After three stressful years filled with ups and downs, the hospitality industry has had to deal with plenty of tough decisions and stressful situations, and as we face 2023 we want to share our advice on how to set yourself up for success.
While there is still a lot of uncertainty, in WeddingDates, we are cautiously optimistic about the year ahead. As Benjamin Franklin once said: “out of adversity comes opportunity”. We fully believe that you have what it takes to make a success of your business this year if you are ready to embrace the challenge. And if you need a bit of help, that is what we are here for.
What does 2023 look like for the wedding industry?
After a few VERY busy months we are starting to see wedding booking rates returning back to pre-pandemic levels. We appreciate that your customers have more choices than ever before and your venue has to pull out all the stops to stand out from the competition.
Carys Duckworth, our UK Sales Executive has learned that some customers have seen a drop in PACE for 2023 and that the rise in the cost of living is affecting the budget end of the market. She adds “wedding coordinators have indicated other challenges they are facing include the rise in the cost of living, leaving couples with a different approach to packages.”
Over the past few months, we’ve also seen an increased focus by venues on improving conversion rates. 31% of potential new customers recently surveyed by our sales team indicated this as their top priority and 64% included it in their top three, along with increased enquiries and growing their market visibility.
Some of the trends brought on by the pandemic have continued into 2023, like a shift to shorter lead weddings, cost-saving approaches like mid-week weddings and smaller, more intimate weddings. We are waiting for the final analysis of the results of the UK Ultimate Survey to see if this is borne out.
And there is further positivity out there in the industry. Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality spoke at the 29th Hotel Leadership Conference presented by The Master Innholders in London in January about her three reasons to be cheerful.
- Global travel is back
- Consumer confidence is fragile but it IS coming back
- Early signs are, we are over the worst. Forecasts from Q4 are turning out not as bleak in reality. After Q2 things will be better.
“There are mountains we must climb over the next six months, however, we will emerge strong and able to capitalise.”
Things you can do to prepare for 2023
If the last 3 years have taught us anything it is that businesses that adapt quickly tend to be the ones that thrive, so in light of that our team has put together 5 things that we believe will help you navigate these challenges and make the most of 2023.
1. Review your standing
The first step is to take a look at your venue, your team, and the value you are offering, and evaluate whether or not it is delivering the desired results.
“It has felt pretty relentless the last few years for hospitality in general but the wedding businesses that I see thriving are the ones that: know their figures inside and out; have a people-first culture; and look to keep up with modern trends and innovation.” – Carys
What do you want to achieve this year; increase conversions, book more showrounds or optimise the venue’s operational efficiency? Write all of this down while evaluating your current efforts and performance. Be specific about the challenges you are facing.
Even with the current cost of living crisis couples are still getting married and organising weddings. However, they are shifting their focus to make sure they get the best value for their money. An approach that worked 5 or 10 years ago might not be as relevant today. It is key to identify areas that can be improved or opportunities for upselling.
2. Support your staff
Industry professionals often express that they are stretched too thin due to staffing issues or that there are just not enough hours in the day to get around to all the admin tasks they have to deal with, leaving them overwhelmed and frustrated. An overworked team is not a productive one. Take the time to talk to your staff and colleagues to find out what they need to achieve their goals.
When people-power is reduced or limited, it is more important than ever to utilise tools to make day-to-day work and administration easier. Businesses that provide their teams with adequate resources and tools to do their job end up with more productive, happier and more loyal staff.
Tools like WedPro can help your team manage their daily task lists and give them time back to focus on in-person activities that you can’t automate. Understanding your sales pipeline, and conversion rates and managing your enquiries will help you meet the demands of 2023.
3. Capture those enquiries
With the festive season and Valentine’s Day being the most popular time for engagements the majority of your wedding enquiries will be arriving in Q1 and couples are craving connection according to Alix Matania-Allerton, our UK Sales Manager.
“We are entering the era of digital relationships. Millennials make up the majority of couples getting married and they are a generation who are tech-savvy. They want to do a lot online but that doesn’t mean they want to be dealt with like everyone else. They still want to feel special while having the added convenience of getting all their information online.” – Alix
Once the couple lands on your wedding website make it easy for them to do what you want them to do. Don’t just provide them with an email address or phone number and expect them to do all the work. Interactive tools to allow them to submit information to get an instant reply and brochure or request a private viewing will be much stronger calls-to-action on your site. The easiest way to secure that enquiry is with one of the WedPro plugins, which sits on your site and does the work for you ensuring your couple gets an immediate response.
4. Closing the deal
We know that couples are enquiring to and viewing fewer and fewer venues each year as they do their research and shortlisting online so instead of stressing about getting more enquiries, we encourage clients to work on improving conversion rate instead. If you currently convert 1 in every 10 enquiries then imagine the impact you would see by increasing conversion from 10% to 20% – you would double your bookings without needing to generate any new enquiries! Conversion rate is the key to success.
Thousands of couples are looking to book their wedding venues this year. Getting the enquiry is one thing but making sure you get them through the door and convince them to book with you will take some effort on your part. Couples don’t want to feel like they are on a conveyor belt, they want to receive some special treatment and know their wedding is important to you.
“There will always be people wanting to get married but the way to win the hearts of your couples is not purely on price but on showing your value and this is more around service and trust,” says Carys and adds that you should ask yourself the following questions: Are you responsive? Do you show a genuine interest in them? What’s your experience to make their dream a reality? Can you be flexible?
With WedPro we’ve made it so much easier for you to improve your communication with couples on their journey, nudging them to take the next step in their planning at regular intervals. Consider your email copy and what you are doing to give them the extra push or incentive to come in for a viewing. How are you going to stand out above the crowd? We have seen venues offer complimentary afternoon teas or overnight stays for couples that book a viewing appointment.
5. Celebrate Your Wins
Getting ghosted by a couple that seemed interested or not securing a booking after a showround can dampen one’s spirits. This year make a point of focusing on the positives, the wins and celebrating your success.
Give your wedding coordinator that “job well done” after a successful wedding, ring that bell every time a wedding is booked and put up the thank you cards as a reminder of why you do what you do.
At WeddingDates we celebrate our customer’s success as if it were our own and we want to see you succeed. Give us a shout if you want to brag. We aren’t against a tag on LinkedIn or Instagram and will gladly celebrate with your team.
As always we are just an email or phone call away and will be happy to talk to you about how you can maximise your offerings and seize the opportunities coming your way in 2023.
The Team At WeddingDates
Interested to learn more about how WedPro can give your venue a boost this year? Book a demo or call with our team.
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