Every bride wants to be certain she’s hiring the best vendors for her wedding. Looking at reviews is one way to determine if other brides have been pleased or dissatisfied with a particular vendor. But do wedding vendor reviews have an impact on the relationship between a vendor and a bride?
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Maureen Woodman, a wedding planner for on and off site catered events at The Essex Room in Essex, Massachusetts. Today, we’re talking about online reviews and how they affect the vendor/bride relationship.
Maureen Woodman: Hi, John. Thanks for having me today. This is a really hot topic for me right now.
How Many Brides Leave Online Wedding Vendor Reviews?
John: Are more brides leaving online reviews for wedding vendors now than in the past, do you think?
Maureen: I think so. The vendors are working really hard to keep up with the Wedding Wire, and The Knot in the wedding spot right now. The last two years, you’re only as good as your last review. The girls are going there. We know there’s a billion people that actually go on the Wedding Wire and The Knot, [it’s] something astronomically large.
These reviews have just taken over everything ‑ the appointment, the meeting, the feeling between the girls reading them, and not really looking through the minds on them, and between the vendor trying their hardest to get one.
What Types of Vendors are Brides Reviewing?
John: When we’re talking about vendors, we’re talking about the reception hall, the place where you’re having the wedding, the florist, all of the people who are involved in providing something for the bride and groom.
Maureen: Everybody. When you go on those sectors now, it’s all about each other endorsing each other on these wedding channels. You’re trying to see how can you get them to write about you when the girls are going on the Wedding Wire and The Knot to see what they can investigate about photographers, hair dressers, make‑up artists, transportation, everything. It just become the Wikipedia of weddings.
Do Wedding Vendor Reviews Play a Role in the Decision Process?
John: Brides and grooms are definitely going online and doing research for trying to find the vendor for their wedding. Are they taking online reviews into account before they’re choosing a vendor?
Maureen: I think that they’re looking at online review as a guide to decide out of all the abundance of what they are looking at, 50 venues in front of them on these wedding pages. That’s how they’re starting to narrow down, absolutely.
John: They’re looking at the ones that have the top reviews, or the ones that have four and five star reviews, or something like that.
Maureen: They’re looking at the review before they come to visit you, not afterwards.
Do Vendors Spend a Lot of Energy Trying to Get Positive Online Reviews?
John: How much energy do vendors then spend trying to get positive reviews from brides?
Maureen: The last two years, three years, how you get your badge in Wedding Wire, and how you get your badge in The Knot which is a stamp that goes on your signature of your email, I think the people have just gotten gone crazy trying to get them. Even ourselves, we’re working with the brides, we’re sitting there, we’re saying, “OK, afterwards if could write us this review, if you could go on The One and The Knot, it’s very difficult to log into it and actually get there.” The Wedding Wire is much easier.
You’re asking them for something, where before, you would get an unexpected thank you handwritten, lovely thank you note for me from the mother of the bride or the bride. Even the groom’s parents or whoever was involved saying, “Wow! You really made our daughter’s day. You helped us. It was so easy.”
“Every time I looked up, there you were. The planning was effortless. I don’t know how we would have made it through without you. I hope we can continue to see you. I’m really going to miss my meetings with you every week because we became best friends in this big, giant moment of my life”
Those notes used to just give you goose bumps. You were so happy. Now, you’re getting a review and you’re looking at it, “Oh, my God. What does it say?” You’re looking between the lines and how is someone else going to look at it. When you get a handwritten thank you note, it was just an intimate relationship of you and that bride. That was the end.
John: It was a private note between just the two of you.
Maureen: It was private note from a very private situation that you probably provided incredible service and you felt appreciated. That’s really what it should be.
John: It sounds to me you’re saying that perhaps venues and vendors are spending a little bit too much effort to make sure that brides and grooms are given them reviews, and positive reviews in there. Maybe they’re losing sight to forming that relationship and that bond, between them and the bride and groom.
Maureen: I think too that there are plenty of people that you did a great job for. You may never have had a thank you note from them, but you had integrity with yourself and you understood. When they don’t do the reviews on the wedding channels, I think you look at it like they owe it to you, or why didn’t they do it.
Is it because they were going to say something not nice? I don’t know. It’s like an email. You can never quite tell the personality in the words.
Are Online Wedding Vendor Reviews More Negative?
John: I think, too, people tend to leave more negative reviews online than they do positive reviews. When you have a good experience somewhere, you just, “Oh, I had a great experience. It was good.” When you have a negative experience, that’s when you want to go online and you want to let everybody know that, “Hey, I had this bad experience. Everybody should know and stay away from this place.”
You tend to see more negative reviews than might be reality when you look at reviews, many thing online. Is that maybe part of the reason why venues vendors are not spending a lot of effort trying to get their brides and grooms to give them a review because they want to make sure that all of the people who had a positive experience also come on and give them a review away some of those negative ones?
Maureen: I’m sure that that’s one of the reasons. I think that when all this stuff started, I looked back to more Yelp and Trip Advisor and how many stars you had as a rating. The difference with the wedding is, there are a lot more parts than just staying in a hotel, or going to a restaurant for dinner. You write a quick review and you get a bunch of stars. It all looks good.
Even when people look at Trip Advisor and Yelp, they just scroll down and see the star count, once in a while read the review. There’s definitely a difference on the Wedding Wire and The Knot, or all the wedding channel reviews where people go in and really read these things. I still wonder if down the road, if there’s really integrity with all these reviews.
Now, we see that Yelp was compromised and Amazon was compromised, and we’re starting to find out that people are actually paying for people to write bad reviews for competition, as well as people are paying or just counting things for people to write good reviews. The second that started with Yelp and now with Amazon, there’s going to be a little bit of, “Is this real?”
Even the people in our industry, when we get together, we wonder how someone has three or four hundred reviews, when most of the other people are tethering around 50. It spikes attention or red flag, and you say, “I wonder how they did that.”
How to Write a Great Online Vendor Review
John: How did they get so many when everybody else is on the same level. Interesting. How can a bride contribute to online reviews if her vendor really has done a great job and they want to let you know that?
Maureen: One of the things that stands out the most I know for sure, if they hit different segments, like the ceremony site was this, the food was this, the service was this. Instead of just saying, “Oh, my day was effortless. I had a great day.” If you can really pigeon in there on details of each thing that your wedding planner or your wedding venue did, I think that is what the girls are looking for.
They’re looking for more of a helpful organization hitting all the components, instead of a cookie cutter response that everything was great.
John: A really well rounded review that’s maybe a little bit longer than just saying “I had a great time and it was awesome.” Somebody who’s doing their research and trying to look for a venue isn’t going to gain anything from a really short review.
John: That’s really interesting and good information, Maureen. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Maureen: Thank you, John. Thanks for having me today.
John: For more information, you can call THe Essex Room at 978‑768‑7335.