This week, our Founder and Director Wendy El-Khoury went live on our Facebook Group ‘Wedded Wonderland Business‘, to discuss the circumstances surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and its impact on the Wedding and Events Industry.
“As a starting point, we as business owners need to be reviewing expenditures and where to cut down. The first thing I did as a business owner, was go through our bank account for the last 90 days and have a look at the services that we are subscribed to. Sometimes, you may forget what all those fees mean, and it’s good to have a clear picture during these circumstances. We, at Wedded Wonderland, figured out what sort of subscriptions we may not need right now, and paused certain things. We have found that while reaching out to certain subscription businesses, some have been happy to put things on hold for us. Others have charged a nominal cancellation fee, so that we can restart when we’re ready – but it’s definitely better than paying ongoing fees for the next few months, when a lot of these tools may not be necessary.”Wendy El-Khoury, Founder of Wedded Wonderland & Wonderland Media
“Wages are also a big component in our Industry. So many people have introduced new ways in which they can keep their staff busy, or they have given early annual leave. Others have offered to temporarily cut down pay rates depending on current losses of income. There is always a path through which you can negotiate with your staff, on how they can stay with you and get paid, while at the same time working out a formula that will maintain cash flow for your business.”Wendy El-Khoury, Founder of Wedded Wonderland & Wonderland Media
Fees Around Postponing & Cancellation
“Postponing is something that you need to be flexible with when it comes to your clients, but you should also receive in return. It is important that whenever possible, you ask for a payment from your clients in order to secure that date, moving forward. The fact being, you are not asking your clients to pay anything extra, but you are asking for what’s needed to cash flow your business into the next few months.
Furthermore, this is a business-by-business decision. Wherever possible and whenever possible, not charging an additional fee is the best case scenario. But, if certain work has played out, and certain products or services have been purchased, it is very difficult to not charge the client. It is crucial that we, as an industry, are supportive of each other when it comes to this conversation; particularly when so many people are losing their jobs and money during the planning process. At the same time, we must ensure that the reasoning behind this conversation needs to be made clear to the client; communication is key.”Wendy El-Khoury, Founder of Wedded Wonderland & Wonderland Media
“No one planned for a pandemic – we are in extreme circumstances and so we must take extreme measures to safeguard our businesses. While clients may threaten to defame you and leave bad reviews on your business, it is important that you ask them to empathise and communicate the importance of this deposit to you. Additionally, you can attempt to come up with contingency plans to steer them in a direction that leaves both parties satisfied. Always be empathetic towards your clients and what they’re going through, rather than giving a hard no or yes.”Wendy El-Khoury, Founder of Wedded Wonderland & Wonderland Media
How To Stay Positive
“The only way that I can stay positive is by giving, and by seeing and working out how I could support businesses during this time. We are in a position where we, as business owners, need to survive, and it’s not about how much money one can make during this period. It’s about how we can support each other and send out good messages. It’s about working outwards by reaching out to clients and letting them know everything is going to be okay. It’s about coming up with creative ideas to talk about what is actually happening.
From a content perspective, it has become difficult for influencers and ambassadors to adhere to certain contracts, it has become difficult to self-promote and talk about anything other than Coronavirus. It is crucial that we have to actually talk about what people are actually feeling, and allow them the opportunity to express that. Reach out and speak to other business owners and exchange ideas, thoughts and advice, which is why our Facebook Group ‘Wedded Wonderland Business’ was created. It’s important to think about what you can give, and when you give, you feel as if you have added value to the world – and as creatives, that’s what we do. It’s rather difficult when we are stunted creatively yo be able toe express ourselves and be able to share our talent, which is what you guys do during your weddings and events.” Wendy El-Khoury, Founder of Wedded Wonderland & Wonderland Media
How To Support Clients
- Give advice
- Be present online
- Talk about what other couples are doing
- Share love stories
- Share past events
- Foster an element of nostalgia and escapism and keep them looking forward!
To Postpone Or To Wait?
“There was a press release that went out today, saying that Wuhan will be going back to business as usual from April 8th. The virus started to play out in December. This is a 3-4 month recovery process in China, which is where Coronavirus hit the hardest until Italy. It’s going to take around 3 months for any economy to have this play out. At least give yourself a 4-6 month window and keep the conversation with clients open, in terms of what they’re feeling and what the apprehension is. Many couples are discussing what’s happening in our other Facebook Group ‘Wedded Wonderland Group‘ and have stated that they have felt such relief after moving their wedding. We have had couples generally moving their wedding from April-May to October-November of 2020. June weddings are still sitting in limbo. In Australia we have been told June 18th is when the law will be lifted in terms of events and weddings. And so everyone around this time is very anxious about whether to postpone or wait. “Wendy El-Khoury, Founder of Wedded Wonderland & Wonderland Media
What To Do During This Time?
