, when it comes to booking systems, many nightclubs settle for tools that are only partly fit for purpose. Restaurant booking systems lack the sophistication to handle nightlife-specific nuances, like guest list collection or accommodating a vetting stage process. Meanwhile, Google Sheets offers infinite complexity but makes it almost impossible to synthesise complex customer data and observe trends.

We highlighted last week how nightlife often misses out on emerging technologies. Bookings are one such example. As a result, nightclubs are pushed to rudimentary tools but rarely benefit from the upsides of fit-for-purpose software.  

So, if your team is missing leads, double-booking tables, or your no-show rate is rising, here are some of the elements a good booking system should offer you:

1. A Strong CRM

Your service quality is what makes VIP a premium experience. With the service context already demanding due to the noise, crowds, and visibility, staff need a detailed summary of guest history and preferences to establish a relationship early and translate that relationship to repeat visits and upsells.

A good CRM system will support you in capturing and analysing guest data, operational engagements, and trends over time. This will allow your service team to tailor experiences to individual preferences, making each visit memorable.

2. Operational Efficiency

The operational challenges in nightclubs are unique and require more flexibility to cater to a range of situations. For example, the arrival of guests ahead of the main booker, handling payments and upsells, or communicating with internal team members regarding changes and guest arrivals.

Your booking system should reduce bottlenecks and alleviate pressure on your team. Consider the availability of booking information to the parties that need it. In particular, last-minute changes, table moves, and payments should be updated in real time to avoid confusion.

3. Coverage of the Sales Channels Your Customers Use

Depending on your model, you might accept bookings via your website, social media, promoters, or via a phone enquiry. Regardless of the origin, the customer experience should be exactly the same and the booking system you choose should support that ambition.

A common issue we see is venues offering a range of booking options but managing them independently of one another. This means differences in experience. Consider the way replies, information, and data collection take place in each channel. Templated replies and information collection differ in both quality and reply rate.

In our experience, DMs and SMSs tend to perform worse than other enquiries because of their context. Both the booker and receiver are quickly distracted by other tasks on their phone and it can be difficult to distribute responsibility. Unless you have a full-time bookings team, we'd suggest you offer only one booking channel to avoid this.

For online bookings, consider also the customer channel. If you derive most of your bookings via social media, the system should be optimised for mobile. If your guests are squinting to see a desktop-rendered form or venue layout, they are more likely to bail halfway.

At a minimum, your booking system should validate contact details, collect notes, be linked to a source, and communicate with the parties who need to know.

4. Track & Accept Deposits

Payment activities at the door and at the close of business create a huge administrative burden for venue owners. Which deposit was paid? Who collected it? What's the promoter's take? But we also know that deposits drive a lower no-show rate and give greater certainty to managers when rostering staff.

Your booking system should allow you to accept and record deposits wherever one is provided. Credit card collection for online bookings is commonplace. A more sophisticated system will allow you to collect deposits in person, via email and SMS links, as well as account for cash collection.


An inadequate booking system will cost your business through operational bottlenecks that consume time and effort, and confusion with double bookings. It might also present as missed upsells and a low customer return rate.

By comparison, a fit-for-purpose tool will make a strong contribution to operations and customer experience, leaving you with data to make inferences about what and who is working and why.

Choosing something that fits with your sales channels and service model and allows you to build stronger guest relationships is critical for ongoing performance.