Many of our cross-border hotels are concerned about the impact Brexit is having or will have on their wedding bookings over the coming months and years.
We already know that tourism numbers from the UK (Ireland’s largest source of tourism) are down. These are largely being offset by the increase in the number of US and domestic tourists but that isn’t transferrable to the wedding industry unfortunately!
But while the true implications of Brexit and the potential for a hard border are still very much known what the venues do is work on the things that they CAN control. We have discussed this at length in the WeddingDates office and here are my top tips to help combat this:
- Stand out from the crowd – Really hone in on what is unique about your property as compared to your cross-border competitors. What can you offer that they can’t? The key things couples are looking for include exclusivity, i.e. that they are the only wedding on that day, that there is really good onsite accommodation and also that the quality of the food is really high. Brides want to be the only one in the white dress on their special day! Couples want to know that their guests can stay in nice accommodation at a great price. They also want to ensure they their guests enjoy the wedding meal so telling them about what is different in terms of local produce and who your chefs are all helps!
- Offer Value for Money – We researched over 2,000 couples throughout the UK and Ireland and value for money is rated as one of the top 3 factors when choosing a wedding venue. You may need to sweeten your offering to entice couples over the border. What package can you offer on room rates or a next day gathering? What can you throw into the overall per head price? Everybody wants 5-star treatment but may not be able to afford 5-star prices. What can you do to roll out that red carpet, while keeping your margins good?
- Re-evaluation your marketing spend – really look at where your spend on recruiting wedding enquiries is coming from. Where are you getting the best return from? Is your social media marketing good enough? Are you producing good video for use on social, if not you may well be wasting your time! Are you spending money targeting newly engaged brides and couples? What is your message? Is it in line with what couples are looking for?
- Competitor Analysis – knowing what your competitors are offering is critical. What do they do differently to you? Remember, couples are only visiting on average 3 venues before making their decision. This means you have a 1 in 3 chance of getting the business – make the interaction count!
- Keep on top of trends – Bring ideas to the table when you have your meet and greet or include in your brochure. Couples want their wedding to be unique and the most special day ever so anything you can offer them to help their day be the most talked about is a bonus. What about a donut wall or ice cream van? What is the latest must have? Be on top and ahead of it! Pinterest is a brilliant tool to keep on top of these trends and to show couples that you “speak their language”.
- Show warmth & appreciation – Differentiate yourself through personality, warmth and showing you care. Remember – you organise weddings everyday but for the bride/groom this is a once off! They need to know how special they are to you, that you want their business and that you genuinely have their best interests at heart. It’s a human interaction, not a monetary one so keep that front of mind! Good service and attitude go a long way in this industry.
- Show you want their business – Make sure your Wedding Co-ordinator is on top of their game, follows up with enquiries and makes the process easy for couples. First impressions do count so a smile on your face and put energy in your interaction makes a big impact with couples. Ensure your wedding room is set up for the walk-through so nothing is left to chance or invite them in on the day of another wedding but allow them and you time to go through everything. And most important of all, don’t be afraid to ask for the business! Go the extra mile!
It’s a highly competitive business and with the added complexity of Brexit, it means that Cross-border Wedding Venues really need to up their game to ensure they take a share of the business. Weddings are about people and relationships, it’s a personal, human and emotional purchase not a commercial one. Put yourself in the mind of the newly engaged coupled, ease their fears and meet their needs!
Until next time,
Ciara Crossan is Founder & CEO of WeddingDates. Celebrating 10 Years in Business.