- A tour is essential, as it’s the first time a future member will walk in and get that all-important ‘feel’ for the space.
- It’s an opportunity to portray the value of membership and for members to glimpse the ROI of using your space.
- During a recent Coworking Convo by Cat Johnson, coworking operators shared their top tips on how to deliver tours that convert into paying memberships.
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“The importance of the tour cannot be overstated.”
That’s the message from Iris Kavanagh from Women Who Cowork, who took part in an online panel to share knowledge and best practice on workspace tours.
During Cat Johnson’s most recent Coworking Convo, Iris, among others, offered crucial insights and tips designed to help coworking and flexible workspace operators enhance their tour experience.
What’s so important about the tour anyway?
This is the first time a future member will walk in and get that all-important ‘feel’ for the space. The tour is a guided walk-through that shows off your space and your amenities, and it’s also an opportunity for prospective members to meet your existing community.
“It’s an opportunity to portray the value of membership and for members to glimpse the ROI. The tour does that – it shows what’s happening in the space. Pick your tour time while the buzz and activity in your space is at its peak.”
Above all, the experience should help people to figure out if they can see themselves within your space.
How to Nail the Workspace Tour
Cat’s Convo panellists offered the following words of advice for creating a memorable tour experience that converts into paying members.
These words of wisdom came from coworking specialists, Mark Eaton from Corner Coworking, Iris Kavanagh from Women Who Cowork, Dr. Tammira Lucas from The Cube Cowork, and Karen Tait from The Residence Coworking.
- Nailing the tour starts pre-tour. Mark Eaton says it’s essential to make the tour as easy to book as possible. Forget forms – use a scheduling tool like Calendly and add the booking button to your website, email footer, and social media. “Make it really simple. There should be no barriers to booking a coworking space tour.”
- Learn as much as you can about them. Use your booking tool to ask a few questions, or even just to ask for a website or LinkedIn profile, so you can do a little research about your guest before they arrive. That way you can begin to understand what they’re missing from their current work setup, and how your workspace can fill the void.
- Use a drip campaign to prepare your guest. Once your potential member has signed up for a tour, trigger a basic email drip campaign that helps prepare them for the tour. Explain what to expect, provide some FAQs, and run through what you offer. That way you can focus on building a relationship while they’re in the space.
- Check in the day before. Send a quick text or email the morning before the tour. This serves as a reminder about the appointment, but it also helps establish a friendly relationship. “I like to ask, hey, tea or coffee?” says Mark. “That way I’m more prepared and it makes the experience more personal.”
- Do the tour yourself. It’s important to pick the right person to do the tour. Either do it yourself, or choose someone who is equally invested in your space and your community. “I always do tours myself,” said Karen Tait. “I want them to know that they have access to me directly.” As a local independent operator, Karen also has a lot of knowledge about the area and can offer advice on the best places to eat, transport, parking, and other local amenities.
- Provide “the Disney experience”. Dr. Tammira Lucas joked that she always aims to give guests “the Disney experience” during a tour. That means understanding why they’re there, and then thinking about everything they might need from your space to help them grow. “We design a space not for ourselves, but for our members. So we show the space in its entirety, and we design the tour to focus on all the things they might need.”
- Meet in the space they’re interested in. Whether it’s a boardroom, a private office, or a desk in an open workspace – make sure you go there first and spend time in that space.
- Show that there is room to grow. Once you have shown guests the space they’re interested in, show them other relevant amenities – such as virtual mail, warehouse space, coffee station, boardroom, and so on. For example, a coworking member might be interested in growing into a private office. Likewise, show that there are flexible options to adjust their membership and even downsize if needed.
- It’s all about them – not you. Ask questions about them and genuinely listen. Don’t hurry them along – remember that they are here to get a feel for the space, the environment, and the other people. “They haven’t come looking for a desk and WiFi, they are here looking for something else – community, work life balance, a stimulating environment,” said Karen.
- Plan your tour journey. Find ways to connect your guest with the space. By finding out about their business before they arrive, you can help them relate to the space and your community during the tour. “Think about who you can introduce them to along the way,” said Iris. “This removes the friction of entering a new community. It gives an opportunity for belonging and shows the value of working in a community.” For example, you might want to point out other people who work in similar roles or industries.
- Think about your conversation. To keep the conversation flowing along the right lines, Iris recommends reading about the origins and backstory of coworking to understand how it emerged due to “the loneliness epidemic”, and how coworking “is in the business of dismantling loneliness” – you can then weave the language into your conversation as the tour progresses.
- Think about the small things. Details matter the most, especially if your space offers childcare, as Dr Tammira’s space does. “They want to know where their child will be, how accessible the child is to them, safety routes, fire extinguishers, certified staff, and so on.” By pointing out all these details, you are demonstrating that you genuinely understand your members’ needs and more importantly, you can accommodate them.
- Offer a test drive. After the tour, invite your guest to stick around for the rest of the day and work in the space for free. It’s a great way for them to try it out and get to know the other members. Drop them a text that morning and tell them to bring their laptop.
- Next steps. The follow up is incredibly important. At the end of the tour, define what comes next and confirm that you will reach out later that day by email or phone, along with any additional information they might need or have asked for. Make it clear what happens next, and be absolutely sure that you stick to your promises.
How Virtual Tours Fit In
In-person tours have always been a major part of the workspace sales process, but they took a backseat during 2020 while many people and teams worked from home.
During this time, some workspaces shifted to virtual tours as a way to maintain interest and help potential occupiers get a feel for the space. These tours varied in their approach – many were conducted by operators, who walked through the space with a smartphone while on a live video call with a potential member.
Another approach is that offered by TrueView360s whose CEO, Jim Osgood, also joined the Convo panel. Jim’s company produces immersive virtual tours that are published on an operator’s website, giving members the opportunity to move through the space and zoom into certain areas. Think of it as Google Streetview inside a workplace.
“The pandemic made a lot of changes, and a lot of people are still very reluctant to go into a new space unless they know in advance if it might work for them,” Jim commented during the Convo. “That’s where a virtual tour comes in. It’s a great way for someone to ‘walk through’ conference rooms, communal areas, and get a feel for the space.”
Even now, as widespread vaccinations and growing confidence spur people to return to shared workspaces, virtual tours continue to play a part in the overall decision-making process.
Don’t miss Cat Johnson’s next Coworking Convo, taking place on April 29th, which focuses on how to become an eco-friendly brand. Convos are free to attend – simply register your interest and join the online event to learn, share, and connect.