Guide to Making Cannabis Dispensaries Safer During COVID-19 - NextME Virtual Waitlist App

A Guide to Making Cannabis Dispensaries Safer During COVID-19

Guide to Making Cannabis Dispensaries Safer During COVID-19 - NextME Virtual Waitlist App

Cannabis dispensaries have occupied a unique niche throughout the Coronavirus pandemic. People have made it clear that they consider them essential businesses, even when politicians have tried to define them otherwise. Be it from ‘panic buying’ as stay-at-home orders went into effect, or record sales as the orders were extended, demand for medical and recreational marijuana is booming and is expected to reach 37 billion in revenue by 2024

Because of this, it’s imperative that dispensaries continue to evaluate and evolve their safety measures. This is particularly important for the estimated 3 million people in the US who are dependent on medical marijuana, as a large percentage of this population has compromised immune systems.

To help with these efforts, we’ve created a guide to providing a safer shopping experience in cannabis dispensaries during COVID-19.

How to Make Your Cannabis Dispensary Safer During COVID-19

#1 Make Use of Virtual Waitlist Software that Allows for Contactless Check-in 

The days of shopping worry-free for necessities and amenities may feel like they’re in the past, but businesses are helping make them a reality once again with additional precautions, such as the use of digital appointment systems or virtual waitlist software. Digital appointment systems provide an online platform that shoppers can use to schedule an appointment prior to their arrival so they receive same-day service on a first-come first-served basis. They also help business owners gain insights into their day-to-day operations so they can streamline their staffing requirements and prepare for a safer environment from open to close. 

At NextME, we’ve taken our software one step further than appointment platforms. Our virtual waitlist software is a new category of service that helps cannabis dispensaries stay connected to their guests at all times through text communications and engagement with your store’s website. It enables more flexibility in scheduling, the ability to communicate real-time status so your customers feel seen and acknowledged, a platform that you can use to advertise new products or educate your clientele about your new waitlist process, and it allows for curbside pick-up for those that feel safer staying in their cars.

Guide to Making Cannabis Dispensaries Safer COVID-19 - NextME Virtual Waitlist App - Enable Virtual Waiting Rooms and Contactless Check-in

Here’s how it works. Upon arrival, customers can either check-in and join the waitlist from their phones via your store’s website, or by scanning a customized QR code at your storefront. Both options allow for contactless check-in that can either be completed online or while standing at a safe distance outside your store. While waiting in their cars or outside, they can use the virtual waiting room to see their position in line and interact with your store’s online content. As soon as it’s safe for guests to enter or it’s their turn in line, they receive a text message notification. Same thing applies for those that prefer curbside pick-up.

Already have a preferred appointment system? No problem. NextME’s online waitlist can easily work as an added feature in conjunction with your existing system. As an added bonus, since our platform is SMS-based, your guests don’t need to download a separate app to use it! 

#2 Use Digital Signage to Communicate with Customers

Signage may be one of the oldest forms of advertising, but it’s still one of the most beneficial - especially when it’s digital. Dispensaries can use NextMe’s guest engagement page to communicate more than just the waitlist and check-in process to clientele. Specifically, you can use it to make up for the lack of customer-employee interaction that’s required by COVID-19’s enhanced safety protocols. For example, you could use our engagement page to: 

  • Outline your new waitlist and check-in process
  • Showcase products that help with certain ailments; 
  • Educate your customers on medical marijuana benefits; or 
  • Relate to your clientele with patient success stories. 

Strategically-implemented digital signage will let your customers know you’re there for and with them during these trying times, and can help make up for a lack of face-to-face interaction with your employees. 

#3 Employ Social Distancing Inside and Out

Social distancing is our new reality and several practices can be implemented to create more space for guests as they engage with your business. Due to the sensitivity of health concerns and the privacy of containing individual’s medical information, many cannabis dispensaries already restrict the number of customers within their retail store with physical waiting rooms, and upon entry they use aisle markers to section off the flow of traffic to well spaced out checkout stations. They also tend to utilize touchless surfaces to showcase their products and/or contain the bulk of what customers buy in a separate storage space. If you haven’t already implemented these practices, now is a good time to do so. 

In addition if your store is limited in square footage, please factor that into how many people you allow in at the same time. Offering curbside pickup is an excellent solution to remedy the situation in a responsible way. 

Guide to Making Cannabis Dispensaries Safer During COVID-19 - NextME Virtual Waitlist App

Lastly, another form of a physical barrier that is globally becoming well known during COVID-19 is a face covering or mask. Encourage and require both your customers and employees to wear face coverings while interacting within and around your cannabis dispensary. You can even utilize NextME’s text messaging system to let those waiting in their cars know when your staff will be delivering products so they can reapply their mask if needed. This will help protect everyone against the spread of potentially infectious germs, and is in alliance with the CDC safety guidelines

The keys to making cannabis dispensaries safer during COVID-19 are effective communication and a welcoming environment.

The keys to making your dispensary safer during COVID-19 are effective communication, which NextME’s waitlist software encourages, and a welcoming environment that offers a variety of purchasing options. Using our technology allows you to minimize crowds within your store to improve your guests' overall experiences, strategically implement digital signage which helps make up for a lack of customer-employee interaction, and receive real-time data that shows actual wait times and customer retention rates. When these tools are combined with valuable social distancing protocols, face masks, and the option of curbside pick-up, your customers will feel connected and confident enough to keep coming back. 

If you’re interested in learning how NextME’s virtual tools can help your dispensary operate safely and efficiently during the COVID pandemic and beyond, follow this link to reach out. Together we can make the difference in your clients’ new shopping experience.


NextME Virtual Waitlist App Official Partner for Dine Out West Lakeview Chicago, IL

How Virtual Waitlists Can Help Reopen the Economy During COVID-19

Businesses are reopening, but how can we encourage customers to come back safely during COVID-19?

