Learning from the Bridelux Symposium – 27th – 28th January 2021.
Last week some of the great and the good from the wonderful world of weddings came together virtually for the Bridelux Symposium. Two days of animated discussion about what, how, where, who and when weddings will happen in 2021 and beyond. Colleagues from across the industry shared their experiences and insights, not just from the UK but from across Europe and the US. Covid travel restrictions may have made the rest of the World seem very far away but I was reminded last week how uniquely close we are as a community with a solidarity built on mutual respect and shared experience. The outlook was overwhelmingly positive and optimistic which I took great heart in. I took away a lot but what I heard most was that clients need flexibility! I thought I would share a rundown of my biggest takeaways from the event:
Weddings and events will return.
The world is never going to be the same but weddings and events will return. They are usually the first thing to recover after a crisis and when it comes, the bounce back will happen quickly so be prepared.
Look and plan ahead.
Use this time now to look ahead beyond 2021. How are you going to handle the inevitable mass influx of weddings when the market opens up again? How will your organisation look? Will you need to re-structure to meet demand? Can you sustain remote working? What mechanisms do you need to maintain close communications within your team, with suppliers and clients?
Let everyone know you are still here and ready for business. You may not be able to afford the same marketing budget as before so this will mean being more creative in how you reach out. Collaborate with others, use social media platforms, stay active on your website, share imagery from past weddings and seek editorial opportunities with other online and print publications. Are you able to facilitate virtual tours of your venue?
The continued uncertainty is a big challenge for all of us so keep in close communication with all your clients and suppliers. Keep them up-to-date with any changes to the Government guidelines. Stay agile, ready for change at a moments notice. By providing empathy, flexibility, transparent and comprehensive communication you can create more meaningful relationships and raise confidence. Listen to your peers too. Learn from them and share good practice. Look for ways to support one another and create mutual opportunities.
Clients need flexibility more than ever.
Can you afford to offer more flexibility in your cancellation terms or offer reduced deposit? How easy is it for clients to re-book their event? Are you able to balance availability for your existing clients with potential new business? How can you adapt to meet their changing needs? How can you prepare to manage their expectations?
Your professional experience is your clients’ greatest asset.
The biggest challenge for couples is stress and discomfort around uncertainty and indecisive direction. Your professional experience is their greatest asset. You can help them cope with the changes by keeping them focused. Try not to let them overthink matters and worry about what ‘might’ happen. Keep a plan B. Expect the unexpected. Your clients need flexibility so provide it and prove that whatever happens they will have an amazing wedding. Support and reassure them. Follow the guidelines. There are great opportunities for Wedding Planners to help take the pressure off beleaguered couples.
Keep up to date with guidance and regulations.
Are you compliant? The guidance and regulations are constantly changing. How regularly are you checking your risk assessments? Are you auditing processes and procedures? Have you hired an external auditor to verify your practices? Are your staff up-to-date with the latest information and training?
Small is beautiful.
The consensus seems to be that weddings will look a lot like they did in 2020. It is unclear exactly what restrictions will be in place but there will certainly still be some restriction on numbers. Key for everyone across the wedding industry will be to persuade clients that small is still beautiful and micro weddings bring a wealth of opportunities that you forego with a larger wedding. Opportunities to upscale your wedding are abundant – spend more time with your loved ones, place more emphasis on the food, drink and décor and create an imaginative, bespoke event. Smaller numbers mean there are more venue options available, unique opportunities that simply wouldn’t be available for larger weddings. Single day events are turning into long weekends or events staged over multiple days. Elopements are also proving popular and an opportunity for the tiniest of venues. Cabins in the wood, beach huts, lake houses… Couples are doing the legal bit at their local registry office then escaping for an intimate and more personal celebration of their love.
How can you create a turn-key solution for your couples?
Expect short lead times this year. Covid and the Government response has made it very hard to plan ahead. Couples may be looking for instant gratification when lockdown eases and a wedding at short notice to make up for lost time. Packages can help your clients make decisions and help you make the arrangements. Clients need flexibility too so wherever possible offer to meet their requests.
Above all be brave, get out there and stay positive! This time will pass and we will recover.