In the modern day, maintaining a website for your venue is of the utmost importance. After all, your customers will arrive at your website before visiting your venue, so it needs to be an accurate and compelling representation of your business. To ensure your venue’s website is on point, we’ve put together this article to help you appreciate what contributes to a successful and effective website for your bar, pub, nightclub or restaurant.
What MUST my venue website include
First and foremost, your website should be easy to navigate. Don’t make your customers jump through hoops to find what they’re looking for. While you can get creative, consider prioritising the following basic elements that we know customers are often instantly looking for:-
- Contact the venue
- Opening times / food serving times
- Food and drink menus
- Ability to book
- Events / promotions
- General feel for the venue through branding, galleries or video
- Facilities / USPs
It may seem obvious but ensure to provide your address so that it’s really clear (not just tiny text that sits in the footer). Feel free to include directions to the venue, particularly if in a rural location. You should feature an interactive map of your location (Google Maps or similar) and consider using the user GPS co-ordinates to leverage ‘Find your nearest’ style features or directions.
Contact the venue
Few things are as frustrating as visiting a venue’s website, only to realise you can’t find the contact details that you’re looking for. So, make your customers’ lives that little bit easier! Your contact information should include:
- Opening/operating hours.
- Telephone number(s) - if you have different numbers for each department, clearly list them here.
- Email address - again, if you have different email addresses, make that clear here.
- The street address and postcode.
- A functioning enquiry form.
- Relevant information relating to your venue that can help your clients - think about things like parking, directions, proximity to public transport, etc.
- Links to social media accounts.
- Links to external review pages - Yell, TripAdvisor, etc.
Opening and closing times
It’s astonishing how hard these are to find on some websites. It’s very basic and very much a pre-requisite. We know from analytics that people just want to find simple information like this! Clearly show when you’re open / closed. Try and find a way to amend these inline with seasonal changes to the standard opening times (bank holidays etc.)
Food serving times
Often missed, but your customers will expect to know in advance when you will / will not be serving food.
Food and drink menus
- The traditional approach is to provide a PDF copy online of your food and drink menus. This is not our recommended way to deliver your menus but if it’s the route you take be sure to invest in professionally designed menus that you can upload to your site and ensure there are no mistakes in the copy.
- Be as detailed as possible with your menus, and give your customers the opportunity to download them. Be sure to include all of your menus here and make it clear what is what, particularly if you serve different food throughout the day.
- Our recommended approach is a bit more modern! PDFs are difficult to read on mobile devices and managing menus that are changing all the time can become frustrating.
- We suggest that you take a more dynamic approach to delivering food and drink menus via live feeds from your EPOS or using services such as TenKites.
- This will provide real-time updates for more accurate menu information to your customers, with more details and higher transparency of what they’re actually consuming. Compliance with the latest food regulations seems to be getting more complicated all the time and therefore we feel that a real time feed is the way to go here.
Ability to book
In 2022, you have no excuse for not including a sophisticated booking system on your website. No matter how you go about it, the entire online booking process should be frictionless, as you don’t want to give your customers any reason to look elsewhere.
Fortunately, there are several online reservation systems that you can choose from. The key is to make the entire process seamless, automated, and quick. The booking system is one of the most crucial aspects of any venue’s website, so don’t overlook it.
Do you run special events at your venue? If so, you want to make it easy for your customers to find out what’s coming up. A calendar is a great way to feature your upcoming events, and you should also provide ticketing and availability details where possible.
The further you can plan in advance, the better. Customers often want to book Christmas events in the summer and vice versa. Don’t leave the promotion of your event until the last minute, or you will struggle to fill your venue.
General feel for the venue through branding, galleries or video
In terms of style, you need to think carefully about your venue’s branding and style. Are you a chic and minimalist coffee shop or an Aussie-themed steakhouse? Make sure your website is on brand and able to deliver a clear and consistent message.
Include professional photography to communicate what’s special about your venue. Give a flavour of what to expect when a customer visits you for the first time through a gallery of images of a video.
Often we’ve found that venues have more personality within their social media feeds than on their websites. Try and inject some of your character into the website itself. Alternatively, create a real-time feed of your social media posts onto the website. However you decide to do this, make sure you share your personality and brand with your audience.
Facilities and USPs
People like to know if you have WiFi, wheelchair access, HD screens, outside space etc. so clearly list the facilities you have available at your venue. Include here anything that makes you different from the competition.
Fresh content (Blog / News)
A blog or news page is essential for the SEO of your site. It makes sense to try and rank for key terms that your customers search for, and you can achieve this with a detailed content plan that consists of highly optimised blogs.
You can also use your blog to release details and reminders about upcoming events and ticketing information, which you can then share via social media.
Top tips: Maintaining your venue’s excellent online presence
To finish, we want to leave you with some top tips that will help you nail your website and keep things current online:
- Pay attention to Google My Business: It’s your responsibility to claim your venue on Google. People will leave you reviews via Google, so you need to pay attention to what they’re saying about your site. You should also ensure all information on your profile is accurate and up to date, as this will help with your rankings.
- Regularly update your website: Google rewards sites that produce fresh, engaging content. So, maintaining a blog or a news feed is super important from an SEO standpoint. Out of date information can also upset customers, so make sure you keep things current whenever you make any changes to your business.
- Review your analytics: If you’re hoping to win new business online, you need to monitor how your site is performing. Download the G-Suite on your website dashboard and use Google Analytics and Search Console to understand what you’re doing well and how you can improve your website.
- Ensure your site is optimised for mobile: Approximately 54% of global web traffic is generated through mobile devices. So, make sure your venue’s website is optimised for mobile, so you don’t miss out on the traffic that should come your way.
Putting together a fully optimised and accurate website for your venue is crucially important if you want to increase your traffic and boost your sales.
As introduced above, there’s a lot to think about, but by following the tips we’ve listed throughout, you can build and maintain a website for your venue that will help you win new business and serve your clients with distinction.