Why Online Statistics can Help Us Feel Confident
At times of uncertainty, to access clear facts can help businesses make the right decisions. We are happy to share our online user stats as it can help businesses understand what new couples are thinking and how they are reacting to the changing situation.
When do couples perceive weddings will return to normal?
We concluded that, although the data confirms that there has been a loss in confidence for the first half of 2021, the number of new couples starting to plan is normal, they are just looking further into the future.
During January, all couples were looking for venues with 2020 availability. Even throughout March, 90% were still planning a 2020 wedding.
By May, new couples stopped planning on 2020 and every search was for dates in 2021. In the past month, 60% of searches were for 2022.
Useful fact: Current top searches for venues are 18/9/21 and 14/5/22
Couples are looking online
Google analytics show an increase of 24.5% for new users and an increase in sessions of 29.5% during August and September, compared to August and September 2019. This is partly due to couples holding off their plans earlier in the year and we don’t feel it reflects an overall increase in the numbers getting married. This increase in online traffic likely to be an ongoing trend and has been reported on other platforms too, as more couples rely on researching online rather than in person or through wedding fairs and open days, and businesses move away from advertising in magazines.
Are new couples booking?
Some couples are booking, but there is a lot of anxiety over deposits being expressed in forums. Uncertainty on when number restrictions will be lifted means that couples are enquiring and shortlisting now, ready to book later. Consumer confidence is increasing gradually and is an area we are focussing on hard with reassuring online content this month.
The impact of the “Rule of 6”
On the 8th September, the day the “Rule of 6” was announced, we saw the change in consumer behaviour with couples setting up a shortlist of favourites (red line on the graph on the right) in preference to sending enquiries (blue line on the left graph).
It seems they have the confidence to choose who they want to book, but are unable to go further until they can commit to a date. Venues and suppliers can expect enquiry levels to follow the same trajectory as soon as we can regain that confidence.
Flexibility on deposits will increase bookings
Without insurance, businesses have needed to find ways to reassure new couples that they won’t lose their deposit if plans have to change.
Below we can see the impact of giving confidence from an early stage by looking at the higher level of enquiries sent to those displaying the “Book with Confidence” badge (shown in blue).
It should be noted that this covers the deposit, not prepayments, so most businesses will be able to structure payments to make it work for them.
Confidence has become key
Listings at the top of a page (Spotlight – green and Featured – red) tend to receive the most enquiries, however the difference has increased considerably. Couples seem to have more confidence in booking the businesses they perceive as being recommended or having the most confidence in themselves; the online equivalent of being on the inside cover of a printed magazine.
Businesses who were relying on the predicted 50% increase in weddings in 2021 should look at ways to incentivise postponed couples to stick with their 2021 plans as most new couples are now looking to book for 2022.
There will be the predicted “glut” of weddings, but it will be from late 2021 and into 2022 rather than from March to August 2021 as previously predicted.
It is the right time to build a pipeline of enquiries now and to target the many couples waiting for the situation to change. The shortlisting, enquiry and booking process will be spread over weeks rather than days, with couples shortlisting now before paying deposits as their confidence increases.
Any marketing plans should reflect this, focussing on a strong, steady and reassuring presence rather than big, one-off campaigns.
Giving assurance that deposits are safe may encourage couples to book sooner and we know a lot of businesses are adjusting their terms temporarily.
If you have total confidence in your business, consumers will do the same. Our online content and e-newsletter will be focussing on creating positivity, looking to the future and inspiring couples to hold on to their dreams for a big wedding, and we encourage others to join us.