Who Says Winter Isn't Wedding Season?
Gurney's Inn & Spa keeps itself in the spotlight year-round through constant and consistent promotions.
Monday, February 27, 2012
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The last few weeks may not have felt like a traditional wintertime in Montauk, New York. Even so, tourist arrivals are still off-peak, and a fair amount of local businesses are shuttered for the season. But that doesn’t stop Gurney’s Inn, Resort Spa & Conference Center from staying open year-round, and working hard to be the top destination on the eastern tip of Long Island.
Effective marketing is and always has been about understanding your client base – catering to both returning customers and potential new ones. And it’s also about promotion. Constant, consistent promotion. So being a highly coveted wedding spot, for example, it’s important for the resort to stay top of mind with both booked brides and flip-flopping fiancées.
On President’s Day weekend, Gurney’s hosted its Annual Bridal Showcase, which brings together everyone who has a wedding planned on the property in the upcoming year, as well as others who are interested in checking it out for their own marital plans.
“We contact all our brides who have booked for the year, and put together this event to help expose them to vendors to do one-st0p shopping, so they don’t have to make a thousand calls,” says Phyllis Lomitola, Conference and Banquet Director for Gurney’s. “They see what we have to offer, and if they book that day, we give discounts for them too.”
It’s also a good opportunity to show the property in the off-season. While high season for weddings, not surprisingly, is the beginning of May until the end of October, this year the resort has three events in April. In fact, two were booked in January this year as well. Those parties probably didn’t know at the time it would be 50 degrees in New York on several weekends this winter, but it likely worked out for them.
But luck of the draw for mild winter weather aside, the off-season is a great time to enjoy the resort to its fullest extent.
“If people want to take over the whole hotel and take advantage of the holiday feeling, we also can be more flexible with room rates and add-ons for their wedding party if they stick with the off-season,” says Lomitola.
Having that wedding atmosphere is not only important for to-be newlyweds; it stretches to the happily married as well. For 15 years now, Gurney’s has held its famous “renew your vows” marathon, modeled after the World Trade Center wedding marathons, where Ingrid Lemme, director of PR and marketing for Gurney’s, actually got married herself several years back.
“The reason we got married at the World Trade Center was actually to promote Gurney’s, and I had a logo embroidered on my wedding gown,” Lemme says. “We then spun that idea off into the ‘Renew Your Vows,’ marathon, which we’ve been doing since.”
Celebrity Judge Jim Ketchum oversees the ceremonies, and in tandem with the fun and whimsical part of the event, the suggested $10 per person donation goes to the Montauk Food Pantry. The package includes wedding cake, Champagne toast and an official wedding renewal certificate. The festivities take place over 24 hours, with couples coming every 20 minutes, even at 3:00 in the morning in their pajamas!
“This year we renewed vows twice, both on Saturday, February 11, as well Valentine’s Day itself, so that makes sure that I get my weekend packages sold,” Lemme adds. “The entire inn is dressed in pink, the spa is sold out, we sell lots of couples massages, and our spa director has on her own thing with a little chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne. All these elements target anyone and everyone – if they want to fall in love or if they have been married a long time and are renewing vows.”
But of course, one does not live on bread alone, and to keep the flow of guests coming through all winter long, Gurney’s starts promotions in November that run every weekend in the off-season, not only wedding related.
“We’ve become very creative; our yoga weekends are a big success, we have a singles weekend in early March, and for some time we’ve hosted a psychic and holistic fair,” says Lomitola.
“Of course, that’s now focused less on the psychics because there was too much energy in the room,” she jokes.
But in all seriousness, off-season is an extremely attractive time to visit the beach when the snow holds off like it has this year. January is a popular month for conferences, of course, and other attractions like car shows and family reunion packages give guests an opportunity to go on a short getaway. And the fact that other businesses in the area aren’t open is actually an advantage.
“It’s like a paradise when you can walk the beach and you don’t pass a person,” Lomitola says. “Having dining, spa, drinks and entertainment on-property is huge, because people just like to stay and unpack and have everything here.”
So next time you’re concerned about being mired in the middle of slow season, plan ahead to promote unique aspects only your property can provide!