As states across the country are starting to open up after months of quarantines and social distancing, the future of the event industry is still unclear. And while you may be concerned about the future of your venue (we totally get it!), know that people are still planning. They’re just not planning for the near future! Event planners still need a venue for their 2021 business meeting, and couples still need somewhere to exchange their 2022 vows. Promoting your venue is still important—it’s just trickier, now that customers can’t visit in person.
Even though there’s been a massive uptick in online spending since social distancing was enforced and various states closed, your customers have been online shopping long before the virus outbreak. But right now, more than ever, being present online is the best way to sell your venue—that’s where anyone planning an event is! (Heck, that’s where everyone is!)
But increasing your online presence isn’t enough. Before, a fancy website and a blog gave you major points. However, now you need to bring potential customers to your venue—without actually bringing them, of course. We’ve got five ways to keep promoting your venue when you can’t meet in person.
Update Your Marketing
When was the last time you updated your brochure? Or added new photos to your website? Sometimes when business is busy, marketing materials take a back seat to all the work you’re doing. And that’s okay! You have to prioritize your time; you can’t do everything at once. But now that your customers are almost exclusively shopping online, it’s time to give your marketing some TLC.
This includes print and digital materials—from your website to any social media platforms and downloadable or mailed content. No, this isn’t the time to do a complete overhaul on your venue’s brand. But do you have new photos from recent events? Maybe your hours are different because of the pandemic. Or perhaps you stopped mailing postcards—now might be the time to start that up again. Get your marketing team together and see what materials need to change, and then change them!
Host Virtual Tours
Just because your customers can’t come to your venue doesn’t mean they can’t see it. There are so many ways to host a virtual tour, for every budget and every step of the booking process. (In fact, we came up with five ourselves, from panoramic pictures to full-blown 360-degree videos.) The key to a good virtual tour is to think about past in-person tours. What questions came up often? What parts of the venue did customers ask to see? Promoting your venue is easiest when you can anticipate your client’s needs.
Don’t forget about customers who have already booked with you, too. They may want to see the venue again, or need to see the lay of the land to establish seating charts and special decorations. You may have already sold them on the venue, but their experience is only over when the event is! Consider creating a 3D floorplan of your venue using AllSeated or Socials Tables. That way, you and your customer can collaborate on seating and table arrangements.
Offer Online Scheduling
Because so many are shopping online, make it easy for them to contact you or schedule a virtual meeting. This lets potential customers instantly reach out—a key part of promoting your venue. If they leave your website because they can’t conveniently contact you, they may never return. Plus, you can decide what information to gather before they submit any requests. That means you can collect important details, like email addresses and event types, so you can properly prepare for the meeting. (And contact them for future deals—without spamming, of course.)
Adding an online form or scheduling tool can be done easily on most website platforms. Some platforms offer scheduling as a feature, while others are compatible with a free add-on or widget that will do the trick. Chances are, your website fits into one (or both!) of those categories. You can offer time slots for online meetings or giving virtual tours. If you’re not there yet, an online form for questions is a great start.
If you’re not listed on an online event directory, you’re missing out! Listing with an online event directory means you don’t just have your own website traffic to leverage—you also have the SEO and search rankings of the directory’s website. Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, your customers were shopping online for venues. While your main marketing website is perfect for in-depth exploration of your venue (complete with a virtual tour, right?), the trick is getting customers onto your website.
Anyone planning an event wants to quickly narrow their options down, based on pricing, capacity, and location. An online venue directory lets them do all of that from the comfort of their couch. Then, they visit the websites of their top venue choices. Eventective is an online venue directory for any type of event—from weddings to parties and meetings. We offer different listing packages to fit your needs and budget, and interested individuals can contact and book you directly from our website!
While the future is uncertain, stay up to date on state and national regulations. Promoting your venue will be near-impossible if you’re not complying with health and safety protocols. Make sure you know what your state is allowing as far as venues are concerned. This may include max capacity, sterilization techniques, and other details. Stay in the know, and let your customers know that you’re up to date.
And be prepared to answer questions like What are your in-person offerings? When will they be available? Adding that information to your website will help online shoppers make their booking decision, and show that you are being proactive. For example, list the specific ways that your venue is practicing safety during the outbreak. This includes how you’re taking care of your employees, what sanitation advice you’re following, and what will be expected of guests when they’re allowed back.
It’s a whole new world out there—one that is being run from behind computer screens. Promoting your venue online is the best way to participate in the “new normal” of our future. Update your marketing materials, bring your guests to your venue virtually, and stay informed. We know you can do this!
What new ways have you started promoting your venue, and have they worked? Share your stories with us!