2020 was a year we will not soon forget in the wedding and event industry. It was a year of challenges, frustration, gratitude, endurance, and flexibility. As we start working through 2021, there is still a lot of uncertainty in our industry. How do you market your services? What services should you be offering? How will the COVID-19 vaccines impact the return of large weddings?
There are still so many unknowns, but we can certainly outline possible business plan strategies based on the most likely scenarios. Let’s talk about the most important considerations when formulating your business plan for this year.
As wedding planners, we are naturally creative and resourceful. It was incredible to see how creative planners got with their service offerings in 2020. While larger weddings are likely on the horizon for late 2021, there are still many months until we are fully back to normal, if not longer.
One of the smartest marketing moves is to diversify your offerings to meet the needs of all the potential couples you want to serve. There is a good chance that even after the COVID-19 vaccine is widely distributed, people may not be keen on large gatherings.
We also must consider that many people were severely impacted financially in 2020. Because of the financial hardships, a large wedding may not be in the budget for many couples until they recover financially over the next few years.
For 2021, consider updating your planning services to include smaller wedding service packages. Then, increase your communication to potential clients about your new smaller wedding packages by updating the copy on your website and on social media so that you are not missing out on potential couples who are ready to hire a professional wedding planner or designer for their more intimate wedding.
For couples who are planning a smaller wedding, here are potential phrases they may use when searching online for inspiration to find wedding professionals:
Using these phrases, as appropriate, on your website, in blog posts, as hashtags, and in social media posts will help reach potential clients.
Now is the perfect time to plan and coordinate a styled photo shoot that showcases the type of events and styles you want to do more of. The images from well-planned styled photo shoots can be used on your website, blog, portfolio, social media, and to submit for publications – all of these can be helpful for attracting ideal clients and showing off what you are capable of planning and designing.
Other services to consider adding to your wedding planning business include planning engagements, virtual corporate events, and pop-up weddings.
Some adjustments that were made in 2020 are likely here to stay. Live streaming weddings could become a more standard practice even after the pandemic is behind us. It’s a great way to include guests who can’t attend a wedding.
When planning for 2021 and beyond, create a list of event professionals who offer live stream services for weddings. This list should include experienced professionals who have the tech gear, specific live stream technical knowledge, and have done at least 5-10 successful live stream services for weddings and events. Ask for references and take the time to call and speak to at least three of their references. Some of your couples will designate a friend to do their own live stream but many couples will want to hire a professional to ensure the best quality and experience for remote guests.
With so many live stream weddings in the past year, we got creative with ways to include remote guests by sending special boxes ahead of time that included items such as wedding programs, favors, sweet treats, toasting glasses, noisemakers, champagne, and personalized notes. This could become a more common practice in 2021 and beyond.
If sourcing, assembling, and mailing these special boxes to guests is not a service you want to offer, search for event vendors who offer this and add them to your list of service providers. Talking with custom stationery designers is a good place to start when searching for a vendor who offers this type of service.
As part of your marketing strategy and communication, share that you have professional resources for any level of live streaming that a couple desires. Also, share on your blog, social media, and in email newsletters about sending special treat boxes to remote guests ahead of time. Share a few ideas on what to include and how you can make that happen for potential clients.
Explore any financial assistance options that might be available to you as a small business owner, including possible state assistance and/or federal assistance. Two things that can help your business be ready to apply for state or federal assistance are:
As we have seen, financial assistance for small businesses can go quickly. Many wedding planners made it through 2020 with the help of PPP grants, economic injury disaster loans, unemployment compensation for self-employed workers, and other types of local, state, and federal aid. There are new options already available in 2021 including another round of available PPP grants for small businesses and an extension on pandemic unemployment benefits for self-employed workers and independent contractors.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to cut your business expenses where feasible and to save as much as possible from your business income.
With the encouraging news of vaccines being widely administered throughout 2021, there could be a surge in bookings for many event professionals. As people become more comfortable planning future events, the industry could experience a business boom. Make sure you and your business are ready!
While you probably reviewed your contracts multiple times during 2020, you should make sure that it is ready for 2021. Speak with a lawyer to update your services contract, review your business insurance policies, get your bookkeeping up-to-date, establish solid workflow systems if you don’t have them in place, and refresh your branding so it speaks to your potential ideal clients. These will ensure you are best prepared for an influx of new inquiries.
The less stress on your clients, the less stressed you will be as their planner. While pandemics, such as COVID-19, might not be covered under most event cancellation policies, event cancellation insurance should still be considered “must-have” for any wedding. Event cancellation insurance can provide coverage in the event that your client does in fact need to cancel or postpone their wedding due to an unforeseen, covered circumstance, such as extreme weather, vendor bankruptcy, and military deployment.
Event insurance isn’t only important for your clients, it can be important for your business. Some event professionals won’t offer refunds, no matter the circumstances. If you recommended a vendor who never issues refunds, your client could come back to you to recoup some of their lost money. By considering a requirement that your clients secure an event insurance policy for their special day, you are not only helping protect against the unexpected, but you’re also helping protect your business’ interests.
It is also still essential for your couples to have event liability insurance to help protect them and their wedding day. The last thing they need is an unexpected expense that could have easily been avoided with an inexpensive event liability insurance policy.
Markel event insurance offers both event cancellation and event liability insurance for weddings, with policies starting as low as $75.
Markel event insurance can be a great solution for your clients – a free event insurance quote from Markel takes only a few minutes online or on the phone.
Get more information now on the Markel Insurance website on how event planners can recommend event insurance to their clients.
If 2020 taught us anything, it is to be flexible and agile in business. It has been wonderful to see the creativity of the industry in these challenging times. If we navigate through this year with the same spirit and creativity, the bounce back in the events industry will be amazing!
*this post is sponsored by Markel Service, Incorporated
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