As the world begins to return to normal, salons can expect to see surges in certain kinds of services, including bridal. In an exclusive interview with SALON TODAY, Zenoti CEO Sudheer Koneru discusses the impact the summer wedding boom is already having on the salon and spa industry.
SALON TODAY: Set the stage for us. Why are there so many weddings this year and how many are predicted?
Koneru: There are predicted to be more weddings than usual because many couples who planned 2020 weddings postponed until this year, meaning this wedding season is almost twice as busy as those before. Couples are also spending less time engaged, so it is crunch time for anyone engaged in the last 10 to 20 months.
Typically, around 2 million weddings take place per year in the United States. Since only around 40% of planned weddings happened in 2020, the other 60% are rolling over into this year and next. This is skyrocketing the predicted 2 million weddings when recent engagements are considered as well.
ST: What does this mean for salons/spas/barbershops?
Koneru: The surge in weddings means that salons, spas and barbershops will be overbooked and resources, employees and space, will be stretched thin. With post-pandemic protocols, safety guidelines and wide-spread shortage of workers, the stress of keeping employees and customers healthy will be put on the shoulders of the service providers, in addition to the stress of serving more customers than usual.
To alleviate this, salons need to find new ways to stand out, optimize schedules, stay busy and stay organized. One way this can be achieved is through the use of a software which automates the scheduling process, ensures there are no gaps and maximizes appointment yield.
ST: How can beauty-based businesses attract wedding party bookings?
Koneru: There are numerous ways beauty-based businesses can achieve this. One is to create an online presence by digitally marketing services to potential customers through regular email campaigns that detail services, promotional packages, special offers and more. At Zenoti, we offer personalized campaigns via emails and text. This allows businesses to segment their target audience (in this case, wedding parties) based on different criteria.
Businesses should also prioritize clear communication and easy scheduling between themselves and wedding parties through online booking tools and messaging platforms. Clear scheduling is especially important as weddings typically have strict timelines that do not allow for rescheduling or pushed appointments.
ST: How does catering to weddings differentiate a salon in their marketplace?
Koneru: Catering to weddings differentiates a salon because it provides more potential opportunities for discoverability. By listing weddings on your menu, you appeal to a larger market, outside of the typical salon and spa services. It is easier to attract those looking for specific wedding services instead of single beauty appointments and it makes your brand stand out.
Additionally, when a business is included in the wedding process, which is a very personal experience, they are forming a bond with the client and building trust. Once this connection is established, that client will be more loyal to the salon and continue to trust them with their service for future events and appointments. They are also more likely to recommend the salon to others. This is especially valuable in the era of social proof, because individuals are much more likely to try a new business if it is highly rated by friends or family. You can encourage these recommendations and create brand advocates through solutions that offer rewards and incentives to individuals if they refer a friend.
ST: How does building a wedding business help a salon attract long-time clients?
Koneru: This goes back to building those beautiful, personalized connections and fostering trust and loyalty between the client and business. The client has allowed the salon or spa insight into an emotional and personal experience, associating them with this memory in the future and incentivizing the client to return because they will be reminded of their special day.
For wedding bookings this becomes even more powerful, because it becomes a family event. Salons who offer these services might see multiple people from the same party make appointments, which provides the opportunity to make connections with multiple clients. So when they too get married, there’s already a strong connection and sense of loyalty.
At Zenoti, we know how important the personal connection is between a provider and their client. While everyday wellness is key, trusting someone to make you feel great on one of life’s most special occasions creates a long-lasting bond. Nurture this bond with loyalty programs and memberships which keep clients coming back time after time. These programs not only make clients feel valued and rewarded for their loyalty, but also generate predictable revenue for your salon.
ST: How does technology help salons cater to wedding business?
Koneru: Technology allows more work to get done with less complex solutions and consolidates information into an easily accessible and intuitive platform. Having this customer data alongside convenient booking and marketing practices makes the extra steps involved with weddings and other special bookings more attainable. This is especially true for small business owners that run most aspects of the salon themselves.
Now that people are getting vaccinated and regions across the globe are reopening, the beauty and wellness industry must adapt to a more digitally integrated experience. This will help businesses adjust to an evolving, virtual industry and manage the rush of post-pandemic appointments. At the end of the day, Zenoti’s goal is to help foster a relationship between the salon and customer by opening the opportunity for personal interaction and clear communication, instead of extra time spent behind a computer screen.
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