An Interview with Dan Melwani
Dan Melwani is a successful entrepreneur and real estate manager in New York City, managing seven different venues featured on EVENTup that are often both trafficked and booked on the site. Furthermore, Melwani runs and envisioned ATMA, a virtual and communal marketplace that provides event spaces in New York City, connecting brands with creative projects. With over twelve years in the business and as a successful user of EVENTup, Melwani shares his experiences and offers advice to EVENTup newcomer venues.
EVENTup: Once you receive a lead from EVENTup, how do you proceed?
As an EVENTup subscriber, Melwani receives descriptive emails from EVENTup from potential clients. Melwani then tries to get as much information from the client by email as possible. Once past this initial step, he then tries to coordinate a client meeting as soon as possible. The common progression for booking clients is email followed phone calls followed by site visits, with the site visit being the most vital step in the process of booking a client.
"The site visit is a critical point. I know that when they’re making an appointment with me to schedule a site visit that they are checking other spaces as well… I’ve been doing this for about twelve years now and every (client) is very different and every event that I work with is very different … with many requests... I try to actually understand that and listen to them, that’s very critical. Try to retrieve as much information as possible and find them the right selection… it’s really not selling, it’s understanding them and guiding them in the right direction… you see if your space is a good fit for them, and if it is good for them, then you take it to the next level as quickly as possible and that would be to get a booking fee. What I normally do and what I try to do … is get a $1,000 booking fee that is nonrefundable. And that has worked tremendously. I’ve tried to get a 25% deposit or 50% deposit, but for me that $1,000 booking fee is the magic number."
Space Gallery- SOHO, managed by Dan Melwani
EVENTup: How long do you normally follow up with a client before you close an event?
Melwani aims to close in 24 hours, and does this through personal and effective contact with the client. Furthermore, Melwani attempts to make the booking process as simple and as fast as possible for the client.
"I give them a deadline. Once I know instinctively that they like the space, then I take it to the next level and… I become a little bit more aggressive. I say, ‘Alright this is it, you like the space and this is going to work for you, now I will hold the space for you but you need to put in a booking fee as soon as possible.’ And I give them usually 48 hours. "
ZEN HOUSE- Lower East Side, managed by Dan Melwani
EVENTup: When it comes to booking in advance, which inquires do you prefer?
Melwani has dealt with event requests from 10 days in advance to six months, but has found that booking two months prior to the event is ideal. In his experience, he has found that accepting requests more than three months in advance is not ideal; in fact, Melwani does not normally accept requests that are six months or more in advance.
"I would say two months would be ideal. One to two months would be okay… We have clients that wait until the very last minute before they look for spaces and then they panic and want to make a decision right away… The other type of client that I have is a client that plans this three months in advance… I don’t usually take six months (in advance), I tell them ‘Call me in three months and we’ll figure it out.’ "
SKY Gallery- Meatpacking District, managed by Dan Melwani
EVENTup: How do you deal with an array of budgets while still maximizing your profit?
Melwani has found that flexibility is key to being a successful venue manager. It is important to understand that every event will have a different budget and outlines, but once that is understood and cooperation is prioritized, then success is inevitable.
"I will tell you that from my experience that every client is different. There’s no one formula where one space should be $5,000. Every client has negotiability. There are clients who want 30 people at their event and clients that want 300. And I gauge accordingly from a financial point of view. I make a rational financial decision based on availability, based on type of event, and we go from there. There’s no clear formula. My spaces range from $2,000 to $5,000 and perhaps more as well. And that is my competitive edge. Compared to everyone else, I have more flexibility and work within their parameters."