Nary a wedding bell rings or a glass breaks with the exaltation of a teary-eyed crowd’s mazel tov during a global pandemic.
Social distancing, travel bans, self-imposed quarantines and periods of self-isolation have rendered jubilant springtime celebrations of marriage silent. Couples have been left with no choice but to postpone their nuptials (or come up with anti-contagion alternatives that looked nothing like the planned “I Do” fantasies of Pinterest boards).
For leading wedding companies Zola and The Knot Worldwide, their usual obligations and services have been upended by the novel coronavirus, but their commitment to couples has remained steadfast. Both companies have adjusted business operations during this difficult time to make stressful decisions easier for their clients.
“We understand that the last thing many couples want right now is to receive a push notification about their guest list, so support is the focus across all of our channels,” Chi said.
Though Zola is exploring the possibility of launching other products to assist in providing this support, the company is currently relying on the products and services it already offers to take on this new mission. A dedicated team of Zola Advisors who stay up-to-date on the latest CDC guidelines are sharing messages with couples to communicate any event changes to family, friends and wedding vendors.
Email is one platform that these Zola Advisors are taking advantage of, featuring expert content that answers the most popular COVID-19-related questions received from couples, guests and vendors.
Chi added Instagram and Facebook are being utilized to offer a mix of both “helpful information and distancing and fun content.” The Story feature on Instagram is used to answer questions from real couples and vendors, while the account’s feed is full of images, videos and memes with more lighthearted content to serve as an “oasis to escape the stress.”
Feedback posted on the Zola Community Facebook Group, a private forum composed of over 10,000 members, is being used to guide Zola’s overall messaging.
“We’re also starting positive conversations about how to deal with stress and how to best communicate with wedding venues,” Chi said.
The Knot Worldwide, comprised of eight brands with a presence in 15 countries around the world—including wedding-centric online marketplaces The Knot, WeddingWire, Bodas.net and How They Asked—has had to make similar modifications to business operations as Zola on a more international scale.
Dhanusha Sivajee, CMO, The Knot Worldwide, explained to Adweek that, with nearly 35,000 weddings set to take place in the United States and 600,000 weddings set to take place internationally in April and May this year, the company is aware that this is impacting a vast amount of couples and small businesses, worldwide and in the markets they serve.
The Knot Worldwide is using “a chatbot offering personalized recommendations and a new 360 virtual venue tour tool so they can tour venues from the comfort of their own homes,” Sivajee said.
Last week, The Knot and WeddingWire partnered to launch a 24/7 hotline where wedding experts on its customer service and events teams answer questions from couples and encourages couples to vent about their frustrations. When the team is not live to answer calls, a voicemail will prompt callers to leave questions and a team member will get back to them within 24 hours.
“Our mantra behind this hotline is that it’s OK for couples to feel disappointed, upset, stressed and confused,” Sivajee said. “We want to encourage couples to acknowledge those feelings, understand they are valid and ask questions.”
Additionally, the Knot Worldwide is sharing advice and guidance for wedding professionals on their b-to-b brand WeddingPro. The company is also working on more opportunities for education and information to share among wedding professionals through a webinar series.
According to Sivajee, couples can still have the celebration they’ve always dreamed of—it may just look slightly different. Luckily, Sivajee assures, most of the wedding professionals in the Knot Worldwide’s network have been willing to console couples and figure out an alternative plan.
“We have truly seen couples and wedding professionals work together and accomplish remarkable things over the past couple of weeks. This industry is resilient,” Sivajee said.