A newly released survey of over 600 brides and grooms conducted by WeddingDates examined the venue booking habits of engaged couples, with instructive results for hotels and venues looking to increase wedding bookings in 2016.
Making the Venue Shortlist
Survey stats highlighted the importance of pre-sales marketing to get on the all-important short list of venues engaged couples book to tour before putting down a deposit:
- 63% of couples visit fewer than 5 venues,
- 29% visit 5 –10 venues
- Only 3% go the full wedding monty and tour 15 or more locations.
When it comes to the decision to book, a whopping 69% of couples are booking hotels from three to five stars for their big day, while 16% choose a country estate and 10% choose a castle, restaurant or marquee. Romance is far from dead, however: when deciding on a venue, a location with sentimental meaning for the couple was the biggest consideration at 34%.
Capitalise on Key Calendar Dates
“Valentine’s Day weekend is the leading occasion on which couples up and down the country get engaged,” noted WeddingDates CEO Ciara Crossan. “Hotels and other venues should be keen to seduce these loved-up couples in the months that follow, and market intelligence from these survey results can help venues build a strategy to attract them.
“And while June has long been believed to be ‘the’ month for weddings, our survey found that July and August are much more popular with today’s couples.”
The survey found that the long-held hotel tradition of discounting dates outside of these months was unlikely to sway a couple:
- 57% of couples report they would not be incentivised away from their chosen date.
- Just 21% would be open to off-peak discounts, 15% to mid-week rates, and 7% in a short availability discount for bookings less than six months out.
Leverage Deciding Factors
WeddingDates CEO Ciara Crossan commented on another significant trend revealed by the survey. “Almost half of all brides now do their wedding planning online, using wedding websites and social media like Pinterest and Instagram,” she noted. “That’s a significant number hotels and venues can learn to capitalise on by broadening their marketing mix.”
Couples pinpointed inflexibility, pushiness, hidden costs and slow responses as the main issues encountered when searching for their perfect wedding venue.
Conversely, 30% of couples reported that they were positively influenced by a venue’s reputation, with only 18% naming cost as the key deciding factor. And 7% cited the events team as the major deciding factor in their decision on where to book.
“That’s a number hotels can build on,” advised Crossan. “While you may not be able to move your venue to a couple’s ideal location, the strength of your events team, the promptness of replies, and the free perks you can offer to couples are all assets hotels and venues can strengthen as part of their sales offering.”