It’s my favorite time of year: wedding season.
That’s right. This tomboy right here can wait for the kickoff of a season full of shabby chic ceremonies complete with castleside scenery. It’s a time when women finally get to be the princesses or queens they always wanted to be.
But nothing tops the gory bloodbaths that finish off any true royal celebration. Plus, where would we be without poisoned wine?
Wait. You didn’t think I was talking about actual weddings, did you?
Don’t be silly. I’m talking about the weddings on one of my favorite shows, Game of Thrones.
Weddings on the hit HBO show are always exciting affairs, whether it means a twist in an already complex plot or the shock of a beloved character’s sudden demise. (Sometimes they sneak by without a hitch. Sometimes.)
Don’t believe me? Check out this compilation of some of the most emotional (and funny) reactions from die-hard fans:
(Caution: This video contains some foul language, which is understandable because Walder Frey is a terrible, horrible person.)
Not all weddings have to be boring, y’all. I mean, a Dothraki wedding without at least three deaths is a pretty dull affair. Can’t argue with that logic.
But while violence and gore is great for ratings on a television show, I feel for some reason that this doesn’t translate as well into real life. More like “lawsuits are coming” as opposed to “winter is coming.”
And let’s be real: hotel management is clearly applicable here.
Guest right, where guests are treated to bread and salt upon arrival, signal hospitality and guaranteed safety under castle roof, though it seems many characters have been violating protocol lately.
Nevertheless, there’s still much to learn from Game of Thrones about hospitality, and in particular how to host a wedding. Or not host a wedding.
Below, I’ll outline six simple ways to make your hotel a wedding hotspot. And no worries if you haven’t seen the show. I’ve ensured that you can still follow along.
(Note: If you haven’t seen the Red Wedding episode yet, you’re really behind and you should do better. I mean, the sixth season is premiering soon, guys. So SPOILERS, obviously.)
Be More Animal-Friendly
When the Northern gang visits The Twins in order to secure allyship with Walder Frey, King in the North Robb Stark must leave his faithful Direwolf outside in the stables amongst the horses. Whether out of assurance of nonviolence or respect for the household, it’s an unfortunate action in both hospitality and later the defense of his master.
Similarly, many hotel guests these days can’t seem to leave their faithful companions behind.
According to a 2013 survey by dogsvacay.com, 73% of pet owners feel guilt for leaving their furry friends at a kennel, resulting in 48% of owners traveling less since owning a pet.
For hotels, these numbers translate into 15% of owners smuggling their pets into non-pet friendly hotels, which is understandable considering that 64% of pet owners feel challenged when making travel accommodations for their pets.
But just allowing pets at your hotel isn’t the only appeal here. We’re still talking about weddings.
In terms of wedding appeal, many nuptials are also involving pets in the festivities, whether they are the ones trotting the rings down the aisle or playing a passive role as observer.
Regardless, their inclusion also promises a incredibly cute photo op, which can mean some serious attention on your social media platforms, especially if these fur muffins have their own Instagram accounts and thousands of followers.
Who doesn’t love a dog in a bowtie and who doesn’t love free publicity? Both can be at work here.
Provide Stellar Entertainment
Wedding entertainment on Game of Thrones can be a little hit or miss, especially if you decide to have Sigur Ros perform a vibe-deadening rendition of “The Rains of Castamere.” I mean, it’s a really good cover, but maybe not the appropriate time and place. The band at the Red Wedding is pretty killer, though they take on a more literal sense of the word later on.
So even if you’re a major chain hotel or a smaller indie establishment, being able to host some hot entertainment for your guests’ nuptials can be a great way to ensure a fantastic time, not to mention a positive guest experience.
If you’re a larger chain hotel, you might be able to get some major, big name entertainment. While they may be paid to provide a performance for a separate occasion, having a ceremony crashed by big name performers can be a nice touch to an already unforgettable day.
Hey, it may even make headlines, adding a positive perception to what I’m sure will already be a slew of positive online reviews.
For smaller, more localized hotels, you can still implement the same experience, but on a smaller scale. As a local hotel, you have the opportunity to get in touch with others from your area, including local musicians, who you can showcase at your hotel.
By building relationships with entertainers or even other businesses, you can cross-promote, leading to twice the exposure and a fruitful business relationship that can introduce you to an even wider audience.
Furthermore, couples can save on the potential cost of the entertainment’s transportation by enlisting local musicians. That sort of savings could also lead the wedding party to invest additional funds into the hotel itself.
