Dealing with Negative Review as a Wedding Professional

It happens to the best of us –  you've worked hard to serve a difficult client; put in extra effort to salvage a sinking situation, scrambled to honor some last minute requests, did everything you could to make them happy while twisting yourself into a pretzel at their every whim, maybe even losing money in the process.

Or  it came out of the blue from a client you could have sworn was happy from start to finish.  

But there it is, staring you in the face on WeddingWire, Yelp or your Facebook page: a bad review of your product or service. 

Whatever the case, bad reviews hurt and can leave you afraid your reputation or worse, your very business,  is on the line. After all, that review is now at the top of the heap, the first thing everyone sees when searching out opinions on what you offer. And review sites aren't concerned with your business’s reputation - it’s in their interest to  make it difficult (if not impossible) to remove negative reviews, even unfair ones. Is it time to PANIC?!  

In short, NO. Bad reviews can not only be handled, they can even serve a positive purpose. It’s key, though, to approach them wisely.   

While your impulse might be to immediately write a flaming reply or a vigorous defence,  the first step is to to keep your emotions in check so you don’t make the things worse instead of better.  

According to Jay Baer, in his book Hug Your Hater’s, it takes 28 hours to fully process negativity and attacks. It’s OK to let a negative review sit for a day or even two while you consider a measured, concise response. Keep these points in mind while you work through what you want to say: 

A handful of negative reviews work to make your positive reviews look real and believable.  A 100% glowing review page can look suspicious, like it’s been planted with comments from Aunt Sarah and your mom, not real clients.

A few negative reviews help manage client expectations and keep them to realistic standards about your product or service. You might strive for perfection but that’s an ideal; allowances for being human are even better.

One person’s complaint is another person’s praise.  While Betty T. might hate that your sponge was “too gooey”, someone else came from an event with a cake like sawdust and thinks gooey sounds delicious.

So having a negative review is not in itself a ticking time bomb that will blow your business out of the water. Breathe and consider how you want to handle it before you act.

Ok, so now you are all zen about your bad review.  Maybe you are so zen you don’t even feel the need to respond at all. That can be perfectly fine. You know the negative review will move down the queue as more clients write positive ones.  

But if you do choose to respond keep one more thing in mind - like attracts like. If you are interested in appealing to and keeping reasonable, kind, rational clients respond to your negative reviewer with humor, compassion, and clarity.  Snark and sarcasm can be cathartic and fun and get you onto Reddit’s front page, but it can also color the feelings of future clients. Knowing a bad review isn’t the worst thing to happen to your business gives you the leeway to take the high ground and show your best self. And that’s a great way to turn a negative into a positive.

Christie Osborne is the owner of Mountainside Media, a company that helps event industry professionals brands develop scalable marketing strategies that brings in more inquiries and leads. Christie is a national educator with recent speaking engagements at NACE Experience, WIPA and the ABC Conference.


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WeddingIQ welcomes guest posts from wedding professionals and industry experts on all topics relevant to running a wedding business. Please review our guest contributor guidelines and email us with your submissions!


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How to Prep and Make the Most Out of Wedding MBA

Wedding MBA is one of our industry’s largest annual conferences featuring high-profile speakers, educational opportunities, and world-class networking. Event professionals from around the world attend to be in the presence of thought leaders and influencers and to experience the transformative energy that very few other conferences can match. Attending Wedding MBA is a great way to jumpstart your wedding business, find solutions to challenges you may be experiencing, and to learn what’s new and upcoming in our industry.

Participating is also a very real investment of your valuable time and money, so you want to do it right. Here are some tips to help you prepare for and make the most out of Wedding MBA.

Create a Plan in Advance

Read the conference program from beginning to end well in advance. Make notes about sessions you want to attend and breakouts that look interesting. While Wedding MBA registration includes all conferences events, sometimes there are meetups and gatherings that require separate RSVPs, so watch for them and be sure to add them to your calendar as well.

After you’ve reviewed the schedule, make an “ideal-world” outline that includes every session, event and activity you would attend if you could do it all. Highlight your must-sees, but also include things that would be nice to do if you can. Plan to take maximum advantage of your time and business opportunities while you’re Las Vegas – plan to rest when you get home!

Prepare for Power Networking

Check your supply of business cards in advance. Order in plenty of time to receive them before you depart if you need to restock. Update any marketing materials you might be bringing with you, as well, and check to make sure that your profiles and galleries on your website, blog and social media are all up-to-date and ready to be seen.

Wedding MBA is unique because participants have unprecedented access to big-name speakers and industry leaders. Do take advantage of this access by engaging professionally with them when natural opportunities present, but don’t be overzealous. Some speakers may be preparing for multiple presentations, experiencing jet-lag, or be overwhelmed between sessions by other attendees seeking a personal audience. Make introductions or greetings brief and sensible, and follow up after the conference to continue nurturing the connection. They will appreciate this approach over monopolizing their time at the conference far more than you can possibly imagine. 

