3 Tips to Effectively Turn Event Inquiries into Contracts

beautiful outdoor event done with contracts

Event professionals are constantly looking to turn potential event clients’ inquiries into contracts. We all want more paying customers! When your website and marketing efforts are working effectively, you start to see the inquiries flood in with questions about available dates, pricing, and other booking details. These messages are typically your very first touchpoint with a new lead, so it’s essential that you engage them in a way that keeps them coming back for more.

A big part of connecting with potential event clients, of course, is understanding them on a fundamental level. You need to know what they value, why they’re inquiring, and what makes them tick. They more you understand your ideal clients, the better you can serve them. For creative professionals, it can feel like the industry is always evolving while we’re staying the same— that’s why it’s so important for event businesses to be adaptable to market demands.

Today’s event market is made up of Generations Y and Z, who are known for their fluency in technology and their need for information on-the-go. They’ve grown up with smart phones always within reach, so there is a certain expectation for instant gratification: the modern client wants answers and they want it yesterday.

Thus, your responses to inquiries is a critical touchpoint that can land a new client—or it can send them to the inboxes of your competitors. Here’s what you can do to make sure your responses are retaining prospects within your buyers’ journey.

Always be prompt

To turn potential event clients’ inquiries into contracts, you need to be fast. In addition to people’s need for immediate access to information, consider also that most couples will reach out to all of the companies on their shortlist at once. That means that your response time is pitted against those of other competitors, so waiting too long can ultimately take your business out of the running. Not to mention, your initial response is the first sign of how your client experience will proceed, so it’s best to keep it swift and timely.

The generally accepted standard is that inquiries should receive a response within 24 hours during the week and 48 hours during the weekend. While acceptable, these times aren’t advantageous. Just think about how much time your ideal clients spend on their phones and computers— a whole day can seem like a lifetime and, if your competitor has already responded, you’ll already have to make up for lost time.

Ideally, try to respond within a two-hour window to ensure you’re keeping the communication lines open. That’s not to say you have to address every concern that quickly. If you have questions that need time to answer, send over an email that confirms you’ve received their inquiry and that you’re working on their answers.

Automate your responses (within reason)

An effective way to commit to your response time is to make use of auto-responders to let inquiring leads know that their message has been received. Feeling heard is just as valuable as getting the answers to their questions, so an automated email is far better than radio silence. They also allow you a bit of leeway on busy event days to ensure you’re not dropping the ball in responding to prospects. Turning event clients’ inquiries into contracts is much easier when you have technology doing the tedious work for you.

Fortunately, there are many digital tools available to streamline your auto-responders and link them to certain trigger actions, like completing your inquiry form or sending a direct email. Explore your options with customer relationship management (CRM) platforms as well as email marketing programs.

If you prefer the manual way, you can always set up a classic out-of-office responder for busy days when you know you won’t be as prompt as you’d like. Regardless of the manner you automate responses, be sure to provide an estimated turnaround time so they know when they can expect your response.

Bring positivity to their inbox

Planning an event is stressful for the average person— there’s no denying it. When they reach out to industry professionals, they expect to be welcomed with advice and support that will make them feel like you have their back.

Respond to every inquiry with warmth and kindness. Share their excitement as they plan their big day! To them, this is one of the most special periods of their lives— show that you recognize that and are eager to take the journey with them.

Remember that having information upfront means their inquiry is immediately answered! Clearly explain your services, your pricing, and other FAQ on your website. You’ll avoid your potential clients feeling frustrated off the bat with waiting for a reply to get the basic information they need to move forward. Besides, you never want to waste your time with inquiries who weren’t a sales fit from the beginning. 

Responding to inquiries is only the first step of the buyers’ journey, but it’s arguably the most important one. Use your first touchpoint to showcase all that your brand has to offer and always wrap it up by encouraging them to take the next steps— whether that’s a phone call or an in-person consultation. Communication will become more seamless as you get to know one another, but initially, you need to focus on building a trust factor with them through prompt and positive responses.

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Jennifer Taylor is the principal of Jen Taylor Consulting, a consulting firm that works with creative businesses of all sizes to implement streamlined workflows and organized systems to find more time and space for business growth and personal development. She is also the owner and founder of Taylor’d Event Group, a leading event planning company that serves local and destination clients in Washington State and Maui, HI.