Be More Family-Friendly
Walder Frey’s family-friendly hospitality is a little lacking, to say the least. While he does have plenty of children and grandchildren at his estate, the atmosphere is a bit dim for the younger ones. Not really a family affair, especially considering the slaughter of an entire family later in the dining hall.
In this case, it’d be best to strive for the opposite of this experience due to the nature of real-life weddings.
So how exactly do you make your hotel family-friendly?
According to Condé Nast Traveler, some key characteristics include a microfridge to store snack, a lobby minigrocery, a possible babysitting service, and plenty of outdoor space for kids to run around.
While these are small things, demonstrating that you’re kid-friendly establishment illustrates to your guests that you have their interests and needs in mind, the key ingredient to any successful hospitality establishment.
Of course, it’s also important to remember to market this aspect to your potential guests. In terms of your advertising, it may be good to ensure that you’re also tapping into the family-friendly market and not just wild spring breakers.
Tip: Don’t fake this. While you should definitely pay attention to families in your advertising, make sure that your marketing holds true to its guest experience. Reputation matters in the hospitality industry, and even if you’re a large, established hotel, not sticking to your word can still be detrimental.
Block Out Rooms
Game of Thrones weddings can attract guest far and wide, especially those in attendance at King Joffrey’s wedding to Margaery Tyrell. Due to the size of the castle and class systems, however, not all guests were privy to spending the night within the castle.
While acceptable in the GoT world, imagine if you did the same at your establishment. Kind of defeats the purpose of the hotel.
So how do you prevent overcrowding at weddings and assure the stay of all hotel guests?
Whether you decide on a general property management system or booking engine software, these software solutions can help your front desk managers maintain their sanity during busy seasons, including wedding season.
Now, Walder Frey may not have ensured plenty of rooms upon arrival (not to mention that class structure prohibited some from staying within the castle), but considering the end of the reception, it didn’t seem to matter. You don’t need to worry about extra rooms if the majority of your guests are dead.
For a wedding party, it’s important to make sure you have rooms blocked out for all of your guests. The last snag you need is the esteemed couple or a wedding planner in dire straits because family and friends can’t stay together in a centralized location.
Provide Food and Refreshments
In Game of Thrones, food has more to do with ensuring personal security (a la “guest right”), but providing sustenance is a great way to ensure guest happiness.
Whether you’re an indie hotel for a small wedding or a major hotel chain with a professional kitchen, providing your services to a wedding is also a clever way to introduce your guests to your stellar meal options, which can function as a way to promote your room service as well.
While it’s true that a catering company may use a venue’s kitchen to finish prepping food for service, a hotel restaurant or kitchen has all of its resources at hand, meaning that elements of a reception meal won’t be forgotten and any error can be quickly remedied.
Just food for thought.
Craft Stellar Deals and Discount Packages
In Game of Thrones, there are many benefits to a wedding. Aside from potential dowery and royal connections made with these nuptials, weddings also promise opportunities for houses to conspire together or forge alliances. Sort of like an all-in-one package.
If you’ve been following along so far, you understand that there’s some major benefits from being a wedding hotspot.
So with so many benefits, how can you make the most out of your offerings while also ensuring that potential guests can experience all that you have to offer?
Some of my preliminary research for this article showed a lot of people looking for wedding deals, especially considering that the average wedding costs has hit an all-time high of $31,000. That’s more than the average student loan debt, meaning one day of bliss is the equivalent of about four years of study at a college or university.
Even Game of Thrones acknowledges that these are pretty costly celebrations, with Joffrey’s wedding extravaganza making a pretty big dent in the Iron Bank.
The good thing about being a hotel, fortunately, is that you have the ability to help wedding parties cut down on the overall cost of their nuptials.
Many engaged couples are looking for wedding packages, which, as a hotel, you can provide.
An all-in-one location with breathtaking scenery, a reception hall, food services, and a quick jaunt back to your room for a good night’s sleep? Who wouldn’t want that?
Not to mention, these packages are a great promotional opportunity and can give guests steep discounts while ensuring that you still make a profit. (And if you’re not sure how this is possible, enlist the help of some hotel booking software, which can calculate and measure this for you.)
Plus, keeping newly-wedded couples under budget will surely give them a positive impression of your hotel.
Can you think of any other wedding lessons from Game of Thrones? Be sure to send your regards in the comments below.
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