Flashback Friday: NASCAR and Brides- an Unlikely Pair

This week’s flashback is timely, given that the holiday season (whether we like it or not!) is upon us. I also imagine that here in Richmond, many of last weekend’s brides found themselves stuck in Richmond marathon traffic (like me!).

Remaining aware of the holiday, as well as local, calendars is an imperative strategy for those who want to offer supreme customer service. Below, I share just a little about my own experiences as a reception venue planner and the infamous NASCAR weekends here in Richmond.


When the Times Dispatch announced this past weekend that the SunTrust Indy Challenge will not be calling Richmond home in 2010, I feverishly began my Google search for what what would have been the anticipated date of this lost event.

NASCAR has never been on of my interests, despite my proximity to a pretty happening raceway. So why would I even pick up on the latest from the world of racing? And what does it even mean to the wedding industry?

I finally had to make NASCAR my business when I began to realize that weddings in Richmond always seemed to slow down the first weekend in May and the first weekend in September (depending on Labor Day). When I dove into the Hotel world, it was quickly drilled into me that sleeping rooms on those particular weekends were already earmarked for the avid NASCAR attendees who came to town for Richmond’s biggest racing weekends of the year. The room rates were drive up well past the point of reasonable, so the options for out of town guests quickly dwindles, making them unpopular wedding weekends. Let us also remember that 35% of NASCAR fans are female.

Armed with this information, I went aggressively into booking the next wedding season. If I had a bride interested in any date in the month of May or September, I wouldn’t hesitate to offer a small discount on room rental for NASCAR weekend, as long as they heard my “the whoahs of room rates on race weekend” speech. I’d even call other hotels on their behalf to get the room block booking started for them, just to keep the reception business.

I’ve always been surprised by wedding vendors who did not keep up with the local going ons of their community. This is a fantastic way to detect any potential patterns, as well as foresee challenges for the year ahead.

This is an even biggest opportunity to be seen as an additional resource to your prospective bride. For example, do you have a bride who wants to book Richmond Marathon weekend? Be sure to print out the event’s time line and road closures to make sure she gets to where she needs to be on time.

After further investigation, I did find out that the Indy Races normally took place in June and were not one of the two that left our hotel rooms jam packed, and our reception venues empty.

So while this is one less event to mark on our calendar, I would highly suggest taking out your planner or Blackberry, and getting started on your 2010 and 2011 calendars. Or, give me a a call and I’ll take care of it for you.

Until next time,

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. She is the exclusive wedding pr columnist to wedding marketing journal WedLock magazine and is a highly sought after speaker in the wedding industry. She loves ruffle table runners and Royal Wedding Tchotchkes. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you with your wedding marketing and wedding pr, please contact us today.