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Thread started 03 Jun 2015 (Wednesday) 22:11
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Calendar - showing availability on website - advice/thoughts requested

 
Jon ­ Tinkler
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Jun 03, 2015 22:11 |  #1

Hi everyone, thanks for taking the time to read this post.

I'm a working wedding photographer, and I've just decided to put a calendar on my site to show when I'm booked. We've (my wife and business partner and I) been tossing the idea around for a while, and I just decided to go with it.

What do you all think, is this a good idea or not?

You can see it in action here - http://www.millgroveph​otography.com.au/galle​ry/ (external link)

It looks like this -

IMAGE: http://mil.millgrovephotogr.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Calendar.gif


The pros we've thought of so far;
- people don't need to enquire if we're already booked - same them and us time
- might encourage people just to enquire if they see we're available
- people who really DO want to book can check out if we're free or not for their big day

The cons we've thought of so far;
- may be distracting
- may discourage people from enquiring
- the main concern, our bookings are nearly always on the weekends for obvious reasons. Does all the green "available" days make us look unpopular?

Any thoughts/queries very welcome - thanks again in advance.

Cheers,
Jon

Millgrove Photography

  
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gonzogolf
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Jun 03, 2015 22:16 |  #2

I would not publish my availability. That amount of info would be confimed to an inquiry.




  
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rebelsimon
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Jun 03, 2015 22:24 |  #3

Even if I'm booked, I want someone to email me for a wedding. It lets me offer them a referral, which is good karma with other wedding photographers.


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Jon ­ Tinkler
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Jun 03, 2015 23:26 |  #4

Thanks guys - based on your advice, others' thoughts and us talking it over again, I'm taking it down.

I do actually think it has some merit from the client's side - but there are too many cons from a business side.

Cheers


Millgrove Photography

  
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Alveric
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Jun 03, 2015 23:39 |  #5
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Too much information, IMO. Good move in taking it down.


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the ­ flying ­ moose
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Jun 04, 2015 01:22 |  #6

Good call taking it down.

There is a local wedding photog in town that does something similar except she uses hers to pressure her clients into booking right away. "See how booked I am, if you don't at least leave a deposit with me, then tomorrow this spot might not be available anymore." You see it every wedding show.




  
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Jon ­ Tinkler
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Jun 04, 2015 01:25 |  #7

the flying moose wrote in post #17583478 (external link)
she uses hers to pressure her clients into booking right away. "See how booked I am, if you don't at least leave a deposit with me, then tomorrow this spot might not be available anymore." You see it every wedding show.

If that's working for her great, definitely wouldn't work for me though.

Thanks all for the comments


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Jun 04, 2015 01:29 |  #8

You are making a good call not doing this. Another point I would make to anyone wanting to do this is a simple one. Not many people have the time to maintain a website as often as they should be maintained. Adding a calendar to a website requires you to make updates much quicker than you would with a normal photographer's website. During a very busy time of the season you may have to update the website daily to keep problems down.

Who has the time to change their website that often, particularly during the busy season?


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Jon ­ Tinkler
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Jun 04, 2015 01:32 |  #9

Nogo wrote in post #17583483 (external link)
Who has the time to change their website that often, particularly during the busy season?

I'd absolutely agree with that, especially if you don't maintain your own site.

I am a huge nerd and former web developer so it's less of a problem for me than it probably would be for others - good point.


Millgrove Photography

  
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memoriesoftomorrow
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Jun 04, 2015 21:18 |  #10

I've had my availability online for the last 5 years. Works great!

1) I don't get time wasting enquiries for dates I'm already booked. Pre-qualifying clients with this and other methods has saved me days of needless email replies and phone calls each year. By the time someone enquires they already know everything they need to and most of the time it is just taking the booking or arrange a meeting.

2) It makes the user experience on the website easier as all the information relevant to making a booking is on the site. Transparency is a great thing when it comes to building trust.

3) It takes a matter of 30 seconds to update when I get a new booking... if people don't have time to do that during the wedding season then they need help with their time management skills. Aside from that anyone who really cares about SEO will be regularly tweaking their web content... season or off-season.

4) People can see that I'm booked very solid and that leaving things too long may mean they miss out. I have limited availability (I limit the number of weddings I shoot each year). There is no "hard sell" people can just see that I'm very busy. The reality is that if people don't book earlier rather than later then yes the date they are interested in may get booked (it happens a lot), that isn't a sales tactic it is just how it is.


Peter

  
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jimeuph1
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Jun 04, 2015 22:28 |  #11

I would suggest a hybrid of that idea;

I am fully booked for August 2015.

Only midweek availability left for September 2015.

