Just because the world shut down this past spring, doesn’t mean that couples – who had to forego their originally planned wedding events – still didn’t get married. Sure, most couples (roughly 93% worldwide according to TheKnot, actually) rescheduled their celebrations to later this year or into 2021. But only a minuscule 7% actually canceled their weddings altogether, meaning that the remaining balance honored their original wedding date – either by seriously scaling back their guest list to comply with social distancing rules as certain states allowed, opting for a quick-hitch courthouse marriage, or doing what is now being referred to as “a virtual wedding,” where couples host an intimate ceremony from home that invites friends and family to tune via a video platform.
The takeaway? Whatever this pandemic throws at us, one thing is for sure: Couples will still find ways to get married. So in order to make sure your venue capitalizes on “love always finding a way” and not lose business to a courthouse or virtual marriage, it’s critical that, right now, you are best showcasing how your venue, vendors, and featured amenities have adapted to what desirable weddings will look like amid coronavirus – namely, the micro wedding. And we have just the steps.
Update Your Website to Speak to the New Normal
Tweaking your website may seem obvious, but it can’t be understated. Not just to stress how your venue is addressing concerns for hygiene and cleanliness, something that people will expect to see for some time across all industries – whether weddings and events, hotel and travel, restaurants and craft beverage creators, and more – but to also show how your venue can easily cater to this new standard. For example, update or add in pages that show layouts, food distribution details, seating arrangements, so potential couples can get a sense of how their wedding can be hosted – effectively and safely.
And perhaps most importantly: Rethink imagery. Prior to the pandemic, it was natural to show off big celebrations with hordes of people – it wouldn’t have raised any eyebrows. And because imagery is so important – especially to the Millennial generation (see our other post “How to Design a Wedding Venue Website that Speaks to (and Converts) Millennials”) – it’s essential to have the right selection. Opt for images showing detail shots of happy couples, fewer people, and your spacious settings. Avoid showing crowds; even if it’s a great shot that captures an utmost level of joy and excitement, images like this are too much of a turn off right now.
Make Video a Marketing Must-Have
Video, when done well, has certainly proven itself as a powerful marketing tool in any industry. But especially as social distancing has recently dominated our lives, it’s become a critical way for couples to vet a potential venue from afar. So, if you’ve never been able to find a good enough reason to finally take the plunge and invest in video marketing, now is the time. It allows you to emotionally engage with couples using images, music, and storytelling while showcasing how an intimate wedding at your property can become the wedding of their dreams. In fact, according to the folks at Google, as of 2019, 55% of consumers use online videos to make purchase decisions.
Is Your Website Effectively Capturing Your Unique Venue Experience?
Use Your Blog to Inspire Creative Approaches for Hosting a Smaller Wedding
Your blog has always been a way to show that you know weddings and that you know the latest trends. And by offering valuable pieces of wedding-resource and -related content, it doesn’t just help potential couples find your website during internet research, but positions you as a resource they need and, therefore, their ideal wedding venue.
None of this has changed in the face of the pandemic. Because guidelines are forcing couples to reimagine quintessential wedding elements – such as cocktail hour and entertainment – as they plan (or re-plan) to meet social-distancing regulations, your blog is a key place to give them that much-needed info. And, in the process, it shows potential couples (or those who’ve had to reschedule their wedding dates) how a micro wedding or socially-distant wedding can beautifully be done at your specific venue, encouraging conversion. A few examples of content ideas that cater to this: “How to Choose Your Guest List for a Micro Wedding,” “5 Creative Ways to Throw a Safe, Socially-Distanced Wedding Ceremony,” and “Our Favorite Socially Distanced Wedding Ceremony Seating Ideas & Arrangements.”
Leverage Real-Life Socially-Distant or Micro Wedding Examples
It’s no secret that personal testimonials from previous client couples, as well as “real wedding” stories, help capture and present weddings at your venue as once-in-a-lifetime experiences. This is still the case, so once you do host a handful of weddings that cater to this new normal, be sure to leverage them. Reach out to past couples and ask to use their wedding story and imagery to create a section on your website (or a series on your blog) that depicts real examples of socially-distant weddings held at your venue.
Take, for example, one of our clients, The Vine, for whom we did branding work and a refreshed website design. Located about halfway down this venue’s website landing page, a collection of image tiles depict real couples who held their wedding at this premier wedding property near Austin and Houston, Texas. Based on the style of wedding that strikes someone’s fancy – boho chic, Southern elegance, or classic glamour, to name a few – users can click on the couple (i.e. “Kaitlyn & Michael”) and be taken to a page that tells the experience of their wedding in copy, testimonials, and imagery.
Roll Out/Promote Special Packages, Offerings & Vendors
You may already have special packages built around elopements or intimate affairs, so don’t be afraid to push them – they are what couples are looking for at the moment. Or perhaps, consider refining the package to have added value to make it more attractive – free champagne toast, use of a private suite not typically included in the package, etc. The name of the game is to find ways to offer little added elements of service, rather than steeply discounting your packages and amenities.
You can also get your preferred vendor partners in on the action, too, especially if they too have had to morph their services to meet with the times. For example, you might promote some of your favorite interactive entertainment providers, such as drone deliveries, which can hover around the event space to drop off desserts or small goodies to guests (and always a fun element to watch). Or maybe there’s a local mask-maker who can work with the couple to create custom masks for their special day. Or even a transportation service with a fleet of small cars, ideal for transporting guests in their seating “bubbles.” If a preferred vendor can do it and make it special, don’t hesitate to show it off.