Online research is on the rise. With 72% of planners saying they get most of their information from a venue’s website,1 your website needs to do more than showcase beautiful photos – it needs to help you convert event business! Historically, venue selection required a lot of time and effort with RFP submissions, cycles of emails, venue visits, and rounds of proposal reviews. But this long process is in the midst of an evolution. Venues we’ve spoken with recently are seeing the event planning window shortening to as little as 6 – 8 weeks for large corporate events, with even shorter lead times for smaller board room style meetings. To support these shrinking lead times, venues need to provide more information to planners upfront before they ever get a chance to meet them.
Our research shows that planners usually look at three venues before selecting one and ten pieces of information on average before getting in touch with a venue1. With the bulk of the shopping occurring before you even get a chance to interact with a planner, your marketing materials – especially your website – need to be informative, easy to navigate, and visually appealing. Beyond those pillars, you need to increase the number of qualified leads and decrease the friction to convert on your website.
Increase qualified event leads by providing information
Planners are less interested in engaging in a long process for venue selection and instead are looking to make quick decisions. With that in mind, the way content is shared needs to change. It’s our job to provide planners the information they need to make a venue selection as early in the research process as possible while keeping them connected until they book. Considering 83% of planners look at room capacity1 and 62% of planners look at venue location on a map1, sharing important details will help planners self-qualify right from your website and decide if your venue is the right fit.
- Room Capacity Charts – Most event venues have room capacity charts that provide the capacity numbers for each of their rooms in every one of the available layouts. The trick here is to make sure this chart is easy to find, clearly labeled, and provides additional details like suggested occupancy.
- Photos and Videos – Consider visually showcasing the various room configurations you offer as well as both indoor and outdoor set ups. Take your visuals one step further by offering a video tour of your venue, sharing the event space the way you would if a planner was on site. Similarly, you can offer a 3D virtual walkthrough with a detailed, interactive view of the venue.
- FAQs – You likely know the top questions you receive on a venue tour. Adding a section to your events page that clearly answers those questions will save you and a planner time between back and forth exchanges.
- Diagrams – 66% of planners say they review floor diagrams and 50% review room diagrams,1 making diagrams an important part of the decision making process. By providing event visualization capabilities that represent your space and your resource inventory, you can allow planners to see before they buy with accurate details. Plus, planners can send along the diagram they created with their RFP to speed up the proposal process.
- Local Area Maps – Include nearby dining, shopping, entertainment and more to give guests an idea of the area without having to dig for information on their own. A recent study shows that Millennials are highly likely to get “out and about” during a convention or exhibition, so planners are seeking locations conducive to that trend.2 You know all the hot spots nearby and can help simplify location selection.
- Availability and Rates – By sharing information on your website about available meeting rooms, dates, and costs, planners can determine if your venue fits into their budget and is available during the time slot they are seeking.
Decrease friction by improving usability
Providing a user experience that converts
61% of planners submit RFPs online and that number is only expected to grow.1 The goal of every website should be to improve usability so that our planners and guests can convert faster, with less hindrance.
- RFP Submission and Automation – Make RFP submission as easy as possible by providing submission details that integrate directly with your sales and catering software. Leverage automation rules to ensure every lead is handled as quickly and efficiently as possible and no lead is left behind. 72% of first responders win the business,3 so ensuring your venue can quickly respond matters.
- Online Booking – By enabling functionality to book events right on your website, you can empower planners to make decisions and book on their time, outside of regular business hours. With direct event booking, the reduction in back and forth time for proposals alone will increase conversion… and make people on a tight timeline incredibly happy.
- Online Interaction – To further speed things along, chatbots are growing in popularity, used to answer some of the most common questions that planners have during both the research and submission process. Additionally, collaboration tools are enabling discussion, RFP submission, and proposal review in a common environment with real-time edits, viewable by both the venue and planner.
Managing performance and site speed
Even if you have all of the information a planner could ever need to make a decision on your website, that information can only provide value if it’s accessible. First, you need to consider your site speed. Google offers a free site where you can check your site speed and review recommendations. Your site speed is important because:
- 40% of users abandon a website that takes longer than 3 seconds to load4
- A 1 second delay in response can decrease conversion by 7%4
The venue selection process is evolving with shorter lead times and less in person interaction, making your website more important than ever. Your website now has the potential to truly impact not just your guest room conversion, but enhance and refine the group booking experience. With planners spending the majority of their research time on a venue’s website, there are concrete ways you can improve your website experience to drive more leads for events that would be the best fit for your venue. If you start with these tips for increasing qualified leads and decreasing shopping friction, you’ll be well on your way to delivering a superior website experience. If you’d like to further explore any of the solutions above, let us know.
For tips on how to make your website more visually appealing, check out our blog post Your Website is the New Hotel Lobby.
- Review of RFP submissions and responses generated through MeetingBroker