I am fully booked June & September 2015, with limited availability for August 2015.


This should reduce enquires once you are booked, creates a sense of urgency during consultations for highly requested dates, with out disclosing specifics.

Disclosing specifics might mean a disgruntled photographer who has "lost" a booking for the 6th of July can't narrow it down to you and throw abuse at you because you have just announced your booking.

A burgular won't know exactly when you are out of the house.

You don't have a calender that shows available for 200+ days of the year, even though we know that 95% of people get married on Fridays and Saturdays, clients don't because the Hotels offer deals on mid week weddings they assume that people will get married on Wednesdays so in the end you are lowering urgency and looking unpopular.

Personally I like being able to turn down dates, that information in itself is valuable, its telling you that your marketing is working and reaching real people rather than just SEO sales teams.

Its telling you that the work you do is in demand and if you are turning down a lot of people perhaps you can afford to raise prices.

It's telling you when it might be busiest next year so you can plan your time more effectively.

That information allows you to plan marketing strategies, and see trends that allow you to appeal to your target client more effectively.




  
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memoriesoftomorrow
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Jun 04, 2015 22:43 |  #12

I would suggest a hybrid of that idea;

I am fully booked for August 2015.

Only midweek availability left for September 2015.

I am fully booked June & September 2015, with limited availability for August 2015.


This should reduce enquires once you are booked, creates a sense of urgency during consultations for highly requested dates, with out disclosing specifics.

jimeuph1 wrote in post #17584719 (external link)
Disclosing specifics might mean a disgruntled photographer who has "lost" a booking for the 6th of July can't narrow it down to you and throw abuse at you because you have just announced your booking.

Meanwhile... in the real world that doesn't happen. Besides you don't "announce" a booking, that would looks desperate... do venues announce bookings? No... because your are expected to make sales. That is what any half decent business does. If you get a booking you simply update the calendar.

jimeuph1 wrote in post #17584719 (external link)
A burglar won't know exactly when you are out of the house.

When you are out with all your kit... and not forgetting that other people may actually live there... and presuming your address is publicly available.

jimeuph1 wrote in post #17584719 (external link)
You don't have a calendar that shows available for 200+ days of the year, even though we know that 95% of people get married on Fridays and Saturdays, clients don't because the Hotels offer deals on mid week weddings they assume that people will get married on Wednesdays so in the end you are lowering urgency and looking unpopular.

You just need the dates you are booked. You don't need a calendar as such... just an easy to read list

jimeuph1 wrote in post #17584719 (external link)
Personally I like being able to turn down dates, that information in itself is valuable, its telling you that your marketing is working and reaching real people rather than just SEO sales teams.

Enquiries from people who straight out want to book and already know you are free also tells you your marketing is working.

jimeuph1 wrote in post #17584719 (external link)
Its telling you that the work you do is in demand and if you are turning down a lot of people perhaps you can afford to raise prices.

Nope... SALES tell you if you are in demand NOT ENQUIRIES. If you are booking out then you know to raise your prices. If you are turning down enquiries for dates you are already booked yet not selling to capacity it isn't the time to raise prices. SALES is your metric for price increases.


Peter

  
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jimeuph1
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Jun 05, 2015 00:22 |  #13

Meanwhile... in the real world that doesn't happen.


We were looking for a dog walker when we first started, we rang a few people, most of whom turned us down because they already where fully booked, one lady didn't but upon asking what dates and times we would be needing, we told her mostly Fridays and Saturdays, ummed and awwed and said she would see what she can do but during the summer she had her own dogs in competitions at the weekends.

Well we had exhausted nearly all the options so agreed to meet her and hope that our bookings didn't coincide with hers.

But knowing that we might end up having to use two or more different dog walkers we kept looking, and found our current dog walkers who happily stated that weekends were perfect as most clients want during the week. Great suits our needs perfectly we thought.

We tried to ring the other lady (whom we hadn't yet met) and ended up sending a text to say we no longer required her, but thanks for her time.

She then rang back the next evening and gave my wife a right earful, demanding to know who we went with how much it was costing etc.
We just told her that as we were only looking for weekends we found somebody who was available at the weekend without prior conflicts.

We then recieve a phonecall from our new dog walker, who asked us why did she recieve a nasty call from the other lady?

We hadn't disclosed the new walker to the other lady, so she must have rung around all the local walkers to give them all an earful!

We told the new walkers that we hadn't said who we went with, and the new walker then apologised and explained that it wasn't the first time they had had dealings with the other lady.

No it wasn't the photography industry, but that pettiness exists.

