(originally published August 2014, this post has been updated June 2018 to reflect current information)
My colleague and I had the pleasure of attending 2014 WeddingWire World Chicago on behalf of Blue Magnet Interactive. The event educated vendors about different strategies for successfully marketing their wedding business online. After a fun-filled day attending panel discussions and presentations by industry experts, we walked away armed with the latest trends and insightful tips for wedding venue marketing. We’ll share our key takeaways from WeddingWire’s event, including facts and figures provided by the speakers, to ensure you are well-equipped to market your hotel as an ideal venue for weddings and receptions.
4 Ideas on How to Improve Your Wedding Venue Marketing
What social media strategy should my wedding venue use?
Today’s engaged couple is extremely social, and typically begins the research phase of selecting a wedding reception site by browsing your social media pages and looking for things like pictures, reviews, and the vendor’s personality.
Some of our favorite recommendations from WeddingWire World you can apply to your wedding venue’s social media strategy include:
- Sell your area and features. If a highlight of your hotel is the stunning view of the bay from the rooms on the top floor, ask your followers a no-brainer question. For example, ask: What view do you want to wake up to after your special day?
- Ask open-ended questions. It is easy to answer yes or no, so challenge your followers to engage with your hotel by asking a question that elicits an emotion. For example, ask: Where do you want your first dance to be, and why?
- Get specific. Find out the key elements that your guests look for when planning their wedding so you can tailor your content to their interests. For example, ask: What is the top thing you need to make your wedding a success?
- Utilize thank you cards and photos from previous weddings. Ask the couple if you can “show them off” on your social channels to give your followers a better visual of what they can expect at their own wedding. Showing remnants from a happy couple’s wedding will resonate with followers more so than images from a staged photoshoot.
Should I be using paid social to market my wedding venue?
While not discussed in any of the panels, paid social campaigns can be a significant factor in helping couples find your venue when they begin their search. Blue Magnet has a lot of experience in running social campaigns as part of wedding venue marketing efforts. Please, check out one of our case studies which detail how successful these campaigns are for event venues.
How can I leverage reviews of my wedding venue to gain more business?
If you have not been encouraging your previous clients to share their experience through a review yet, this needs to be one of your top priorities. In fact, 95% of engaged couples use online reviews to select wedding vendors.
In addition, younger generations are very inclined to read reviews; If your hotel does not have a positive reputation on various online review sites, it will probably struggle to attract any millennial shoppers.
Some key tips to ensure your hotel acquires valuable wedding reviews or testimonials include:
- Give your clients a reason to write a review. Did you do something extraordinary to make their big day special? Did you exceed their expectations? What makes your location unique versus other places they could have held their wedding or reception?
- Where can people find reviews of weddings at your hotel? Do you utilize a service like WeddingWire to specifically collect reviews on weddings and receptions at your venue? Are you getting reviews on Facebook? Google My Business? Through email? One way to help with collecting reviews is to ask guests who mail or email you a review if they could share what they wrote on your preferred review site. Be sure to send them a link to your venue’s listing when you ask!
- Capture the essence of your wedding venue with video reviews. Do you have a wedding planner who really connects with the couple on their wedding day? Ask the couple if it would be alright to catch them at a happy moment and ask them a fun question. This way, the couple does not have to worry about writing something later, and you can actually capture the experience you are trying to sell.
Should my wedding venue have a mobile-friendly website?
81% of people leave a website when they have a bad mobile experience. A bad experience is typically a result of the website not being properly optimized for mobile users. While Blue Magnet Interactive has strongly encouraged hotel websites to be mobile-optimized since the beginning of the mobile trend, it was pretty astonishing to hear this statistic at WeddingWire World.
Hotels using email marketing to promote their wedding space need to be especially aware of mobile optimization because 65% of people open emails on their phones. The industry pros at the WeddingWire event recommended checking the emails you send out are mobile-optimized. The email needs to provide content that is to the point and ensures the email itself looks clean on mobile devices. More so, the links embedded in your email campaigns are likely pointing to your website, so if a user comes straight from a mobile-optimized email to a non-mobile optimized website you are more likely to lose the potential client.
One of the speakers shared an interesting perspective regards to websites. “You don’t get business from your website but rather through your website.” We felt this was important because your website does not necessarily yield direct business; oftentimes it is the information you provide on your website, and the experience you provide guests that generate client interest.
They see the information on your website and then decide to connect with you, whether it be through your website’s contact form, by phone, or through email. At Blue Magnet, we know a hotel’s website is specifically designed to help answer any questions a potential client or engaged couple may have. Often the website is an important resource towards the beginning of the shopping phase. By the time a client is ready to book a wedding at your venue, they have gained the necessary information through your website and are ready to contact you to move onto the next step.
Should my hotel have a dedicated page for weddings?
Marketing a hotel wedding venue is not different than any other venue. Hotels do find themselves trying to appeal to all sorts of events on their websites and at times do not create special content just for weddings. Creating a wedding page on their websites is a critical step in effectively booking more weddings.
How can my wedding venue attract more LGBT+ weddings?
Kathryn Hamm from Gayweddings.com gave an outstanding overview of the growth the LGBTQ community has seen over the years and why vendors should be connecting with this segment now more than ever before. To start, Hamm mentioned 77% of people under the age of 30 support gay marriage, meaning, acceptance is continuously growing. Additionally, she explained 46% of same-sex marriages wed in the couple’s home state. The remainder of same-sex couples travel. If your wedding venue is not actively marketing to the LGBT+ community, then your venue is losing revenue to your competition.
Kathryn also reminded the audience to avoid “vendor awkwardness.” Believe it or not, one of the biggest concerns LGBTQ couples face when planning their wedding is not due to cost, but rather anxiety: “When I call, is the vendor going to hang up on me?” To avoid vendor awkwardness and assure all clients their queries will be well-received make sure your hotel markets itself as being inclusive and accepting.
A few ways you can ensure your hotel’s marketing materials are inclusive of all couples include reviewing your:
- Wedding Photos – Are the photos on your website and marketing materials only showing a traditional wedding, with a bride and groom? Add some wedding photos featuring all types of couples to show your venue is inclusive. This allows all engaged couples to truly envision their wedding or reception at your hotel.
- Marketing Materials and Contracts – What type of language are you using across your website, marketing materials, and contracts? Does it still use presumptuous language like “bride and groom?” Replace any instances of exclusivity with more inclusive terms like “engaged couple” or “partner”.
- Your Resource List – Do the professionals you work with support gay marriage? Make sure your recommended and preferred vendors also support the LGBT+ community so you do not accidentally send a client astray.
Based on the changes happening across the country, particularly in Congress, Hamm left us all with one final question: Will your business be ready to support same-sex marriages by June 2015?
Overall, we gained some great insight into the wedding industry and learned several helpful tips to help hotels market their wedding space more effectively, all while having an awesome time mingling and networking! To learn more about WeddingWire World Chicago, be sure to search the hashtag #WWWorld. We welcome your questions and feedback so be sure to connect with us on Twitter @Blue_Magnet!
Blue Magnet Interactive is available to help you with your wedding venue marketing, whether it is creating marketing ideas for your wedding venue, building out content for the wedding venue pages on your site, or through a paid social campaign. Contact Blue Magnet to start learning how we can help your wedding venue generate more revenue for you.