How do you make more wedding revenue for your venue (without more weddings!)
Growing Your Revenue & Profit
Growing Your Revenue & Profit
At the time of writing, 2023 hasn’t produced the wedding bookings that many wedding venue teams had hoped for the year. It was always going to be hard to compete with 2022 which was bolstered by a “catch up” from pandemic postponements and a surge in demand but the turbulent times of 2022 has, for many, left a dent in anticipated wedding revenue for 2023.
What to do to increase wedding revenue?
A level of accepting reality and adjusting projections is all well and good but the business leaders I support look to solutions and action-taking to create positive outcomes. So how can you earn more wedding revenue this year without taking on more weddings? How can you earn more from what you have? This feature answers that question. Not all points will be relevant to all venues and you may already be on the case with some suggestions but I hope that this will prompt a helpful review where you identify opportunities for your venue whether it’s upselling, upgrades or add ons.
Let’s get started …
Service to Support Their Needs So That You Can Grow Wedding Revenue
It’s been very on trend for some time for the new breed of wedding host venues to offer flexibility. To allow couples more of a blank canvas on which to paint their ideal wedding and to be more “hands-off”.
All well and good and couples certainly want to plan their wedding their way. HOWEVER, and this is a big one, they still need help knitting together their wedding dreams. More than a few couples are inspired by the idea of the DIY wedding they have seen on Pinterest. But in reality, they want some help on how to get there. Their wedding celebration is a time for them to enjoy those around them, not necessarily to build their own wedding village. This is especially true of those hiring your property for multi-night hire. They might like the idea of decorating and providing the finishing touches. But, in reality, there are some key items you can supply that will make that so much easier and achievable for them, not to mention cost effective.
Here is an opportunity for many an outdoor modern wedding business – by providing more support and infrastructure to your already existing customers. You’ve got a ready-made opportunity for adding on services and increasing your wedding revenue (and in turn profit) per event.
Let’s also bear in mind that the wedding venue sector is competitive! So it’s really important to have an inspiring offer from the off. Couples are looking not only for a warm, welcoming space they can have fun in. But also for photo backdrops and quirky features that they can grab that Instagram shot and much more.
The smart venue is the one that offers a very good level of “included” features with a smart list of upgrades and add-ons that are tempting.
Here’s my pick list of the best things you could consider for how to increase your wedding revenue as a successful venue:
It’s a wedding weekend – 3 bites at the cherry to earn wedding revenue
Whether it’s a weekend or a mid-week multi night, many of you hire your spaces for multi days. Usually, this entails one key wedding day with time either side for set up and pack up. There is an opportunity here to earn revenue from your already captive audience and to increase your venue’s per wedding revenue substantially. Ideas can be:
The night before it’s fairly customary to have a “rehearsal dinner” for say 10-20 nearest and dearest. Can you/your catering partner supply this? The same goes for a post-wedding brunch. These are usually larger and may involve a number of guests from the wedding day returning again. Can you/your caterer provide something lovely (nothing like a bloody mary and a cooked breakfast to see the hangover on its way). This is an opportunity here to charge additional venue hire revenue too if you’re servicing/staffing an additional function. It’s a different thing allowing a set up day for couples to decorate their venue, to allowing them to host a pre-wedding meal. I see a lot of venues leave money on the table by not separating out this and offering to take care of pre and post meals, especially if the guest numbers start mounting up.
I suggest you proactively suggest these things instead of waiting to ask to test your market (sow the seed of the idea early in the planning even if they confirm this nearer the time when they are clearer on their plans and budget).
Activities & Things to do
You have a captive audience on site for at least an afternoon and possibly a morning of the wedding if you host multi day weddings. Can you lay on any activities, particularly if they connect visitors to your farm, your land or your property?
How about a cider or beer making workshop? Or a gin tasting workshop, partnering with a local distillery? You may grow wild flowers on your land – can you incorporate a workshop for visitors to learn about these and design their own buttonholes or easier to make florals for the wedding?
Anything food and drink related is often a winner. And, particularly if you attract wedding parties from out of the area, they often like to know more about your location. Take the opportunity to teach them something new, inspiring them and making the most of local, injecting wedding revenue into your venue but also into your local economy, something I know to be very important to my private clients.
