Hotels play an integral part in the wedding scene, whether hosting guests before and after weddings or, increasingly, welcoming brides, grooms, and their guests to share the special day on-site at their hotel’s wedding venue.
Wedding season may run from late spring through early fall, but hospitality marketers and wedding planners know the process is a yearlong cycle. And while hotels and wedding venues were thrown for a loop in the last two wedding cycles, the boom is coming. After a barrage of weddings were postponed in 2020 and microweddings and minimonies took the industry by storm in 2021, prognosticators expect an historic wedding season in 2022 — and hospitality marketers need to plan ahead.
According to research firm The Wedding Report, an estimated 2.5 million weddings will take place in 2022, the most in the United States since 1984. Combined with the lull in 2020 (just 1.27 million weddings) and pent-up demand, the years ahead will be busy. The Wedding Report expects big numbers in 2023, too:
2021: 1.93 million weddings with an average spend of $22.5k
2022: 2.47 million weddings with an average spend of $24.3k
2023: 2.24 million weddings with an average spend of $24.9k
Given that wedding planning begins 12 months or more in advance, bookings are well underway. Here’s how hospitality marketers can best showcase their venue.
1. Optimizing your hotel website for wedding SEO
Let’s start simple. Booking out your hotel to wedding guests or landing a booking at your hotel’s wedding venue is all about discoverability. But that doesn’t just happen.
Whether you’re a branded hotel with a Brand.com website or an independent hotel, crafting your hotel website’s SEO around wedding searches is critical. Hoteliers can utilize a tool such as Google Keyword Planner or Google Trends to see how people are searching for wedding information. They can also utilize their hotel website’s internal data from Google Search Console to see how people are currently finding them.
If your hotel website has specific pages for weddings, you’re in luck. Much of the SEO content is there. We’ll talk about how to set that content apart below, but as you think about optimizing for search engines, you should consider three wedding SEO pieces.
Let’s use The Marquette Hotel as an example.
Title Tag. The page title tag is a crucial element of discoverability. Google uses a web page’s title tag to help with keyword relevance (for ranking purposes) and to display a clickable link to search users (for user experience purposes). The Marquette Hotel is utilizing the title tag, ‘Downtown Minneapolis Wedding Venue,’ which is a highly relevant search term for couples planning a wedding.
Meta Description. The meta description allows hospitality marketers to include other relevant wedding search terms (whether amenities or location-based). These are often best written as actionable sentences as Google typically pulls a web page’s meta description for search results. Here, you can see that The Marquette Hotel starts its meta description with: ‘Plan your wedding with us and enjoy: Dramatic views of downtown Minneapolis from every room,’ before utilizing other keywords to highlight its additional features.
Headings & Titles. On the actual wedding page, The Marquette Hotel uses headings that incorporate relevant keywords and searches. Search engines like Google often use these when crawling a web page to determine hierarchy. In this case, Marquette has headings such as ‘Wedding Packages’ and ‘Room Blocks For Your Guests,’ two common details couples look for when planning a wedding.
2. Creating a unique hotel wedding landing page or vanity website
The best website experiences are customized, and that’s especially the case when it comes to weddings. If your hotel has a nice wedding venue, you don’t want wedding planners and engaged couples stuck on your hotel website meant for everyday guests.
Even if you’re not ready for a full-on vanity website, crafting a strategy for a wedding subsection can make a big difference. Continuing with The Marquette Hotel, a three-page Wedding section of their hotel website helps provide informative content that is not only personalized and helps couples and planners, but also improves SEO.
And because of its unique wedding venue, The Marquette Hotel went a step further, building a vanity website specifically for its venue and wedding offering. This website offers specific information about the services, amenities, capacity, and testimonials.
Because it sits alone, the Windows on Minnesota venue website enhances discoverability through a custom URL and wedding-specific SEO content. Plus, it provides linking from Marquette’s hotel website. But more than anything, it makes it easy for people planning weddings to find information — and get the coveted personalized experience.
3. Market directly to brides and grooms
A thought-out SEO and website strategy can help people find you, but hospitality marketing is also about finding potential guests where they are. There are two primary approaches hoteliers can rely on when it comes to reaching newly engaged couples.
First, any wedding venue should do the work to get listed with wedding directories. None may be more important than Wedding Spot, which helps people discover wedding venues and plan their wedding from beginning to end, including hotel room blocks, rehearsal dinners, and the wedding itself. Hoteliers can set up a profile for their wedding venue and start taking advantage of the listing and the data that comes with it.
Meanwhile, advertising channels such as Facebook allows targeting based on life events, such as being newly engaged. While privacy changes make this a constantly evolving area, various advertising data and targeting techniques can help hospitality marketers reach the right audience and, combined with the right messages and a customized website or landing page, offer a personalized experience.
4. Utilize vivid wedding photography and virtual tours
Wedding planning is all about visuals.
Soon-to-be brides want to see the wedding venue and feel it. That’s why so many hotels and wedding venues have leaned into virtual tours, particularly through the pandemic. The Marquette Hotel, for example, offers four virtual tours of different wedding areas. And where a virtual tour can’t do the talking, vivid photography steps in.
Given that the first phase of wedding planning is almost always done online through research to narrow the options, making the cut and ultimately locking in a wedding booking is all about the first impression. That’s how SEO, a vanity website and photos and videos all work together to sell your wedding venue as the perfect experience. Your wedding venue is unique, and you need all of those pieces to tell the story.
A study from Google showed 3 in 5 travelers who watch online video use it to narrow down their brand or destination choice. And it’s no secret that photos can be a big difference-maker when it comes to driving more conversions.
5. Consider conversational marketing to improve the booking cycle
Hoteliers who cover the bases above will put themselves in a position to be highly competitive for the upcoming wedding boom. But conversational marketing provides an additional tool for hospitality marketers to not only provide a personalized experience to couples planning their future wedding but also improve the sales cycle.
With an intelligent chatbot, rather than a bride or groom having to fill out a form and wait for a response, they can be qualified, begin providing wedding information, and immediately schedule a meeting with your hotel’s planner. They get a more personal experience and hoteliers are better prepared to help from meeting No. 1.
There are a number of marketing initiatives that can help hotels and wedding venues stand out. More and more, couples are opting for destination weddings or unique experiences, putting hotels with venues in prime position at a pivotal moment.
But as the wedding boom nears, planning has already begun and hoteliers need a strategy to be ready. Not sure where to begin? Reach out to talk to a strategist about the best direction for your hotel to make its mark.