Brace yourself for some stats: According to 2017 statistics released by The Knot, 20% of all weddings in the US are destination weddings and 49% of those take place more than 200 miles from home. An amazing 89% of these destination weddings are actually taking place stateside (up 12% from the year before)! A whole, lucrative event market has opened up right here in your own backyard, offering the unique opportunity to attract a growing market by making just a few, meaningful modifications to your businesses for exponential returns.
The modern face of destination weddings is evolving. Today’s events are characterized by shorter planning timelines, smaller guest lists, and more accessible budgets. They are often family friendly, and are usually full weekend experiences. The length of the experiences, in particular, is advantageous for events professionals who can extend their services to rehearsal dinners, welcome receptions, local excursions, and post-wedding celebrations along with traditional ceremonies and receptions.
So, how can you attract your share of the growing domestic destination wedding market?
Determine what makes you special
First, think about your region. What makes it special and attractive to destination wedding couples? Are you in close proximity to unique landmarks? Is your town known for its cuisine, its culture, or its music? Take the pulse of your area so you know what to promote to prospects.
Adjust your message
Once you have determined what attracts couples to your region, align your web content, blog posts, guest features, galleries, and other PR and advertising to project those qualities. Help couples find what they are looking for easily by optimizing your site and ensuring that it is mobile-friendly.
Ah, destination New Orleans! Photo Meg Baisden Photography
Make clients feel welcome
When working with destination clients, make their entire experience as stress-free and special as possible. Greet them with a regionally-branded welcome gift, and increase their feeling of security by making your team available from arrival through departure.
Use destination-friendly tools
Planning from afar can be tricky, so employ technology to smooth out the process for your clients. Use virtual contracts, online billing, video meetings, and online sharing tools in your planning process.
Take a destination-friendly approach
Know that destination weddings are distinct from “home” weddings, and acknowledge the difference with your clients. Be sensitive to time zones, expanding your office hours to accommodate planning from afar. Think practically and anticipate the need to receive and store some of your clients’ personal items before the wedding to make their travel easier and safer. You can increase your worth simply by being that person on the ground who is there to address concerns, solve problems, and make wedding planning and execution as easy as possible.
The burgeoning destination wedding market is yours for the taking if you’re willing to modify your approach just a bit. Start today!
Emily Sullivan is the owner of Emily Sullivan Events, a full-service wedding planning company based in New Orleans and serving couples everywhere.
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