Issue #3 | November 2019
Innovations in Event Management
Newsletter from Milestone Events group
By The Numbers
By the numbers
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What Needs to be Done to Generate 15 Event Bookings? part 2
Two months ago we reviewed how 15 events generate the profit equivalent of selling an incremental $1,000,000 worth of wine. Last month, we ran through the web-based sales funnel metrics representing the volume required to generate an adequate number of sales inquiries. This month, we are completing the second part of the answer, detailing options which are available to help you get noticed on the internet. Assuming you would like to generate those 15 events, the next logical question is “what needs to happen to accomplish this number of event bookings?”
GETTING NOTICED IN SEARCH ENGINES
The first step is to increasing event bookings is to find a way to get noticed when a prospect is doing an internet search. There are three primary ways to accomplish this task. One is SEO. If you are a legacy site that has successfully hosted events for many years and the web is filled with photos of events at your site, you have a given yourself a head start to increase event bookings. However, successful SEO also involves the correct selection of keywords, meta tags and page titles which requires an understanding of the search behavior of your potential prospects. While SEO is important, in today’s market it typically will not be enough.
ADVERTISING ON WEDDING SITES
A common way sites advertise is through wedding centric advertising sites such as Wedding Wire, Wedding Spot, The Knot or Here Comes the Guide. The historic success generated by these sites for new event bookings has become much more difficult to achieve due to the increasing number of competitors listed on the sites. As an example, The Knot will return over 500 matches of which 200 are wineries in a search for Northern California wedding venues. It is hard to stand out in a field that is this crowded – especially when every listing is locked into the prescribed format of each site. This results in a dilution that causes yields to drop and costs to continue to increase to get the needed exposure. In addition, there is the constant pressure to upgrade your listing to keep up with the competition. Based on the numerous sites with which we have had contact, a stand-alone site needs to spend between $2,000-$4,000 in advertising to achieve one booking on these aggregator sites. If you are trying to achieve 15 bookings you would then need to budget $30,000 - $60,000 for advertising depending on your sites level of event expertise and credibility.
THE GOOGLE ADVERTISING MACHINE
Another way to pursue inquires is to do what $70 billion dollars’ worth of customers advertising dollars currently do and spend dollars with Google AdWords or another search engine. This is a popular vehicle but is highly competitive and requires a very specialized expertise to do it efficiently. There are multiple decisions to be made including, which of the half dozen plus manual or automated bid strategies to choose, display or search advertising, choice of keywords, monthly budget, construction of ad content, target demographics, when ads are displayed and where ads are displayed are just some of the many parameters in the construction of a successful Google campaign. As an indication of how competitive the wedding market has become, in 2016 the average cost per click for a wedding search term in the Northern California market was $1.50. In 2019 this has increased to over $3.50 with the most popular search terms costing in excess of $10.00 per click.
HOPE AND PRAYERS
What is also interesting when speaking with contacts at sites is anecdotal data that seems to dominate the discussion. We hear statements such as “we had 3 inquires this week including 1 in our tasting room.” After seeing the lead flow coming directly from the sites managed by Milestone, and referencing the sale funnel metrics we shared in our first issue, we know this will generate at best only 1 or 2 annual bookings given the number of inquiries needed to generate a site tour and the number of site tours need to generate a booking.
NO MORE VENDOR REFERRALS
What you may notice by now is that there has not been a reference to a site being able to make its goals by leveraging industry networking. With so much research being done on the Internet, the process has evolved into venue selection being the first order of business and vendors and suppliers being chosen later. We are unaware of any site seeing measurable benefit associated with qualified inquiries coming from the event planning and vendor community. Those days are long gone and to pursue bookings in that manner will result in disappointment.
Selling and managing events is Milestone’s core business. We realize how precious advertising dollars and sale inquiries are, so we respond quickly and have developed an infrastructure of highly effective sales tools. It takes focus, dollars, sales tools, training and most importantly a clear understanding of what it is going to take to accomplish your goals. If not, it’s what visitors hear when they are lost and ask for directions in Maine, “you can’t get there from here”.
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Top 5 Things guests see but might not say anything about
Does your winery feel stuffy or uninviting? There is a fine line between setting a high-class standard, and having guests feel underdressed and uncomfortable.
