How ABIA reached half-a-million wedding reviews
By Josh Grice – ABIA General Manager
Founded in 1996 by John O’Meara, ABIA Weddings Australia (formerly known as the Australian Bridal Industry Academy) has worked tirelessly to regulate an unregulated wedding marketplace and find creative and innovative ways to connect wedding couples with wedding vendors. Our mission from the outset was to promote trustworthy wedding vendors while protecting Australian Couples undertaking the (at times) difficult job of planning their wedding.
Achieving the Mission
Like ABIA, the majority of the Australian Wedding Industry is made up of small businesses, many of whom are family businesses. Wedding Professionals devote their time to allowing space for others to celebrate joy while often sacrificing their own personal time (weekends, holidays, etc). ABIA saw an opportunity to recognise and celebrate this group of passionate, creative and brilliant businesses and so the ABIA Wedding Industry Awards were born.
Creating a Wedding Industry Awards with Integrity
The concept was simple, but ABIA knew that creating a fair and equitable Awards Program would be far more complicated than simply creating a popularity contest. The idea of crowning a vendor as the best simply because they were able to attract the most votes was unacceptable and so we set out to build a fully customised Awards algorithm and platform.
While the algorithm has been updated in recent years, the key drivers have remained the same. Quality is recognised above all else (voting involves 4 key deliverables) while the Awards integrity is maintained by only allowing verified wedding couples to submit their votes. Importantly back in those early days, John wanted to offer couples a platform to review their vendors (this was way before google reviews mind you) and so in addition to submitting votes, couples were also given the opportunity to leave a review (written down on paper at the time).
ABIA has become a powerful voice in the Wedding Industry over the years largely thanks to its ability to collect data from 30,000+ couples every year. As was hoped from the outset, Couples who vote for their vendors in the ABIA Awards are 70% more likely to leave a review while also offering to provide additional data such as their wedding budget, size, location, and other valuable data points. This same data is often requested and reported on by councils and tourism agencies, media outlets and government departments.
Most importantly however, it is the ratings and reviews that have allowed wedding vendors to build trust and credibility in their own businesses while offering couples an important platform to source vendors with peace of mind.
The Impact of Reviews
Reviews not only have the power to influence consumer decisions but can strengthen a business's credibility. Reviews have the power to gain customer trust and they encourage people to interact with the business. Customer interaction ultimately leads to improved profits and greater awareness of the business.
An Important Milestone
In July 2022, ABIA achieved the significant milestone of reaching half-a-million verified reviews, making it by far Australia’s largest wedding review platform! In fact, Australian Couples have spent more than 5 million minutes (that’s nearly 10 years) writing these reviews to get ABIA to where it is today.
Wedding Professionals in turn have benefited enormously from this investment of time to not only be recognised for their hard work but more importantly, to be seen as trustworthy and credible wedding businesses. More remarkable, ABIA’s managing director Natasha (along with the ABIA team) has read all these reviews over the years, validating only those as coming from a real person with real experience.
What the future holds
As we look to our future review growth, I’m excited for the new things our team will learn together. Beta testing is nearly complete on an alternative review collecting method that will see Wedding Vendors adopt a personalised link to reach their couples while ABIA’s built-in verification processes have also been bolstered. We anticipate that this innovation, along with continued SEO investment, will result in ABIA celebrating its 1 millionth review in the not-so-distant future.
ABIA wishes to thank its Partner Network along with the Australian Wedding Industry for the many years of love and support it has received. We hope to celebrate this achievement with you all at ABIA's upcoming Wedding Industry Gala Awards.