We are in need of individual and economic healing

Coronavirus case numbers have been rising in more than 20 states, and businesses that have reopened at limited capacity are hobbling along in hopes that both the public and the economy will recover from this detrimental blow. With recent news of increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in states like Arizona, Texas, and Florida, how can we create space for healing so people are confident enough to leave their homes and businesses are safely catering to their much needed arrival? 

NextME has a solution that’s safe, smart, and step-by-step 

NextME's online waitlist system helps consumers not only feel safe, but be safe as they return to their favorite restaurants and stores. Our smart approach eases traffic, enables contactless check-in options, eliminates crowded waiting rooms, and helps businesses follow the CDC’s guidelines on social distancing. With an easy-to-use step-by-step platform that utilizes a virtual waiting room, both customers and businesses can communicate real-time status with real-time results. 

Feel safe, be safe using a virtual waitlist

It’s 4pm and you’re starting to think about what you want for dinner. Your mind begins to process different options when it lands on a Cubano wrap from the brewery 5 blocks away. From that point on, you can’t think of anything but the ham, pulled pork, and perfectly pickled delicacy that pairs so well with an amber beer. If only you could go knowing that 1) the brewery is practicing safe measures to minimize any risks you may be exposed to, 2) you can maintain social distancing throughout the entire experience, and 3) you won’t have to wait an unknown amount of time until you can sit to enjoy your meal. 

NextME Virtual Waitlist Keeps Customers Safe During COVID

Many people are just learning about NextME’s virtual waitlist app, and they are starting to associate it with a positive step in the right direction. When they see that they can sign in to a virtual waiting room and utilize contactless check-in features prior to arrival, they know that the business they are going to cares about their health and well-being without shutting their doors. Taking precautions that nurture the ability to maintain social distance until it’s time to enter the facility, while also communicating real-time status via the virtual platform, is proving to be beneficial to every party involved. These simple yet innovative web-based solutions help people feel safe and be safe when returning to their favorite businesses. 

Smart virtual solutions that keep guests engaged even when face-to-face communication is limited

Every last Friday of the month for the past few years, you get together with a small group of your best friends. In the past your group would meet at a local diner or spend the afternoon browsing your favorite storefronts, but this month is different and it’s been awhile since you’ve all gotten together. Now that some places are open, you’ve decided to make it happen and meet at a restaurant downtown. Beyond the challenge of making the decision to go, you're all still a little uneasy. You have no idea what's open and whether or not you'll all be able to be served. If only there was a way to know more...

NextME Virtual Waitlist - Smart virtual solutions that keep guests engaged

NextME’s virtual tools provide restaurants, hospitals, retail stores, and other businesses a smart solution as they invite guests to return without compromising their well-being. The virtual waiting room provides guests easy access to the queue management process and up-to-date content so they stay informed. It's a great way to make up for the lack of customer-employee interaction that’s required by COVID-19’s enhanced safety protocols. By removing the element of uncertainty, businesses and organizations can provide the best experience possible to their guests while also keeping them engaged. 

Step by step, supporting communities in need

You and your local community are suffering during this time period that some are calling “the most severe economic contraction since the Great Depression.” What can you do to help? What can you do to support your neighboring businesses while also following national guidelines? How can you avoid closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowds, and close contact with others yet still be an active member of society?

Dine Out West Lakeview in Chicago, Illinois is a prime example of how communities and businesses are working together to answer these very important questions. And they are doing it with NextME’s help. The Friends of Lakeview, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization working with the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce, is helping create outdoor dining rooms that will be shared by multiple local restaurants. The program will allow diners to enjoy food and alcoholic beverages from local restaurants in open air settings, while also using NextME’s virtual app to mitigate the crowds. 

NextME Virtual Waitlist App Official Partner for Dine Out West Lakeview Chicago, IL

NextME’s virtual app is both practical and informative. In the case of Dine Out West Lakeview, customers will be able to access important information about their community and learn more ways they can help, donate, or support specific causes while waiting within the virtual waiting room. With the ability to stay engaged, learn more, and click on ways to help, people will feel more connected to each other and the places they live. We all need resources and a sense of connection to survive, and together both individuals and businesses are finding ways to make sure those aspects are not lost within their valuable communities.

Be part of a success story

We all want to be part of a success story, and by joining NextME you’ll do precisely that. NextME has grown 1,102% since the start of the pandemic by helping reopen the economy and protecting people’s lives in the process. To continue the momentum, we are offering a referral program that gives individuals - such as yourself - the opportunity to spread the word. Learn more about our referral program so you can help create safe, smart, and step-by-step solutions for your community.  

 


6 Tips for Reopening Your Restaurant During COVID-19

As the nation begins to reopen following months of lockdown, people are itching to get back to their favorite restaurants. Welcoming customers back into your establishment might seem overwhelming with the stringent yet varying guidelines being provided for restaurant owners in each state. But there are steps you can take to help your restaurant reopen safely. 

6 Tips on Reopening Your Restaurant During COVID-19, and Essential Tools that Can Help

#1 Practice Social Distancing in Dining Areas

We’ve all been practicing social distancing in our neighborhoods to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Many of the practices we’ve adopted will need to be extended into your newly reopened dining rooms. To start, tables should be placed at least six feet apart in both indoor and outdoor spaces to minimize customer contact. When the room allows it, using physical barriers between tables can also help ensure social distancing is being upheld. Since most restaurants are reopening with limited capacity, these reorganizations of dining areas should be easier to achieve than they would have been just a few months ago. 

