Venue Bookings

The future of UK weddings and events.

The past 18 months have been unprecedented and the hardest any of us working in the wedding and events industry has ever known. I am proud of our perseverance and resilience to adapt, finding new ways to operate under the restrictions, keeping our staff and customers safe and ensuring a return to some normality. It has been heartwarming to see venues re-open and witness the return of full size weddings and events as our industry slowly bounces back. We are an industry used to evolution and change. We are not adverse to trying new things. In fact we embrace innovation and novelty, always looking for the next unique experience and opportunity. New trends come and go, advances are made in technology and with them the needs of our customers. As we continue to adjust to life with Covid and make plans for the future with more certainty, what does the landscape look like for weddings and events?

future of weddings and events

Virtual Technology

Before lockdown #1, I had never heard of Zoom or Microsoft Teams.  I had a familiarity with Skype and Facetime from my years living overseas and welcomed then, as I do now, the opportunities it created to maintain face-to-face contact with people from a distance.  Virtual meetings are now the norm and, although not necessarily liked by all, they have enabled venues to maintain client contact and engagement throughout lockdown.  Many of us are raring to embrace (literally!) the opportunity to meet in person again but for many, time poor or unable to travel easily, this opportunity to meet face-to-face remotely will continue to be invaluable. 

Many venues have already been capitalising on virtual-tour technology and this has been crucial in enabling sales activity to continue throughout lockdown.  This will also continue to be a valuable sales and marketing tool, enabling venues to be accessed by customers based overseas or further afield.  Make sure your tours are up-to-date and show your venues at their very best with crisp clear imagery.  

virtual weddings and events

I have also been impressed by the technology available for creating virtual events.  Venues, production companies and entertainment suppliers have collaborated to create some innovative virtual event platforms enabling all manner of events including exhibitions, conferences and parties to be successfully transferred into the virtual arena.  Venues have been recreated digitally to create an immersive experience without guests having to leave their house.  Food and drink can be couriered to your home so that you can enjoy a live culinary experience, guests can network with each other remotely in chat-rooms, guests can participate in live presentations from 1000s of miles away and watch live entertainment from their sofa.  Whilst it is not cheap, this technology negates the problem of managing social distancing and enables a much larger guest list and participation.  This technology also has the capacity to be used to create hybrid events allowing guests the choice to attend in-person or remotely but still participate fully.  Corporate events organisers will be keen to continue to access this technology to reach overseas customers and associates, particularly whilst travel remains limited.  Now is the time for venues to reach out to their technical suppliers and continue to explore virtual event opportunities. 

As we become increasingly geographically spread out, the ability to unite people wherever they are is very powerful.  So many couples miss the opportunity to have overseas friends and family attend their marriage celebrations yet now we can livestream the day for all to see.  Venues with the technology and connectivity to enable this will be increasingly in demand as travel restrictions continue. 

streaming live weddings and events

Outdoor Spaces

For many, the ability to get outdoors for exercise, gardening, working or socialising has been a lifeline over the past year.  Outdoors is safer, less-restricted and confined, with more space to circulate and breathe fresh air.  The outdoor creates a feeling of wellbeing.  If your venue offers outdoor spaces, make sure you promote it as much as your indoor spaces.  Value and maintain your outdoor spaces as much as your indoor spaces.  Show clients how they can optimise their weddings and events with use of your outdoor spaces.  An outdoor wedding ceremony, a picnic or BBQ, garden games, alfresco music.  The great British weather will always require us to make a ‘Plan B’ but enabling people to take their event outside whenever they can will be worthwhile.

outdoor weddings and events
Venetia Norrington/ Tipi Spaces

Planning laws have been relaxed this year lengthening the usual 28-day period for temporary structures without planning permission to 56 days or longer in some circumstances (speak to your local council).  This has sent the demand for marquees and other temporary structures through the roof.  Not only do they enable hospitality venues to open under current restrictions in all weathers but they also enable smaller venues to increase their capacity.  A small country home with limited indoor capacity but a large garden can considerably increase their capacity and develop their share of the wedding market with the addition of a Summer marquee. 

