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From enquiry to booked: 10 top tips to increase your wedding venue bookings this Engagement Season

Smartly dressed woman standing in front of tall glass doors with a clipboard and smiling at camera.

Engagement Season is now fast-approaching, with Bridebook’s recent predictions in the Evening Standard that December 21 and 22 will be the most popular dates for proposals this year! Considering that 40% of couples are estimated to get engaged during the festive period, between Christmas and Valentine’s Day, it is imperative to be ready to turn the flood of enquiries into confirmed bookings. 

Bridebook reached out to an expert in the field, Olivia Riddiford-Mills, founder of Host Venue Consultancy, to gather her top tips on making Engagement Season a truly successful one. Read on for Olivia’s advice on best practices to ensure your enquiries convert! 

What can you do to as a venue to capitalise on this extremely busy and often lucrative sales opportunity? Take a look at my top tips below to help you achieve an increased conversion rate.

Ideal client profiling

Bride and groom kissing surrounded by chickens and pigs.

You need to be completely and utterly laser focused on who you are serving.  I’m not talking about engaged couples who live within a 15 mile radius of your property.  I’m talking about Sarah who’s 29, an interior designer with a Dachshund called Bertie. I could go on! 

Think about those couples in the past who really epitomized your venue.  Those who gelled with you as the owner, manager or coordinator, who didn’t negotiate on price, who dearly loved the property inside and out and shouted about their positive experience post-wedding. 

I would suggest creating an ideal client profile that you have stuck up in your office as a constant reminder of who is a great fit for your business.  Why should you do this? It will save you time and investment in the long run. Everything you do from writing copy to posting on social media must be targeted to your ideal client.

Bridebook Tip: When putting together an ideal customer profile, ask yourself the following 5 questions: What style or ambiance is your couple looking to have at their wedding? What millennial trends are they most influenced by? What is the one thing they won’t compromise on when planning their wedding? Where does the couple get their wedding inspiration from? What is the selling point of your venue for this couple (accommodation, beautiful scenery, exclusive use, etc.)?

First Impressions count

Tables set up and decorated with flowers for a wedding reception under a marquee.

Millennial couples are doing more research than ever before, but at the same time having quick, decisive moments when they’ve found “the one”. You need to make sure that any first impressions they receive are positive.  It’s a hugely competitive market place out there. Venues are popping up left, right and center wanting a slice of the £billion UK wedding industry (and who could blame them!).

From your website to your consistent social media posting to photos, videos, show round meetings – think about how you can win them over in one fell swoop.  Become a bit of a show off. Why is your venue better than another?

Bridebook’s fun fact: Did you know that humans now have a shorter attention span than fish? That’s such a short time to make a first impression So how can you stand out from the crowd?

Directories

Wedding directories form a large part of a venue’s marketing strategy but they must be kept up to date with relevant information and must showcase the venue impeccably in order for a potential couple to click and make contact.  Upgrading to Bridebook’s brand new VenuePro service would be my advice. They are offering a 30 day money back guarantee period to show you the specifically crafted features to ensure you get results.

Website

Your website is your shop window.  It should be concise, easy to navigate, contain pricing information, beautiful imagery and video and all the information required to make an informed decision to enquire/book a show round.  I always suggest that my clients work hard on implementing first class SEO to ensure that their ideal client is landing on their site when wedding planning.

Bridebook Tip: With increased competition within the wedding industry, SEO is more important than ever, which is why we’ve written an article outlining our top tips on nailing your SEO. Get inspired by examples of wedding venues that lead the way with excellent websites and SEO, like Quantock Lakes, Country House Weddings and The Ravenswood.

Package it up

Stately home surrounded by green grass and trees.

Now is a good time to review your wedding packages and pricing. What’s been working and what hasn’t over the past 12 months? Do you offer an a la carte flexible option or a “done for you” all inclusive offering?  There’s no right or wrong here. I would say, having both options available is a winner but it really depends on your venue type and your ideal client. Just please make sure you have financially costed out the elements properly and are making enough profit per wedding.Bridebook Tip: Update your pricing in your Bridebook profile making sure is reflective of your 2020 offering. You can upload your brochure or price list to your profile, under the Pricing section, for couples to easily download!

Open days that deliver

Ideally, you should have an open day scheduled for early in the New Year. These events can be hugely successful in obtaining and securing bookings from the flurry of excited couples that got engaged over the festive period.  It’s a date that you can give out to every enquirer and chances are they will be very much geared up to attend. When’s yours? 

Bridebook Tip: Open Days and wedding showcases are a great way to get your prospective couples through the door to truly experience what your venue has to offer, so it’s important to do them right. We partnered with Sissons Barn to bring you the do’s & don’ts of holding a wedding showcase.

Customer experience

Glasses of champagne being filled up.

In today’s modern world the consumer wants an experience.  They are not satisfied with the norm these days, they want to be excited and wowed – their expectations are higher than ever before.  In all that you do, take into account the sense of sight, smell, sound, taste and touch. What’s giving them “the feels”. Those little touches, like providing surprise treats at a show round to lighting the fire on winter days or even giving the couple a personalised gift on their wedding day, all add to a wonderful experience, outstanding testimonials and further business.

Testimonials & Reviews

Person typing on laptop. The screen shows a review page.

Make it your mission to obtain feedback from your married couples.  A personalised email will do post wedding to prompt them. Don’t forget they may well be sunning themselves in the Maldives on their honeymoon so allow some time for them to reply.

Guide the couple as to where you’d like the review sent and while you’re at it, double check that it’s OK to get in touch with their photographer/videographer to gain access to imagery of their special day.  This should feature in your terms and conditions as standard but it’s always polite to ask.

Engaged couples are using online reviews more and more to make decisions on what venues they’d like to go and visit. Short snippets from reviews can be used on your website, directories, social media and brochure – show the world how good you are at what you do!

Bridebook fact: According to the UK Wedding Report 2019, 62% of couples valued reviews as most important, surpassing recommendations by friends and family. It is more important than ever to collect and present reviews across platforms, allowing couples to make informed decisions from sources they trust.

Let’s get visible

Keep things consistent on social media and use video to keep your audience engaged.  You never know who’s watching you. You can use fantastic automation tools for Instagram like Planoly,  Later and Buffer for several other platforms. Get in the habit of scheduling your content in advance and then automating so you can focus on selling!

Training

Don’t underestimate the power of training your staff.  From team meetings so each member is kept up to date with changes within the business to external sales and marketing training to enhance their skills, don’t leave it out in 2020 – you constantly need to up your game.

Keep up the good work.  Trust me, I know how challenging running a wedding venue is but you’re doing a great job.  I wish you a successful engagement season ahead!

Engagement Season is the busiest time of year for enquiries and it can also be the most lucrative one for your venue! Bridebook expects 50,000 new couples to sign up to the platform in this time period, all eager to start planning their wedding and booking suppliers. So, with the above advice in mind, get ready for the most successful Engagement Season yet – there is no time to waste!

Interested in boosting your Exposure on Bridebook this engagement season? Register your interests for Venue Pro here

About Olivia 

Olivia Riddiford-Mills is an expert venue consultant helping venues across the UK stand out and sell out in the bridal market through group programmes, an online membership and one to one training. 

Make sure your venue is ready for the busy period ahead with Olivia’s free Engagement Season checklist!

Get access to 4 video trainings coming up in January, a challenge “Fill the gaps in 2020” and a masterclass all for FREE over in Olivia’s Facebook Group “The Wedding Venue Community“. 

W: www.hostvenueconsultancy.co.uk I: @hostvenueconsultancy