#2 Implement Virtual Waitlists and Virtual Waiting Rooms that Enable Contactless Check-In

Implement Virtual Waiting Rooms for COVID Restaurant Reopening - NextME

Like dining rooms, waiting areas create social distancing challenges. NextME can help alleviate this strain via our virtual waiting room and contactless check-in functionality. By simply embedding a customizable widget on your site, customers can join your waitlist directly from your site without ever setting foot on your premises. Alternatively, customers walking by can join the waitlist by scanning a customized QR code with their phones. And if you’re worried that diners will join the waitlist from too far away, you can implement geo barriers so guests can only join from within a certain area. This service can be leveraged for dine-in, curbside pickup, and carryout. Guests simply join virtually, wait wherever and however they want, and then head to your restaurant upon receiving a text that their table or order is ready for carryout.  It’s easy to tag customers in the system as either 'dine-in' or 'curbside' - and you can even switch between the two tags when needed to keep track of each customer’s reason for visit.  

What really sets NextME’s virtual waiting room apart is our guest engagement platform that allows you to display custom messaging and content to customers wherever they’re waiting - be it in their cars, in the restaurant, or on the sidewalk. This is a great way to make up for the limited customer-employee interaction that's required by COVID-19's enhanced safety protocols. 

#3 Utilize Outdoor Spaces As Much As Possible

There’s less chance of spreading COVID in outdoor spaces with open air. Reopening during the summer months means it’s the perfect time to lean heavily on patio space and open roofs, making them the most-used areas of your restaurant. To help with this, many cities and neighborhoods are closing down roads and sidewalks to open up additional seating for dining.

 

Utilize Outdoor Space for Restaurant Reopening COVID - NextME - Virtual Waiting Rooms and Waitlists

NextME’s SMS system is here to help you make the most of this newly apportioned outdoor space. Our text-based system is easy to use, and doesn’t require diners to download a separate app. Restaurants across the US are leveraging it for curbside pickups, carryout, and cocktails-to-go. You can even use our system to text delivery drivers when to check-in one-by-one to pick up their deliveries. The SMS system also allows customers to walk around the neighborhood or sit in their cars while they’re waiting for a table, as opposed to crowding the bar or waiting area.

Southport Grocery & Cafe in Chicago knows first-hand what a difference NextME can make in easing the customer experience. After experiencing bad reviews regarding long wait times, the popular brunch location revamped their waiting system with NextME to provide diners with accurate wait times and personal communication catered to their specific needs. 

#4 Use a Digital System that Enables Easy Contact Tracing

Use a Digital System that Enables Easy Contact Tracing - NextME Virtual Waitlist and Waiting Rooms - COVID

One of the newest ways restaurants are assisting in limiting the spread of COVID is through contact tracing. Many cities and states are asking restaurants that offer table seating to log customers’ contact information when they dine-in, which in turn will help trace people who have come in contact with the Coronavirus. NextME can help facilitate the secure and safe collection of customer contact information. Using our virtual waitlist technology, customers can easily check-in online by adding their contact information, thus helping your business collect the data needed to follow each state's contact tracing policies.  

#5 Require Masks and Provide Hand Sanitizer

After getting customers into your restaurant and seated safely, providing hand sanitizer and requiring both employees and patrons to wear masks when they aren’t at their tables will help limit the spread of any dangerous germs. Be sure masks worn by employees abide by the CDC safety guidelines

#6 Institute Employee Health Checks

Lastly, employee health checks can help ensure your workers and customers are entering the safest environment possible. Take employees’ temperatures before they start a shift. Encourage employees to stay home if they are feeling sick. You can even provide additional sick days and shift flexibility to ensure your employees feel comfortable taking the time they need if they’re feeling ill. 

Institute Employee Health Checks COVID Restaurant Reopening - NextME Virtual Waitlist Waiting Rooms

Effective communication and creation of a safe, welcoming environment is the key to reopening safely in the midst of the COVID pandemic. 

And staying safe means eliminating overcrowding in dining rooms and waiting areas. NextME's suite of virtual tools can help by enabling contactless check-in, SMS-based waitlists, and virtual waiting rooms that display your customized content and information to guests as they wait. No need for diners to download a separate app. No need for guests to arrive until the minute their table or orders are ready, or for delivery drivers to crowd your entrance waiting for orders. If you want to learn more about virtualizing and optimizing your dine-in, curbside, and carryout processes, reach out.


5 Tips for Arranging Individual Meetings at B2B Events

B2B conferences and trade shows are a great way to generate leads and connect with potential clients. But if they’re not well managed, they can be chaotic and unhelpful. Be sure you’re getting quality time with visitors to your event booth by setting up individual meetings at conferences. 

If you’ve never thought of or tried one on one meetings at large events, you may not know where to start. If you’ve used this tactic at conferences and trade shows, you likely know how impactful it can be. But were you getting the most bang for your B2B buck? 

Best Practices for Creating 1:1 Meetings at Conferences

Schedule in Advance

Best Practices for Creating 1:1 Meetings at B2B Conferences NextME Waitlist AppIdeally, you’d like to start off the conference with plenty of one on one meetings already on the books. But those meetings aren’t just going to fall into your lap. To make the most of your marketing efforts, you need to start with outreach in advance. For most companies, about 4 months out seems to be the sweet spot. 

Start by mentioning the event to clients in that area and others who you think might be interested. Ask if they’ll be attending. Offer to give them a face-to-face demo or some one-on-one training while you’re in town. In addition to promoting your booth number, send your leads a Calendly link to easily book appointments ahead of time.

You’ll want to schedule as many clients as you can before the event, but also be sure to leave room in your schedule for walk-ups too. If you have enough interest, it might be worth sending additional representatives to handle the overflow.

Keep Things Organized and Moving

Best Practices for Creating 1:1 Meetings at B2B Conferences NextME Waitlist App - Next ConferenceWhen scheduling meetings, the last thing you want is to force attendees to stand around your booth waiting for their turn. It’s inefficient and looks incredibly unprofessional. And it’s likely to turn away more clients than you’ll ever realize. Fortunately, there are excellent tech solutions like NextME to help you manage an event waitlist. 