Landowners are increasingly exploring ways to diversify and may not yet be prepared to convert a farm building into a wedding venue.  This is a great opportunity to put up a tent and test the market.  This also opens opportunities for venues to provide overnight accommodation in the form of glamping.  Or glamp-sites to offer a party venue for their glampers.  Speak to your local marquee suppliers about a collaboration or maybe it’s time to invest in your own marquee structure?

accommodation for weddings and events

Anticipated changes to the marriage laws are also likely to create more freedom for venues to utilise outdoor spaces for marriage ceremonies.  The Law Commission has proposed reforms to the current laws that will enable more flexibility for couples to marry how they wish without the constraints of a registered or licensed venue.  No date has been confirmed but the pandemic has certainly identified the need and increased public demand for this change.      

outdoor wedding ceremonies

Overseas Travel

Sadly we will have to wait a while longer before we are able to travel without restriction again.  This gives the UK wedding and event market an advantage.  An inability to plan overseas weddings or corporate events means that there will be an increased demand on the domestic market.  Many people have been working remotely and whilst for some this has worked well, I foresee a need for companies to bring their teams together to raise morale, restore mental wellbeing, team-building workshops, corporate away days and conferences.  Businesses will be looking for unique experiences for their clients and teams.  What experiences can your venue offer onsite or off-site nearby?  Orienteering, archery, sailing, survival challenge, treasure hunt, escape room, obstacle races etc.  Do you have the technological capability to facilitate conferences?  Screens, PA systems, projectors etc. 

With tropical beach weddings off the cards for now, couples not prepared to wait, will also be looking for unique and unusual UK wedding venues to fulfil their dreams.  How can you inspire a couple with wanderlust to book your venue?  An intrepid menu? A waterfront ceremony?  A yurt in the garden? Exotic entertainment?     

exotic wedding cocktails

Micro Weddings and Events

The economic consequences of the pandemic are also likely to have an impact on consumer spending around weddings and events.  There will continue to be a strong desire for people to meet and get married however it is likely that they may continue to embrace the smaller, more intimate nuptial event.  How can your venue continue to meet this demand for micro weddings and events?  Do you have a smaller space that you can offer to more intimate gatherings which would otherwise be lost in a vast barn or hall?  Couples are also recognising that micro weddings create an opportunity for more extravagant wedding plans.  Instead of limiting their spend to essentials they can incorporate more luxurious styling elements, expand their Wedding Breakfast menu, upgrade their beverage choice etc.  What ways can you enable your couples to enhance their wedding at your venue?      

micro weddings and events
Venetia Norrington / Tipi Spaces

Digital Agility

The biggest outcome of the pandemic is the realisation that we are living in a digital world.  We still need personal interaction from time-to-time but technology has created the convenience of being able to take action remotely.  Venues must make sure that they are up-to-date with their digital communication methods to access their remote audience.   Up-to-date websites and communication methods, digital booking processes, a strong social media presence and continued investment in digital technology is required if you are to continue to find an audience in an ever expanding and advancing wedding and events market. 

digital communication

Our world is constantly changing and our customers ever evolving.  Being able to adapt, change, pivot and flex is crucial if we are to keep up with changing consumer demands.  Venues must continue to work with their customers, listen to their needs, compromise where possible and adapt when necessary.  The customer is king and only by acknowledging this will we truly be able to ensure we give them the best experience.

More information about how I can help your venue to adapt in this changing landscape can be found here.

Do you need support with your venue or events?

Let 's start a conversation today

Win Venue Bookings

How To Win Venue Bookings: Don’t be openly critical of your rivals.

I have had two experiences over the past couple of weeks where the salesperson has been openly critical of their competition.

The first incidence happened when I was in the market for a particular product.  This product is only sold by a few companies in the UK.  I made it known to the salesperson that I was speaking to another company.  He immediately wanted to identify who that company was and it wasn’t hard from him to guess.  Before he had started telling me the virtues of his product he was criticising the flaws in the other company’s product and in the people themselves.  I didn’t buy his product.

The second incidence occurred when my husband and I happened to be passing a pop-up electric car test-drive centre.  My husband expressed interest in the cars and mentioned we were would be in the market for a new car next year.  The car we drive at the moment happens to be a direct competitor.  Again, before the salesperson had even persuaded us to book a test drive or tell us anything about the benefits of his car, he had been dismissive of OUR car.  My husband and I love our car for multiple reasons.  So we walked away without even touching the alternative car.    