#2- Appearance of staff
Make sure your employees have well-fitting uniforms (if applicable), are well-groomed, and look presentable. Be mindful of your brand and make sure the style of the staff’s attire compliments their surroundings, making guests feel more at home.
It’s the one place most guests visit at least once during their visit. Pay close attention to upkeep and cleanliness, adding welcoming decor accents to complete the look.
#4 Friendly atmosphere
We find that guests prefer sites where the staff is friendly and welcoming. Successful tasting room teams try to get to know their guests during their visit. This allows them to successfully steer visitors to the right wines and merchandise, as well as offering a more complete experience.
It’s all in the details. From high dusting to polished glassware to weeds in the walkway from the parking lot. Be sure your brand is represented from the driveway to the back patio and everywhere in between.
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Ensuring event set up is minimally impactful and stress free
#1 Rental Deliveries/pick up
Have rental picked up the day after the event prior to the tasting room opening.
#2 On-site assets
On-site assets such as lounge furniture are put back into place the evening of the event or the next morning before tasting room opens and have a “return to ready” diagram of these items.
#3 Post-event walk-through
At the end of the evening, do a post a event walk through of the event spaces to collect any miscellaneous items such as glassware or flowers.
All garbage and recycling should be removed the night of the event.
Do not use any in-house glassware for events, always rent these items. Breakage of glassware can happen at an event, limiting your tasting room inventory and also, you would have to allow time and personnel for washing/drying the glassware the evening of the event or the next morning.
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Aligning goals and incentives to facilitate tasting room and event staff cooperation and synergy
We are all on the same team
It is not uncommon to find event staff and tasting room personnel not to be wholly aligned when it comes to working together.
Their reasons are not unimaginable at first glance. DTC staff would like the site and tasting room to be 100% focused on their charter, that being sharing and educating clients on the wine portfolio as well as providing welcoming hospitality to existing clients who are back on a follow-up visit.
The event staff also has their agenda. The site would get set up as early as feasible for the upcoming event, the tasting room would be ready to turn over right on time, and any guests of the event that come early and visit the tasting room would be treated hospitably.
At several sites we have been involved with, we have found this friction, or at least siloed organizational objectives, between the two staffing groups. To help facilitate better cooperation, we found the following to be useful.
First, it is essential to understand the issues of each respective organization clearly. We suggest this is done first independently and then jointly so that each party can fully air their concerns. Second, it is important to understand the numbers behind the perceived problem. Anecdotal information is, at best, the second choice when working on trying to solve such a problem. Too often, individual data points are extrapolated to no gain.
A good example we often hear is that a particular tasting room or patio area generates $X during the last hour of the day, on say a Friday or Saturday. We can compare that data with the known value of an event and its corresponding wine sales starting that evening. The math will let you know if it’s in your best interest to close a tasting room say 30 minutes early on an event day or exactly what to charge for that earlier than normal closure.
Additionally, if the event sales data is shared with the tasting room staff, they are better aware of the beneficial financial contribution the event is making and the reason it is in the best interest of the winery to host that event.
On the inverse, it is not unreasonable to have parking allocated for tasting room staff and event guests rather than have either impact the other. Event staff should recognize the impact such a thing has on their teammates in the tasting room and work to accommodate.
Another point of impact is wedding guests invading the tasting room before the event. Tasting room staff is rightly bothered by this as those clients are not at that moment as focused on what the tasting room staff is offering; they just want a glass of wine. Again, it is not unreasonable to make it clear to the host of the event when guests are expected to arrive due to these issues and inform them of the risk of a charge due to any adverse impact early arrival might cause. Additionally, a separate area for event guests to congregate before the event welcome time is prudent.
Communication, data, and clear and reasonable lines of demarcation are both possible and in everyone’s best interests. The winery is the proverbial golden goose, and it is incumbent on all parties to help ensure it can continue to lay those all-important golden eggs.
milestone helps sites maximize event capacity for greater event-related revenue
Over the past 5 years, Milestone has helped wineries maximize income and reduce event related stress while generating hundreds of five star reviews.
“Engagement season” is a REAL THING
25% of the years event bookings occur in January & February
Now is the time to get ready
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