In the wide world of the wedding industry, venues hold a unique position in a couple’s planning journey. While the average couple books upwards of 13 vendors for their big day, the venue is typically their starting point. In one fell swoop, they can decide their wedding date, confirm their maximum headcount, and receive a list of preferred vendors to consider next.
For planners, photographers, florists, caterers, and other wedding pros, it’s the last step there that matters most! Earning a spot on a venue’s highly coveted preferred vendors list can keep your sales pipeline full to the brim, providing your business with qualified leads that have already made it to the Interest and Desire stages of your sales funnel.
But preferred vendor lists aren’t made up of random selections from the market. A venue’s recommendations reflect on their brand quality and play directly into the success of the wedding day itself.
So, how do you get on the good side of a venue? What qualifies a preferred vendor? You can’t go wrong with these strategies to establish and cultivate mutually beneficial relationships with venues.
Always be a presence.
This is a simple concept but not so easy in practice. In a crowded industry, you need to ensure that your business stands out and provides your favorite venues with the top-notch quality they’d expect from your brand.
One way to do this effectively is to go beyond the typical working relationship and build a personal connection with your venue contacts. Just as you use marketing and sales techniques to establish the Know, Like, Trust factor with prospective clients, you should be using the same strategy with venues.
Develop a consistent workflow with regular touchpoints to stay in touch with your contacts. Share updates about your business, engage with their social media content, invite them out for a coffee catch-up, or give them a call to congratulate them on a big win. The idea is to stay top-of-mind and there’s no better way than to simply to remain present at all times!
Make a relationship worth their while.
We’re all busy wedding pros with little time at our disposal, so the relationships we build have to provide value to be worthwhile. A self-serving approach at winning a spot on a venue’s preferred vendor list will not get you anywhere; you need to sweeten up the deal by establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with your venue contacts.
An easy way to do this is to start sending referral traffic first! Recommend your favorite venues and ask your clients to mention your name when inquiring. However, this may be challenging for certain vendor categories that typically work with clients well after the venue is secured.
Another great way to grow your relationship is to suggest a joint showcase to attract new clients together. Designers can work their magic on the venue space, photographers can offer a sample portrait session, caterers can host a tasting event, and so on — get creative and float the idea over to your venue contact! When you combine marketing efforts, you can engage with more leads with less effort. Win-win!
Serve as a team player while onsite.
When you are working an event at a venue you’ve had your eye on, be prepared to pull out all of the stops and be at your best. Do great work for your client (as you do!), but also see how you can support the venue team while working together.
If you have some downtime after installing a fixture or loading in your deliveries, see if you can offer an extra set of hands to anyone. It never hurts to have some help when putting out linens, rigging up florals, or setting up a photo booth!
When you can help to check off a few boxes and save production time, you will become known as a team player — and who doesn’t want to work with a team player? Be a good sport and your reputation will precede you!
Your industry relationships matter now more than ever before, particularly as the industry picks up and we return to “business as usual.” Spend some time engaging with your local venues and work on those relationships throughout the rest of the season and over the off-season — you’ll find yourself in a much stronger position in 2022 if not earlier!
Dixie Bagley is the owner of The Farm in Rome, Georgia – a European farm estate with lodging set in the northwest Georgia mountains. The venue focuses on working with couples who want to give their guests a relaxed but thoughtful countryside weekend wedding experience. Having been in the wedding industry for 12 years, Dixie is a master of multi-tasking and wants to make everyone feel at ease. Dixie is an active entrepreneur in the wedding industry. In addition to owning and operating a venue, she also owns The Sweet Bar Bakery, Tillman Hangar, Dixie Events Planning and Business Consulting, and she holds a degree in exercise science from the American Council of Exercise and is launching her new initiative, The Southern Wedding Collective.