30 Jun How Millennials Shop for Wedding Venues
We identify five core millennial buying habits and what marketers at wedding venues need to know about each to reach – and book – today’s couples.
You’re probably sick of hearing about millennials; millennials are probably sick of hearing about millennials. But for most marketers, they’ve become the most important consumer generation, and will be for the next 15 or so years. Those working in hospitality marketing, and more specifically, wedding venue advertising and marketing, need to understand that millennials buy things differently than their predecessors, and how this affects the way they book wedding venues. In this piece, we outline five millennial buying habits, and how venues should capitalize on them in their marketing plans.
They Do Their Homework (Reviews Are Important)
Even if millennials put down their phones long enough to physically go somewhere to buy something, chances are, they’ve already done their research. Reviews are imperative to the millennial buying experience. They walk in the door with an educated opinion, as they have a strong desire to be informed and feel like whatever they’re buying is worth it. More than ever, thanks to reviews, the best products and experiences are thriving, while those that disappoint don’t last. It’s the reason movie studios are blaming Rotten Tomatoes for killing movies that aren’t very good.
What Venues Should Know: With resources like The Knot, WeddingWire, and Wedding Spot, today’s engaged couple is doing a whole lot of research before stepping foot in a venue. And this is where reviews – social media’s version of word of mouth – make a huge impact. Incentivize couples to write an honest review. Authenticity is key here – don’t push them in a particular (read: positive) direction – just ask for their honest feedback and experience. Encourage them to tell their story. Reviews for The Knot, Wedding Wire, and Facebook, in particular, show up prominently in Google search results, so steer couples in that direction.
Social Media (Posting and Consuming) Is Part of the Experience
Whether you have an official presence on social media or not, your business is being discussed by customers and potential customers on the core platforms. So it’s important you do two things: 1. Start building your social media marketing strategy if you haven’t already; 2. Start listening and responding when appropriate.
What Venues Should Know: Instagram and Snapchat, the two leading camera-first social networks, both have features that let users look at a specific place – so couples will be able to scope out your venue before touring the grounds in person. Keep an eye on the images that are posted on your property, and make sure that your feeds on the major social networks have plenty of gorgeous images for curious couples just dipping their toes into the wedding planning water. Also: Consider making a custom Snapchat Geofilter available to new couples for their big day. It’s a true value-add for you and the couple.
They Have to Show an Interest for Your Wedding Advertising to Hit the Mark
The amount of media and messages being thrown at millennials has made them very savvy at sniffing out marketing – heads go down to phones during TV commercials, new tabs open if there’s a pre-roll YouTube ad, and listeners tap the 15-second fast-forward button during podcast ads.
What Venues Should Know: The key to being heard for those in hospitality and wedding marketing, then, is finding the right distribution point as well as message so you can be confident they’ll value it. Make sure you’re listed (and invest in premium placement) for venue-listing platforms. Instagram ads, now with the power of Facebook’s ad muscle, allow very granular targeting, and could be a worthwhile investment for a venue that promotes a post targeted only at local women who follow @theknot, for example. The aforementioned custom Snapchat Geofilters act as native, guest-distributed ads, and are an easy way to capture impressions. Even print – that “dinosaur” you always hear about – can also still be effective. We’ve continued to see venues, vendors, and couples find value in our print event brochures, because they’re handed to couples during a site visit. It’s that in-hand distribution after they’ve shown initial interest that continues to make this product a success.
They Spend Money on Experiences, Not Things
Airbnb and Uber are in, RE/MAX and Ford are out…at least for now. Millennials are putting off major life milestones so they can spend big on them versus big purchases that will tie them down. They want memories that they can document and share on social media. According to a study by EventBrite, 78 percent of millennials “would choose to spend money on a desirable experience or event over buying something desirable.”
What Venues Should Know: This is a massive opportunity for wedding venues. While the average age of engaged couples may be rising, when they come in as warm prospects, they may be more open to up-selling. Push the once-in-a-lifetime, memory-making angle. In your marketing, weave the wedding in as part of their bigger life’s adventure, and as a rite of passage worth celebrating right. Go back to couples who got married at your venue five years ago, offer them a gift certificate to a local restaurant or spa for their time, and get them to tell you how much and why they loved their wedding at your venue. Use their stories on your website, as photo-driven testimonials on social media, and in other parts of your wedding venue marketing.
They Expect Convenience and Flexibility
Everyone likes convenience and flexibility in the buying experience, but millennials have grown to expect them. Whereas you used to have to call your friends to keep in touch, now there’s Facebook. Asking someone out on a date can be anxiety-inducing, and now you can just match on Tinder. Hailing a cab could be a pain – now there’s Uber. Optionality and speed are expected.
What Venues Should Know: It’s easy when you’re dealing with this every day to forget that settling on a wedding venue can be a stressful time for a couple. Venues that prioritize making the process helpful, easy, and transparent will stand out. What else could you provide during the venue vetting and planning process to make couples feel like they’re in the driver’s seat? Could you package together a customized video of the venue spaces they considered as a site-visit follow up (piecing together the templated video parts with a custom introduction)? Does your venue have planning tools that make the process that much simpler at your venue in comparison to your competitors? If so, highlight that at the outset. No matter the price point, if what you’re offering is truly great value, millennials will gravitate toward your offering, so it’s up to you to identify what you do well for them and then find the best ways to sing its praises.