Increasing Revenue

Upselling, add-ons and protecting your USP, with advice from Kelly Chandler

wedding venue tractor
Photo: Getty Images

It’s been very on trend for the new breed of wedding host venues to offer flexibility, to allow couples more of a blank canvas on which to paint their ideal wedding and to be more “hands off”. All well and good, and millennials certainly want to plan their wedding their way, however, and this is a big one, they still need help knitting together their wedding dreams.

More than a few couples are inspired by the idea of the DIY wedding they have seen on Pinterest but in reality they want some help on how to get there; their wedding celebration is a time for them to enjoy those around them, not necessarily to build their own wedding village. This is especially true of those hiring your property for multi night hire – they might like the idea of decorating and providing the finishing touches but in reality, there are some key items you can supply that will make that so much easier for them.

Here is an opportunity for many an outdoor modern wedding business – by providing more support and infrastructure to your existing customers you’ve a ready made opportunity for adding on services and increasing your revenue and profit per event.

Let’s also bear in mind that the wedding venue sector is competitive so it’s really important to have an inspiring offer from the off. 2019 couples are looking not only for a warm, welcoming space they can have fun in but for photo backdrops, quirky features (so they can grab that Instagram shot) and much more – the smart venue is the one that offers a very good level of “included” features with a smart list of upgrades and add-ons that are tempting.

Here is my pick list of the best things you should consider for your venue:

Whether it’s a weekend or a mid-week multi night, many of you hire your spaces for multi days – usually this entails one key wedding day with time either side for set up and pack up. There is opportunity here to earn revenue from your captive audience. Ideas can be:

The night before the wedding it’s fairly customary to have a “rehearsal dinner” for say 10-20 nearest and dearest. Can you/your catering partner supply this? The same goes for a post wedding brunch. These are usually larger and may involve a number of guests from the wedding day returning again – there’s nothing like a Bloody Mary and a cooked breakfast to see the hangover on its way! I reccommend you proactively suggest these things in order to test your market and sow the seed of the idea early in the planning.

You have a captive audience on site for at least an afternoon and possibly the morning of the wedding. Can you lay on any activities, particularly if they connect visitors to your farm, land or property? How about a cider or beer making workshop? Or a gin tasting workshop, partnering with a local distillery? You may grow wild flowers on your land – can you incorporate a workshop for visitors to learn about these and design their own table centres and bouquets for the wedding?

Anything food and drink is often a winner, particularly if you attract wedding parties from out of area; they often like to know more about your location and take this as an opportunity to learn something new if you inspire them and make the most of ‘local’.

Not everyone is going to be super-active and particularly the ladies often appreciate some pampering whether it’s manicures, pedicures or a relaxing massage. Do you have a partner company in place that can visit your bridal parties and provide a well thought through relaxing experience on the afternoon before the wedding or the morning of the wedding itself? You could really package this up with a fun afternoon tea and fizz, offering it on a per person rate.

The focus of course is the big day itself. Where can you look for additional revenue here?

Outdoor wedding venue hanging decorations
Photo: Getty Images

Getting ready
Just as I’ve mentioned above, the love of pampering extends to the morning of the wedding. 2019 couples really want to make the most of the entire day, not just starting at the ceremony, putting more energy into having fun with their nearest bridal party as they enjoy the excitement of preparing. You only have to look on Instagram to find oodles of pictures of branded matching dressing gowns, personalised champagne flutes, team “bride” slippers and more. How can you tap into some of this excitement?

I highly recommend creating a “morning of wedding offering” – this might entail a thoughtfully presented selection of easy to eat sandwiches (no drippy fillings or dark sauces in the presence of wedding dresses), snacks and drinks. It could be packaged up in a pretty picnic hamper with some thoughtful, inspiring or humorous quotes on getting married and a personalised congratulations card or similar. Always be thinking about what’s Instagrammable and a talking point alongside providing a practical solution for guests needing feeding!

Getting them from A to B
Are there opportunities to offer transport of the bridal party from A to B and B to A or similar? Remember even on a rural farm people will dress up, so what might seem like a perfectly do-able walk normally might not be something they want to do in heels.

Do you have a tractor and trailer for use? Do you have other farm vehicles that could be used? Don’t forget not all couples envisage the polished classic car for their wedding (especially if they are choosing rustic locations) so don’t write off your vehicles even if you think they may not be suitable. You might not necessarily charge but can you offer them as a USP and a further compelling reason to buy?

I’ve already stressed the great importance attached to photos for the wedding of 2019 – always be thinking about what sort of things you can offer to create that special backdrop. Rural items such as old tractors, barrels, milk churns and water troughs are all highly desirable – if you have them, find a use for them.

Then look at things like swing seats, feature chairs, giant photo frames of your “must have” view, garden games, flower walls, festoon lighting and lanterns.

You may find that for some items it’s more of a USP to include them within your hire fee and help you sell your venue, especially if there is little set up cost and wear and tear. For items that require a set up and staffing, offer them as add-ons and upgrades. I suggest an easy to use shopping list of optionals to provide your couples. Bear in mind that it’s a win for everyone if items are not having to travel miles to get to you by being hired elsewhere – it’s a bonus for your pockets and a plus for environmental impact.


Making a cocktail at an outdoor wedding
Photo: Getty Images

Operating your own evening bar is known to be one of the most profitable parts of any wedding operation; sensible pub pricing is usually understood and appreciated by couples. There is an opportunity, alongside providing the usual bar offerings that go down well, to offer some upgraded personalised specials. Can you create a signature cocktail based on a bride and groom’s loves and tastes? Can you have a shopping list of some upmarket brands that you might like to tempt them with during the planning process?

One of the ways I think venues can make more profit is to regularly revisit details during planning. Sometimes revenue is left on the table when couples are only asked at the start of the planning for their choices or presented with a standard list near the end. If you can keep them inspired with fresh options throughout their booking experience with you (both directly and via your social media and marketing) then there is a real possibility that they will fall in love with ‘that’ drink or ‘that’ food option and splurge on that area, bearing in mind that budgets fluctuate during planning.

I hope you’ve found these tips useful. If you’d like more advice on how to promote your wedding venue and grow your bookings, there are just a handful of places left on my next live event taking place on 1 May at Syon House, London. You can find out how to join Wedding Spaces Going Places Live at


It’s strongly recommended that you have all relevant insurances, health and hygiene certificates and training in place if you are starting to offer catering, bar and transport services to couples if you’ve not done this before.

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