Don’t Drop the Ball on Big Wedding Business

Five ways hotel marketers stumble on the way down the aisle

Wedding (photo courtesy of Tambourine)

According to a recent survey of newlyweds:

  • 80 percent of wedding planning is done online (and 39 percent on mobile)
  • 64 percent of couples use Pinterest for inspiration
  • Two out of three millennials take at least one wedding planning action before even getting engaged
  • Couples devote over 45 percent of their budget to the venue alone

How newly engaged couples shop and plan their weddings has changed. The budgets they’ve allotted have grown. And the amount they’re willing to spend on venues is nothing but good news for hotels. Yet, hotel marketers looking to capitalize consumer willingness remain largely idle when it comes to actively marketing their wedding venues.

Part of that marketing inertia stems from old thinking. Five years ago, outside of having a wedding section on your website and placing an ad in The Knot, there simply weren’t a lot of digital marketing tools and tactics to identify and target engaged couples shopping in your local market. But times have changed.

Here are five ways hotel marketers miss the mark with brides and grooms.

1Not Advertising Directly to Brides

When it comes to generating wedding leads, hotel marketers have been relying too heavily on third parties. At one time, it might have been enough to get your property listed on The Knot or Wedding Wire and generate a handful of quality RFPs per month, but in 2020, nothing could be further from the truth.

New technology has enabled hotel marketers to find recently engaged men and women on a wide range of platforms and serve them compelling advertising. You just have to know where to look.

According to The Knot’s 2017 Real Weddings Study, 67 percent of survey takers updated their online relationship status within one week of their engagement. That data has long been accessible via social tools like Facebook and Instagram. Using a combination of platforms and ad tools, hotel marketers can go directly to the newly engaged in their local market without relying on a costly middle-man.

Being able to advertise directly to the consumer allows hotel marketers full control of their marketing message across multiple touchpoints.

2Not Thinking About the User Experience

From bad RFP forms to content overload, hotel marketers continue to make a few big missteps when it comes to the user experience.

Bad Mobile Experiences

Incredibly, 39 percent of wedding planning happens on mobile. In a culture that values efficiency and instant gratification, it’s important to make things easy for the soon-to-be bride Googling wedding resources on her phone. Be sure your wedding content is engaging and informative, and your RFP form is short and mobile-friendly. Few things are more infuriating than trying to fill out a bad form on your mobile device.

Bad Story

Many hotel websites continue to lump their weddings pages with their meetings and events pages. This makes the user experience clunky and non-specific. In other words, you can’t be all things to all people. Brides looking for specific information have a tough time finding the information that’s relevant to them. Same goes for the planners. Hotel marketers need to spend more time addressing the wedding segment specifically with pages dedicated specifically to consumers actively shopping wedding venues.

3Not Having Great Wedding Photography

Photos are one of the top three deciding features couples look for when researching a wedding venue. So why is it that hotels continue to drop the ball here? One good photo could mean the difference between a bride hitting the “contact” button or closing that browser tab for good.

Hotel marketers looking to improve their asset library should reach out to local wedding photographers and past brides, or strike a deal with bridal photographers and wedding parties beforehand, or stage a mock wedding and invite all your vendors to split the cost and share the photography. However hotel marketers want to do it, wedding photography needs to be a priority.

How do hoteliers expect to compete with all the new, interesting, modern venues out there without compelling visuals that communicate the property’s unique story?

4Not Incentivizing Brides to Pick Up the Phone

When all the pistons of your wedding marketing strategy are firing at the same time and newly engaged couples are finding their way to your website, it’s time to zero in on your conversion rate. Consider offering a complimentary one-night stay so the bride and groom can visit the property, tour the venues, and meet the wedding planner. Offer time-sensitive discounts or gifts that can be easily mailed to their home if they are willing to get on the phone with your sales team.

5Not Doing Enough to Assist Your Sales Team

Sometimes brides are just shopping. They fill out the form but aren’t quite ready to tour your hotel or even get on the phone. But following through—on both old leads and fresh new leads—is essential. It’s a big job. And the hotel sales team is always over-extended. Hotel marketers can make it easier for their sales team to keep those lines of communication open, and generate new wedding leads every day, through simple things like automated email nurturing campaigns.

Start with a five-week campaign. Every week, deploy a new reason why choosing your hotel is the right decision. One week, show off your venue spaces. The next, showcase past bridal celebrations or glowing reviews from recent brides.

Automated email nurturing campaigns are a great way to ensure you’re regularly keeping in touch with your hottest leads and giving your sales team a little air support.

Previous articleComplimentary Ceremonies: Amway Grand Plaza Opens Ballroom for Intimate Weddings
Next articleHotel Brands Prepare for the Return of Meetings and Events
Christina Davis is the Senior Director of Media Operations at Tambourine. Having previously served as Senior Account Executive and Director of Onboarding for the company, she now spearheads operations and strategy for Tambourine’s segment-based media solutions.