THE WEEK IN REVIEW: Bridal Booth Camp / by Love You Back Productions

This week in review, Weenta goes to Bridal Booth Camp.

Love You Back Productions is attending its 3rd bridal show this June. To get ready, I attended a "bridal booth camp" hosted by New Orleans Bride Magazine, to get some tips about how to catch a bride's eye when you're at a show. 

From right to left, Rachel Funel, Christina "Fammy" Rodrigue and Gretchen Hirt Gendron.

From right to left, Rachel Funel, Christina "Fammy" Rodrigue and Gretchen Hirt Gendron.

The booth camp featured 3 panelists:

1. Rachel Funel - wedding planner with the New Orleans CVB. Rachel's been supportive of Love You Back Productions since the start, and given us invaluable advice on how to reach more brides. She's the reason we started going to bridal shows.

2. Christina "Fammy" Rodrigue - Miss New Orleans USA 2015 who was recently married and met many of her vendors through bridal shows

3. Gretchen Hirt Gendron - a social media expert and senior communications manager from Gambel Communications, also recently married

The panel was moderated by Melanie Warner Spencer, editor of New Orleans Bride Magazine. 

It was hosted at The Parlor, a brand new events space managed by Chef John Besh's hospitality group, located in the Ponchartrain Hotel on St. Charles Ave. 

There were tons of yummy hors d'oeuvres including chocolates, bread pudding, a cheese board and many more treats served up by waiters in white uniform. I made a beeline for the shrimp and grits, something I realize I never had before coming to the south. It's the ultimate comfort food and I love it every time I have it. 

The Parlor staff cheesin' for the camera. They were serving up delicious shrimp and grits. Yum!

The Parlor staff cheesin' for the camera. They were serving up delicious shrimp and grits. Yum!

Gorgeous chandeliers and vaulted ceilings.

Gorgeous chandeliers and vaulted ceilings.

So what did I learn from this booth camp?

Here are the top 5 tips from the panelists:

1. Consolidate your materials - pair down all your information into one postcard, preferably with some pricing information on it so a bride can get a quickly decide if you're in her budget. 

2. Diversify your communication strategy - Gretchen suggested a text message instead of an email. Millennial brides respond more quickly to texts. Also, if you can send a direct mail piece, the thicker the envelope the better chances a bride will actually open it.   

3. Have lots of color, and if possible, lots of shiny glittery things - Fammy says that one of the vendors she saw at a show had a shiny sequined background. She immediately walked right over. It's human nature, she said. Your eye just goes to the shiny thing and you follow. 

4. Don't write off a bride just because she already has a vendor that provides your service - Fammy said she didn't just use vendors for the wedding day alone. She had at least 4 different events before the wedding between bridal showers and engagement parties. She had 3 different florists, and more than one makeup artist. She spread her wealth across multiple vendors. 

and the number one tip of the night, drumroll please:

5. Offer a gift, discount and/or giveaway - All the ladies agreed: millennials love discounts and giveaways.

Rachel has given away wedding beads and second line umbrellas. One photography duo called "The Red M Studio" said they gave away boxes of red MnMs with a link to an app that revealed their portfolio and their most recent promotion. 

Fammy said the gift doesn't have to be big. "You could probably give me a piece of rice and I'd take it."

Although the panelists had great tips, I learned just as much from the conversation I had with Rachel after the panel discussion was over. So here are some extra special bonus tips:

* Write it down - We've struggled in the past with remembering details about each bride we've met. Rachel says the easiest way to keep track of these details is to have a sheet of paper with you so you can write down the the bride's information and any special notes you may have about your interaction.

** Don't make meetings, send emails - I told her that we made it our goal to book meetings with brides who we met at the show. Rachel advised against that strategy. "Chances are they'll back out and you'll be waiting for them at the Starbucks." She's right, that's definitely what's happened to us in the past.  

For this next bride show, we won't be trying to book meetings with brides. Instead, we'll be refocusing our efforts into a strong email followup strategy and brainstorming ideas for our giveaway.