Last week I attended the The Business of Weddings Ireland conference in the Muckross Park Hotel, Killarney, Co. Kerry. The event was organised by Annie Byrne of Aislinn Events.
Always the sceptic
I’ll be openly honest here. When I first heard of this conference back in July, I was my usual sceptical self. I mean, it had already been a busy year with an entire breed of new wedding federations, new wedding websites and new wedding enquiry tendering systems. I simply thought that this event was going to be yet another money making machine to extract funds from hard-working Irish-based wedding suppliers under the guise of a wedding marketing conference.
However, nothing could have been further from the truth! I voiced my initial concerns with Annie and I soon realised that her passion behind organising the conference was both sincere and genuine. Annie’s mission for the event was “to inspire and assist small wedding businesses to maintain excellence through education and collaboration.” And this pretty much summed up the one and a half day conference for me.
Wedding Marketing: a first for Ireland
As far as I’m aware, the Business of Weddings Ireland is the first of its kind in Ireland. Sure, there are other “wedding marketing” conferences in Ireland, but in my opinion, they are merely a front to sell advertising. What was different about this conference is that it was presented to wedding suppliers by a real life wedding marketeer.
Few will dispute that the US are well ahead of Ireland when it comes to marketing to brides. This conference was our chance to learn from our US counterparts and adapt their proven techniques to the Irish wedding market. Having attended the conference, I don’t think any attendee would dispute the wise words spoken by Meghan Ely of OFD Consulting throughout her various presentations. If you’re not already, you should follow her on Twitter right now.
What was covered?
On day 1, Meghan covered The State of the Wedding Industry and 2011 Trends which talked about the various trends to look out for in 2011. This is important to get into the mind of a bride and to understand where they’re coming from.
Following a lovely lunch, we looked at Generation Y Brides which was a psychological insight into how today’s brides think, what their expectations are and how to market to them.
Next Meghan presented her thoughts on the controversial area of selling a wedding service during tough economic times. Pricing was a hot topic and various tips were given on how to promote value as opposed to simply being pressurised into reducing price merely for the sake of it.
Day 1 wrapped up with dinner and then drinks into the early hours!
Day 2 kicked off with an eagerly awaited presentation on social media and the bridal industry. We covered proven social media business strategies, increasing our online fan base organically and how to make time for successful implementation of social media.
Finally, we looked at bridal shows (or wedding fairs as we like to call them in Ireland). Specifically, we looked at how to make them work. From marketing strategies before the fairs, to slick stand design to the vital follow up process required afterwards to try and convert bridal conversations into actual bookings.
Besides learning the latest online wedding marketing techniques, we got to put many faces to names. It was great to meet so many new people for the first time – people who run wedding businesses as sole traders, small companies and those working within the industry as employees. The room was filled with photographers, videographers (well just me actually), florists, DJs, cake suppliers, hoteliers, make-up artists and many more categories. Hey, there was even a wedding website or two present!
I understand that Annie is already working on the Business of Weddings Ireland 2011. I’m sure she’ll announce details early next year. I’m looking forward to it already. Everyone I spoke to after the 2010 event had nothing put positive things to say. You could sense the renewed wedding marketing energy in the air as delegates made their separate ways. Besides learning lots of new wedding marketing techniques, we also had plenty of fun. Thanks Annie for organising such a rewarding event.
[Special thanks to Mike Patterson for supplying all of the photographs for this blog post.]