Besides you don't "announce" a booking, that would looks desperate... do venues announce bookings? No... because your are expected to make sales. That is what any half decent business does. If you get a booking you simply update the calendar.

When enquiring about our own wedding next year, we found one photographer that we liked, my fiance looked on his facebook page and was immediately shocked to see posts about "booking yet another wedding at such and such a hotel"

Needless to say we have not booked him.

I agree that it is desperate, and not professional at all. But said photographer is actually busy, a new wedding up every weekend on the blog.

Ok updating a calendar is subtle enough to hopefully avoid trouble.

When you are out with all your kit... and not forgetting that other people may actually live there... and presuming your address is publicly available.

Do you sit in an empty house with just your camera equipment for company? Plenty of other valuables, case in point, footballs fans targetting the millionaire players houses during the match because they knew the players and their families would be at the match.

Anybody who has listed themselves as a business on google maps in order to list in local searches could have that information found. Any company you have put your address details to can and does sell that information, it can be hacked into.

You might scoff and think what lowlife is capable of that level of work just to find a target, but most burglaries are a result of your house being watched for weeks before making a move. It not too much of a leap to add in a hacker that can sell adresses of easy targets to burglars.

Yes I am probably being over the top, and it is not likely to happen as a result of having a calendar or a few dates on a website.

Enquiries from people who straight out want to book and already know you are free also tells you your marketing is working. Nope... SALES tell you if you are in demand NOT ENQUIRIES. If you are booking out then you know to raise your prices. If you are turning down enquiries for dates you are already booked yet not selling to capacity it isn't the time to raise prices. SALES is your metric for price increases.

Booking the 16th of August, and then turning down another 6 enquiries for that date is not useful information? It's not helpful to your earnings but it still tells you something about your marketing etc.

Having it written on the site and still getting enquiries for that date also tells you something about either your clients or your website.

I agree sales are definately a better indicator of all those things, because enquiries might just be from marketing companies trying to extract contact details from you.

But it is still information that can be used, otherwise website traffic wouldn't be reported and then broken down so you can determine its relevance.

Everyone is allowed their own way of doing things, what works for one might not work for another.


Good luck with however you manage to pre qualify your potential clients.




  
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memoriesoftomorrow
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Jun 05, 2015 05:01 |  #14

jimeuph1 wrote in post #17584792 (external link)
No it wasn't the photography industry, but that pettiness exists.

Deciding a business strategy based on a one time event for a completely different industry... not a rational decision.

jimeuph1 wrote in post #17584792 (external link)
Ok updating a calendar is subtle enough to hopefully avoid trouble.

Avoid what "trouble"?

jimeuph1 wrote in post #17584792 (external link)
Yes I am probably being over the top, and it is not likely to happen as a result of having a calendar or a few dates on a website.

Yes you are being way over the top.

jimeuph1 wrote in post #17584792 (external link)
Booking the 16th of August, and then turning down another 6 enquiries for that date is not useful information? It's not helpful to your earnings but it still tells you something about your marketing etc.

It tells you it is a popular date that people are enquiring about. Which is pretty useless information if you are booking that date out anyway... unless you have a clone.

jimeuph1 wrote in post #17584792 (external link)
Having it written on the site and still getting enquiries for that date also tells you something about either your clients or your website.

You have to stupid proof the website as much as possible. As with any website you always have to cater for the lowest common denominator. No matter how much you do though you'll always get the odd stupid enquiry "I know your website says you are already booked that date, but are you already booked?".

jimeuph1 wrote in post #17584792 (external link)
I agree sales are definitely a better indicator of all those things, because enquiries might just be from marketing companies trying to extract contact details from you.

Your contact details should be on the website regardless. If you don't have a phone number up their (obvious on every page) your missing out on potential enquiries anyway.

jimeuph1 wrote in post #17584792 (external link)
But it is still information that can be used, otherwise website traffic wouldn't be reported and then broken down so you can determine its relevance.

That is what Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools and website stats are for. It isn't hard to track routes through the website to see where the drop off of users is.


Peter

  
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jimeuph1
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Jun 05, 2015 12:15 |  #15

People are and can be petty, I consider that a con to the OP's now redundant question, even if it is such a tiny con.
The OP took his calendar down, the Cons outwieghed the Pros, even if my con is seemgly stupid.

In a supply and demand business, it means your demand is higher than supply, if you book 30 weddings but have 40 solid enquires surely thats a good sign? If you get one booking but have six enquiries for that date thats probably not such a great outcome.

And seriously how long does it take to reply to an email? Are you wading through hundreds of emails a day? I imagine its less time than you spend reading facebook or these forums.




  
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Calendar - showing availability on website - advice/thoughts requested
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