Ways You Can Help Event Professionals Affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

We have all been shocked and saddened watching the coverage of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, but the generosity and compassion from communities around the country has truly been inspiring. With the recovery efforts still underway, we wanted to share a few ways that you can help fellow event professionals get through this crisis.

SEARCH Foundation

The SEARCH Foundation was founded in 1997 and assists special events, meetings and hospitality professionals faced with a life threatening illness or any catastrophic occurrence. If you’d like to donate, please click here.

Event Professionals Relief Fund

This GoFundMe campaign was started by NACE Houston past president, Clara Hough. She is raising funds to help wedding and event professionals in the Houston area who’s homes and businesses were affected by hurricane Harvey. Her goal of $15k is almost there! If you’d like to donate, please click here.

Hell or High Wine Fundraising Event

If you live in or around the Houston area, Elevate Management Group is hosting a fundraising event for industry professionals hurt by hurricane Harvey. The event will take place on September 19 from 6:00 – 9:00pm at The Corinthian in Houston. If you would like more information or to purchase tickets, please click here

All of us in the events and hospitality industry are one big community at the end of the day, so we encourage you to give what you can- every dollar counts!

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We Need Your Input!

Kathryn Hamm, of GayWeddings.com and MadebyKathryn.com, is surveying wedding professionals about representation in wedding-related media, and she is looking for your input! 

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The survey, which is being produced in partnership with Survey Monkey, is super short and will only take you 3-5 minutes to complete. Interested? CLICK HERE to access the survey. Your help and insight is greatly appreciated! 

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Evaluating the ROI of Your Referral Business

By Kevin Dennis, WeddingIQ

As savvy business owners, you know that measuring ROI is critical to determining whether the investments you make in your business are paying off and if they are worthwhile endeavors. Unlike other models, a referral business is built on relationships, so your major investment isn’t always money. So, how can you effectively and accurately measure the ROI of a referral business?

Instead of cash, a referral business requires an investment of time and trust as you build valued relationships that may lead to referrals. Sure, you might spend some money when you get coffee, or when you surprise and delight your colleagues to stay top of mind, but that outlay is generally minimal, and is definitely not your only cost. You want to know that your ROI justifies all of your expenditures.

The most important step to measuring your ROI is to track where your leads are coming from, so you know which of your relationships are flourishing and which may need more attention. A CRM, or customer relationship management tool is vital to this measurement process. Your CRM tracks where each of your leads originates, along with factors like how long it takes you to convert each lead to a sale, and how many are converted successfully.

You can use the results generated by your CRM to either improve relationships, or to nourish them by demonstrating your gratitude. When you find that a specific company is the source of qualified referrals that frequently convert to sales, consider rewarding that company and encouraging future referrals by recognizing them with small gifts, social media mentions and return referrals.

At Fantasy Sound, we keep track of our leads every month, and we give each month’s winner a little surprise. These have included a coffee delivery, smoothies or other edible treats – small tokens that express our thanks. We also return the favor by sending qualified referrals to great companies whenever we have a chance.

Building a referral business takes time. You expect to meet some great colleagues, share some referrals, and build a successful model overnight – and it can be really discouraging when that doesn’t happen exactly as you imagined. By tracking your ROI using a CRM, following up on the data it yields so you know which relationships are golden and which need more love, and showing your partners how much you value their referrals, you’ll not only build a healthy referral-based business, but you’ll have the data you need to prove to yourself that your efforts are worthwhile.

The first step is to start tracking, so don’t wait!

Start today!

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Managing Vendor Personalities

By Emily Sullivan, Emily Sullivan Events

If there is a greater threat to an ideal wedding day than conflict between vendors, I’m not sure what it is. When creative types come together, the results can be awe-inspiring and memorable. With that being said, when colleagues lose “that loving feeling,” disaster may find itself right around the corner. 

It’s critical, therefore, that for every wedding collaboration, someone takes responsibility for managing the variety of vendor personalities and creates a cohesive team, typically this is the planner. 

