Marriage may not always be predictable, but weddings have long been a predictable revenue driver for hotels and resorts with the proper resources. Wrapped up in romance, flowers and a never-ending supply of revenue, weddings represent a $56 billion dollar business with more than 2 million couples heading down the altar each year. And, according to The Wedding Report, the number of nuptials are going to be even higher in 2015. The average wedding cost about $25,000, with about 60 percent of that spent on the wedding and reception venue. Learning how to appeal to brides requires hotel marketers to understand millennials, who make up the majority of marrying couples. Here’s how to capture their hearts and their wallets:
- Scrap The Cheesy Stock Wedding Photography and Get Real: Feature stunning photography of previous weddings held at your hotel in your wedding sales kits, Website, wedding brochures, etc. By nature, wedding photographers always capture the best, most unique features of a venue when photographing couples on their big day. Most previous brides will be thrilled to be featured in your materials, so follow-up with them or the wedding photographer. Brides know a real wedding versus a staged one, so don’t even think about purchasing a stock wedding image for any of your marketing needs.
- Digitize The Wedding Planning Experience Couples today are digitally committed. Don’t expect them to be faxing over requests or writing a check. Make it easier for them to plan, pick and choose on-the-go by making your entire process mobile-optimized. Use an app or make it easy to put down a deposit using their smartphone. Also, make sure your hotel booking engine is frictionless – both aesthetically and logistically - for their guests and wedding party to book rooms seamlessly.
- It’s Not As Much About Location As You Think The Wedding Report notes that whether you offer a cosmopolitan setting, a sun-splashed beach locale, or a quiet countryside ambiance, couples use these top three words to describe their dream wedding: Simple, traditional and romantic. Consider creating packages wrapped around these themes and sprinkle those words throughout your copy. Other words used most often by couples include: elegant, fun, casual, and unique. If your hotel plays well with any of those categories, then make those the focal point of your wedding marketing assets.
- Promote Authentically Today’s brides are addicted to real weddings and the images, stories and vendors behind them. That is why so many wedding magazines showcase a ton of wedding vignettes following real-life couples, from how they met to where they got engaged to where they bought the dress to where they said ‘I do.’ Partner with the photographers hired to shoot weddings at your venue to submit some of your weddings to wedding magazines, blogs, and Websites, such as The Knot, Town and Country Weddings or Style Me Pretty (all three sites publish glossy magazines).
- Market at Places Couples Go BEFORE Thinking About a Venue While venue is a top priority, there are other businesses that couples go to before even thinking about wedding location. These include engagement ring stores and bridal gown stores. Go to these businesses in your city and give them vouchers to present to couples that have been recently engaged offering experiences like wine tastings, a romantic brunch, or a workshop on wedding planning held at your hotel.
- Be Prepared For Same-Sex Couples While still occupying a small portion of the wedding marketing, same-sex commitment ceremonies and weddings are on the rise. Your hotel internet marketing activities should include custom content touting specific messaging for gay couples and feature photos from previous gay weddings held at your hotel. Read: Hotels Rolling Out the Rainbow Carpet for LGBT Travelers
- Invite Collaboration: Millennial brides have Pinterest wedding boards, read wedding blogs, and take part in wedding forums to get ideas for their big day. They want to be a part of the planning and execution, so don’t tell them that ‘you’ll handle everything.’ They want to work hand-in-hand with you for an up-close and personal wedding experience.