Why They Didn’t Book Your Venue: Having a clear understanding of why a couple toured your venue but did not book your venue is essential. Not only that, but if they toured your venue and didn’t book – which venue did they book? Knowing the answers to these questions gives your venue a distinct advantage. This information can help you improve your targeting methods and reduce a ton of wasted time and money going after clients that are not your best customer! So how do you get this information? Sure, you can just ask couples but as you may have already experienced, most couples will not take the time to fill out feedback forms without a compelling reason. Even with an enticer a couple is not likely to provide honest feedback directly to a venue.
I offer engaged couples $25 to fill out the venue feedback form on WeddingVenueOwners.com. The couple does not know which venue contacted me to get the feedback and the venue owners do not get to see the name of the couples who filled out the feedback forms. This helps encourage more honest & useful feedback from the couples. Recently a venue owner contacted me to find out why 58 couples toured her venue since Jan. 1st and 33 DID NOT book. So I emailed the couples who toured her venue to find out why they did not book her venue and which venue they did book. If you think more couples who toured your venue should have booked and would like to know why they didn’t please email me today so we can get you some direct feedback! Below are two of the forms I have collected and am sharing them as a learning tool. The responses below were a surprise to the venue owner but for me, the forms provide great information on how the venue owner can book more couples and improve her screening process for success!
|Please share the date you got engaged & the date you booked your wedding venue.||Engaged- 10-10-2021 Booked venue 10-20-2020|
|List The Name of Each Venue You Toured||**Confidential|
|List the name of the venue you booked with a signed contract.||**Confidential|
|List each venue you toured & the specific reasons you did NOT book that venue.||*** Venue, Too pushy. Loved the barn, but just wasn’t for me.|
|Please offer some feedback to the venues you did not book on what they could have done to earn your business.||Not be too pushy.|
|Please share the date you got engaged & the date you booked your wedding venue.||12/25/2020 , 01/19/2021|
|List The Name of Each Venue You Toured||**Confidential (3 venues listed)|
|List the name of the venue you booked with a signed contract.||**Confidential|
|List each venue you toured & the specific reasons you did NOT book that venue.||The ***Venue1 was too open with not enough places to decorate, the price was more expensive for less then what I got at the venue I choose.|
**Venue2, was way out of our budget, I didn’t like that I had to meet with the owner once a month or the fact that she would be there on my wedding day, the minimal package was still very pricey and included barely anything.
|Please offer some feedback to the venues you did not book on what they could have done to earn your business.||The ***Venue1 could have cleaned up a bit more when we toured there. They had a lot going on and you couldn’t fully get the full picture of the venue.|
The **Venue2 could have been a bit cheaper. I also feel as though the woman was a little too passionate and almost pushy while looking at the venue. If she could have been more open and not so demanding I would have definitely thought of having my wedding there as it was beautiful.
There is a lot of great information here! Let’s start with the 2nd feedback form where the couple mentions that the venue could have “been a bit cheaper” and “Venue2 was way out of our budget”. This is a couple that should have never made it past the venue owners screening process. Before a couple ever gets to the point of having a venue tour they should go through your venue pre-screening process eliminating those who can’t afford your venue (among other things). Another issue that comes up in the forms is that the owner was “pushy”. While this may be a bit harsh for a venue owner to hear, this is great feedback. After all, it’s not the venue they don’t like. They love the venue and that is great news. Changing a venue owners tactics is FREE and easier than making venue changes. What the venue owner may see as excitement or good sales tactics, the couple is viewing as pushy. So, maybe its time to soften her approach a bit. OR allow her sales team the opportunity to step up and see if their approach leads to more bookings. The venue owner may be stuck in a rut and just in need of a refresher on some sales tactics that come off as less aggressive and feel more personal while still being direct and leading the client toward the booking. Additionally, the venue owner may have a far more enjoyable time being a venue when she has better screening in place to reduce some of the stress & aggravation caused by wasting time on the wrong prospects. In the “Rent the Wedding Nerd” program I come out to a wedding venue and spend an entire day with the venue owner reviewing everything from screening, lead conversion, venue tours, advertising, website, contracts, etc… I would love to see this venue owner in action and help them improve their venue tour tactics.
When was the last time you updated your screening process? I have some tips below.
- 1. Do you have a screening form, contact form, online form, lead capture form? Whatever you want to call it, an initial contact form on your website will help you gather important information and start the screening process. What should you have on the form…well, for starters: Name, Email, Phone Number. But I recommend asking more questions and gathering more information with your initial “request a tour” or “contact us” form. I can help you put together a productive contact form with questions customized for your venue.
- 2. Is your pricing on your website? Make sure it’s clear and easy to find. This is one of the quickest ways to weed out those who can’t afford your venue or won’t see a value in investing in your venue. I have visited many websites where you have to search to find the fees.
- 3. Is your location on your website? This may sound like a dumb question but again, I see this often where the venue does not have the address or at least an approximate location easily found on their sites & socials. It is common for couples book venues that are an hour or more from their home for a variety of reasons. But if you don’t have your location clearly listed you could be encouraging leads that will fizzle after wasting both of your time.
- 4. Do you have packages on your site? Make sure they are clear!! Re-read your packages often as they may need to be updated or streamlined. When I am consulting for a wedding venue, I love attending a venue tour with them. This is where I learn a lot about their sales process and policies. Especially which policies couples may find troubling or confusing. If you keep getting asked the same questions on tours and you dread answering in person because you feel this is a spot where you lose a client, try to sharpen the details on your website so they know the polished & clear version before they tour.