Remember that the best networking results come from what you can offer others, such as referrals, content or opportunities, versus getting everything you can from them. Don’t start a new relationship by asking to be included on a preferred vendor list, or to have your work featured in a high-profile blog or magazine. Start with what you are willing to contribute and build from there.

Pack Accordingly

Be mindful of the weather in Las Vegas in November, which is generally pretty temperate during the day, and can cool off somewhat in the evenings. Consult your favorite weather site or app to get an exact read on conditions in the days approaching the conference. It’s always a good idea, when traveling, to pack layers so you can add or remove them as necessary.

Wear. Comfortable. Shoes. We shouldn’t have to say more. Pack plenty of adhesive bandages so blisters on sore feet don’t slow you down.

Also, take careful note of your itinerary. During the conference itself, most participants will dress in business casual, or business attire. If you are planning to attend any of the additional events, like those hosted by WeddingWire and The Knot, you’ll want to have something dressier on hand – something appropriate for a fun evening out. You should also pack for any other get-togethers you anticipate attending, including client meetings or appointments with colleagues. 

The annual Wedding MBA conference is always an exciting time for our industry. Make it a meaningful addition to your professional development through careful planning and a commitment to the experience while you’re there. Both you and your business will be stronger as a result, and ready to take on whatever opportunities and challenges come your way.

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.

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Keywords That Will Boost Traffic on Your Event Company Website

You’re hearing the advice: to rank in search engines, you need to blog. But what exactly do you say? And are you even using the right keywords to get that post to show up for searchers?

If you’re taking the time to write out the details of an event, let’s talk about how you can get the most traffic for it—by focusing on the right keywords (including the keywords no one else has thought about).

How to Use Your Keywords

If you want traffic to your recap posts about weddings or events, you have to be specific. I recommend choosing your “focus keyword” phrase for that event blog post before you even get started writing. Choose one phrase only.

Then, use your focus keyword phrase within the post title, the text of the post, and the URL.  For extra credit, use it in the meta description too. Not sure which focus keywords to pick?  Here are some do’s and don'ts.

Keywords That Probably Won’t Bring You Traffic

I often see event planners trying to rank for very general, broad terms.  Unfortunately, search results for idea and inspiration terms are usually dominated by Pinterest and the big wedding blogs. 

If you want traffic, I don’t recommend focusing on keywords about event colors or themes.  Your website just won’t have the authority to outrank the bigger sites.

Keywords not to use:

●      Pink and Gold Wedding

●      Paris-Themed Wedding

●      Lavender Wedding Inspiration

As for city or geographical keywords, I know you want to rank for “{Your city weddings}” but using that as a focus keyword for an event recap post isn’t likely to rank very highly. 

City keywords are another type of keyword dominated by larger sites and more in-depth articles.  It’s really hard to compete with a simple event recap post.

Keywords not to use:

●      Downtown Atlanta Wedding

●      Northern Kentucky Wedding

●      Corporate Event in Glen Arbor, MI

Not sure if your keyword idea is good? Search for the term yourself and see if the results are from big wedding sites or other local vendors like you. If other websites like yours are showing, you probably have a chance to rank too.

Keywords That Will Bring You Traffic

So if broad event themes and city name keywords won’t work to bring in traffic for event recap posts, what will? If you want to bring in traffic from local searches, focus on venues.  An idea that many vendors haven’t thought of is hacking traffic from clients searching for venues where you like to work.

Getting your recap blog post to rank for the venue where it took place is a great tactic for getting more visibility.

Keyword examples to use:

●      Corporate Event at Apple Blossom Farms

●      Belvedere Hotel Wedding

●      Rehearsal Dinner at Meadowview Hall

This is absolutely the most effective keyword tactic I’ve seen for local vendors to bring in search traffic.

Other Vendors and Businesses

Did you work on an event or inspiration shoot with a prominent local vendor? You may be able to craft a post that ranks for their business name. Searchers who click your blog post will be able to see that vendor’s work, as well as yours.

Keyword examples to use:

●      Stunning Fall Event with Big Sky Floral

●      Romantic Wedding Inspiration with Hannah Nichols Photography

You could also create vendor-focused posts that are separate from the general event recap, so you can more specifically talk about the vendor you’re focusing on. 

A post called “Hemmings Jazz Band: A Joyful Wedding Reception” could bring in great traffic if you talk about what the band played at your event, how it created the right ambiance, what the guests said about the experience, and why you recommend them.

While this tactic may not reach a big volume of searches, it will be much easier to rank than more competitive keywords.  You’ll also be bringing in traffic from clients who are searching for vendors you like working with.

Sara Dunn is a wedding SEO consultant at SaraDoesSEO.com, helping wedding planners, photographers, venues, florists, and more reach rockstar status on Google.

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WeddingIQ welcomes guest posts from wedding professionals and industry experts on all topics relevant to running a wedding business. Please review our guest contributor guidelines and email us with your submissions!


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Pushing the Reset Button: Self-Care in the Off-Season

A career in the events industry is an all-encompassing, all-hours and all-in type of job. During peak season it can be extremely difficult to take care of yourself when setups start before dawn and strikes end after midnight. In between, you’re on stage and on call, with your current event demanding only slightly more than the next ten are. It’s a frenzied, frankly unhealthy pace. For any longevity and personal satisfaction as an event professional, you have to learn to reset during the off-season.

