Current changes to the ways couples look for wedding venues
Over the past three months, couples have adapted the way they look for their ideal wedding venues, month by month. We’ve been looking at user behaviour to help venues understand the best way to position their venue for maximum enquiries and bookings as we come out of lockdown.
From our weekly Facebook Live event to the Venue of the Week; here is what has worked really well.
First, it is helpful to look at what we have noticed on our venue listing pages.
March and April – Lockdown
Throughout March and April, online traffic dropped to around 70% of normal levels and almost all online activity on our venues pages was from couples who had already booked their venue. Use of the availability calendar was the highest we’ve seen; we assume couples were establishing alternative options before postponing.
May – Online activity above normal
During May we saw a surge in online activity; an increase of 36.5% on May 2019 and more consistent with the level of activity we’d expect in January’s prime booking weeks, not May.
With a few exceptions, the early adopters of the Book with Confidence pledge had more views than others. The highest number of searches were for venues in North Wales, Somerset and Hertfordshire.
June – Browsers are becoming bookers
After 2 months of window shopping, during the first 2 weeks of June the numbers of enquiries returned to normal as confidence returned. More couples used filters to fine tune exactly what they were looking for. There was a very significant increase in enquiries for small weddings.
July – Predictions of a January rush
Confidence in booking has been low since the end of December when coronavirus first became a threat so we have not yet seen the usual January rush. During July and August we are expecting to see higher levels of enquiries than in a typical January, with the added benefit that it is the ideal time of year for a venue to showcase themselves, leading to higher conversions.
Wedding Fair Live
With couples spending much more time on social media and watching more online video content, live events such as Wedding Fair Live have proved incredibly popular, with two events focused on Wedding Venues receiving the highest number of views, suggesting it is the early stage couples who are watching.
Simple venue tours, which can be carried out while the venue is closed, have resulted in over 2000 views in less than 24 hours. This Live Venue Showcase from Applewood Hall is a great example. Read the full case study here to find out more.
Venue of the Week and other “immersive” campaigns
While couples have had more time to browse online we have noticed higher engagement than usual from venues featured in blog posts as well as those we mention on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. In addition to couples having more time to read online content and research more carefully, rather than turning straight to listings, we feel this could be that couples are looking for extra endorsement for added confidence and that if others are saying you will be ideal for their wedding it must be true.
Venues such as Lillibrooke Manor, pictured below, received 23 instant, high-quality enquiries from a simple Venue of the Week feature, despite it running just as the country went into lockdown and consumer confidence was at a low.
Numerous NHS and key worker giveaways have prompted couples to actively search for free draws online and we’ve never seen so many venues considering running “win a wedding” competitions. While your venue is quiet it can be a cost-effective way to achieve some relevant leads from couples you know are looking for a venue like yours.
You don’t need to give away a wedding to get great results, in fact, the highest numbers of entries are for those like this one from Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa had over 750 entrants. The prize was a one night, luxury stay with dinner, breakfast and spa access for 2 so was relevant to a much larger audience than a “win a wedding” might be.
Online and 360 video tours
While couples have been unable to visit venues in person, video tours have become very popular. A lot of venues will be using the quieter months this summer to arrange for 360 degree videos to be recorded with companies like Big Day 360. Now that venues are starting to open for show rounds it may feel like it is now too late to arrange for a professional video tour, but couples have really enjoyed the convenience and we think they will expect to see video tours from all venues in the future, and they will become a standard part of the venue’s marketing.
Reviews = trust = confidence
Wedding venues will be pleased to know that the single most effective marketing tool is absolutely free, and just takes a few minutes of your time. Couples want to see 3rd party reviews to help endorse their decision to choose you. Ideally, these should come from your couples, but if they have posted them online elsewhere they can be added to your Guides for Brides profile too, as long as they are copied and pasted word for word, with the same star rating. Add them through your business hub (choose the “Reply to Reviews” option and scroll down to Add Review) or simply on your listing.
Where does our data come from?
We constantly study statistics throughout our website to spot trends and over the past months, it has been particularly important to stay a step ahead. In addition, since March we have been lucky enough to have two MBAs studying our data and writing dissertations on the effects of coronavirus on the wedding industry, including online activity. As confidence slowly returns to the wedding industry we’ll be keeping you up to date with the shifting habits of the couples you need to be in front of.
If we can help you at any time with any of these, or other marketing opportunities, we’d be delighted to help; email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the author
Written by: Nikita Thorne
With a first-class degree under her belt and a thirst for knowledge, Nikita is a passionate writer and marketer. As the marketing manager, Nikita leads our specialist team of marketers and actively connects wedding industry suppliers with prospective couples through effective marketing and advertising campaigns.