Venue Walk throughs: a task that all planners provide to potential and existing clients at some point in the planning process. As someone who has been on both sides of a private room/venue walk through, I can tell you there are so many planners out there losing a TON of potential business by how they are approaching client venue visits. Many may be thinking, “It's a walk through, the space is what it is and if it doesn’t work for a client, I can’t change that.” While there is some truth to that, there are so many factors that go into a decision on a venue besides the space itself; Namely, the way the walk through was handled and how the guest feels about the experience. I’ve personally been led on walk throughs where chairs were still on tables, lights were off, bars were dirty, questions were left unanswered, tours were led by another staff member that wasn’t informed, the list goes on! How a restaurant or venue handles a tour is a glimpse into how they will handle an event. Don’t let clients decide your venue isn’t a good fit because they weren’t informed or confident in your services. Advocate for yourself and your space!
Selling a space doesn’t have to be pushing the guest to sign, offering discounts, relentless follow up, etc. Selling a space is as simple as knowing the most important and useful elements of what you offer and making sure your client knows what they are by the time they leave.
Get The Look: Some walk throughs are planned, while others will spring up when you least expect it. Have your room set and ready at all times! Whether this is something you complete in the morning, or something that is left to a closing manager, it is important that the whole team is on the same page of the private room set up. Chairs should be set, lights should be on, candles lit and music playing (if applicable!). Let the client envision their event with you! Aside from the room, how do the bathrooms look? Clients may want to peak in (or even use them), so it’s worth doing a walk through of all possible spaces that can be seen to ensure you are putting your best foot forward.
Be Prepared: I’m a fan of sending information to a client before hand so that they can come prepared with questions and there are NO surprises. However, no matter how prepared you are, the client may not be. Keep a printed copy of packages or photos on hand in case they’d like to check out what your offerings are. Aside from package offerings, have a list of available furniture as well as a frequently-asked-questions sheet. Some important questions to add are rules on hanging decorations, outside dessert vendors, leaving items overnight, coat check, A/V equipment, etc. Having all these details in one package will keep the client from having to jot everything down and have a moment to really take in their experience. One of the best items you can have on hand are various floor plan set ups. Floor plans are a HUGE plus as it can help when clients need ideas of how to set up their event and all the possibilities!
Give Them an Experience: You should aim to have your walk through be as close to a real guest experience as possible! Walk them through the entryway their guests would go through and explain the flow. Point out any unique features of the room, design inspiration, unique textiles, push for why your space is the perfect option for their event! The client is just as much an event planner as you are when it comes to their party and we ALL live for the small details, right? Perhaps the most important thing to mention to potential clients during the walk through is how proud you are of your space. Your attitude and excitement can be the most convincing tool in your tool belt. Aside from showing off the space, ask the right questions ahead of time so that you know what details to highlight. Are you aware of the goal of their event? How they want their guests to feel? What fears do they have for their event? These little bits of information will help you craft THEIR perfect experience.
The Wrap Up: At the end of the tour, get a sense for how they feel about the space. Any reservations about moving forward? Questions about who would be the point of contact? Weather? Putting dates on hold? Be sure to give them time to air out any issues they have and be prepared to answer. If there are any questions or needs left up in the air, be sure to follow up that day if possible. Often times, we think the client’s event is at the top of their mind all the time like it is ours. It’s not - and we show our abilities as professional planners when we assist in keeping the client on track. Follow up with them if you do not hear back. Often times, people just forget. Then it becomes too late, and they choose a venue out of convenience. Make planning as convenient as you can for them and it will pay off.
How does your walk through stack up against these tips above? Be sure to share these notes with your events team or ANYONE on your team who handles walk through when you’re not around. Making sure everyone is prepared and on the same page will be a true reflection of how your team will handle a client’s event.