Pampering the wedding party
Not everyone is going to be super-active. Particularly the ladies, often appreciate some pampering whether it’s manicures, pedicures or a relaxing massage.
Do you have a partner company in place who can come and visit your bridal parties and provide a well thought through relaxing experience on the afternoon before the wedding or the morning of the wedding itself (or both)?
You could really package this up with a lovely fun afternoon tea and fizz package and offer it on a per person rate.
The Big Day – additional wedding services to increase wedding revenue for your venue
The focus, of course, is the big day itself. Where can you look for additional wedding revenue here?
Getting Ready & Bridal Preparations
Just as I’ve mentioned above, the love of pampering extends to the morning of the wedding. Couples really want to make the most of the entire day, not just starting at the ceremony, putting more energy into having fun with their nearest bridal party as they enjoy the excitement of preparing.
You only have to look on Instagram to find oodles of pictures of branded matching dressing gowns, personalised champagne flutes, team “bride” slippers and more. How can you tap into some of this excitement and personalise it to your wedding venue?
Pre-wedding food & beverage
I highly recommend creating a “morning of wedding offering”. This might entail a thoughtfully presented selection of easy to eat sandwiches (no drippy fillings or dark sauces in the presence of wedding dresses), snacks and drinks. It could be packaged up in a pretty picnic hamper with some thoughtful inspiring or humorous quotes on getting married and a personalised congratulations card to them or similar.
Always be thinking about what’s Instagrammable and a talking point alongside providing a practical solution for guests needing feeding!
Getting them from A to B
Are there opportunities to offer transport of the bridal party from A to B and B to A or similar? Remember even on a rural farm people will dress up, so what might seem like a perfectly do-able walk normally might not be something they want to do in heels.
Do you have a tractor and trailer for use? Do you have other farm vehicles that could be used? Don’t forget not all couples envisage the polished classic car for their wedding (especially if they are choosing rustic locations). So don’t write off your vehicles even if you think they may not be suitable. You might not necessarily charge but can you offer them as a USP and a further compelling reason to buy.
Props & Features
I’ve already stressed the great importance attached to imagery for modern weddings. Always be thinking about what sort of things you can offer to create that special backdrop for them. Rural items such as old tractors, barrels, milk churns, water troughs are all highly desirable if they suit the vibe of your location. If you have them, find a use for them.
Then look at things like swing seats, couple feature chairs, giant photo frames of your “must have” view, garden games, flower walls, festoon lighting and lanterns.
You may find that for some items it’s more of a Unique Selling Point for your venue to include those items within your existing hire fee. It will help you sell your venue that way, especially if there is little set up cost and wear and tear.
For other items that require a set up and staffing, you can offer them as add-ons and paid-for upgrades to increase wedding revenue for your venue. I suggest an easy to use shopping list of optionals to provide your couples. Bear in mind that it’s a win for everyone if items are not having to travel miles to get to you by being hired elsewhere – it’s a bonus for your pockets and a plus for environmental impact.
The Bar – Your Number One Way to Increase Wedding Revenue For Your Venue
Operating your own evening bar is known to be one of the most profitable parts of any wedding operation for increasing your venue’s per wedding revenue beyond venue hire only.
Sensible pub pricing is usually understood and appreciated by couples especially when the logistics of doing it fully themselves is fully explained. There’s an opportunity, alongside providing the usual bar offerings that go down well, to offer some upgraded personalised specials. Can you create a signature cocktail for them based on their loves and tastes? Can you have a shopping list of some upmarket brands that you might like to tempt them with during the planning process?
One of the ways I think venues can make more wedding revenue (and profit in turn) is to revisit details during the planning regularly. Sometimes revenue is left on the table when couples are only asked at the start of the planning for their choices or presented with a standard list near the end.
Keep them inspired with fresh options throughout their booking experience with you (both directly and via your social media and marketing). Then there is a real possibility that they will fall in love with THAT drink or that food option and splurge on that area (bearing in mind that couples budgets fluctuate during the planning).
Are YOU leaving money on the table for your wedding venue?
Where could there be possibility to make more revenue from less weddings and ultimately serve less customers but more?
NOTE: It’s strongly recommended that you have all relevant insurances, risk assessments plus health and hygiene certificates required. And have team training in place if you are starting to offer catering and bar services to your couples for the first time.
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