Archives For hospitality

I have been thinking more and more about one of the fundamental failures communicators are making in their work and was reminded of it when I drove into my local ShopRite parking lot the other day.

After renovations which made grocery shopping fun and delicious (new food court in the actual store!), traffic went through the roof. But the store didn’t stop there.

Thinking about the user experience even before we walk in the door, the management realized while shopping inside the store was fun, getting a parking spot wasn’t anymore.

putting audience first

So what did they do? Call them crazy, but I now have free valet parking at my grocery store. The first in the entire state apparently.

What are you doing to make the experience of your guests, audience, followers, supporters and volunteers to be a WOW-experience? Where can you go further to put their needs first?

If I looked at your website, is it really tuned for first time visitors? Or is your content set up in a way that “everyone else does it”?

Do you talk more about what you need from your supporters (like tons of “give give give! Just give us money!” type messaging) vs what they might really want to explore or hear about regarding their opportunity to participate in impactful work?

Do you talk more about you, as in your “institution” organization? Or do you really celebrate “you,” the person reading your content — you know, the volunteers, supporters, constituents who are the real heros, without which you wouldn’t have a job?

What can you do to pull out all the stops to out to put your audience first, kind of like giving free valet parking for me to run in and grab a carton of milk at my ShopRite?

Most churches believe they have open doors that just scream “welcome!” and may actually see some success in getting 1st time visitors.

But then, over time, not many people actually return for another visit.  Where did they go?

Ministry leaders are often left wondering why people don’t come back to their worship services another time.   Rationalization often leads to assumptions that since a church gets visitors, they must have succeeded in creating a friendly, inviting environment for new comers.  And this sometimes leads to lack of ownership of this important detail of converting first time visitors into repeat visitors.

Of course, it is easy to think those first timers just got busy the next weekend.  Or they assume most visitors aren’t serious about faith, so it’s understandable that they wouldn’t check out a church two weeks in a row.  Or a host of other excuses ministries can come up with on behalf of the absent returnee.

Truth be told, 1st time visitors don’t come back for a real tangible reason — their decision is now based on the reality they just experienced in person.

The hard part isn’t getting someone to come your church when they don’t know much about it.  It is only after they’ve experienced your church community in person — when all your ministry efforts are really felt — for them to consider retuning a second time.

Rick Ezell, pastor of a church in SC, believes there are actually 5 critical reasons why 2nd time visitors are a myth in many churches.  He says:

  • Visitors make up their minds regarding your church in the first 10 minutes.
  • Most church members are not friendly.
  • Church guests are highly consumer-oriented.
  • The church is in the hospitality business but don’t realize it.
  • You only have one chance to make a good first impression.

So then, what can churches do in order to get more 1st time visitors to turn into 2nd time visitors?

Here are 12 practical tips for getting the ball rolling with your ministry to start thinking about this in a serious way: Continue Reading…