One common conflict, for example, is when vendors bypass a planner to deal directly with the client. 

There are plenty of instances where clients and their vendors working together directly is totally appropriate, but there are also reasons why it’s necessary to include the planner in the details. We bear the ultimate responsibility for what happens on the wedding day and need to be in the know. Also, as a team we have to meet client expectations, and some couples have specifically contracted planners to deal with vendors on their behalf. 

The best way to combat vendors bypassing the planner is to set up clear expectations from the start for everyone, clients and vendors alike. Emphasize that these expectations originate with the client, and ensure that the vendor in question is aware of the chain of responsibility. 

Generally, once all parties understand that working through the planner is the will of the mutual client, and that following this chain of command will give the client the best possible service experience, each of the different parties is able to get on board.

Strangely enough, another of the biggest challenges with vendors is when they are also your friends. Split loyalties do not serve your client well, so you need to set friendly, but firm boundaries from the beginning. Don’t take anything personally. Advocate for your client, but if conflict arises, NEVER sell a vendor out. The damage that you do to your relationship could be long-term, and no matter how important an event is, it is only one of many you will ultimately work together, so keeping harmony with your colleagues is critical. Find an alternate solution and work together to make your client happy while making everyone look good.

Sometimes the source of tension is more concrete. Vendors may be slow to respond to the planner’s or client’s communication. They may disregard timelines and blow deadlines. They may have a different perspective on professional dress and conduct. In all of these cases, frequent and clear communication and establishing expectations can save the day.

Generally, most vendors simply want to feel that they are a part of their clients’ events and that their contributions, talents and skills are valued. Establishing a positive rapport by showing appreciation for each person’s skill and specialty will help build an atmosphere of trust. Trust is the foundation of teamwork and of effectively managing your vendors, so start building it today!

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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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Partnership Marketing 101: Using Your Network to Your Advantage

By: Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting

If you’re not quite hip to partnership marketing yet, it’s time to grab a notepad and start taking notes. While you may be familiar with other forms of marketing (like that sponsored post you penned a few years ago), it’s possible that you’re overlooking one of your biggest assets: your network.

Regardless of how long you’ve been in your market, chances are that you’ve met some of your industry peers through events and networking groups. This begs the question – how are you using those relationships to grow your business and take your company to the next level? Here are your first steps to bringing in new business with thanks to your ever-expanding network.

Building Your Network

First and foremost, think about everybody that you know in your market, including those that you work with regularly and those that you aren’t quite familiar with yet. Ask yourself if there are any of them you’d like to get to know better and feel free to include other vendors that you may have never worked with. This will give you a good idea of who to approach and where to focus your efforts. If you’re new to the area, be sure you’re setting aside time to attend networking events and industry get-togethers so you can introduce yourself to people and starting gaining ‘friendors’ for your network.

Nurturing Your Relationships

Putting a face to a name is great, but it’s important to put your efforts into taking your relationship to the next level. Stay in touch in any way possible, even when you’re not working together – holiday and birthday cards are a nice touch to start. Connect with them on social media so you can stay up-to-date and congratulate them on big news. Go above and beyond by surprising your peers and clients with a memorable gift – we’ve done everything from Starbucks gift cards to cheeky notepads to Kindle e-book deliveries. It’s a nice way to say thank you, or simply just to say that you thought of them.

Refer Your Competitors

That probably sounds crazy to you, but hear me out. There are a finite number of weekends in a year and your company can only handle so much business. Say a prospect comes along and wants to book you on your busiest weekend and you simply cannot accommodate their event – if you send them along to a trusted competitor, your referral will speak volumes to the prospect and your competitor will appreciate the gesture and (hopefully) return it to you later. A referral system between competitors doesn’t have to be uncomfortable – connect on the things that you share in common and know that by helping others, you are actually helping yourself.

There’s no questions that referrals are worth their weight in gold and the more you develop a strong network, the more you’ll see the referrals flowing in. Invest the time into networking and relationship building – the end result will be well worth it, trust me!

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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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