This simple-to-use waitlist app will make it a breeze to keep track of your meetings and appointments, add in walk-ups, and allow visitors to monitor their place in line as they check out other booths or take advantage of networking opportunities. With a simple text message to their phones, you’ll also get to push out a custom marketing page, giving attendees a taste of the topics they might want to discuss when their turn comes. 

Listen as Much as You Talk

It’s easy to get sucked into a trap. You spend days or weeks carefully crafting the perfect sales pitch for your conference meetings. You prepare, rehearse, and know your talking points inside and out. And then you get to sit down with clients and prospects who want to talk about something else and all that prep is out the window. 

It could be that each client has a different agenda for the meeting. One may want you to show them how a specific feature works. The next might want to discuss ROI. A third might want to see your product in action. And a fourth may want you to help troubleshoot some difficulties they’ve been having.

In general, it’s best to have some idea of what to talk about should the client not have specific questions, but don’t rely too heavily on this idea. You should approach these one-on-one appointments with an intention to listen more than you talk. Avoid a set agenda or pitch and instead take the time to really connect to your prospects or clients. Creating a good relationship with them is a better tactic than any pitch anyway.

Be a Good Host

Best Practices for Creating 1:1 Meetings at B2B Conferences NextME Waitlist App - Be A Good Host

Again, you should remember that this is at least as much about relationships and building rapport as it is about marketing. As such, it’s important to remember that you’re a host welcoming a visitor into your event. Respect your clients’ time. Offer them a beverage or snacks if appropriate. Make sure they’re comfortable and at ease. You want them to walk away with a positive feeling about you and your brand, even if they don’t intend to purchase. Create a good enough impression, and they’re likely to speak positively about your brand to others at the event. And we all know the value of good word of mouth.  

Follow Up After the Event

Remember to collect client contact details as you meet with each person on your schedule. If you’ve implemented a waitlist app like NextME, you likely have this info already recorded. You’ll also get plenty of data from your event to help you make the most of each opportunity. And you’ll have lots of analytics to help you plan your next event too!

It may also be helpful to include a few brief notes about the things each client wanted to discuss or your own insights into what might be beneficial to their company. At the end of each appointment, ask when would be a good time to follow up. And most importantly, follow through with every client or prospect, every time. This is your chance to show them that you are reliable and that you appreciate that they took the time to meet. 

Ready to start scheduling meetings for an upcoming event? Give NextME a call to see how we can help you make the most of one-on-one meetings. 


NextME Waitlist App - Top CRM Consultants in Chicago by Clutch

NextME Featured on Clutch’s 2019 Top CRM Consultant Report

Clutch Top CRM Consultants 2019 NextME Waitlist App

NextME Appointment Waitlist App Wins Top Honors from Clutch

NextME is the ultimate solution for helping various businesses, event organizers, exhibitors, and restaurants effectively manage their appointments and waitlists while improving efficiency and customer satisfaction. As technology develops, virtual solutions are being used more frequently as a method to manage customer relations, which includes managing a queue if you’re an appointment-based business. Due to our success in improving appointment and waitlist management across industries, we have earned a Clutch award for being one of the top CRM consultants in Chicago.

Located in Washington, DC, Clutch is a ratings and reviews startup dedicated to B2B service firms. Since 2013, Clutch’s platform has connected thousands of prospective buyers with service providers for their business needs. By carefully analyzing industry data and conducting their signature client interviews, the Clutch analysts are able to rank and rate the top companies in a variety of industries. We are very grateful to NextME’s clients for taking the time to participate in the interview process. 

Along with our rating on the main Clutch page, we have been featured on The Manifest and Visual Objects, sister-sites of Clutch. The Manifest is a business news platform featuring how-to guides, state of tech news and industry rankings. We can be found listed among the top CRM consultants on The Manifest. Visual Objects is designed to highlight the work of a wide variety of creative agencies ranging from advertisers to software developers. Each Clutch listing offers buyers a unique look into what we can offer to clients. 

We are thrilled to have been selected for these awards. Going forward, we hope to grow our client base and expand our brand. If your business could use help optimizing your appointment and waitlist operations, let’s get in touch today! 

 


Why All Event Organizers Should Use An Appointment Waitlist App - NextME

Why All Event Organizers Should Be Using An Appointment Waitlist Platform

Nobody likes to wait. This is even more true in today’s fast-paced, on-demand society. But waiting is made so much less annoying when you’re given accurate information and kept informed. This is just one of the benefits a waitlist platform can provide for attendees at your next big event. 

Waitlist platforms like NextME are an increasingly popular way for businesses to handle a queue of customers. From restaurants to healthcare clinics to conferences and industry events, this simple to use technology is taking the sting out of waiting. 

And waitlist technology is making things easier on the exhibitor’s end too. It’s taking care of back end tasks like collecting customer data and keeping track of appointments. 

Read on to find out why an appointment waitlist platform is a win/win solution that every event organizer should be using.

Why Appointment Management is Important for Events and Conferences

Greater Exhibitor Retention – Waitlist solutions like NextME allow your exhibitors to properly manage appointments and visitors during events. This leads to greater retention of exhibitors from one event to the next. 

Let’s face it. Your exhibitors are investing a lot of capital to be a part of your event. And they want to ensure they’ll get a good ROI for this investment. The most valuable commodity they’re after? Qualified leads. If you can provide them with the ability to easily capture and qualify potential leads, you’ll see exhibitors come back year after year. 

Providing NextME to your exhibitors is a great way to do this. In fact, this appointment and waitlist platform has been proven to improve lead retention rates by up to 35%. And it’s been tried and tested by the big boys like GE Appliances, who were able to capture more leads and close more sales than in prior events.  

