Estimated at around $40 million, this painting sat in a Norwegian collector’s attic in plain sight for 70 years. He was once told that the painting wasn’t worth much so he never bothered with it. He died before he knew the magnitude of the treasure he had.
Much like the collector, many of us don’t always see the treasures around us. We go about prospecting in all corners and yet, we don’t look at the sources of leads right in front of us.
One source that is often overlooked is wedding forums
Wedding forums, for those of you that don’t know, are online websites where brides (and some grooms) hang out with other brides to discuss, plan, and ask questions. Its like an online hangout for newly minted brides that want to chit chat with others while brainstorming ideas for their special day.
Common ones are:
Within the discussions on these forums, you’re bound to see things like “Which one of these wedding dresses do you like” or “Post pics of your rings ladies!”
But brides don’t just use these forums for advice on rings
They also ask about wedding venues, shuttles and hotels. They want to know how many rooms to block, where to get married, how many gift bags to create, attrition rates and many more questions.Take a look at the two examples below:
Here is another example:
As you can already see, the opportunities are endless. And yet, most sales managers don’t have any presence in these forums. What makes this even better is that most wedding forums are free to join (for brides and vendors).
So how can we use wedding forums?
There are two ways in which we can use wedding forums to increase sales at our hotels
Method #1: Answer questions
As you can see from the questions above, brides are looking for advice on venues, room blocks, shuttle service, gift bags and more. Answer these questions as sincerely as you can without being salesy. Identify yourself as a hotel sales manager (gives you credibility) and give advice as if you were taking to a friend.
Answer questions about room blocks, attrition, cut-off dates, and anything else hotel related and you’ll find that brides will begin to trust you and that will lead to more business. Remember that your target is not just the bride that is asking questions, it is also the thousands of people that are reading the forum for days and months after.
In addition to answering questions about hotels and wedding venues, there is one other thing you can do to increase your business.
Method #2: Refer business to other vendors
Weddings involve a ton of professionals including photographers, bakers, florists, and planner. You’ll find many brides asking for recommendations and that is where you can hop in and provide some options. Take a look at the example below:
See how the vendor above (Samantha Renee Events) referred someone. That’s exactly how you want to do it too.
Provide an honest recommendation and then follow that up with an email to the vendor you just recommended. Give them a link to the forum so they can introduce their services to the bride too. Not only will you come across as selfless, but you’ll get referrals from them.
As you can see, forums can serve as a tremendous opportunity for hotels. Not only can many of us get more room blocks, but the full service hotels can even get weddings out of it. We just have to make sure we don’t make the mistake of being too salesy.
Because salesy will turn off the people reading the forums
For the most part, the brides that read wedding forums are looking for advice. They are not looking to read a billboard about how our hotels are the best option for reasons A-Z. So when some of us just post about our hotels, we lose credibility.
Instead, we need to be sincere in every interaction
If you are going to join the forum, then you need to provide honest advice that is in the best interest of the bride. Even if that means that you have to refer business to your competitor across the street.
Before you go off running into the wild world of forums, there is one thing you need to know.
Use The Search Feature
Wedding forums have brides from every corner of the world and you can’t answer every question. What we need to do is find brides that are asking questions about hotels/venues/room blocks in our area. And in order to do that we have to use the search function.
Every wedding forum has some kind of feature that allows you to filter through all the posts. When doing a search, make sure to have the keyword, month, year, and state you are looking in. Doing so will make your search laser sharp and will save you time from having to wade through irrelevant results.
Let’s look at a quick example
So if you are a manager at a hotel in New Jersey, you would do the following searches for posts in September of 2013.
- Hotel sep 2013 NJ
- Room block sep 2013 NJ
- Photographers sep 2013 NJ
- Bakery sep 2013 NJ
- Shuttle sep 2013 NJ
- Reception sep 2013 NJ
- Venue sep 2013 NJ
Each of these search results will get you different results. Depending on the size of your city, you may see a lot of results, or very few. If you don’t see a lot of results, then consider joining two or three of the wedding forums listed at the top of this article.
Wedding forums can serve as a tremendous source of business for room blocks and for full scale weddings. Just show up daily and answer as sincerely as possible. Doing so will help you discover a new source of business.
Business that would be lost, just like the Van Gogh.
Read part 2 of our series and learn how to find brides on wedding forums that are looking for room block in your city. Here is the link.
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