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Wedding venue worry – February has been weird and no one knows why

Wedding venue expert Zoë Dew explores why the wedding industry has seen a slump in February 2019 and explores some ways to improve for March.

I asked my closed group – The Wedding Coordinator Club – if they had noticed a difference in enquiry / booking rate this February to the months preceding and the answer was a resounding yes. Then I started asking in industry circles if they had seen a difference too – again, the answer was yes. Moreover, no one can understand why.

In terms of activity, the businesses that I have spoken to ramped up their sales and marketing activity from January if anything. After seeing the success of the strategies that they had implemented at the beginning of the year. Many clients had their best month in January, followed by nothing in February, and on the surface, they hadn’t changed anything. Not one thing. Head scratching all around.

There was one thing that was certain – the enquiry rate was the same. Usually, these would drop as the first eight weeks of the year go on, but in most cases this year, the enquiry rate has maintained or even gone up! However, the conversion rate has plummeted for no apparent reason.

Attending wedding exhibitions such as the National Wedding Show at Olympia and Brides South West at the Bournemouth International Centre highlighted to me that something is changing.

Undoubtedly, this is being led by the couples that are coming enquiring to hold their wedding day at your venue.

They are savvy. Every week there are more and more opportunities available to them for where they can get married. And don’t they know it!. It is more than likely that you will extend any offers past the month deadline to get the booking. They also know that negotiation isn’t a dirty word. If they were to ask for a discount, they’d probably get it. They’ll probably get whatever they want because bookings are down and your venue staff need that sale.

However, please don’t do it. I know you want to, but please don’t.

Don’t discount. Or put out an offer. Don’t devalue your product.

Giving away a wedding is like a furniture sale. You are immediately telling potential couples that actually, it was never worth the original price in the first place.

Same goes for discounts, offers, late availability. The list is endless.

Some venues I follow have had an open weekend every weekend – so why are they special at all?

The way to improve your bookings, engagement & revenue, is to work out what is popular and focus on that.

There are so many ways that you can do this; I could go on forever. I could do a video series, focus on that and talk you all to sleep. Instead, I have written a guide on how to add value while retaining revenue. If you would like a copy click here.

Many other things go into increasing revenue, increasing booking rates, improving conversion rates…there is no one answer.

It’s why my signature package is six months long – we need to work together, strip back and rebuild. I can’t do that in a two-day visit and a report that’s handed over to you. Your trust has to be there that I can make things better for you. I will. More than that I need honesty on the understanding that you will get the same back from me.

I’d love to speak to you to see how I can make this happen for your venue. My star client increased booking revenue by 335% within four months of the contract starting. That was two months before our time together was up.

Book a call and tell me your problems. I will find a way to fix them.

Wedding Venue Consultant – Smart Strategies to Keep Your Staff Engaged

Wedding venue staff turnover rates in the wedding industry are super high. I contributed in a big way. I faced limited progression opportunities in the world that I loved. Rarely rewarded for loyalty and enthusiasm, I was always looking for the next job. And that’s what led me here.

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

Richard Branson
Wedding venue consultant Zoë Dew is a wedding venue expert. This blog post explores how to improve wedding venue staff turnover without going crazy

High wedding venue staff turnover rates are problematic. New members of the team take six months of training to be ready to face the world and then one to two years to be fully productive. Also, getting a name for ongoing recruitment is detrimental to your reputation. It makes more sense to keep the staff that you have in place happy, motivated and striving for more.

How can you champion your wedding venue staff and boost your reputation?

Incentivise

I have had incentives throughout my career. The pinnicle? I was going to Paris if we hit 200 weddings for 2017. An impossible target. Therefore, the incentive meant nothing.

Money doesn’t motivte wedding venue staff. If they were, they wouldn’t be doing this job. Rewards are great as a thank you for hitting a target, but don’t forget to reward along the way.

Things like a spa voucher, a bottle of fizz or an extra days holiday can go a long way! Don’t pay for deposits taken! Reward the most engaged member of the team or the one who took the most provisional bookings. There are lots of things that go into making a wedding booking happen!

Track

It’s no secret that working in the hospitality industry can be hard work for long hours and lousy pay. Start the change now. Keep track of the hours that your wedding venue staff are working.

In January and September, some days will be 12 hours long. In November and December, things will quieten off. Make sure to have things set in stone about overtime and hours in lieu.

Do you pay the staff overtime? Make the decision now because rules and boundaries make things easier when arranging rotas and holidays.

Celebrate

Appreciate rather than overlook staff members just with a simple “well done” by spending time with members of the wedding venue staff on an individual basis in an informal setting to check in with them. Pass on thanks from yourself and those above.

Focus on the success that they have been instrumental in producing. A thank you can go a long, long way.

