If you’re struggling to convert your enquiries into booked dates and confirmed weddings; know that you’re most definitely not alone. It is, without doubt, a SLOW kind of start to the year for many sectors and the wedding venue sector is by no means immune. We don’t need to look too far to be aware that there is a key factor that’s causing a lot of engaged couples to hesitate, to hold off and to wait. That key factor is the uncertainty over Brexit post-March and what that’s going to mean for jobs, incomes and future security. So what do we do as successful businesses? This is where it really counts – how you react and what steps you take.
Here are my strategies for success which I hope you find useful:
1) Accept (this bit can be the hardest) – acknowledge that the situation is what it is and is not personal, aimed at you or your venue and there is no good time for a lull in any business. Accepting, however, doesn’t mean halting all efforts and doing nothing. Far from it. This is the time to refocus.
2) Embrace the time to reflect – try to use this time as a reminder that it’s vital to really look at what you are doing, what your customer experience is and what your wedding offer is. Chances are that you’re doing many things very well, but there is ALWAYS room for improvement, embracing change, moving with the times and ensuring what you are putting out there is the best reflection of what you really are. This is what I work on one-to-one with my private consulting clients and, despite all of those venues being highly successful previously, they are committed to opening up and looking to grow. Never resting on their laurels to think they have it all worked out. So take this time to look at your website, your enquiry process, your showround process and your methods of marketing – do they need a refresh and how?
3) Be of service – might seem obvious right? But it can be tempting when sales are slow to keep push, push, pushing. I’ve been there and done it. But in the current climate, that will only get you so far and is likely to have them running for the hills. Now is the time to respect hesitation and give potential customers space. But that space should not be silence, that space should be filled with genuine connections, help and communication. So always think about how you can be helping that potential client with their wedding planning journey? What do they need right now? (and it will not be your venue). This might take the form of one-to-one conversations where you can recommend other wedding suppliers. Or, it might be more general, in terms of the information and content you are putting out there on social media, blogs and mailers. This is the time to show your expertise, your knowledge, your place in the community and that you’re here for them when they are ready (not just to grab your next sale).
4) Be consistent – do you feel like nobody’s listening right now? Yes, I know this too. I put a lot of work into features, blog posts, social media content and mailers. A lot of the time, I get no comment, interaction or email response and it’s easy to think – oh well, nobody is listening or watching. WRONG, they are. But, are not necessarily ready to scream out and put their hands up. It’s about consistency and constantly showing up – that’s where the magic is. I regularly get clients signing up to work with me and they have been reading my content for months, sometimes a year. And I had no idea at all. Whilst the market for wedding couples is generally a bit more “moment in time” and instant (with current reasons for couples to hesitate and pause).
This is the time when the work that you put in is to be consistent (being there really matters). So if it’s a few weeks, a few months or even next year; you’re front and centre of their minds when it comes to a choice of wedding location. Here are some things I suggest you get consistent on (if you don’t already):
a) Blog content (keep writing) – whether it’s once a month or once a week, keep writing and putting your blog content out there; remember to share this on your social media channels for maximum exposure and repurposing – your improved SEO will build and build and this content is building trust and experience.
b) Social media – it can be tempting to cut back when you’re not feeling on form or not feeling super successful but now is the time to dazzle and really put your efforts into remaining consistent and constant with your social media content; it’s not about quantity but about quality and always being there. Again, consistency and reliability above all are valued in uncertain times. Think about ways you can get your enquiries to stay connected with your social media channels such as competitions, freebies, valuable written guides they opt-in to.
c) In-person events – we all crave more human connection in these digital times – how easy do you make it for couples to just “drop in” and get a sense of your venue without the feeling of a heavy sell. I see the next couple of months as being ideal to host some simple ‘group drop-in sessions’ for your couples, say on a given evening (so they know they can come and meet you without feeling the pressure to buy immediately). A positive experience and patience can work wonders; you won’t get every booking but, make your couples feel a million dollars, and they will be back when they feel confident enough to do so.
5. Remain positive – whilst you’re doing your best to work on all of the above, it can be incredibly challenging to keep your own mindset positive and enthusiastic – but that’s absolutely key. Potential clients sense any despondency and negativity a mile off – the most important thing you can do is to look after yourself and your team to help them with keeping perspective, smiling and more. Everyone will have different strategies, but certainly sharing and talking with others is one (I know a lot of good comes out of the collaborative spirit inside my Wedding Spaces Going Places private Facebook group when venues feel able to share challenges).
Others may find walking and exercise to be just the thing to clear the mind and focus. I certainly gain a lot of positive vibes from listening to various mindset coaches and authors via Audible and other resources. You might find a blog I wrote on strategies for powering-up last autumn to be equally valuable now, with book recommendations within too – watch out for some Oprah – she’s one of my hero’s! You can read this HERE.
Thanks for reading. And if you have read and enjoyed, well I’d love you to comment on one of our social media channels as that brings a huge extra smile to my face and means I know that you’re there!
And to join Wedding Spaces Going Places just for ambitious wedding venues, do click HERE.