Greater Attendee Retention – Just like exhibitors, you want to entice your attendees to return for future events. A solution like NextME presents a seamless and user-friendly face to visitors at each booth of your event. If they can spend their time networking, browsing, and learning rather than standing in line, they’ll feel like it was time well spent. 

At BMW’s Ultimate Driving Experience, NextME was deployed to great effect. As attendees waited to test drive the car of their choice, the chaos of this packed event was effectively managed with this waitlist platform. It allowed for quicker turnarounds so that visitors could participate more fully and test more cars. At all 16 of these events across the country, this lead to enhanced attendee experiences and positive responses. 

"This appointment and waitlist platform has been proven to improve lead retention rates by up to 35%"

The Benefit of Using a Platform that Offers Waitlist and Appointment Management

So why NextME? Why not just combine a basic appointment software with a simple waitlist? Or even just use an old school appointment book? 

Many event exhibitors have found that setting appointments at an event can actually hurt their bottom line when visitors don’t show up. They may have booked a full day of appointments and brought the appropriate staff only to find that half of the visitors have changed their minds or found other things to do. Staff is left twiddling their thumbs waiting for people who are not coming. And booths are less busy, and consequently less profitable, than they expected. 

It’s similar to the no show problem restaurants have faced for years using reservation systems like OpenTable. Since NextME was originally designed for the restaurant industry, our platform was created with this difficulty in mind. 

NextME offers a combined “appointment waitlist” where people can get a priority spot for a specific appointment time but the expectations are that they still may have to wait. 

With a simple text message, just before their appointment attendees can let booth operators know if they’re still planning to keep their appointment. If so, they are prompted to return to the booth as they’re soon to be next in line. If not, the waitlist is moved forward accordingly and the day progresses smoothly. Staff stays busy, booths stay active, and exhibitors and attendees alike don’t have to waste their time waiting. 

So before your next big event, why not give NextME a call? We’d love to show you how our platform can fit into your plans seamlessly.


8 Great Examples Experiential Marketing NextME Waitlist App

8 Great Examples of Experiential Marketing

How Top Brands Use Experiential Marketing

It seems that everywhere we go today, we’re bombarded by advertising. For many, this means traditional means of marketing a product are less effective. They fade into the background as just so much white noise. So how can a company get their message noticed in this increasingly competitive space?

Enter experiential marketing.

What is Experiential Marketing?

8 Great Examples Experiential Marketing NextME Waitlist App

Photo Courtesy of Parker Design Consultants

While you may only be encountering this term recently, it’s likely that you’ve seen experiential marketing many times. Marketing booths at fairgrounds and conferences, car shows, and sample booths are all common examples that have been around for decades.

Experiential marketing is marketing in the real world, in ways that grab the attention more than your typical ad ever could. The methods and specifics are as varied as the products and companies using this technique, but they all have one thing in common. It means interacting directly with your target market and creating memorable experiences, no matter how small or how large.

Why is Experiential Marketing Important?

In today’s increasingly crowded marketplace, smart brands are stepping up their game. Those who pay attention are learning that the best way to capture attention is to stand out from the commonplace. It’s not enough to just hand out a sample or a sales pitch. Instead, marketers must create experiences that people will both remember and talk about.

The best examples of this are those events and experiences that go viral. In addition to reaching people in real time, you also get your message in front of their social networks when they share their experience. In effect, each person reached directly becomes a brand ambassador, spreading your message for you. It’s the kind of reach many brands couldn’t afford to buy, but with a little creativity, it can be created.

How Your Brand Can Use Experiential Marketing

So how do you incorporate this into your brand strategy? The most important thing to remember is that the experience should be unique, and should be intimately tied with your product or message. Here are a few memorable examples to help get your creative juices flowing.

BMW’s Ultimate Driving Experience

BMWs Ultimate Driving Experience - 8 Great Examples Experiential Marketing NextME Waitlist App

Photo Courtesy of BMW

What’s the best way to market cars? The test drive. It’s a tried and true method that dealerships have been using for as long as we can remember. But many times, people don’t go test drive a car until they’re pretty sure they want to purchase it. So how does a manufacturer use test driving to get new customers who are not already considering their vehicles? BMW has found a way.

The Ultimate Driving Experience is open to the public at race tracks across the country. But this is not your typical test drive. Rather than cruising comfortably through city streets or suburban neighborhoods, this experience lets you drive in ways you never have before. Spend two hours with professional driving instructors and get behind the wheel of a BMW 3 Series in their Autocross. M Car Control gets you access to a full day with driving coaches, slalom courses, and high-speed skids. The xDrive Experience is a cross between a driving course and a roller coaster, as you take the X5 and X7 through a specially designed course. And for those looking for a tamer experience, there are street drives and even a teen driving school program.

Doc McStuffin Check-up Campaign

When Disney Jr. was looking for a way to market the Doc McStuffin program to their young audience, they knew they wanted an out-of-the-box idea. The show is about a six-year-old girl who has created a health clinic for broken and ailing toys. What better way to promote this than by allowing kids to take on the role of toy doctor themselves?

At retail stores across the UK, a Doc McStuffin’s check up clinic allowed for just that. Big Ted, a larger than life teddy bear, was sick. And little ones could help diagnose and treat him. First, in the waiting room, kids got to watch clips from the show, and get creative with coloring pages and puzzles. Then came doctor training, where kids learned how to give a teddy bear check-up. Once they passed their exams, they got to take home a certificate and a “Doc Is In The House” door hanger to help them set up their own backyard clinics!

Inc. Founders House at SXSW

Inc. is a magazine and website catering to entrepreneurs and small business owners. When they wanted to spread brand awareness at SXSW, they came up with a useful and fun idea. The Inc Founders House is a “one-of-a-kind founders-only space for the extraordinary people starting, running, and growing businesses.”

