Wedding industry insights from Kelly Chandler.
This month has been full of one-to-one consulting as I’ve found myself working with rural venues in Norfolk, Gloucestershire and Devon. Variety has most definitely been the spice of my life at the moment as those venues have ranged from a 12th century castle to a purpose built 1980s blank canvas home of weddings.
I’m known for working with rural heritage in the main, and so it was music to my ears when I heard about a brand new TV programme dedicated to just this, uncovering the reality behind the running of Britain’s great estates. Over on Smithsonian Channel on Tuesday evenings you’ll find the utterly engaging (and fabulously fun) Julie Montagu, Viscountess Hinchingbrooke of Mapperton Estate, exploring what it really takes to run a rural country estate in the 21st century, with a razor focus on balancing the books. I highly recommend you take a look at ‘An American Aristocrat’s Guide to Great Estates’, it’s certainly a diary date for me this month.
So how often does a sat nav not quite do the job in effectively communicating your location? For so many of my rural clients this is often the case. Some large estates will cover multiple post codes, have different entrances and frankly send sat navs into a tailspin.
So I’m rather excited by the app what3words that I am in the early stages of testing out. The team at what3words has assigned each 3m square in the world a unique three word address that will never change. For example ///filled.count.soap marks the exact entrance to what3words’ London headquarters.
what3words’ addresses are easy to say and share, and are as accurate as GPS coordinates. Their vision is to become a global standard for communicating location. People use what3words to find their tents at festivals, navigate to B&Bs, and to direct emergency services to the right place.
You might like to take a look and consider whether it would help your clients, for weddings, glamping or otherwise find exactly where they are supposed to be more easily!
Lesson of the Month
I’ve been doing plenty of deep dive work with my clients this month and I thought it might inspire you along the same lines. I have:
1. Spent time with wedding venues really mapping out their ideal client type in a lot of detail. This is vital work, not just for a new business but to revisit regularly as your ideal client leads everything from what your offering is to how you market it. I’ve spent a lot of time with venues really exploring who their ideal client(s) are and who they are not, and we’re talking super specific including giving them a name and even finding a “could be” photo not to mention hobbies, interests, travels, sources of inspiration, learning and more.
You might like to do some more reading on client avatars if this piques your interest and is something you need to review yourself. Remember, in 2020, success is all about being niche and really talking to those spot-on clients for you, not going for everyone and everything.
2. Worked with a number of clients on the importance of clarity in their venue hire pricing and the trend towards giving pricing earlier in the enquiry process. Today’s wedding customer wants to know it all up front in their initial research. It is always satisfying when a client implements your advice and tells you that including base line pricing on their website has led to a 151 per cent increase in brochure downloads in a like for like month comparison.
3. Worked closely with a venue that has just completed its first year of weddings to improve the clarity of information giving to potential clients and minimum expected operational standards for working with external caterers to ensure it books ideal (and profitable) clients, retaining and building on a strong reputation.
When should we plan our ‘open events’ for wedding couples?
It’s a question I’m often asked and it’s not a blanket answer. First off, what’s meant by ‘open events’ as the terminology is often confusing? We’re talking an open marketing event (for free) for couples getting married (and generally without a venue booked) to come and visit you. These event are usually supported by a handful of your closest suppliers but are not a full-on wedding fair.
I do have some clients for whom open events are not the right strategy at all. However assuming that you think they are, when should you host them? Particularly if you’re newer to the market, this can be hard to know.
Late January – this is an excellent time to host your first event of the year. December and early January usually produce a volume of enquiries and it’s nice to have an event to direct those enquiries to, not least as most venues encounter the greatest number but the least valuable enquiries at this time with a lot of couples in the very early stages of knowing their mind. Too early in January and the event can run the risk of not capturing these couples.
Mid/late March – a second round for the busy spring market of weddings and usually where couples are more certain of what they are looking for, plus there is the added benefit of showing your venue in some springtime beauty.
Mid October – it’s best to leave the summertime free of open days. Even if your own venue’s diary isn’t full yet, couples are generally attending other weddings and summer events, and it can be a trickier time to get your recommended suppliers to commit if they have an established wedding business. Mid October tends to be a time for couples to get organised and look ahead before the festive season.
When did you last look at your venue’s Pinterest? I urge you to as there are big gains to be had by developing and sticking to a Pinterest marketing strategy for your venue. It’s often neglected and has often had the tag: ‘Oh it’s nice for the pretty but does it bring us any venue enquiries?’ The reality is that it’s more used than Instagram according to one major industry survey (Splendid Insights UK Market Study 2020 of over 18,000 individuals married in the UK in 2019). 69 per cent of them used Pinterest for the planning of their wedding versus 63 per cent using Instagram.
Pinterest is a search engine rather than social media, although it often gets put in that box. With a targeted Pinterest key word strategy you can be driving couples to your venue, place or space in the same way that you might only be able to dream of doing with Google, without significant spending. If you’d like to know more, then I have a brilliant free ‘mini training’ by Pinterest expert Becca Pountney inside my private Facebook group for venues. Search for ‘Wedding Spaces Going Places’.
About the Author
Kelly Chandler is a long term preferred service provider for exclusivevenues such as Syon Park, Highclere Castle, Spencer House and Stoke Park Club. Kelly’s consulting services to wedding venues draw to prior experience in international conference and event planning, over 15 years of business management, and working directly with discerning couples planning their weddings in diverse locations and forging successful relationships with all components of the wedding industry. A former director of the trade body The Alliance of Wedding Planners, Kelly is a well-regarded innovator, mentor, trainer and industry spokesperson on and in the wedding business.
EVENT: Increase your Wedding Sales
Join Kelly and friends on 27 March at RSA House, London, for a day of learning on how to increase your bookings and elevate your wedding offer. Visit www.kellychandlerconsulting.co.uk/wedding-spaces-going-places-live for more information and use code ‘OPENAIR’ for a £30 discount!