Inform

It can be detrimental to make decisions alone. Or without the insider knowledge that your team on the ground can provide.

Be transparent about the decision making process. Consult with the team at every step of the way. Don’t fall into thinking that those at the lower end of the pay scale don’t have anything insightful to add.

Sometimes the very thing your business needs is a fresh idea from someone new. These are the people running the company.

They are front facing and dealing with your clients every day – don’t leave them in the cold.

Discuss

This one is super simple. Get to know your wedding venue staff. Know who the team are as people, what’s going on at home, what hobbies they have, where they like to eat. Make a personal connection with them.

Become a human, not some robot that sits in an office on the other side of the building. Ask them what is wrong when they look sad and get excited with them when they have something to celebrate because your attention means a great deal.

I’m not saying you have to be a friend, but I sobbed my heart out when I gave my notice in at my favourite job. The job had got me to the end of my rope, but my general manager was (and still is) the best person for whom I have ever worked. I didn’t want to leave her, so I was super upset. All because she was a human to me.

Getting to the root of most issues usually the problem starts with the self. Give staff an open channel of communication and some gratitude for the work they do. It will change your retention rates for the better.

I’d love to hear your thoughts – drop a comment below, send me an email, book a time to chat,or hook up on my socials: Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. I’d love to have a talk through how to make things better at your wedding venue.

Wedding venue consultant Zoë Dew is a wedding venue expert. This blog post explores how to improve wedding venue staff turnover without going crazy

Wedding Venue Consultant – What the heck?!

Wedding Venue Expert Zoë Dew explains what she does in an informative blog post

Hey you!

Today I am writing about something that I get asked all the time. It’s taken me a while because I absolutely love what I do, and want to portray that in words.

And that is to tell you why I became a wedding venue consultant.

I spent eight years in the wedding venue industry. I realised that my passion was working with the business itself, tracking the figures and working on the strategy to get the sales. My experience of working with couples meant that I knew what they were looking for. The strategic side of my brain was fueled with ways to improve the business while retaining reputation.

I worked my way from a trainee event manager at an exclusive use boutique venue to head of weddings and events at a prestigious venue, in charge of an annual £1.3 million budget and over 300 weddings at any one time.

But it wasn’t enough. I wanted more.

I did some research as to how I could take my passion and make it a career. And the business was born. I knew that I could take what I had learnt through the career choices I had made and use the systems to help more companies across the country.

Over the past year, I have honed the services that I offer. In the beginning, I used the scattergun approach and any potential client that approached me. I said that I could do something for them. Now, I know where my strengths lie. It isn’t through visiting your wedding venue once to get a snapshot of the venue and then handing you a report – it is so much more than that.

I take on 2-4 clients per year.

Physically and mentally I cannot do more. The results I have achieved by working intensely with these clients speak for themselves which makes me sure my capacity is at the right level.

Success is based upon consistency and the only way to do this is to make sure that I am the sales leader, marketing consultant, revenue manager and confidante that your wedding venue staff didn’t know they needed.

I work in-house with your team.

Navigating the landscape with you, changing and developing the strategies as we go to make sure you have your own individual blueprint for success.

I look at the market surrounding you, not the general consensus of the U.K.

For instance, I know that if you have a venue in Lancashire, your wedding bookings will skyrocket on opening.

But in Devon, the market is a lot slower, and it takes up to three years to see the results you want.

I know I can add business to your books. How to make sure you’re succeeding because I’m there, every week, looking at your figures and calling your staff out on why they aren’t doing what they should be doing.

I lead you to scale, thrive and to increase revenue.

Oh and those results…
702% ROI from my instruction to consult to date
Business on the books increased by £154k in three short months
Average wedding revenue increase by £6k per booking
Loyal staff who celebrate their wins rather than seeking new employment
This will focus staff on the business of weddings, rather than the sparkly bits. (Although the sparkly bits are really awesome too!).

I have given my clients the tools to succeed far beyond the time that I spend with them. But when our contract finishes I don’t just wave goodbye. I have built a strong bond that means I am on hand to ask questions of and run things by when things change.

So there we have it. The best decision I have ever made was turning my geekery into a career.

Next blog I’ll be back to business I promise!

Zoë

ps. If you want to chat about how I could make changes to your business, I would love to have a chinwag. Contact me here, or email hello@zoedew.com.

Wedding Venue Expert Zoë Dew explains what she does in an informative blog post

Wedding Venue Conversions – 5 reasons why your enquiries don’t convert

When my group, The Wedding Coordinator Club, first opened, I asked the members what they struggle with most. The resounding answer was that they really struggled to convert the vast number of enquiries that they receive daily.

Many wedding venues receive upwards of 100 wedding enquiries a month, and many don’t have the person power to work on these in house solidly. Some services offer to take that burden from you, but they come with a hefty price tag. You think you are doing all that you can to make sure every enquiry converts, but you’re not having much luck.

