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Isabel Smith highlights opportunities to increase profit from rural wedding events

So, you’ve got your rural venue up and running and your site is starting to pay its way. Great news! But now it’s time to up the ante and invest again so your revenue stream per event gets stronger and stronger. After all, we all want the same thing – more money for less work.

Bride posing on tractor

Additional services
You might think that your offering is pretty simple: Pay me a fee and I’ll let you put a marquee up on my land for your wedding. Well, true – this simplicity is what is so lovely about your business model. But there are additional services for which you can charge. I am not saying that you must charge for every little thing – be reasonable, but there are times when you can utilise your space and provide extra services with little hassle for you, but great added value to the client.

1) Early and late access

Some marquees are more complicated to erect than others; some of my past events have required five day builds. All this to-ing and fro-ing, and the length of time your grass is covered means more wear and tear on your property, so I see no reason why a small additional charge (say £250-£500 per day depending on your target market and location) can’t be levied to compensate for this.

2) Overflow parking and parking attendants

Even offering your largest field for parking can sometimes be insufficient where an event is particularly large. With the best will in the world, you can run out of space since guests often don’t think to park sensibly in rows meaning lots of wasted space. Offering parking attendants during arrival is a great way to make the guests’ lives easier and protect your property. And don’t forget the suppliers to the wedding – they have to park somewhere too, and often with larger vehicles and needing a lot of space around them for unloading. It might be worth offering a totally separate area for staff parking for those larger events (at a small fee of course).

3) Guest camping

Rural events are often a little rustic – it is all part of the charm. You might even be hosting festival style weddings spanning multiple days. If so, why not offer a field with basic camping facilities (toilet and shower trailers aren’t expensive to hire) for the wedding guests to use as a cheaper alternative to local accommodation?

4) Late night finishes

Even with the strict music licenses so often granted by councils in rural areas, you don’t have to be the party pooper. You can apply for a Temporary Event Notice from your local council up to 12 times per year, allowing an extension to a few weddings each year. £250 per hour after midnight is not an uncommon charge at all.

bale of hay isolated5) Hay bale hire

Hay and straw bales are perfect as alternative seating, either just as they are or with a blanket thrown over them. If that’s the style of wedding your clients opt for, why not make their lives a little easier and make a little more profit? It is a no brainer for venues that make use of hay and straw on a daily basis in other parts of their business.

6) Tractor transfer

In the same vein, country girls love a good tractor. Get creative – if you have one on-site then offer it as a wedding car to and from the church, or at least in some lovely location for photographs on-site.

You should already have a flawless Preferred Supplier List (PSL), which is earning you some commission (if not, that is your first step to increasing your revenue). But why not extend this list and partner up with other suppliers such as local accommodation providers or fun food vans for evening catering? Glamping is always a big hit, with many properties investing in this. If you don’t want your own huts, companies such as Honeybells can offer luxury tents on a case-by-case basis.

Through partnerships, not only are you upping your commission and opening your doors to more services your clients will love, but you are also benefiting from the cross-promotional activities that your network brings. Just make sure that everyone you choose to work with is seeking the same target market as you and is marketing really well online and in print.

Appetizers on platesDesign
In case you hadn’t noticed, weddings nowadays are heavily design-led, so if you, as a venue, could contribute to the design side of things and increase your revenue at the same time, grab the opportunity.

Here’s the concept – if you find you are hosting multiple weddings, all with a very similar style of décor, you can offer something unique to complement this style. Try investing in a series of design-based products; traditional ice cream carts available for those especially warm summer days, birdcages which can be dressed up to create stunning centrepieces or garden statues to adorn the outdoor seated area.

These are just a few examples of the myriad of design features you could offer. But be a little careful when investing – you need to make sure that you are buying products that your clients will consistently want so as to ensure the return on your investment. Think carefully about the style of your venue and what products your clients will love.

Up your prices
I seem to be saying this a hundred times a week at the moment. When you offer a service (rather than a take-away product) and get to a point of being fully booked, it’s time to up your price. It sounds obvious but I find myself begging clients to recognise their value and charge accordingly. A simple 15 per cent price increase for the next wedding season can make a real difference to your bottom line – particularly where running costs are reasonably fixed. If you’re feeling particularly flush, investing in some new infrastructure like an outdoor three phase power source, a water source, prettier gardens or even some creative lighting or other décor will justify a premium fee.

As with everything I suggest to my clients, it’s all about knowing your target market like the back of your hand. You want to completely understand what products and services your customers need to make their big day the perfect representation of their style so that you never fail to give them what they are looking for. Offer the best up-selling opportunities at the best possible price and I can guarantee that you’ll be on your way to increased revenue soon enough.

Isabel SmithAbout the Author
Isabel Smith has 10 years in the wedding industry behind her as one of the UK’s top wedding planners and business consultants to venues and other suppliers. Isabel’s expertise spans marketing, sales and operations as she helps new vendors launch as well as assisting established businesses should they find their sales fallings. /

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