E-wedding planning sees an upswing as customers embrace going digital

In a panel discussion with YourStory’s Daily Dispatch, Shekhar Datta, COO, Weddingz — which was acquired by OYO, and Ankur Sarawagi, India Country Head, The Knot Worldwide talks about the digital boost in the wedding industry and their vision for the future.

The wedding landscape in India has changed drastically over the past few years, with the emergence of a slew of online aggregators and wedding planning platforms. Since the pandemic, Indian weddings are now seeing reduced gatherings and people have transitioned to planning weddings on online mediums. 

Acquired by hospitality chain Oyo in 2018, wedding planning platform Weddingz’ growth trajectory through the pandemic indicates that digital planning has now become a feasible option. 

“We saw a very good recovery in Quarter 1 of FY2021. We have almost reached about 70 percent of the pre-pandemic levels,” Shekhar Datta, COO, Weddingz tells YourStory’s Daily Dispatch. The organic demand on the platform is very high, he adds. 

The platform has over 35,000 venues and other services required in the planning of weddings. Customers are majorly driving their decision on the bookings based on the reviews left on the website.

Uncertainty around weddings

The demand for online wedding planning services has tiptoed around the lockdown restrictions and relaxations. The uncertainty surrounding the pandemic has also led customers to postpone confirming decisions regarding their wedding until they are closer to the date.

The ‘cycle time’ for planning the wedding has also become shorter, according to Shekhar. Vaccination, he adds, has helped boost customers’ confidence in planning and managing weddings to avoid the spread of the virus. 

The vendors working in the wedding industry have also suffered tremendously due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic. Shekhar says there have been a lot of enquiries for vendor services but a lack of commitment to the bookings.

“Our platform is seeing a lot of demand for Q4 and next year’s Q1 as well because we are enabling a conversation between the seller and the buyer,” says Ankur Sarawagi, India Country Head, The Knot Worldwide. Their platform has seen a 250 percent increase in the lead volume towards their vendors. 

Knot Worldwide is an online marketplace that enables buyers and sellers to meet and allows customers with digital offerings such as creating a website and guest checklists. 

Indian wedding industry

The wedding market in India is valued at $50 billion and has seen a rapid annual growth rate as mentioned in a report by KPMG. It contributes largely to the travel and hospitality industry, which has also adapted to create safe accommodations amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Many families are preferring locations in India for weddings over international destinations, says, adding that people are choosing smaller venues due to the ‘50 persons’ only rule. With the reduced scale, the style of weddings has also changed as there is a smaller gathering. 

For Knot Worldwide, the focus is on enhancing the experience of small weddings and investing in their technology offerings so customers can see more segments on their platform. 

“We see a lot of traffic now that is coming to us. It is completely mobile-first. So, we are improving a lot of product features on the mobile web and the app over the next few months,” says Ankur on improving their digital offerings with a ‘create your own wedding’ feature and WhatsApp integration for prompt notifications. 

With the digital shift, many customers are now choosing online mediums as a way of organising. Sandeep explains how families can join a zoom call from their homes and look at venues via the video conferencing tool. 

Shekhar says Weddingz will be ramping up its digital infrastructure, especially the ‘Weddingz Prime’ platform. The company sees potential in their digital offerings and will be working on increasing its customer’s confidence in making bookings online. 

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Edited by Kanishk Singh


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