The Unexpected Wedding Venue

This is a blog post I had wanted to share, even before the current and quite unprecedented situation we now find ourselves in, arose.

Based on the challenging situation that the events, hospitality and property industries find ourselves in at the moment, thinking outside the box and considering alternative revenue streams is the only way many businesses will manage to survive. This made the following post even more poignant for me to share and will hopefully offer some inspiration to many small businesses out there, looking for a way forward a little further down the line…

As the world around us continues to develop, so does the world of wedding venues. Wales is entering into a new phase of wedding venue hosting and I thought I’d give you a little insight as to how you might be able to capitalise on this. If you’re interested in the wedding venue industry and have a nice bit of property on your hands, this could be your official invitation in… Welcome to the world of Airbnb. Perhaps an unlikely business partner but a truly valuable and reliable one at that. If you’ve been considering entering the world of wedding venue hosting but have been unsure as to how to achieve this, this could be the way forward for you.

But first, a little context for you. Across the pond to the sunny state of California, USA, Airbnb was founded back in 2008 as a way of renting out your own home. Since then the company has grown and developed to a platform that is used worldwide by holiday seekers and backpackers across the globe in search of bespoke and personal rooms, studios and entire buildings to enjoy their stay. Guests are able to book using a simple calendar format, not dissimilar to how one might book a typical hotel stay. After their stay both guests and hosts are able to rate each other out of 5 stars and offer reviews, allowing both parties to build reputability on the website for all other users to see and interact with. As someone who wants to offer their property as a wedding venue but doesn’t have the time or capacity to take this on full-time, Airbnb is a perfect way of allowing you the pleasure of renting out your venue but with half the hassle. To list your venue, Airbnb offer two different formats of service fee. The most widely used is the ‘Shared host and guest fee’ in which the service fee for hosts is 3% of each booking and generally below 14.2% for guests, although these do vary from booking to booking. The second format is the ‘Host only fee’ which ranges from 14% to 20%. This format allows more flexibility in terms of pricing and was mainly created for hotels and venues in hospitality so it’s worth doing a bit of research before deciding on which route you would like your business to take. For more information on service fees, head over to the Airbnb Help Centre and look under ‘Pricing and Fees’.

Llansantffraed Court

As an Airbnb wedding venue there will always be one thing that will make you stand out amongst the more traditional venues around. This is your character. You may not have acres of land or a grand, architectural masterpiece in which to host weddings (or you might, and that’s brilliant too as marquee wedding venues are definitely in short supply for those couples wanting to design their ‘own venue’ with your property as a beautiful backdrop, ideally also providing the accommodation for their closest family and friends during their wedding weekend) but for most rental wedding venues for hire, the quiet charm is your allure. This means that one of the most important things you can do as an Airbnb wedding venue is to emphasise your venue’s personality. The first step to achieving this is through photography. Unlike a typical wedding venue, you’re unlikely to have your own website with a vast catalog of photographs showcasing past weddings you’ve hosted nor will you be looking to book in many showrounds. It’s important as a wedding venue that you don’t view this as a hinderance but rather use it to your advantage. It’s likely that as an Airbnb venue, you will be attracting a very different clientele compared with a traditional wedding venue. Your couples may not be looking for a space to host hundreds of guests, they may not even want a very big ceremony at all, and this is why your space could be so special. The type of couples you’re likely to attract are the reserved, creative kind, ones that are drawn to your venue because of your distinct and unique charm. So, as you start off, view your venue as a hidden gem. That’s not to say you don’t advertise your space, but you should definitely focus on emphasising its unique beauty. It’s very unlikely that many other couples will have held a wedding in somewhere as personal as your space and so the fact that you might not have hosted many, if any weddings in the past, will draw in those couples, searching for a bespoke wedding venue and somewhere they can truly call theirs and theirs alone.

Image Credit: Jake Morley

So how do you capture the essence of your venue to upload in a handful of photos to the Airbnb website? These photographs might be the only thing your couples view before they decide to book their wedding with you. This is a big decision to make for both parties involved so it’s vital your photographs aren’t misleading or skewed. Equally, you will be relying heavily on your photographs to sell your venue to these couples, so as much as they cannot be misleading, they also have to be attractive and inviting. This is a big ask for just a sample of photos, but it is a necessary ask, nonetheless. It’s worth considering at this point consulting a professional photographer as they will be able to offer a professional flare that will truly capture the essence of your venue. If you’re on a budget however, or are confident in your own photographic abilities then one thing to remember is, never underestimate the power of lighting. Lighting can make or break a photograph so try to rely on natural light wherever you can, to showcase the genuine beauty of your space. If you’re confident, have a little play around with the camera, framing your shots at different angles and using your space in new and exciting ways. Get involved and work with your surroundings, you’d be surprised how incorporating as much as a simple sunset can bring to a photograph and really work to emphasise the charm of your space. If you really want to ‘up’ your photography game then consider holding your own styled shoot (but for tips on that check out my blog post ‘Simply Stunning, Styled Shoots’). Don’t be afraid to think outside the box a little but most importantly, ensure you are capturing your venue in all of its glory.

Image Credit: Lewis Fackrell Photography

Once you’ve done this, you’re ready to get yourself out there and into the realm of Airbnb. Once online, be sure to market yourself accordingly. Firstly, list yourself as a wedding venue and this way more couples will be able to find you in their searches. Secondly, don’t be ashamed to sell yourself! This is your business after all and you want everyone to know how brilliant your venue is. Talk about yourself and your amazing venue in your venue description, discussing your amenities, your location and what you can offer that other wedding venues can’t. The more personal you can get here, the better. People gravitate towards Airbnb because of the deeper sense of connection. It is a community of people sharing homes after all so don’t be afraid to give a little information on yourself and why you’ve decided to join the community of wedding venue rental while most importantly, discussing your incredible venue.

Think about any additional things you might be able to offer couples that go above and beyond your role as a venue host. Are you available for a chat to offer assurance to your couples and answer any queries? Do you know any local suppliers that might be able to offer their services on the day of the wedding? Are there any personal touches you can add that will make their day extra special? Think about the different things you can offer to ensure you can provide the very best, most personal service possible.

Above all, it’s important you to stay true to your venue’s character and don’t lose what initially drew your couples to you.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to head over to Airbnb and start your new wedding business venture!

Image Credit: County Marquees