How Planners Should Take Advantage of Review Sites

If you own or manage an event planning firm, review sites like Yelp are more important to your livelihood than you might expect. They’ve become an indispensable part of the digital economy. If you ignore them, you do so at your own peril. Here’s why and how you can leverage them for maximum effect. In July, user-driven review site Yelp partnered with event management startup Gather. Founded in 2013, Gather is designed to help attendees, event management professionals and venues connect with one another more easily. It was, according to co-founders Nick Miller, Alex Lassiter and Tom Merrihew, a natural response to the many issues they encountered with the planning of corporate events. “We kind of fell into and uncovered what is a manual and disorganized process,” Miller explained in an interview with TechCrunch. “On both sides of the table. For the person planning the event but also for the folks who work at the restaurants and venues. We set out to fix the problem.” Gather makes it easier than ever for you to do your job—ie. to connect with prospective clients and venues. That’s a good enough reason to start being active on Yelp on its own. But it’s far from the only one. For anyone who’s been paying attention to the developing digital economy, a partnership like Yelp and Gather comes as no surprise. Review sites have grown exponentially in importance and prominence over the past several years. It’s gotten to the point that 88 percent of consumers trust these reviews just as much as word of mouth from friends and family. They’re only going to become more important as we move forward, as more and more users tune out traditional advertising and marketing in favor of word of mouth and social media. No matter what industry you’re in, a positive review can bring in new clients and go a long way toward promoting your business. On the flip side, a negative review, if left unhandled, can easily drive people away. As an event management professional, it’s imperative that you establish yourself on sites like Yelp and Google Places. Here’s how to get started:
  • Research the most frequently-used review sites in your area. At the very least, Yelp and Google Places are a good starting point.
  • Create business accounts on those sites and build your profile. Treat it in the same way you’d treat your own—add as much information as possible and make sure it’s easy for clients to track down and contact you.
  • Establish personal accounts and posting a few reviews of your own, with no strings attached and no expectations.
  • Pay close attention to the reviews you receive. For positive reviews, thank your customers and show you value their business. For negative reviews, apologize for the experience and reach out to see if there’s any way you can rectify the situation.
Review sites are as important, if not more so, to event planning as they are to any industry because of partnerships like Yelp/Gather. As an event professional, if you haven’t already established yourself on those sites, you need to do so yesterday. Because as it is, they’re a huge missed business opportunity. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ [inlinead align="left"][/inlinead] Brad Wayland is the Chief Strategy Officer at BlueCotton, a site with high-quality, easy-to-design custom t-shirts.