My particular upbringing has allowed me to gain a great deal of insight into the challenge that wedding venues run into when recruiting clients. Wedding venue owners work strenuously to create and market the perfect space for couples to experience the best day of their life.
I grew up in Apple River, IL, on an outdoor wedding venue called Oak Hill Weddings. My mother decided to invest in building a wedding venue from scratch, which naturally became a family business. I have watched couples come to our venue in search of their “happily ever after”, throughout my life. I have helped my mother with everything from touring to marketing – which has proven to be one of the most challenging parts of owning a small business, given our many competitors.
Every year, in the United States, around 2.5 million weddings are held. This steadfast industry is hard to disrupt – the institution of marriage continues to be respected and cherished! So, what is the secret to successful wedding venue marketing? Wedding Wire, a listing and blogging platform devoted to weddings, popped up in 2006, allowing brides to quickly evaluate potential venues. Similar platforms started to emerge soon after, such as WeddingBee, Bridal tweet, Wedding Mapper, etc. Nowadays, along with this free marketing, venue owners tend to lean on social media, Google Search, and their website, to sell their services. Although a website is essential to successfully build a business, small business owners need a competitive edge to stand out and make an impression.
I also interviewed my mother’s managing partner, Sandra Wolfram, about the challenges that Oak Hill Weddings has faced with regard to marketing development. She stated, “Our clients come from a 2.5 hour radius, making it hard for potential clients to make the trip to Oak Hill Weddings. In-person tours have also declined tremendously, given the current societal circumstances – COVID-19. We have multiple beautiful outdoor ceremony sites, a brand-new pavilion, a barnhouse, country store, and church that are dying to be shown off.”
The solution? A virtual tour, also known as 360 degree panoramic imagery. A virtual tour offers a uniquely immersive online experience, giving potential clients the opportunity to explore the beauty of a venue, without being physically present. Business owners can embed this tour on their website, social media pages, and all Google platforms, to boost bookings as well as online traffic. Hence, a virtual tour can eliminate the stress of marketing and simultaneously improve a business’s image, sales, and brand value.