COVID-19: a venue's experience of creating a virtual tour for the first time

Exclusive use North Cornwall wedding venue Pengenna Manor, a private 800-year-old manor house set in over 300 stunning acres specialising in rustic barn and marquee weddings, launched a new service at the end of March to try and keep the business rolling during these uncertain times – a virtual video tour of the entire venue. Grace from Bridebook spoke to Richard, the proprietor, about his experience and the successes so far.

Having to cancel several pre-booked viewing appointments once the shutdown was announced on the 23rd March got owner Richard Blewett thinking about how to try and keep new bookings coming in during the crisis. He realised the perfect solution would be to shoot a series of individual tour videos of the whole venue, and although there was nothing new in that idea, he knew what couples always love when visiting the Manor is the personal touch.

“They love being given the personal tour by the owner himself and I have underestimated in the past the power of personality” says Richard, “so I decided that I had to somewhat step out of my comfort zone where I’d rather feature the Manor than myself and step in front of the camera!”

Introducing the video tour himself from in front of the camera, and wrapping it up at the end, lets couples see who is guiding them around, helping them connect to what is being shown and described. You don’t need to spend big to make it great either! “I wasn’t aiming for a super glossy professional look, I wanted it to be as personal as possible so I just filmed and edited each video on my mobile, just as if I was taking someone around with me… it’s just the same as taking couples on a FaceTime or Skype tour but without the signal drop-outs!” said Richard.

Showing your personality through a video tour is crucial. Bridebook’s data from the UK Wedding Report 2020 shows that it is the team at the venue that is the single biggest deciding factor when it comes to booking!

The tour is broken down in to a series of 8 bite size videos, each one showcasing a different area of the venue to allow couples to dip in and out as they wish. Richard leads you around the entire venue step by step, featuring everything the couple would see if they visited in person, sparing no detail, ensuring they have the full experience. The introduction is quick and to the point (about 30 seconds in length) and the longest video is about 20 minutes. He concludes the short series with another 30 second video, where couples are offered the chance for a live video chat with him afterwards to answer any follow up questions. The videos have now been viewed over 270 times and four brand new bookings have been achieved in the last three weeks directly because of them.

Richard says: “Since we finished and launched the tour on the website at the end of March it’s been really popular with new couples looking to view who can’t visit us right now, and also our existing couples can use it to help them plan their wedding, and share it with their family and friends. One of our booked couples got in touch to thank me, saying that their parents who have yet to visit loved it, and their grandma now watches it every day, helping her to get through isolation!”

As the year progresses Richard plans to re-film and issue updates on certain sections as the seasons change and the stunning grounds at Pengenna burst into life. This is a fantastic example of proactive marketing during these unprecedented times, proving exactly how much they pay off, too! For more on this topic, read Hamish Shephard’s advice on why you should be offering virtual tours and how best to do them.