- 5. Make sure you have brand alignment. Does your website image match your social media image? Do you have a consistent voice on all your public places? If your website is stunning but your Facebook page has terrible images and is rarely updated, that may be creating holes in your screening. If your website says your a serious business but your social media says “bargain with me, I am not that professional” then take some time to make necessary updates so you have consistent branding on all platforms.
- 6. Clearly communicate your venue priorities! You don’t have to upload your contract to your site to convey your priorities to your prospective clients. Adding an FAQ page is a great way to list your top priorities and answer the questions that come up most often and can be a deal breaker for you and/or your prospective clients. If you require licensed & insured vendors (no Aunt Ann bakes a cakes allowed) then put that on your site. If you allow only beer & wine, no hard liquor then add that to your site and allow those who won’t like that policy to move along. Why have a couple come out and tour your site to find out their priorities will not align with your venues most important policies.
- 7. Do not use stock images & videos of other venues on your website and social media. I understand using stock content when you are in the building process & have not booked a wedding or had a styled shoot. If you must use stock images make sure the subject matter is more about wedding details (bride/groom/couple, decor, flowers, dress, rings, etc…) than images of a wedding venue that is not yours! Every venue should have a top ten venue assets list that you use to promote & sell your venue. These top ten features should be easily found on your site and socials. I can’t tell you how many sites I visit & have to search for images that actually show the venue selling points (fountain, chapel, landscaping, bride/groom suites, ceremony site, chandeliers, photo opp backdrops, etc…)! If you have vague images or stock images you are going to get vague connections that waste time and lead to disappointment on all sides. Need help setting up your social media for success or help setting up a styled shoot, contact me.
- 8. Once you received a promising contact form from a prospective client the next step is to contact them via email for another great screening opportunity. Standard email screening questions: wedding date, budget, guest count (I prefer to have these in the contact form but if you don’t have an online contact form, the follow up email should get these answers). If they make it through that round, it’s time to schedule a phone call. Make sure you have a list of questions you ask prospective clients once you get them on the phone. I have a list of 20 questions that help venue owners to make sure they are on the same page with a prospective client. I like asking questions that put a prospective client at ease so they talk about themselves & reveal more about their vision. I take detailed notes on the phone and start a file with personalized information for this client. My hope is to get to know the client better before we meet and potentially bring out red flags on the phone to avoid wasting time if their must have list is not in line with venue policy. I am happy to provide my screening questions to anyone who has signed up for an upcoming Wedding Venue Owners Working Vacation. Click here to view upcoming cities & dates.
- 9. Let’s back up a bit….what do you do if you have a contact form that clearly is not a client you can move forward with: they want a date you booked, they have needs/wants/demands that conflict with your policies, they can’t afford your venue?? For me this is a great opportunity to show how kind, polished and professional you are. Treating a prospect like gold as you gently but directly let them a date is booked or that your venue is not a fit for their vision is what sets apart a good venue from a great venue! I believe that every chance you get to positively impact someone who may not be your client but could refer your business to others has great value and is worth your time. I go deeper into this when I am consulting with a venue.
- 10. If a prospect makes it through this screening processes and has arranged a venue tour make sure you have their email and phone number so you can send them meeting time & date reminders VIA BOTH TEXT & EMAIL. This reduces the potential for no shows. Before a couple arrives review your notes so that you can repeat some of their important topics to find out if these items are correct or have changed or you misunderstood them. I can’t tell you how many times I repeat a detail to a prospective client on a walk through and they completely changed their mind on that detail. Some of these things are no big deal and some are deal breakers. The notes come in very handy. Also, it makes the couples feel like you really listened to what they told you about their wedding. It creates confidence as you are building the relationship.
- 11. Once couples are touring your venue its so important to listen to what they say about your venue and how it relates to their wedding vision. This is where all that great online content shows its value. That content gave this couple a good idea of what your venue is like and met their needs at least visually. Your phone and email screening helped to ensure that there were no giant issues of concern. The goal now should be to make sure their wedding vision and your venue policy are compatible and get this couple booked. Review those notes in your file before the couple arrives. Have solutions to any issues they mentioned to you previously, like, “we really want our venue to be 10 min from a hotel.’ If the hotel is 20 min away, let them know you have a working relationship with that hotel to provide a free shuttle. If they tell you they want their own caterer and you require couples to choose a caterer from your vendor list, share with them all the benefits of using your preferred caterers. If they tell you they wanted to party till 2am and your venue closes at 11pm. Give them some after hours clubs, lounges or restaurants they can take the after part to and sell them on the idea buy showing them this option will save them money.
- Finally, every couple is not your couple. Don’t try to hard sell a couple that is reluctant. If they do not see the value in your venue, if they are not excited about your venue, move along. If they have lots of contract changes they want or want you change lots of policies and make exceptions, move on. The more you bend over backwards for a client by changing what you know works the best for your venue, the less they will appreciate this anyway. There are venue owners who are incredibly skilled at working with difficult, demanding clients. That is wonderful. But there is no shame in moving on from a bad business relationship. Longevity in this business will occasionally require passing on a client that is not a good fit.
I hope you found this helpful. Did I leave anything out? Please share your tips and suggestions in the comments section below.