Over the weekend, I attended a wedding reception at a facility that specializes in hosting weddings.  Whereas many banquet facilities or hotels are venues for a wide variety of events, this place was the wedding reception mecca.  

Because they specialize in weddings, the facility is set up for them and decorated in such a way that brides favor, with no need to regard that conferences or other business meetings might not find some of the decor to be attractive.  It is floor to ceiling white satin, with pillars covered in mirror titles, little white lights sparkling everywhere, a head table on a stage and ready-made dance floor.  Tables remain set with covered chairs, mirror centerpieces, about a hundred tea light candles lining the entrance hallway, etc.

There are dressing rooms for the women, complete with make-up mirrors, full-length mirrors and couches.  The dressing room for the men is equipped with a large screen TV tuned to ESPN.  

Need a steamer for the dresses?  Got it.  Want candelabra centerpieces?  Done.  Photo booth set-up?  Check.  Separate play room for the kids?  Yep.  It was a finely tuned wedding machine.

Not all venues have the luxury to focus on just one type of event, and a narrow business plan is not always wise.  But for those who can make the economics work, having a specialty provides a deep level of understanding about what your customer really wants.  You can anticipate their needs because you have probably been asked for it before.  You can cater (no pun intended) to a targeted audience and know where to reach them.  You can make the complicated easy for those who are going through the process, many for the first time.

Even if you can’t limit your line to only one audience, think about whether there is an area where you can go deep.  Being all things to all people doesn’t allow you to create a fairy tale setting like a one-audience venue does.

— beth triplett

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