Wedding Marketing Tips For Boutique Hotels
The wedding season is all-year round. Make sure you small hotel or inn is positioning yourself to capture the right part of this lucrative market.
Is your property too small to host a full wedding and reception? Don’t let that stop you from being a part of this lucrative and exciting market. Seasons come and go, but the wedding season can last all year.
In this post, I’m showing you creative ways that you can bring in wedding business, with or without a ceremony or reception.
Let's break this down into the different types of ways your boutique hotel might bring in more wedding business.
Buy-outs/Full House + Events
Full Ceremonies (just in case you do them - here are a couple of new thoughts)
How to Promote/PR (just a mention here - will be a full post on this next week)
BUY-OUTS + EVENTS
So you don't have space or resources to host the ceremony, but can you offer a full buy-out to the wedding party? Or, can you host one of the many events associated with a wedding?
SO IMPORTANT: a smaller property never wants to exclude guests who aren't a part of the celebration, so a buy-out solves that problem. This is really important. You never want another guest to feel as if they are not as important because they are just there on vacation. Always think about this when thinking about group business. If it's not a buy-out, you never want the group to take over the space - in the lobby, at the pool, in the spa.
When you put together your buy-out, be sure it's not just a room rate. Explain what it will look and feel like for the group. Does it include transportation to the venue? Cocktails in the afternoon? Mani-pedi's on property? Complimentary breakfast? Build this into the rate and explain in your marketing how special it will be for the group to reserve your entire hotel.
Think about the things that your property doesn't offer, and try and partner with other local businesses. The idea is to make things seamless and easy for the wedding party.
Is there an extra room/storage area at your hotel that could be turned into a space for the bride and her crew to assemble favors, etc.? It could come with tables, music, champagne. Find out what they need - would a printer be helpful for lists, etc.? What about a refrigerator space for corsages and boutonnieres?
Bridesmaids’ Luncheons, Wedding Showers, Bachelorette Parties - don't just think about the girls decked out in tiaras and boas wearing matching t-shirts. Perhaps the bride just wants a few days with her girlfriends or bridesmaids to relax. Offer mani/pedis, yoga classes, champagne in your packages. Maybe it is several weeks before the wedding. Maybe the wedding is in a different city, but you offer this to local brides.
Do you have event planning in your background? Are you also a photographer? You may be able to offer services that have a high profit margin for you.
What is it about your property that lends itself to a package? Do you have current packages that do well that you could modify for weddings? Here are a couple of ideas:
Engagement Package - a take on the Girlfriend Getaway. What about a weekend where you provide wedding resources and a planning notebook. Have fun bride movies. Give her a place and a space to get away and plan, alone or with girlfriends.
Relax & Revive - a package for the bride a few days before her wedding. Includes healthy meals (green smoothie each morning?), a mani-pedi, a cozy corner to think and plan.
Elopement Package - you don't have space for a full wedding, but you have some beautiful, cozy spots? Well, many brides don't want a full wedding, but don’t want to go to Vegas. Create an easy way for a couple to get married without the stigma of "elopement."
Honeymoon Package - I know, everyone has them, so make yours stand out! Look at your competitors and see what is missing. think about what they REALLY want. Do they want chocolates and strawberries, or do they want breakfast in bed? If gifts were brought to the hotel, could you offer to help pack and store them? Think through all of little pain points that the bride and groom deal with the night of and morning after and plan a package that makes their lives easier.
Here’s a link to a couple of posts on hotel packages, including Valentine’s Packages that might give you some ideas.
There are so many different types of ceremonies - second weddings, ceremonies with lots of children, with zero children, same-sex, older couples.
Think about the type of guest who loves your property the most. What types of weddings might they may be involved with? Are you a destination area for those seeking calm and reflection? You might be perfect for a bachelorette party for an older bride.
Family friendly? A couple who is combining families will most likely want the children involved - create a package for them.
Destination Weddings - many couples are no longer asking their guests to fly to an island for the celebration, but are instead creating destination weddings closer to home.
MARKETING + PROMOTION OF YOUR PACKAGES AND EVENTS
As I was writing this, I realized there was so much to say that it needs to be it’s own post. But, a couple of quick things that are critical. And, these things below are things that you should be doing even when not thinking about weddings. I have a ten-point checklist that you can download.
Website - your website, along with word-of-mouth, is your strongest marketing tool. Brides and wedding planners will look at your site before they even consider your property. Do you have a page just for weddings? Should you? It depends on how you want to position and brand your property. Just think it through and make a deliberate, decision with strategy.
Photography - don't have great, current images? If the wedding market is important in your marketing strategy, consider a photo shoot. Not in the budget? Can you reach out to former brides and ask if you can be put in touch with their photographer? Never, ever use a photograph without permission. The photographer may charge you, but it may not be as much as a full shoot. If you love the images that much, perhaps you can recommend this photographer and the two of you can do a trade.
Social media - research the most popular hashtags for weddings in your area, and start posting. Make sure you have updated Pinterest boards around wedding celebrations beyond the ceremony itself. Be creative with your Pinterest boards and be sure to use Rich Pins and hashtags. Make it easy for your guests to promote your property and their experience.
Events - host an event for the wedding planners in your community - this is a must-do. Invite the neighbors and local influencers to an event at your property. Remember, word of mouth is one of your best marketing tools. This should be done for general hotel marketing and not just for weddings. Host a wedding workshop - get the locals thinking of you.
So, wedding season is year-round, but it is at its peak during the spring. Watch what your competitors are doing - watch what your favorite hotels are doing.
Be deliberate and true to your brand when doing any marketing. If it makes sense for certain types of wedding events to be at your property, plan them out and make sure they are creative, on-brand, and have value for you and your guests.