We live in uncertain times.
There are already many helpful and informative blog posts about Coronavirus around, but I’ve picked up a specific issues surrounding venues that host major events, especially weddings which are such a fixed date in so many diaries.
That said, with the situation changing daily we just don’t know what’s around the corner and when the next decision will be made, that will pull yet another rug from under our feet.
Businesses across the world will survive or fall on how they handle this crisis. This isn’t just about looking at the cost-base, cash flows and operational issues, but also how customers and their concerns are handled. Being understanding, helpful and positive and thus maintaining your brand values are critical and will lead to future goodwill, which may be essential once the world starts returning to something like normality. No-one wants to be remembered as ‘that business that didn’t help anyone’ or be likened to the consumers stockpiling hand gel and toilet-rolls – especially when most of the general public will be spending lots of extra time on social media in the next few weeks. Any profile or issue will be magnified exponentially.
Therefore, I just wanted to share a few of my thoughts and suggestions for you, the wedding venues and suppliers who are naturally making a number of important decisions every day:
- Pre-empt the questions you’ll get asked: Your clients are almost certainly panicking as much as, if not moreso than you are. They’re wondering if you are going to cancel their wedding day or not be able to supply what they’ve ordered. Proactive and constructive communications are always key in any crisis, so your first step should be to contact all of your couples with upcoming bookings and let them know that you fully intend to honour them unless a government directive informs otherwise, or unless the requirement for self-isolation makes it impossible. Let them know that if that is to happen, you will work with them to find another date for them, later in the year.
- Give all customers and members of the public who use your services the assurances that you are considering and taking all safety precautions (cleaning, hand sanitisers, staffing etc.) – tell them it’s not quite business as usual, but you are open and doing everything you can be doing to stay open, safely.
- If your clients are in the process of considering having to postpone or cancel the most important day of their lives, they will be devastated. Not only for the wedding, but the prospect of their dream holiday of a lifetime, which has most likely also just been taken away from them. I fully appreciate that, for a small business, the cancellation of a wedding is a massive blow to cash flow. But being there for your clients to chat to, to discuss ways you can help them work around it and by doing your best to find an alternative date for them would be hugely appreciated. Perhaps they might want some help rearranging and contacting all their suppliers, so consider whether that’s a service you can offer with the resource you have. Ultimately, they still want to get married and they chose your venue for a reason. Now is the time to prove that you were the right choice by going above and beyond to support them.
- Couples will still be looking to book a venue for their wedding day towards the end of this year or for next. Don’t ignore those prospects. You might not be able to offer face-to-face meetings and venue showrounds, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still sell your beautiful venue to them!
Consider creating a video showround to share on your website or via social media. Give them the opportunity to experience how fabulous your venue looks, from the comfort and safety of their own home. And if they want to find out more, arrange follow up meetings via video calling, even if you are also working from home.
Ultimately, by the time I’ve published this and you’ve read it, the situation will most likely have developed even further! We are going to need to take each day as it comes, but we must do our best to work together to support each other’s businesses, livelihoods and most importantly, mental health in the coming weeks and months.
So, stay safe, keep an eye out for the individuals, families and businesses around you and please, please be kind to those you come into contact with, however that may be.
For my part, if you need a sounding board, advice or a chat, then I can help with that. Please get in touch. I’d love to help you where I can, and any advice will be free.