The Right Response

Get your wedding enquiry response on its A-game with Kelly Chandler.

Couple holding hands
Photo: Getty Images

In wedding world, we’re soon to enter the busiest time of year for venue searches. Once the turkey is carved and the gifts unwrapped, it’s welcome to wedding planning, with the peak season of enquiries for venues happening between 26 December and Valentine’s Day. 40 per cent of all proposals/engagements happen in this six week period.

It is well documented that young millennials are increasingly well read and researched about their wedding and do a lot of their early shortlisting and selection before they get in touch with potential venues. So when their enquiry hits your inbox (especially if it is one that’s come directly from your own website) you want to be on your A-game and making the very most of that opportunity.

You want to do your best to ensure that your enquiry response makes an impression to avoid being “ghosted”. Ghosting has been well talked about in the media over the past year across all areas of life but in the wedding world it’s where an enquiry is made, a response given and then silence. Despite various follow ups, the person disappears – effectively becoming a ghost – to the frustration of many wedding venue teams.

So here’s my best advice on nailing your enquiry email response and getting it working effectively for you…

Know your objective
What is your objective once a couple has enquired, given you their details and/or downloaded a brochure? Most usually you want to move them quite quickly to a showround. Let’s be realistic, you’re doing pretty well if you get 10 per cent or more of your enquiries to visit but you will likely convert as many as one in two bookings at this showround stage. It follows that the quicker you can move a couple to showround the better.

Easier said than done I know and lots of couples want more of an exchange with you before this but ensure you have a really easy to see ‘call to action’ in your initial enquiry response. Tell them clearly that the next step is a showround and mention this early in your email, suggesting dates and times to make it easy for them to say ‘yes, that works’.

Tip: Make it even easier for your enquiry to book in for a showround by using tech to help customers book directly from your response email using an online calendar booking system. You can set the dates and times that work for you, give useful information and an auto-reminder via text or email. Take a look at the likes of https://youcanbook.me and https://calendly.com

Speed is king
Every year brings greater demand for speed of enquiry response from millennial wedding couples. Ensure that you are not overlooked by taking too long to reply to an enquiry, even if you send an interim reply until you are able to send a fuller quote or details. Some hotel groups have a one hour or less enquiry turnaround response standard operating procedure. You may not need to be quite so efficient but same day is generally expected and bear in mind that in wedding world, couples are not restricted to weekdays so weekend coverage needs to be considered too.

Templates and personalising
No doubt you will have a well-crafted template of sorts which is all well and good but it’s really key to spend time adapting and tweaking this to suit the enquiry. If couples have spent the time telling you details of their wedding then it is expected that you will send the information relevant to their dates, numbers, requests and answer their questions or refer to their choices, not send them everything that you offer to everyone. This is key in the wedding market where customised and tailor made is really valued in the decision making process. Don’t make your couples do more work than they have to, whether it’s making lots of website clicks or looking through endless packages and links.

Businesswoman typing corporate e-mail using laptop at office desk
Photo: Getty Images

Watch the length
Bearing in mind that 56 per cent of wedding venue research is done on smartphones (according to the Bridebook UK Wedding Market Study 2019) you want your enquiry response to be readable and not drag on too long – remembering your couples are looking at small screens a lot of the time. Where needed therefore, refer to a minimum of two or three relevant links to illustrate your points and refer them to more reading.

Building rapport is key
Your enquiry response is your time to convert a couple to a showround but it also has to build rapport – a friendly approach towards explaining your features and benefits. It’s not the time to go straight into sales mode, nor the precise logistics of their event, instead try and convey your team’s excitement to work with them.

This is time to remind a couple of the benefits of what you and only you can offer – your top USPs, not your venue’s features but what your venue allows them to do. For example, stating you offer 20 bedrooms as part of the package is great but the message should be ‘overnight accommodation for 40 of your guests so you have your own completely private house party and can extend your celebration into a relaxing next day.’

Keep attachments to a minimum
Don’t attach any more than two PDFs – it’s too much like hard work otherwise. Sample menus are great to give a taste of the variety of your food and drinks offerings but couples don’t need every possible menu option at this early stage.

End with a question
Following on from building rapport, you want your enquiry response to keep the conversation flowing with the client, ideally resulting in the booking of a showround. For some, more of an exchange is needed to help them get to know you, like you and trust you. End your enquiry response with just one question, it’s much more effective than a statement of ‘we look forward to hearing from you.’

I suggest something like: What kind of wedding ceremony are you thinking of? Can we help you with any caterer recommendations? What would your ideal wedding day be like? What else can I help you with at this point? But remember, just one question!

So, in line with my advice to leave with a call to action, I’m setting one here for you lovely readers. I urge you to go take a look right now at your current enquiry response for weddings and run it past the checklist above. How are you fairing? Do you need to make tweaks? You’ll thank yourself when you do. Here’s to the 2020 engagement season!

 


Wedding Spaces Going Places LIVE

If you’d like to improve your wedding conversions and bookings by exploring your wedding sales processes more in 2020, then do take a look at my live conference day which runs twice a year just for wedding locations, returning on 27 March in London. www.kellychandlerconsulting.co.uk/wedding-spaces-going-places-live

 


About the Author

Kelly Chandler

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.
www.kellychandlerconsulting.co.uk

 

About Open Air Business 735 Articles

The voice of outdoor hospitality - in print and online.

If you liked this article, subscribe to the printed magazine for free here.

Between magazines we produce the electronic OAB Bulletin - get yours here.