It’s straightforward to talk about conversions in regards to how many enquiries are coming through the system versus the number of deposits the venue has taken. However, it is so much more than that. You need to study each part of the process to understand how to improve. This is my speciality! And here are some quick tips to help you get there.

Can you honestly say that none of the following applies to you and your team?

You don’t know who you’re selling to

A big mistake that wedding venues make is thinking that they can be something for everyone

Firstly, have you identified who you want to book a wedding with you? A big mistake that wedding venues make is thinking that they can be something for everyone. In 2019, couples can get married in more and more venues that appeal to a whole range of clients. Museums, pubs, industrial mills – you name it, there will be a venue to suit you. So why wouldn’t you identify the perfect client for you to work with? Be the best wedding venue for that client every time. A reason that your conversion rate is low is that the volume of enquiries you get is high, meaning that you will never convert those enquiries that are too far, too cheap and also different for you.

You aren’t being consistent

Become known for being excellent at one niche

In this digital age, social media rules and content is unquestionably king. Be consistent in your output. Build relationships with wedding photographers who match your aesthetic and are great to work with to have their permission to use their photos with credit. Make your Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest outputs beautiful and most importantly appealing to your ideal client. Is your function room really light and airy? Show it! Become known for being excellent at one niche, and you will become the go-to venue for that niche. If you consistently show chair covers, lace and hessian, this is the couple that you will always attract. Change it up and boost your conversions in the process!

You aren’t being visible

…you don’t know how much business you are losing from having a poor website or poorly managed social media profile.

Do you have a marketing strategy? I don’t mean knowledge of when you should sell what, I mean a strategy, written down, month by month of what you are going to do to make sure you keep in the minds of those engaged couples. Think about the decision-making process for any significant purchase – because that is what booking a wedding venue is, a significant purchase – and the amount of back and forth any consumer has in making that decision. They will discover the venue, and then spend a considerable amount of time researching the pros and cons of booking with you. This will undoubtedly include Facebook, Instagram, Trip Advisor, your website testimonials. If you aren’t consistent in keeping them updated then each missing link will be a black mark in the research process. Bear in mind all of these processes generally happen before a couple gets in touch with you – you don’t know how much business you are losing from having a poor website or poorly managed social media profile.

You don’t shout about your success

You need to build a reputation for looking after clients so well that they want to be treated that way on their wedding day.

It is a very British state of mind to be bashful about your achievements. But how can a couple ever get the hype about your wedding venue if you never ever shout about it? You need to build a reputation for looking after clients so well that they want to be treated that way on their wedding day. They need to feel like they will be part of the club. Encourage clients to share pictures with their friends and family, make sure that you are rocking every single wedding with a fantastic attitude and stellar service. Then, after the event, they will be encouraged to share these photos with you, which you, in turn, can wax lyrical about as well! Let clients be a part of the club before they have even paid a deposit.

You don’t ask for the booking

You need to ask for the sale.

This is the most straightforward point, but probably the most important. You need to ask for the sale. You have to ask a couple if they want to come and see the venue, to hold a date, if they’re going to pay their deposit. They don’t know what this process is. They have never done this before. You need to be repetitive and tell them how they can have their dream wedding with you and ask them to make that decision every single step of the way.

If you need a more in-depth look at how your conversion rate stacks up, get in touch. I’m well versed in an objective look at a venue to see where you need to tighten up or concentrate your efforts. Drop me an email: hello@zoedew.com

Wedding Venue Clients – How Do They Find You?

Thank you for visiting my blog! I am Zoë, a wedding venue expert and a run a wedding venue consultancy for country house wedding venues who want to do better! This January I’m concentrating on enquiries. It’s the busiest month of the year for wedding venues and I want to make sure that you are getting all the wedding venue clients that you should be getting!

I have identified seven key places that your ideal clients can find you. I want to make sure that you are hitting them all to the best of your ability.

Social Media

Are wasting your efforts putting energy into all of the different channels when actually your enquiries are only coming through one or two?

Number one – social media. With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn…there are a whole host of places that clients can find you. Do you need to be on all of them? Probably not! Are wasting your efforts putting energy into all of the different channels? It’s possible that your enquiries are only coming through one or two!

It’s understandable that Facebook and Instagram would probably be the most important social media channels that you have. But have you explored Pinterest or even YouTube? These days video is essential to any business that has a presence on the internet and all platforms favour video content.

The way you can increase your video output is by putting together a “meeting the team” series, and that will improve your know like and trust factor. You can also share videos of weddings that happened at your venue or events that have occurred. Open Days, taster evenings, even dinners or activities that aren’t weddings, will all increase the factor of people knowing who you are.

Where is your ideal client spending time?