I know. We seem to spend most of the year giving you the opposite advice – maximize your off-season by taking on another mountain of tasks. However, striking a balance is critical, and if you can’t devote yourself fully to your well-being during peak months, you need to prioritize it when things slow down. Your business needs you to be at your best. Here are a few easy ways you can push the reset button during your next off-season.

Unwind

When you get home from work, turn your phone and email off. Establishing regular work hours on non-event days is key to separating your business life from your personal life, and you can’t effectively decompress if you don’t draw a clear line in the sand between the two. Reassure your clients that you are still accessible and that you know they have needs by responding to each email or phone message within 24 business hours to acknowledge you have received it and give a reasonable timeline for your response after you have some time to review their file.

Set Boundaries

Communicate your business hours clearly to your clients, and stick to them. Trust me. It actually makes them feel more comfortable to know when it’s appropriate, and when it’s not to contact you.

At home, let your family know how you plan to observe personal boundaries. They can help wean you off of the habit of working 24-7. Give them your “Spouse or Parent Hours” so they know that it’s okay to need you and seek connection with you during those times as well. Often, we’ve programmed everyone around us to walk on eggshells while we deal with client matters. It is healthy for everyone to know that your personal time is equally (or even more) sacred.

Set Priorities

Face it. There are not now, nor will there ever be enough hours in the day to do everything we think needs to be done. So, set priorities for your business and personal lives. Apply block scheduling not only to those things that simply need to be addressed at work, but also for the stuff you let go of during the year at home. An hour for an uninterrupted walk outdoors. Twenty minutes to touch up the kitchen. 30 minutes to lay in the grass and name clouds (with sunscreen!) with your kids. Choose what’s important and then schedule it like your sanity depends on it. In many ways, it does.

Pursue (or Get) a Hobby

One sure way that you can disengage your thoughts from work is to devote them to something else that is recreational for you. Exercise is great for producing endorphins and making you simultaneously healthier and more relaxed. Or, you might pick up a book you’ve been meaning to read, learn how to crochet, or brush up on all the latest stamp collecting news. It doesn’t really matter what you do – just that you do something unrelated to your work that you enjoy,

The best thing you can do for your business, your team and your clients is to spend time regularly taking care of you. There will never be a better time to start, so what are you waiting for?

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.

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Are Your Vendor Partners Inclusive?

In this socially complex time, adhering to your principles can be challenging and often presents some difficult decisions, especially when it comes to picking and choosing who your business associates with. It is especially important when it comes to providing referrals to your clients, as the partners you recommend speak heavily toward your own company. 

For most, business values align neatly with personal values—it’s a question of what is most important to you about the work that you do and the people who you work with. 

Being inclusive isn’t about showcasing rainbows and making bold statements, so it’s not always as simple as keeping tabs on your partners’ social media accounts. Instead, inclusivity is a much more fundamental shift—it’s about changing the way you communicate, think, and conduct business as a whole.  

If you’re providing referrals for an LGBTQ couple, it’s essential that those professionals are equality-minded. Take a look at how your partners communicate with potential clients, as well as other industry peers. Do they include photos of same-sex couples in their portfolio? For newer relationships, don’t be afraid to ask other vendors if they are LGBTQ-friendly and suggest ways that they can better convey that to their clients. If inclusivity is a part of your day-to-day, it’ll become easier to catch possible red flags and to ensure that your business is aligned with like-minded individuals. 

Still, we unfortunately cannot control everything and, in some cases, even pre-qualified professionals can say or do something that leads to hurt feelings. While you may not have been the one to offend, you must still take responsibility for your referral and take strides to remedy the situation. If the situation is salvageable, make sure the other vendor does their due diligence to apologize and ensure that the couple feels safe and appreciated. For many, navigating the waters of same-sex marriage is still a learning experience.  

However, if it’s beyond repair and you’re no longer comfortable working with the other vendor, communicate your thoughts with your clients and help them close out the contract with minimal repercussions. If they still choose to continue working with the vendor, take over all communication so the couple doesn’t have to deal with them directly. You may take it on yourself to communicate the wrongdoing to the vendor as well, in hopes that they take it to heart and change their approach. 

Regardless of identity or orientation, every couple will have obstacles throughout the planning process. What should be most important to you and your vendor partners is that they’ve put their trust in you to help them through the ups and downs. Be supportive and never make assumptions. Always keep your clients’ best interests at heart and treat them with respect, kindness, and understanding. At the end of the day, it’s their wedding and they deserve nothing but pure happiness during their celebration.  

Brittny Drye is the founder and editor-in-chief of Love Inc., the leading equality-minded wedding blog and digital publication. Her inclusive efforts have been celebrated by the New York Times, The Advocate, OUT Magazine, Refinery29, NY Daily News, Cosmopolitan, and more. She serves on the 2018-19 North American Advisory Board for the International Academy of Weddings & Events.  

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