When it comes to wedding sales, a subtle change in your marketing strategy can make all the difference, writes Adam Hamadache MIH
Wedding business can be lucrative for hotels. Whilst they can be hard on the product and difficult to manage, it’s not uncommon for weddings alone to represent 30% or 40% of a hotel’s total turnover, without including the additional accommodation (often booked direct) from the wedding party.
It’s understandable therefore that a fair chunk of the annual marketing budget goes to securing more of these high-value sales; the problem is that most hotels are going about it all wrong.
A bold statement – but bear with me…
You see, whilst great marketing can do amazing things, it has its limitations. Yes, it can encourage a potential customer to book a short break without any human interaction, but it can’t ‘sell’ a wedding. No, what marketing can do is sell the idea of having a wedding at a particular venue. In some instances, it can even take the customer 90% of the way so that they are all-but-ready to sign on the dotted line, but it will never take them all the way without a face-to-face conversation.
Sell the viewing
What ‘sells’ the wedding is the sales manager or the wedding coordinator. The marketing merely convinced the customer to have the sales conversation.
My point therefore is simply this: the objective of all wedding marketing should be to ‘sell’ the scheduled viewing, not the wedding. A subtle but important difference.
This objective is significant when it comes to evaluating the success of your wedding marketing. Take, for instance, a full-page ad in a glossy magazine that costs £5,000 over the course of a year. Try as a hotel might to measure the effectiveness of that investment, it will be almost impossible to understand how many, if any, weddings were booked as a direct result of seeing that ad.
It would be a great deal easier however to measure the success of this investment if the hotel were to drive viewers of this ad to a special webpage, that served to:
- Provide more information about the venue
- Capture data
- Allowed the customer to book a scheduled viewing with the wedding coordinator
At the end of the year, the marketing manager might be able to conclude with relative ease that their £5,000 investment produced:
- 1,000 unique page views
- 100 email addresses
- 15 scheduled viewing appointments
- 4 confirmed weddings
Whilst there’s clearly a carefully thought-out strategy with tangible measurables to the above example, the real benefit of running a campaign like this lies in how easy you make it for the customer to take your desired action.
Easy to book
Having acknowledged our objective is to secure a viewing with the wedding coordinator, earlier this year, DHM introduced a booking widget on all the wedding pages of our clients. The warmed-up wedding lead can now schedule an appointment in real time with an instant notification confirming their appointment. Suffice to say the measurability and conversions of our marketing campaigns have gone through the roof.
The best part is that it’s cheap and easy to implement. There are many low-cost instant booking software options on the market that synchronise with calendars with ease – the one we use is called Acuity Scheduling.
The right venue
Whilst the mechanics make it easy for the bride or groom to book an appointment, they will still need to be convinced that this venue is for them. Most venues will display beautiful imagery, have a stunning brochure and maybe even a video that showcases the product, but few hotels will focus on one of the most important factors: the wedding coordinator.
The wedding coordinator
It therefore makes sense to feature videos of the wedding coordinator being interviewed across the wedding webpages. They’ll typically cover things like: what to expect on the viewing, approximate budget needed, and why the wedding coordinator loves the hotel. In short, these videos are serving to bring the wedding coordinator’s personality out and build rapport with the wedding lead.
So, after watching half-a-dozen one-minute videos, the bride or groom will feel like they have got to know the wedding coordinator (and hopefully started to like them!) and will know exactly what to expect when they pop in for a viewing. And of course, there’s a call-to-action at the end of each video to ‘schedule a viewing using the booking widget below’.
This whole process has been carefully crafted to educate the wedding lead about the hotel, build rapport with the wedding coordinator and achieve the pre-determined outcome of securing the viewing. What’s more, it’s all happened autonomously – the wedding coordinator need only take action when the viewing is secured. So when every hotel around you is busy selling their weddings, it’ll be a much smarter, less time-consuming endeavour for your hotel to sell the viewing.
Adam is hosting your next Institute of Hospitality webinar on Tuesday 12 March 3pm BST.
Wedding Marketing: Don’t Sell the Wedding, Sell the Viewing.
Book your webinar place now
About the author
Adam Hamadache is the author of Amazon No.1 best-selling hotel book The Direct Method and the CEO of hotel marketing agency DHM. Having worked with hotels (including his own) for over 10 years, Adam has created a proven marketing strategy to reduce over-reliance on expensive third-party bookings. For more information on how to capitalise on this direct-bookings strategy, visit www.dhm.agency