Inc Founders House SXSW - 8 Great Examples Experiential Marketing NextME Waitlist App

Photo Courtesy of Inc. Media

During the festival, the Founders House hosts invite-only happy hours and speakers who can help the next wave of entrepreneurs get their projects off the ground. They’ve chosen some of the most influential founders to bring their own personal brands of inspiration to those who can benefit from them most. And the movement continues throughout the year with the Founders Project, which pairs top-notch founder mentors with up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

Harry’s Bartershop

Online subscription clubs are huge right now. They’re a great way for brands to cut out the middle man and send their products directly to consumers. And the subscription concept virtually assures repeat business. What’s not to love? For Harry’s, a shaving subscription service, the difficult thing can be to get consumers to give up their tried and tested brand and make the switch.

Their solution? Harry’s Bartershop. (Yes, you read that right.) This pop-up shop in NYC allowed consumers to barter one overpriced brand name blade for two (or more) of Harry’s. The pop-up store was designed to look like a typical home bathroom, complete with bathtub, toilet, and vanity. But inside that vanity mirror awaits the staff, ready to help consumers trade in their old razors for new ones, and experience the quality and comfort of Harry’s products.

Did You Mean MailChimp?

Sometimes it can be hard for people to find your brand once they’ve seen your marketing. No matter how many times you repeat your business name, there will still be some folks who mishear it. And still others will be thwarted by typos and autocorrect fails. MailChimp has decided to take this problem and turn it into fun marketing for their brand.

They’ve created several brand sites: FailChips, MaleCrimp, NailChamp, WhaleSynth, VeilHymn, and SnailPrimp. Then there were the attention-grabbing short films, like MailShrimp, KaleLimp, and JailBlimp. It’s all part of their “Did You Mean” campaign. And it’s an incredibly memorable way to get their real name in front of new eyes. So whether you want to go behind the scenes on a music video shoot or vote for the best new trends in nail art, you’ll be directed back to the MailChimp site to learn more about their marketing platform.

Nivea Bubble Billboards

A fresh sheet of bubble wrap is hard to resist. The feeling of popping those little plastic pillows is unlike almost any other. Likewise, blowing soap bubbles is the sort of innocent fun that most people associate with happy childhood memories. What brand wouldn’t want their name associated with these sorts of activities?

Nivea found a way to make this association a reality with a new billboard campaign that has plenty of people talking. First is the giant “Reduce the bumps” billboard that’s covered with bubble wrap. It invites passers-by to pop to their heart’s content. Next they created a billboard with the tagline “Oxygen is a wonderful thing” that actually blows bubbles from a giant Nivea bottle.

Nutanix’s .NEXT Conference Tech Lab

Want the ultimate experiential marketing option? Instead of presenting your product at some industry conference, why not create your own? One tech brand has opted to do just that.

Nutanix Next Conference - 8 Great Examples Experiential Marketing NextME Waitlist App

Photo Courtesy of Nutanix Inc.

The .NEXT Conference is an annual event sponsored by tech company Nutanix. More than just a brand spotlight, this full-fledged event is designed to help global IT leaders learn about the latest and greatest developments in data center and cloud tech. A key feature of the conference is the ability for attendees to get a first-hand look at the latest Nutanix products. There are also plenty of speakers, training and certifications, and hands-on labs too.

SYFY Karaoke Bus at Comic-Con

Comic-Con is probably the biggest pop-culture and geek gathering in the country. Every year fans and creators alike descend on San Diego for four days of fun and revelry. And if you’re in the comics, video game, fantasy, or sci-fi entertainment business, you definitely want to be there to reach your target audience.

The SYFY channel has found a fun and fantastic way to be a part of the festivities. They’ve created karaoke bus tours featuring the actors from their show “The Magicians”. On this slow-rolling double-decker bus, you can sing along with your favorite tunes and serenade onlookers. As if that wasn’t enough fun for one convention, they also employed a NOLA style marching band. And finally, they created a geek wedding chapel where couples were united in legally binding bliss by none other than Orlando Jones. It was all designed to celebrate the network’s 25th anniversary in true Comic-Con style.

Pop-Up Restaurants

Before pop-up restaurants, food truck were all the rage. In recent years, pop-up restaurants have become extremely successful, due in large part to their ability to instill a sense of urgency in consumers. For a deep-dive on how to start a pop-up restaurant, which includes tips, cost, and examples, check out 2nd Kitchen.

Why Proper Waitlist Management is Crucial to Experiential Marketing

8 Great Examples Experiential Marketing NextME Waitlist App

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how amazing your concept is if it’s not well executed and well managed. And a good experiential marketing concept is bound to draw crowds, so you’ll need to be prepared for them. Long lines and unclear wait times are likely to chase potential customers away before they have the chance to interact with your brand. Instead, utilize a waitlist management solution, like NextME, to keep things moving efficiently and keep visitors happy and engaged as they wait.

NextME has played a big part in the success of several of the examples above. When BMW needed to manage the crowds at 16 different events in 16 cities across the country, NextME stepped up with a standardized tool to ensure quicker turnarounds at each location. When the .Next conference needed to manage the lines waiting to engage with their Hands-On Lab, NextME’s mobile guest engagement platform helped them increase brand awareness. And when the Karaoke busses at Comic-Con wanted a quick and easy way for attendees to digitally reserve their spot on the singalong tour, NextME allowed them to do just that.

As you’re planning your experiential marketing strategies, don’t forget that you’ll need a way to keep waiting guests happy. Contact NextME to discuss how this fully customizable solution can work for your brand strategy.


Do Restaurants Win or Lose when Review Sites Manage their Waitlists?