Work out where your ideal client is and where they spend the most time and that’s where you put the most effort. From my research I can tell that Instagram and Pinterest are the places most couples look for for inspiration. So you need to make sure that your output for both of those channels is hyped up this January.

You need to be present every single day on Instagram. In particular, stories are becoming more and more critical. People want to see the people behind the camera! Make sure that your wedding coordinators are sharing what they’re doing that day. From meetings they’re having people that are booking weddings with them to what happens behind the scenes. All those sorts of things will increase people wanting to work with you. It’s no sheer stroke of luck that the week the venues that I work with live on camera see their engagement triple. It’s just a fact.

Search engines

People who don’t already know you won’t necessarily find you via Google

The second way that your clients can find you is by search engines. With Google, there’s a way of paying for advertising which is a good way of getting people’s attention. However, realistically, this is only going to increase your touch points. People who don’t already know you won’t necessarily find you via Google.

One of the venues that I’ve worked with recently found that their top Google search term is the name of their venue. So people have seen them elsewhere and gone to look for them on Google to find their website. Working in tandem with your social media channels, Google can be a perfect place for you to get exposure.

Google likes videos, blog posts and new content. So if you don’t already have blogs on your website get writing some! You only need to do maybe four a month, so one a week, and it just needs to be between 500 and 700 words. If you are pumping out new content for people to see, your clients will know that you’re there and that you care about your couples. This will do wonders for your Google ranking.

Prior Customers

You are the venue that they are going to recommend to other people

Another way that clients can know of you is if they are a prior customer. Lots of us forget that with a wedding venue especially every weekend hopefully you’ve got about 100 people coming into that venue. Those hundred people are all potential clients.

Make sure that they have the best time when they come and visit you. It has to be the best wedding the guests have ever been to. So, when they are in a position to get married in the future, or they’ve got daughters or sons or nephews or cousins or neighbours or family friends who need to get married, you are the venue that they are going to recommend to other people.

If they’ve had a good time, as I mentioned in my last blog, word of mouth recommendations are the number one thing that people trust when it comes to reviews.

Word of mouth

If you give them a good time, if you treat them well, if you show them what a great venue you are – they’re going to recommend you

That leads me to my next point. Word of mouth. Even if they’re not a prior customer, think about suppliers, staff, collaborators – they are golden. Give them a good time and treat them. Show them what a great venue you are and they’re going to recommend you!

Suppliers always get forgotten. If you feed them, give them some coffee when they arrive and treat them well, they’re going to recommend you because they like working with you. They are going to want to work with you again at a future wedding – it makes sense.

Local area visibility

The likelihood is that most of your clients are going to come from the local area so you need to make sure that they know what you’ve got going on

How visible are you in the local area?

I live in Lancashire and Lancashire is very lucky we have so many beautiful venues in the Lancashire area and the county covers quite a big space.

There is Ormskirk in the very very west, then across the water, you’ve got Blackpool and Lytham. Over in the east, you’ve got places like Clitheroe and even up towards the Yorkshire border you’ve got places like Gisburn.

There are wedding venues in all of the corners of Lancashire. So when I was head of weddings and events at Mitton Hall, I knew who my competition was and I knew what they were doing at any given time. That was just my quirky way of working. I like to know what my competitors are doing!

The likelihood is that most of your clients are going to come from the local area. You need to make sure that they know what you’ve got going on. If you’re an exclusive use wedding venue why not put on some events for them to come and visit. If you’re a hotel make sure you’ve got things going on that people are going to want to visit you. Again, this will increase your touch points on the know, like and trust factor

Print media

It’s nice to have a big thick glossy that sometimes cost upward of six pounds on your desk flicking through knowing exactly what you want

I know that in most industries print advertising and print media is on the decline but in weddings it’s pretty up there. I appreciate it’s the most expensive way of getting your name out there and advertising. However what is the first thing that happens when someone gets engaged? Their mum their best friend their co-workers will go and buy a magazine. It’s nice to have a big thick glossy that sometimes cost upward of six pounds on your desk flicking through knowing exactly what you want.

Why wouldn’t your wedding venue want to have a part of that? Why wouldn’t want to be present in that situation? Even if you go with a local wedding magazine or a local newspaper, there’s various different ways you can work with them. You so you can have an advertorial where there’s a styled shoot at your venue. You can have a real wedding feature. I know my local paper does real weddings every single week. You should be submitting your real weddings every single week.

Trust me from a couples point of view they be so excited to have their name in print and have that lasting memory of their wedding. My wedding got featured on a really prominent wedding blog and I shared the heck out of that which is free advertising for their.

It makes sense.

Get in touch!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my tips today. I’ll be back again next week with another set.

If you’ve got any questions drop me a line at hello@zoedew.com or seek me out on Facebook and Instagram which is @thevenueexpert.

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