New Year Rush

Are you ready for the flurry of enquiries that occur between Christmas Eve and Valentine’s Day?

Boyfriend putting ring on girlfriend finger

If you’re a seasoned wedding venue then you’ll know that we have an unofficial wedding engagement season each year and that heralds the start of a bonanza of enquiries as newly engaged couples start their wedding planning adventures. If you’re newer to weddings then here’s your friendly warning: engagement season starts on Christmas Eve (thereabouts) and runs through to Valentine’s Day (14 February) – during this time a phenomenal percentage of wedding engagements occur. And with engagements comes wedding planning, kicking off with venue finding…

This feature shares some reminders to you of what your newly engaged couples are looking for, expecting and what will make them compelled to shortlist you and your special place or space for viewing and eventually booking. This is what you need:

A thorough website
Years ago a website was a taster, to encourage the customer to take steps to get in touch and enquire to find out more by phone or in person. In 2019 the website needs to do a much more thorough job of showcasing exactly what you have. Millennial wedding couples are time short like never before and research everything online. They want to see it all and research like crazy so if you don’t present them with enough of the magic to entice them to take action, then they won’t get in touch and will go elsewhere. Ensure you have:

• An ‘at a glance’ summary of what your venue is about and your key features such as guest capacities, accommodation and exclusive use, shown easily and quickly

• Excellent impactful imagery (and ideally virtual tours and video) that show all areas of your venue dressed in inspiring wedding styles and in wedding uses (they don’t want to have to imagine, they want to be shown)

• A clear “story of the day” told to them in terms of how they can use your wedding venue across the day or across the weekend, all the while emphasising flexibility and choice

• Show your experience. Be sure to emphasise service, approachability and the strength of your internal and extended supplier team – the newly engaged couple can be quite overwhelmed by this wedding journey they suddenly find themselves on so you need to reassure at every step of the way.

Guideline pricing
You need to be up front and clear with your venue hire fees to impact the new breed of engaged couples. They want clear, factual, transparent and fast. This can be hard I know but ensure they have quick and easy access to pricing. For those who offer bespoke pricing based on a number of factors, then a guideline ‘from’ price is a minimum.

Smooth enquiry process
As soon as the turkey is eaten, be ready for enquiry central. Do you have your standard (but personalised) enquiry reply ready to go and are your team in place to ensure speedy responses to initial enquiries? This is key. If you know there are gaps in the seven day week where enquiries cannot be responded to, set up a friendly auto-responder as a minimum referring your enquiry to other resources in the meantime and reassuring couples of your timescales. Make sure you have your systems in place for logging enquiries for your own marketing stats and for following up those enquiries that look particularly promising.

Wedding or engagement silver ring with diamonds
Pic: Getty Images

TIP: I predict that 2019 will be the year venues see a lot more enquiries and questions coming through via social media platforms, specifically Instagram. So, plan for your Instagram handle to be checked regularly and that communication channels there are open!

Book a showround
Make it nice and easy for your enquiry to book in for a showround – avoid the need for the back and forth on email and use tech to help customers book directly from your website and/or your enquiry response email. I recommend youcanbook.me and calendly.com which can sync up with your online team diary. Hand in hand with this is the need to ensure you have plenty of timeslots available on weekends and/or evenings to show couples around or have some strategically placed open days to capture many couples at once.

Plan your showrounds
How are you going to plan your 2019 showrounds? It’s great to be able to sit down with your couples before visiting your spaces to really get an understanding of what they are looking to create for their wedding. Hospitality is key – a nice drink and a welcoming gift or goodie can really help build rapport. Remember, this is a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience and you’re part of that special journey – enthusiasm is everything, no matter if this is your first showround or 100th that week! By building rapport and understanding a couple’s priorities at the start of a showround you can tailor it to focus on the things that are most important, whether it’s a wild party or the finest food.

What will you leave your couples with? Glossy brochures aren’t essential but something physical (whether printed or a goodie of sorts) can be lovely as a lot of your couples will be sharing with family (who are often stakeholders!).

Follow ups
Have an agreed system in place for how you are going to follow up post showround – who is going to do this in your team, at what times of day or what days of the week, and how are they going to follow up and how often? I’m a big fan of picking up the phone in conjunction with email. Yes millennials don’t love the phone but pre-warning them of a call to come and/or leaving a personal friendly voicemail still has impact. Offering to hold dates for a short spell can work for some venues and enable an obvious reason to follow up. Two to three follow ups is completely fine and highly recommended but have a system in place to track follow ups and note outcomes to really maximise your opportunities.

With applying all (or even just a few) of these tips and follow ups, I’m confident you will be shining bright and filling that venue diary up very nicely!

Couple standing under fireworks

 


Kelly Chandler

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kelly Chandler Wedding Consulting helps unique places and spaces to thrive in the modern wedding market via a range of specialist one to one consulting and group training programmes.

Kelly has a wealth of specialist wedding industry experience through more than 15 years leading her award-winning independent wedding planning business, The Bespoke Wedding Company, together with a Directorship at industry body, the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners. Kelly is proud to eat, breathe and sleep weddings – setting standards, inspiring, mentoring and motivating others. She is a well-respected go-to expert in the business of weddings with a unique grasp of both modern bridal expectations and a venue’s commercial needs. www.kellychandlerconsulting.co.uk

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