For the past four months, those who market and produce events in Wine Country have effectively been in a hibernation state. While significant time has been spent helping clients postpone or reschedule their event dates, actual sales efforts have been reduced for various reasons.
While there are numerous other reasons why bookings are not at their historical level, other factors are impacting the desired results.
One of the primary issues is that many event sites have furloughed or reduced their dedicated event staff hours. The result has been delayed response to client inquires so prospective clients move forward with sites that are responding promptly.
Another factor is that many sites remain in a preseason state, not quite ready for prime time. While wineries have spent significant time doing whatever they can to reopen under the various and shifting guidelines, many of the event spaces at these wineries are not up to their usual level of fit and finish, which has always negatively impacted bookings in the past.
A third reason associated with the decline in bookings is that many primary / more popular event sites have rolled over 2020 clients into 2021, thereby cannibalizing potential dates for next season.
This last reason should, in some ways, have an impact on the majority of sites that are not those primary / most popular sites. If there is more opportunity in 2021 for secondary sites, why are they not booking?
Our conversations with prospective clients and internal discussions show the prime impediment for secondary sites is awareness. The overwhelming norm is most sites do not have an impactful web presence and coupled with the fact that pay-per-click is not employed, sites are simply not showing up as prospective clients are performing their searches.
Suggestions for anyone looking to boost bookings for 2021 would be to start now and identify the keywords they wish to bid on and begin a pay-per-click campaign. A drive properly conducted should result in increased inquires, provided staff is in place to respond promptly, and your site is ready for site tours. With these measures, you should see a nice boost in bookings for next year.
The most popular and regularly searched keywords for Wine Country Weddings cost between $1-$5 per click. While this may seem expensive at first glance, full SEO on your website, optimized images, clear call to action opportunities, and the right information on your site are crucial elements in converting those clicks to inquiries. Data supports that the average advertising cost (including advertising on wedding lead generation websites) to convert a visitor to your website into an inquiry is between $40-$50. Depending on your event site’s desirability, the total cost of advertising to obtain a booking is between $1,000 – $2,000. The prime/popular places will be at the lower end of the range, and the secondary sites or sites new to events will be at the higher end of the range. Again, depending on your site’s desirability, assume another $400-$700 for sales time to respond to prospect communications and conduct site tours. Given your staff and venue are ready, this cost should easily be offset by the average of 100 bottles of wine purchased at an event and the revenue received for the site fee.
Is your site good looking or at a minimum, as good looking as it can be – unfinished sites don’t achieve results.
Are you priced competitively for your area / market? The price of your wine does not necessarily correlate to your site price – both have to be independently earned.
Real estate’s primary mantra also applies to your event site – do what you can based on where you are but don’t expect more if you don’t have a great location
They are a fact of life – do whatever you can to earn genuine ones that are positive
Everyone is budget conscious or at least aware – make sure you have extras that improve the value of your site and the fee you charge
Selling a site for the purposes of an event is very similar to selling a residence. It needs to be priced competitively for the market, it needs to be properly staged, and it needs to allow the client space to visualize the site without the pressure (real or imagined) from the owners.
One site we work with has had success, but also issues and in most cases the issues were targeted at the owners. After working with them and understanding the things that were important to them, and also the things that concerned them, we began to reduce their visibility at the site.
By doing this we were able to provide a less personal flavor to the site tours as well as the production meetings. This enabled clients and vendors to speak more freely. The resulting benefit was that we learned more about what was needed to sell the site as well as ways to work more successfully with the vendor community to enable them to do more efficiently what they came on the site to do.
Sometimes being close to a situation is a benefit, sometimes it is not.
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site tour host
Matt is a Sonoma County native. He has worked on the production side of events for over two decades. From bartending, to catering to event planning, Matt has done it all. He co-owned one of Marin County’s premier catering and event planning companies for many years. Matt is passionate about sharing our beautiful wine country and helping to create exceptionally memorable events. When he is not working you can find him mountain biking at Annadel State Park or Skiing in Tahoe, or maybe relaxing at a brewpub after a good trail run. Cheers!