Large hotels have been in the private function game for a long time as they had the traditional banquet halls typically favored for weddings and holiday parties. But tastes are changing. Many people planning weddings (and other parties) today are searching for smaller, unique spaces to host their special celebrations. That puts independent hotels in a unique position. And it’s one you should consider taking advantage of. Not only do the events themselves provide great revenue opportunities, but they’re also an opportunity to land group bookings, expose your hotel to a broader audience, and generate more marketing fodder.
Interested? Here’s a quick guide to hosting weddings (and other private functions) at your independent hotel.
Use what you have
Take stock of the spaces and amenities that you have to offer. You might not have a large banquet hall, but you don’t need one. On-site restaurants, outdoor gardens, even a picturesque dock can make for an ideal ceremony or reception. Your individuality is your greatest asset. So find the locations on your property that scream #weddinginspo and come up with a plan. Where would the tables go? How many people can it hold? This will vary depending on the type of reception. A formal sit-down dinner requires more space per person, but a cocktail-style reception allows for a higher capacity. Have numbers ready for both.
Once you’ve determined what spaces you have available—and therefore what type and size of events your property can host—it’s time to create packages. Every event is different so you should have a variety of options. When it comes to weddings, for example, some couples might be looking for a venue for the ceremony and reception, while others might only need a location to shoot photos. Some clients will require a hotel room for the wedding parties to get dressed, in addition to a honeymoon suite for the newlyweds. Whatever packages you offer, do something to make your clients feel special. It doesn’t have to be big—a complimentary bottle of wine or even a hand-written note will go a long way.
Event planning is a big job. To help make it a more seamless experience for your clients, consider connecting with other local businesses in the industry. Juggling all the moving parts of a big event will be easier if you have a pre-existing relationship with caterers and photographers. You’ll already have a point of contact, and they’ll be familiar with your property. It’s also an excellent way to drum up more business as you can cross-promote one another.
Speaking of promotion, that’s the next big piece of the puzzle. If you want to break into the private function business, you need people to see you as an event venue. Create a page on your website dedicated to private functions and promote it across social media. You want people to fall in love with the space, so professional photos are a must. In fact, you might want to consider staging a wedding photoshoot so prospective clients can imagine their own weddings at your property. And when private functions are held at your hotel, don’t let the opportunity for great user-generated content pass you by. Ask for feedback and then use it in your marketing collateral. There are few things better for your reputation than a happy bride.
As an independent hotel with unique spaces, you’re in the perfect position to host intimate, personalized private functions. And given the potential for additional revenue streams and promotion, it’s an opportunity you should certainly consider.