Diner Review Sites and Waitlist Management - The Inherent Conflict of Interest

Diner Review Sites Waitlist Management NextME Yelp

Photo Courtesy of Twilio

With the introduction of ‘Jump Into Line’ and other features, Yelp is making waves in the restaurant waitlist market. Since it’s a big name that most everyone knows, many diners are jumping on board but restaurant operators have been feeling wary of implementing Yelp’s new features. Yelp’s acquisition of NoWait in March of 2017 brought them a large number of restaurant clients who may not necessarily approve of Yelp’s service or practices. Although using one platform for everything - from waitlist management and operations to diner reviews - seems like a good idea, we began to wonder… Who really wins and loses when a diner review site starts managing a restaurant’s waitlist?

Having easy access to a review platform and the ability to book a reservation is a win for consumers - we aren’t here to debate this fact. But what about the conflict of interest this creates for businesses? Based on our research and the opinions of some industry experts, it’s clear that there must be a compromise solution that provides a great experience for customers without being detrimental to restaurant operations and brand perception. It seems a number of restaurants aren’t happy with the platform and are looking for alternatives. Here’s why...

Sending diners to a review site while waiting in line can increase negative reviews

We all know that there are certain times we can expect a crowd at our favorite restaurants. But that doesn’t mean we don’t hate waiting. If you’re using a review app to manage your restaurant’s waitlist, you’re sending people to a review site at the exact moment they’re most likely to be annoyed by having to wait.  

According to The Street, two of the top restaurant complaints are an unexplained wait and slow service. Review sites like Yelp are trying to sell restaurateurs on a system that would recommend customers post a review while they’re waiting for a seat. Common sense says this is a bad idea. And yet, many restaurants are turning to this review site to manage their wait lists.

Wouldn’t you rather have a simple and effective waitlist solution that allows you to control the content your waiting customers are given? NextME allows you to do just that. With this easy-to-use app, you can send your guests to a page that gives them information and entertainment, rather than asking them for reviews. Your guests can explore the menu, learn about current specials, and interact with social media. So their wait time will seem shorter and they’ll be ready to order by the time they’re seated. The best part about NextME is that diners DO NOT have to download a mobile app.

Review sites build features that benefit diners, not necessarily restaurants

At first, Yelp’s ‘Jump Into Line’ feature may seem like a good idea. Customers can get their names on your list remotely, so they’ll have less wait time when they arrive. Great, right?

What about when large parties jump in? And how can your host or hostess quote accurate times when they don’t know who may be jumping in? There are a number of reasons this feature may not be a good fit for every restaurant.

But review sites like Yelp has now made it mandatory for restaurants to use their 'Jump Into Line Remotely' feature. Don’t like it? Tough. You’re stuck with it.

NextME, by contrast, allows you to opt-in for only the features you actually want. Our system has launched a similar feature to allow guests to put their names on the list remotely, but you won’t be stuck with it if it doesn’t work for you. Instead, you’ll get to try it out, see if you like it, and if not, simply turn this optional feature off. With NextME, you maintain control over what features are offered to guests, to help you create the most efficient and useful system for your needs.

Review sites are overpriced compared to apps that specialize only in waitlist management

We all know margins in the restaurant industry are notoriously thin. Managing the money to keep your head above water can be a challenge during slow periods. So why would you want to pay big money for a system that doesn’t even work well for you?

Review apps like Yelp, are highly overpriced compared to other apps that specialize only in waitlist management. Yelp just increased its price from $100 per month to $300 per month. That’s $300 out of your budget each and every month. Wouldn’t you rather spend that money elsewhere?

By contrast, NextME's paid plans start at $29.99 per month, and we even have a free option for those who are just starting out or who don’t need our more in-depth features.

So you can spend your money on a big name, hoping you can make your restaurant fit into their system. Or you can spend way less for a top-notch system that is customizable to fit your needs. The choice is yours.

All review sites require diners to download a separate app to check their places in line

Some guests are more than happy to download and store dozens of apps on their phone, no matter how frequently they may use them in the future. But more often, convincing a guest to use precious space on their phone is a challenge. And for others, they just don’t want to be forced into downloading something that they’re not sure will be of benefit.

All review sites require diners to download a separate app to use the waitlist feature. So your restaurant winds up having to sell diners on someone else’s business. And if they don’t buy in you’re forced to manage their wait on your own, separate from others who have the app installed. This is inefficient and inhospitable to new guests.

One of the major benefits of NextME is that our system doesn't require, or even request, a download. Instead, we’ll simply text a link to waiting diners, and they can then view content on a web page you’ve designed. Your host stand will have the app, guests will have a seamless experience directed through the web browser of their choice. What could be simpler?

The bottom line...

You want to entertain and inform, not beg for reviews from annoyed guests. You want to maintain control over your business and use only the features that actually work for you. You want to keep costs low and features high. And you want a solution that doesn’t require guests to download yet another app they don’t actually want.

NextME offers all this and more. Why not schedule a demo today to see how our waitlist solution can work for you?


How to Plan Great Gaming Events by NextME Waitlist App

How to Plan Great Gaming Events

How to Plan Great Gaming Events by NextME Waitlist App

Tips for Planning Amazing Gaming Events and Conferences

PAX. Playthrough. London Games Festival. E3. Gamescom. Tokyo Game Show. BlizzCon. MineCon. HaloFest.

What do all of these gaming events have in common? Crowds. More specifically, a need to manage the masses of people seamlessly.

If you've ever been to a gaming event, you probably understand the frustration. You don't want to lose your place in line, but you don't want to have to stand around all day waiting either. There are a million things to do and see, and you have to divide your time well if you plan to get to all the essential ones.

If you're running one of these mega cons, or even a smaller, local gaming event, it's a big problem. You want the whole experience to run smoothly, and you want to keep your gamers happy. Fortunately, we have a few tips to help you manage your next gaming event seamlessly.