These two separate experiences lost two potential sales and significant revenue.  

This tactic of being openly critical of your competition troubles me greatly.  It is not the first time I have experienced it and I expect you have too.  I have probably also been guilty of it myself in the past.  


Here are 5 reasons why being critical of your rivals fail in the competition to win venue bookings:

  1. Being openly critical of your competition in my opinion is lazy salesmanship.  It is too easy to list the faults of your competitors.  It highlights to me that you are not confident in your own business enough to simply talk about the benefits of choosing your venue.  Focus on actively listening to your customer’s needs, match their needs to your services and highlight the virtues of your venue.  Certainly ask them if they are considering any other venues.  If you know your competitors well and where you out-class them then it can be straightforward to simply draw attention to your own particular assets to win venue bookings rather than criticise the limitations of other venues. 
  2. As a customer, hearing criticism of someone or something I respect and admire can leave me feeling personally injured.  Neither of these sales people took the time to understand my opinion of their rivals. The fact that I might have already been won over and was just doing due diligence did not register with them.  They were not mindful of the fact that I had already struck up a good relationship with the other companies, that I had received excellent service and was satisfied that their products met my needs.  Trying to persuade me to buy from them by insinuating that my decision to buy from another company was flawed was a personal insult.  As a reasonably intelligent human, I am capable of analysing and evaluating the benefits and shortcomings of products and services to make my own decision.  Don’t take that away from me.   
  3. When I am investing a lot of money, like engaged couples, I like to shop around to make sure I am investing in the best place for my needs. I tend to do a lot of research before reaching out to companies and venues and often I have already made a decision before engaging with the salesperson (the importance of a good website folks!).  That final engagement or site visit is often simply to verify a decision before making a final commitment to book.  If your customer is taking the time to engage with you verbally then they are keen.  It might be a tight race between you and one other venue.  It will likely come down to the all important personal interaction and customer service. Good customer service is often the ability to use discretion.  By criticising your competitor you are not displaying any ability to use discretion.  This does not evoke trust and client trust is fundamental to win venue bookings.       
  4. Alternatively, by praising the virtues of your competitors you can help win trust and win venue bookings.  I prefer modesty over arrogance.  Do not draw out your shortcomings but give praise where praise is due.  If your customer mentions something that they particularly admired at another venue, hear that and express your own admiration and then draw their attention to your own.  For example; ‘I loved the view at ….’ ‘Yes they do have an amazing view.  Come and have a look at our view!’ Remember, no product or service is perfect for everyone.  You have an ideal customer and not all customers who contact you will be ideal.  Trying to persuade a customer who is looking for an extravagant and sophisticated wedding that your charming but rustic barn conversion is the right venue for them might not be worth your while.  But recommending a more suitable venue might win their favour.  All customer interactions provide an opportunity to create a memory.  This couple might not book you but they might tell their friends about you and they could be your ideal customers.    
  5. Be outward facing.  Talk to your competitors, get to know and understand them.  Business associations are set-up with the intention of sharing best practise, driving quality, encouraging collaboration and mutual support.  Respect your competitors, don’t fear them, particularly if they have been in the business longer than you.  You each have your own unique qualities and no doubt certain similarities.  You have already decided that there is space in the market for your venue.  This doesn’t mean stealing business from other venues.  If it does then the market is saturated and that’s not a good place to be.  You might be more innovative and maybe cheaper but businesses that have been trading successfully for a long time have established trust and reliability through their longevity.  This is invaluable to you particularly if you have a good relationship with them.  Often well-established venues are turning away business because they are too busy.  Give them a place to turn the business too!    
Win Venue Bookings
Kathryn Clarke-Mcleod

Unless you have invented a completely new, unique product or service, the likelihood is that you will encounter competition in your business, particularly as a wedding venue.  Competition is what drives us to be the best we can be, to out-class the rest.  Knowing our competition is crucial in understanding the marketplace and how we position ourselves within it.  Know your competition but don’t treat them like the enemy.  Respect your competitors, respect your customers and you will gain their mutual admiration and, most importantly, win venue bookings.

I have over 20 years experience managing venues and events and offer consultancy services to venues across Devon and the South West. For more information about my services, please click here or get in touch for a no-obligation chat.

Do you need support with your venue or events?

Let 's start a conversation today

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