There is nothing like getting face to face. OK, so while this month reducing human contact is probably the theme (this is the only mention of coronavirus I’m making, promise), in general you can’t beat the human connection and I’m blessed to meet almost all of my clients in person, some several times.
This month has seen me travel to see two of my recent clients and their venues in full on event use, which is a real treat. One of my consulting clients, a successful Buckinghamshire based barn venue, swung open its doors to their cherished wedding suppliers and hosted a winter meet-up complete with a dose of education and learning and whole lot of pre-wedding season fun to those who are part of their wedding success.
Another former client celebrated 10 years of hosting elegant country weddings with a sophisticated rebrand, unveiling additional bridal accommodation at a party for 150 supporters, friends and clients to boot.
TIP: Don’t forget to celebrate. We are often all so busy moving on to the next thing that we miss the chance to look at how far we’ve come by reviewing what we’ve done and celebrating our successes. If our brains get used to always working and never celebrating, gradually those brains will decide not to work so hard if all we get from it is more work. So, let’s keep ourselves positive and pushing forward happily with some reward thrown in. It doesn’t have to be a full on party for 150 guests of course but your own version of a treat!
Virtual tours are not a new thing in the wedding market but they are increasingly important for helping in those early stages of couples making their venue shortlists. I’d urge you to look at these for your wedding place or space this year if you haven’t already.
To put this into some context, the latest UK Wedding Market Report 2020 by Bridebook states that couples view an average of 12.8 venues online, look at 18.7 reviews, then make 5.9 enquiries and visit 3.1 venues. What does this tell us? They are doing a huge amount of research, sorting, shortlisting and filtering out. More than ever before couples are wanting to reduce any time wasted and get closer to their dream venue, picking only three to actually view in person.
In my view, a practical and high quality virtual tour can help ensure you’re on the top pick list for those who are really right for your venue, filtering out those who are not. Let’s face it, no venue wants showrounds with couples who are just not in love with what you stand for.
Virtual tours are great if you’re in a remote location, where your clients are having to travel to you and are limited to weekends or certain timeframes when you don’t have exclusive use events. A good virtual tour can really keep you in the picture. According to Bridebook, seven per cent of couples are even booking venues without visiting. I’m personally not keen on that becoming a trend (nor do I think it will) as for me service and people are so vital to a venue selection, but it’s interesting to note.
One virtual tour specialist I’m particularly keen on is The Venue Insider (www.venueinsider.co.uk). It is filled with the latest in tech to bring your venue to life. I love the ease at which the visitor can view the “before” and the “after” – the ideal way to incorporate visuals, not just from the one day virtual tour shoot day but from past weddings, past photo shoots, and with the capability to add additional imagery by working with the team. It is an on-going marketing tool to help conversions.
Lesson of the Month
Plan ahead and make sure you are making the most of the spring/summer to come.
I have a number of clients who over the winter have wanted to upgrade and update websites or completely rebrand. While the teams I put together can work wonders, one thing that it’s near on impossible to do is create green/summery visuals in the deep mid-winter. While I urge you to definitely showcase winter visuals, your lead images, or the greater portion of imagery, should show the colours of summer. With this in mind have you really thought through what images you need in order to capture them this year?
Are there set ups and spaces at your venue that have never been photographed before and would benefit from a shoot? If so, it’s definitely time to get that booked in. Have you upgraded and replaced areas of your venue but don’t have images? It’s really important to get those images in the very best months of the year. Fresh imagery is more and more key to a venue’s success each year. While you’ll of course do well from imagery of upcoming weddings, you have a lot more scope to get exactly what you want when you’re setting the brief and guiding the shoot.
How important are customer reviews?
I talk about the importance of reviews and recommendations a lot. I’ve recently retired from being a judge of the venues categories for The Wedding Industry Awards (TWIA) after four years’ service. One of the most powerful parts of a venue’s entry are the customer reviews they submit. You cannot beat third party endorsement, but don’t take my word for it! The Bridebook report confirms that out of a score of 10, individuals rated a venue’s reviews as important at 6.7, beaten only by the importance of a venue tour at 8.7, but higher than national/regional wedding fairs (4.3), physical brochures (4.7) and local fairs/open days (5).
Yes, asking for reviews and recommendations, chasing them up and loading them online can be time consuming but less time consuming than organising an open day – of that I am sure!
I urge you to create a plan to ensure this is something you do not just once but very regularly. For all possible review platforms make sure have the very latest and very best reviews possible. And I’m with you on this one as I’m committed to increasing the reviews I have online for Kelly Chandler Consulting of the venues I’ve worked with, so I’m doing the work in this area right now too.
Since so much weight is put on reviews, make sure they are as up to date as possible. If your latest review is from 2018 it will feel quite dated for a young couple planning to marry in 2022. As a reminder, think of the following for your customer reviews:
• Google reviews
• Facebook reviews
• LinkedIn recommendations
• Platform reviews on the likes of Hitched, Bridebook, Guides For Brides and your third party listings
• Emailed reviews/thank yous
• Hand written reviews/thank yous.
In the case of the last two you can turn these into well-designed visuals/graphics that can be used digitally and shared. While customers of 2020 will place more weight on reviews shared directly from a customer, loading up those you’ve received via post and email is well worth doing, and don’t forget your website. I’m a fan of peppering a site with the very best testimonials to capture attention rather than storing them all on one dedicated page, which often gets overlooked.