“The blessing of time means that you get to think about all the things that you should have done and could have done, but have never had time to do. And so, my tip here is to review your website and content, ensure that copy and imagery is up to date across your social channels and website. It’s important to have a look at your database and inquiries that you may have missed, and look into opportunities that you may not have investigated. Now is the time to do that.”Wendy El-Khoury, Founder of Wedded Wonderland & Wonderland Media
“It’s best to speak to your accountant in regards to what you can apply for, and given the ongoing changes being made by governments, it is important that you stay on top of that and figure out what it means to your business.” Wendy El-Khoury, Founder of Wedded Wonderland & Wonderland Media
Is Anyone Searching For My Product/Services Right Now?
“SEO is important right now. In the next few months I believe that traffic will go up, as people spend more time online. People are going to be doing a lot of research. 40% of engagements take place between November and February, so the peak time for inquiries for the Wedding Industry is mid-February to the end of March. These inquiries aimed for 2021 weddings, are in limbo, but in saying that – there are many couples that are engaged and will be researching for 2021, regardless of whether they are reaching out to you or not. Basically, it depends on where you want to show up and what you would like clients to be finding you for. I would follow Google trends and see if people are actually searching for your specific business offering, as well as what search terms are coming up in relation to Weddings. If you can relate yourself back to those terms, people will find you. The inquiry rate may have dropped drastically, but it doesn’t mean people aren’t searching for you and saving ideas for when their time comes. With Wedded Wonderland, we had 8.1 million impressions on our Instagram for this past week – the highest it has been in the past 6 months – which tells us that people are, in fact, online. We don’t want to slow content or stop things now, more than ever.” Wendy El-Khoury, Founder of Wedded Wonderland & Wonderland Media
Deposits: What To Do
“I am aware that some poor advice is circulating between clients and vendors, where people are being told not to leave deposits with anyone because that business may not exist in a couple of months. This would freak couples out, but as long as you can assure them that you will deliver, it is fine to keep clients’ deposits. With our clients, we have a trust with them – it’s a two-way street. We have asked them for just enough to keep doing the work for them, but we both understand our responsibilities towards each other, once things have resumed. Moving a deposit is fine, but not having any deposit secured is not safeguarding your business, and that is important. Additionally, a “booking fee” rather than a “deposit” may also be more secure for both parties.” Wendy El-Khoury, Founder of Wedded Wonderland & Wonderland Media
Should I Hold Promotions Right Now?
“Right now, you’re not going to get the cut-through unless you are offering something that is somewhat of an offer, on top of something consumers will definitely want. For example, hospitality businesses that are holding promotions on takeaway, may in fact be moving in the right direction. It is quite important to remain agile and offer what is in demand. A special on top of all the apprehension, may not work, but I do believe that you need to plan for when the dust settles. Be ready to hit the market hard with a good strategy and promotions, and keep talking about your offering online – people are watching. And while it is important to give right now, make sure that it doesn’t impact on the safeguarding of your business.”Wendy El-Khoury, Founder of Wedded Wonderland & Wonderland Media
Post Coronavirus: Clients’ Budget & Willingness
“The Wedding and Events Industry is non-cyclical. We have never been majorly impacted by economic crises because people always want to, and will get married. If someone wants to have their dream wedding, they will save for it. But in the next few months, they may not have those funds – so they will just wait on 2021 to come. In the next 6 months, people will not have the budget, but I do believe that in 12-18 months people will find a way to have the Weddings they want. For smaller events, we may see the budget shrink. As an Industry, it will take 12 months for us to wrap ourselves around what has happened and what it means for us. It is important to keep in mind that following this, there is going to be a bottleneck, where people ask for the same dates, and demand for your services and products increases drastically. Right now, try work through your availability, and prepare for the busier times.”Wendy El-Khoury, Founder of Wedded Wonderland & Wonderland Media
Click here to join ‘Wedded Wonderland Business’.
Click here to join ‘Wedded Wonderland Group’.
Click here for our Facebook page.
Digital Content Coordinator: Zoe Kanlis
Featured Image: Instagram