Build a Community Before the Event Starts

How to Plan Great Gaming Events by NextME Waitlist App

It’s easy to think that a gaming event is all about the game. But here’s an inside secret: it’s all about the community.

Gamers can play their favorite games in the comfort of their own homes. They don’t even have to put on pants to do so. So what’s the point of getting dressed, going out, and attending a live gaming event?

The biggest draw is the opportunity to bump elbows with fellow gamers.

So how do you build a community during your event? You can’t. The community has to start before you ever open the doors to your event.

In the days, weeks, and months leading up to your event, it’s time to step up your social game. Use social media, gaming sites, twitch.tv, and other online options to engage with the players who will be attending. But more importantly, give them the opportunity to engage with one another.

Rivalries, alliances, and networking can only happen if you lay the groundwork. And they’re essential for a noteworthy gaming event.

Allow Attendees to Plan Their Time

How to Plan Great Gaming Events by NextME Waitlist App

The devil’s in the details, right? Well, better get busy nailing him down.

Sure, you could wait until the last minute to plan out the schedule, map out your space, and get on top of those nagging details. But you’d be missing a huge opportunity.

Want to build buzz? Release as many concrete details as you can. Let your gaming community plan out their time at your event weeks in advance. Let them know what your tournament schedule is going to look like. Give them details on everything that’s going to be happening on the day. Tell them about sponsors, vendors, giveaways, even what foods are available onsite and nearby.

In short, give them lots to think about and lots to talk about. They’ll thank you for it by sharing their excitement with friends and fellow players.

Manage Waitlists and Times Without the Tether

At any decently-sized event, there’s going to be waiting time. It’s pretty much inevitable. There will be lines for check-in, lines for panels, lines for booths. The last thing your attendees want to do is stand in line.

Fortunately, there’s a better option. Using a service like NextME allows your gamers the freedom to wander around while they wait. They can go browse vendor booths, grab a snack, or cheer on their friends who are playing elsewhere.

Once they check in for a tournament or booth, they’ll receive a quick text message with a link. There’s no app for visitors to download. They’ll click through to a browser-based page where they can watch their place in line from anywhere inside or outside your venue. When it’s almost their turn, they’ll get another text alerting them to come back. And they can accept or decline if they’ve changed their mind.

And since you get to control what waiting gamers see when they click, you can use the space however you want. Send them to your social media pages to help spread the word about how amazing your event is. Advertise the after-hours party going on down the street tonight. Direct them to visit your site or to engage with your sponsors.

But one thing you won’t have to do? Make them stand in physical lines.

Follow-up to Build an Audience for Your Next Event

How to Plan Great Gaming Events by NextME Waitlist App

Once your event is wrapping up and you’re getting ready to close the doors, it would be easy to think you deserve a break. But if you plan to host future events, you can’t afford to lose the buzz and energy you’ve spent all this time building!

Before the end of this event, start hyping the next one. Ideally, you should already have the dates, times, and venue nailed down. Offer a pre-registration or at least let attendees sign up to receive updates as the details become available.

Then, follow up. Ask for feedback, and then actually listen. Keep your community strong with online events or giveaways. Don’t let a month go by without communicating with your audience.

It’s a whole lot easier to maintain the connections that you’ve worked so hard to make than it is to create new ones. Keep expectations high and send out buzz-worthy messages. You can expect your fans will share their experience and their enthusiasm with others too!


NextME Notches Top Honors on Clutch.co!

Clutch Ranks NextME #3 Mobile Marketer in Chicago

The future of digitization, information technology, and better business lies with us. At NextME, we specialize in leveraging data and technology to predict peak wait times for businesses. We’ve also developed a unique online storefront for each business to help them create unforgettable guest experiences during dreaded wait times, which brings about improved customer satisfaction and overall customer retention. Through our exceptional consulting, optimization, and digital skills, our team has garnered recognition as one of the IT world’s top app marketing companies, all thanks to the analyses of Clutch and its sister companies.

B2B
research and reviews agency Clutch ranked NextME the no. 3 mobile
marketer in all of Chicago, an achievement that we’re proud to have
accomplished. Since Clutch thoroughly evaluates firms for their market
presence, client satisfaction, and industry experience, among a host of other
data, taking home such a distinction reflects strongly upon the quality of
strategy and service that NextME customers can expect to find with our team.

NextME
has a great tech team.
They’re responsive and fix any glitches or issues as they come up immediately,” detailed a client in
one of several five-star reviews of collaborating with us. “Their
app is very easy for everyone to understand
—our guests and
employees respond well to it. It's also
reliable and doesn't crash.

“The NextME app really allows us to do things
that we weren’t able to do before. It’s
just an awesome partnership,
” effused a second happy client. “The app has
really taken off and it’s been so impressive to watch. The success and the journey we’ve taken with them has been really cool.
They’ve grown a lot in their business, which is helping us grow … They really want to make sure our
experience is positive
.”

The Manifest and Visual Objects Feature NextME As Top App Marketing Agency

Beyond such recognition, we’ve also racked up praise from the sister companies of Clutch. News website The Manifest applauded our talent by featuring NextME in its collection of leading app marketing agencies, while portfolio curation platform Visual Objects now showcases our creative, digital, and industry experience by displaying examples of our best work.

The support of Clutch, The Manifest, Visual
Objects, and our loyal clients means a lot to NextME and speaks volumes about
the caliber of excellence that we provide through our digital waitlist and mobile
marketing services. As businesses only continue to grow and improve, we’re
excited to play a role in their development, and we invite you to reach out to
us here
to better understand how we can launch results for you. Success is short,
sweet, and simple, waiting just around the corner for you, so let’s see what we
can do together!