There are so many venue listing websites, it’s no surprise most venues find it difficult to decide which ones are worth their budget. Nearly every venue Patch has worked with has, at some point, paid for a premium subscription on a venue listing website, and not had their expectations met. Similarly, most venues we’ve worked with have their favourite venue listing sites that they couldn’t live without.
Patch has been providing venue marketing services since 2010 and during that time we’ve tried every listing that exists (or existed). Over the years we’ve found what works for one venue doesn’t always work for another. It’s quite simple really, every listing site has a share of the market (you would hope) and it’s up to you as the venue manager to decide if the part of the market they serve is your market.
When we’re helping our clients choose venue listing websites, we review the areas below to make sure their perfect client is our perfect client, and their strategy suits our clients’ strategy.
Review search rankings
Did you know you’ll never beat a directory (also known as a vertical search engine) in the main page of search engine results if you’re a venue in a densely populated area? Try for yourself, directories always rank above venues.
With that in mind, the first thing to check when choosing a venue listing site is how does that site rank for my target keywords. In other words, can you piggyback off them to get a share of the search visibility you will never get by yourself?
Remember organic search engine ranks come and go so if you’re working with an SEO agency it might be a good idea to have them analyse the site’s history and current SEO activity to determine if the ranks are stable, earned following best practice and likely to last the duration of your subscription.
Don’t let this put you off SEO for your event venue though. One place that venues dominate is the map and when it comes to events, location matters. It’s no surprise that Google maps has become one of the leading search tools for venue bookers.
Review their marketing and client acquisition plans
There are some venue listing sites that have no impressive search engine ranks but still have an enviable client list. While a lot of venue searches start in search engines there are other ways venue listing sites and online agencies find clients, like having bespoke software that their clients use exclusively for venue searching. If it’s not obvious how they win new clients, ask the people who manage the site. Once you know that it’s quite easy to determine if they are likely to be working with your target clients.
Review their client list
It’s not all about new business. Sometimes joining a venue listing site can be an instant entrance to a club with clients ready to book events at your venue. As well as reviewing how they win new clients look at who they work with now and where they book events. With that information you’ll know if they’re working on events that are suitable for your venue and how many of your competitors you may have to share with.
Brand awareness and positioning
While the primary goal in working with a venue listing site is to generate enquiries most have a large, engaged audience. Think of them as another form of industry media. They could use their marketing channels and connection with your target audience to position your venue and brand. This can be particularly useful if your venue has just undergone a refurb or rebranded.
It can be appealing to work with the free listing sites and avoid premium subscriptions but if you’re expecting bookings from them, you need to consider the commission cost.
Every booking you win has a cost of sale. Opting for one activity over another has an opportunity cost so it’s important to work out costs of sale on directory websites including subscription fees and commissions.
There are other ways to generate enquiries and win business and because listing sites are effectively pay as you go, they really ought to have the lowest cost of sale because you don’t own the audience. Imagine, if your commission charges were £100k last year you could probably have the top map rank in your city or region for every event type you can host and enough money spare to take your team on a luxury holiday.
About Matt Beech
Matt Beech is a Director at Patch Marketing.
Established in 2011 Patch is a multi-service digital marketing agency with roots in the events, leisure, and hospitality industries.