Question: Should I Open a Wedding Venue?
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“Hi there. First off, impressive website. Great info here and easy to find all your relevant content. Question for you:
“I am starting to tinker with the idea of opening a wedding venue in Oregon but have two crucial questions I was hoping you could help with or guide me in the right direction for finding more info:
#1 – Is there an industry standard booking rate/percentage for wedding venues? And if so, anything specific from a geographic perspective?
I’ve been having a heck of a hard time finding that information out and have zero idea if wedding venues are usually 100% booked or 70%, 30%, etc. Naturally, assuming folks are running a good business, advertising well, etc.
#2 – What would you recommend as the best way to find out if a specific area still has enough demand for wedding venues to warrant starting a new one? Not just an estimated number of weddings for 2016 divided by the number of venues but any other clever, more objective ways to finding that out?
“Thank you in advance for any help. I really love it that you both seem genuinely committed to helping folks in your industry. I firmly believe that the more collaboration there is, the more everyone wins.”
Answer: Research before you commit.
Wow! It’s obvious that you’re a smart cookie because you ask some excellent questions.
While I don’t have specific data about U.S. venues in my back pocket, I am a pretty resourceful gal and love to have an Action Plan in place.
Here’s where I would begin:
#1 – Contact venue associations to gather data.
These organizations often collect data and share with their members. A quick search turned up IAVM.org (International Association of Venue Managers) with something called a VenueDataSource that sounds promising, Venues Now, and NACE (National Association for Catering and Events.)
#2 – Find a venue owner mentor.
This is admittedly a tricky thing to do in your local market, especially if you may soon be the competition. However, you should be able to find helpful venue owners outside your state.
Join one or more of the associations listed above and network with members in the forum. You might also try Facebook or Linked In groups and ask for help.
Before Nick and I got into the business, we started by talking to wedding professionals and asked for their advice about breaking into the business. We were able to ask questions as they happened and get experience-based advice that would have taken us years to learn on our own.
Without a mentor, we never would have made it in the wedding business. This will give you a huge advantage over the competition because they’ll have knowledge that you can’t get anywhere else.
#3 – Use TheWeddingReport.com to get specific numbers for your market.
The Wedding Report provides data on the number of weddings in your local market as well as a breakdown of spending by category. You can find out how much people are spending on venues in your area.
Make sure you look beyond the “average expense” number. The average includes both those who rent the local firehouse as well as those who host the wedding at a mansion, so it’s not the most accurate number.
The spending distribution tells you how many couples spend a particular amount in each price range. For example, only 4.8% of weddings in the state of Oregon (about 1,000 weddings) spend over $15,000 on the event location. (This doesn’t include food expenses.)
This will give you an idea of approximately how many weddings you’d be competing for in your price range.
#4 – Research the venue competition in your local market.
Opening a venue is a big expense. I wouldn’t do so unless your venue offers something substantially different from the competition. You’ll need a unique marketing message to stand out and communicate your value.
What’s the need in the market that ISN’T being met?
Search online and local bridal magazines to find the competition. Look at the types of venues and the clients targeted. How can you be completely different?
Your connections with venue associations and a mentor can help you identify opportunities in your market the competition isn’t covering.
#5 – Use an venue management software to track and manage your sales.
As a wedding venue, you can very quickly get an overwhelming number of leads, especially when you run advertisements. Tracking leads and sales with multiple staff members can be a nightmare, and it’s easy for leads to fall through the cracks…which means lost sales for you.
Event Temple makes it easy to increase your bookings. This software lets you track and follow up with leads automatically. I don’t want to get into too much detail about venue management software here –that’s a whole blog post in itself! — but definitely check it out.
The Secret to Profitable Wedding Venues
Like other wedding businesses, venue owners need to know their numbers to find success.
How much income do you need to draw from the business?
How much are your expenses?
How many weddings do you need to book at what price to make your target sales revenue?
How many leads and website visitors will you need to hit those booking numbers?
It’s not rocket science, but it sure isn’t easy, either. It takes guts, hard work and determination.
Do your research, know your numbers and search your heart. You’ll know whether this is the adventure for you.
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