While corporate, association, and other business gatherings are the bread and butter of many event programs, it’s always important for hotels and special event venues to diversify their strategy. That’s where social events such as weddings enter the picture.
Weddings present a huge opportunity, since couples spend $44,000 on average, according to Brides’ 2018 American Wedding Study, and about half of the budget typically goes toward the venue. In addition, weddings can help hotels fill guest and function rooms on the weekends, when there are fewer business events.
But attracting wedding business is not quite the same as attracting other group business. Most couples do the bulk of planning themselves, so you aren’t dealing with experienced planners. There are similarities, though, and many of your existing group business strategies can be adjusted to better target weddings. Here are three ways to do just that.
1. Get Placement on the Platforms That Matter
Search-engine optimization of your website is key for any kind of event business, since both professional planners and engaged couples are likely to begin their research and planning online. But you can also take advantage of industry sites that already rank highly for relevant terms. For corporate planners, that means online sourcing platforms that encompass a wide range of venues and meeting spaces, such as the Cvent Supplier Network. To reach couples, though, you’ll want to advertise on more wedding-specific marketplaces, such as Wedding Spot. To find the best sourcing sites to target, try entering “wedding venues in [your city]” or “wedding venues near me” on Google and other search engines, and look at the top results. Also make it a priority to get happy newlyweds who used your venue to post reviews on those sites, since 86% of customers read reviews for local businesses, including 95% of people ages 18-34, according to BrightLocal.
2. Partner With the Right Industry People
Event planners appreciate hotels and venues that have partnerships with other trusted vendors, because it makes their jobs easier. Such arrangements can be even more useful for couples who are planning weddings, since they typically do not have the connections that professional planners do. But remember that the vendor partnerships that couples care about are different than those for corporate planners. For instance, a corporate or third-party planner may be most interested in a recommendation for or discount on an audiovisual provider, destination management company, or offsite tour guide. To entice couples, try to work out deals with local florists, wedding bands, bakeries, hairstylists, and jewelry stores. Also, partner with bridal dress stores to get their referrals for your property, since brides often shop for the gown even before the venue is booked.
3. Create a Tailored Social Media Presence
All planners, professional or not, look to social media for inspiration, whether it’s a corporate employee organizing a large conference, an association member arranging a fundraiser, a parent throwing a kid’s birthday party, or a couple designing their dream wedding. Brides, in particular, are fans, and they don’t just want ideas — 82% use social media to find inspiration, while 98% use it to find and evaluate wedding vendors, according to Brides’ American Wedding Study. In addition to creating useful, relevant, visually appealing posts for your venue’s or hotel’s accounts, it’s also important to know the right platform. When you need to reach corporate planners, LinkedIn is usually the go-to site. But to draw in engaged couples, the Brides study found that the places to be are Pinterest, preferred by 87% of brides, and Instagram, visited by 76%. You can also boost your organic traffic with paid social ads, an approach that benefits from including Facebook as well, since it allows you to target users based on the relationship status in their profile.
Continue Building Up Your Wedding Business
For more tips on reaching and enticing engaged couples, check out The Venue’s Guide to Booking Wedding Event Business.