s in-person gatherings come roaring back, the competition can feel overwhelming when it comes to venue options – especially when it seems like every time you open social media you get a new sponsored ad for an event space. If you’ve ever found yourself thinking What do they got that I ain’t got? here are some ways to help your venue stand out from the crowd and entice customers to say yes.
1. Develop a smart marketing strategy.
One of the hottest trends for 2023 is authenticity in marketing, which basically means that if you want to find success with customers, you should lean in to who you are. Whether your venue is nightclub luxe or backwoods rustic, it’s essential to understand who your target market is, what they want, and then show it off to them in full-color, Insta-worthy photos and videos that make them say, “Yes! This is the place!”
2. Offer a virtual tour.
We’ve gotten used to doing a lot of things from the comfort of our couches over the past few years. Why not add a virtual tour of your venue that allows potential customers to look around your property and see everything you have to offer before they head out for an in-person tour? This is a great way to attract out-of-state customers, who may be planning a destination wedding, while making their initial research easier.
An example we love: The way Grand Lodge of Maryland combines high-quality photographs with 3D, interactive tours of their space makes you feel like you’re actually there.
3. Have the high-tech hookup.
While many people are returning to IRL travel, there will always be some guests who can’t make an event, whether it’s due to illness, cost, or other factors. Having a stress-free and reliable way for guests to dial in remotely could offer potential customers tremendous peace of mind. Be sure your tech is best in class for on-site guests as well, including fast Wi-Fi for live streaming. (Don’t forget to ask for your hashtag to be included!)
An example we love: Simple VR’s virtual-reality experience allows event guests to interact with one another in a lifelike, immersive environment.
4. Invest in customer service.
From the very first contact to the final farewell, roll out the red carpet for your customers. Making people feel like royalty is a great way to earn their loyalty, and ideas include free valet parking for the hosts, a comfy meeting room stocked with drinks and snacks, an attentive ear to listen to all of their requests, and succinct and timely follow-up that answers all of their questions and never leaves them hanging. It’s ironic that planning fun events can cause so much stress for the organizers, so a little extra can go a long way.
An example we love: The reviews for Winters Barns, a winner of the Guides for Brides 2022 Customer Service Awards, say it all.
5. Show off your amenities.
Some of the most sought-after amenities party hosts are looking for in 2023 include a variety of room size options, well-appointed restrooms, experienced staff, and signage capabilities. If you’re a wedding venue, be sure that you have ample comfortable space for the wedding party to get ready. If your venue is within city limits, consider offering free parking to event guests.
An example we love: A series of video walkthroughs produced by The Matara Centre, a stunning wedding venue located in the English countryside, give couples an intimate look at their spaces for ceremonies, receptions, and everything in between.
6. Be flexible.
Yes, things are starting to get back to normal. But COVID is still around. The reliability of airline travel has been questionable lately, and we all know that sometimes life just happens. Offering a flexible contract that includes provisions for COVID-19 shows potential customers that you care, and that you’re not going to leave them to their own devices if the unforeseen happens.
An example we love: This two-part breakdown of the ins and outs of a wedding venue contract from The Venue Academy’s Lindsay Lucas.
7. Host an open house
What better way to show off your digs then to invite the public in for a look-see? Promote the event on social media, offer incentives (free drinks and food, giveaways, or free tours, for example) and swing open the doors for an evening of fun and get-to-know-you. As an added bonus, you could speak with previous clients to see if they’d be willing to be on-hand to share their stories and reviews.
An example we love: The Sixpence, an upscale event space in Indianapolis, Indiana, offers open houses throughout the year, as well as special events to bring in potential customers.
8. Use real-life examples as often as possible.
This follows on the previous idea of having actual customers share their testimonials. Whether you’re putting together a marketing strategy, brand video, or updating your Google page, highlight the stories of real-life people who’ve used your venue in the past – and have become raving fans. Endorsements from actual happy customers are worth their weight in gold, and are taken far more seriously.
An example we love: The Flora website includes a gallery dedicated to “love stories,” real weddings that have graced the venue in the past. A perfect way for potential customers to picture themselves there is to see others who made it happen.