From January to March, we have seen an unprecedented number of event cancellations and postponements. For the next 3 – 6 months, we are looking at monumental cutbacks for all businesses across the board. This will create a ripple effect that will affect the event industry and a potential loss of income between 6 – 9 months.
Unlike the travel and hospitality industry where you have active organisations such as MATTA, MITA, AAPA, MAH and the likes of it, the wedding and event industry do not have such governing bodies to set guidelines for fellow industry players. Actually there are event and wedding associations but nothing has been done. This is one of the reasons why the associations have not earned the credibility to attract members, but I shall save this for another topic another day.
Since my team and I have been the frontliners in managing the crisis of event cancellations and wedding postponements of our clients, which include informing guests, cancelling flights and hotel rooms, calling up vendors and following up on delayed wedding supplies from China, these are some of the areas that my team and I have collectively agreed on and I’d like to share these scenarios.
- If an event is being cancelled, it is unfair for customers to demand a full refund from vendors. A win-win situation would be for the vendors to allow a credit with an expiry date for redemption on the deposit paid so it can be used for future. The event industry consists of many small businesses. If they do not have sufficient cash flow to last for the next few months, they may have to cease operations.
- If the event is being postponed, the booking is based on a first-come-first-served basis. Full refund is not given if the vendor is already booked on that date although some vendors have been kind to offer partial refund but it’s at the discretion of each business owner. However, if it’s based on contract T&C, it’s often stated that deposit paid is strictly non-refundable as most vendors do not have force majeure clause.
- In reference to weddings, most couples have deferred to the 4th quarter of the year; and really, there are only so many auspicious weekends on those months. We can advise wedding couples to postpone their weddings to early 2021 instead of having to share the dates with other couples. It’s not just the shortage of vendors on those few auspicious dates, it’s also the availability of your guests especially when they may have common friends who are invited to both (or several) weddings.
- Entertainment agencies should pay out the deposit to your musicians, dancers and MCs if the client had already paid you the deposit even if the event has been cancelled or postponed. You should not be taking advantage of the situation by giving the excuse that client did not pay the deposit or that deposit was refunded. You have the responsibility of ensuring the livelihood of your talents.
- For couples who are not postponing their dates, hotels and caterers can be more flexible in allowing for drop in numbers for minimum spend and minimum number of guests. It’s a trying time for wedding couples and it’s not within their control. Yes, the drop in numbers may be exponentially high by the dozens, but it’s not a total loss to hotels or caterers as the manpower and food costs are still manageable overheads.
All of us have the responsibility to uphold the integrity and proffesionalism of our service-based industry. Let’s keep all the anger, cursing and frustration to yourselves – take a deep breath, go for a walk and ponder on it, before you respond to clients or to planners.