THE ANNUAL ABC CONFERENCE AND PLANNING CHALLENGES

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In my blog post on the 18th, I told you I was speaking at the Association of Bridal Consultants’ (ABC) New Jersey State Conference this week. Yesterday I arrived here at the conference in Atlantic City, and last night I had the great pleasure of meeting some of the attendants at a cocktail reception.

I was pleasantly surprised by how many wedding planners had traveled great distances to attend. I met planners from as far away as Dubai and also from my home country, Panama. Of course, I also got to meet lots of planners from New Jersey and other nearby states. I even got to see a few very loyal fans who I run into at almost every conference I attend; I love seeing familiar faces in the crowd!

The best part was discovering how well so many wedding planners are doing. Despite the economy, most of the planners I spoke with said their business is strong. That was the highlight of my night, and it buoyed my spirits about the wedding and event industry!

I love working with planners around the world, but in addition to design and floral services, my team and I also offer full planning services.

So, for today’s blog, I’d like to share my five biggest planning challenges:

1. Convincing clients to pay the proper fee for my planning services! Most clients understand the need for a planner, but, because planning isn’t hard “goods,” like flowers or food, for example, sometimes they don’t quite grasp the amount of work and many, many hours planning requires.

2. Some clients also expect that, as a planner, I should be able to get them good deals with vendors. But the job of a planner is NOT to bully vendors into lowering their prices! The planner’s job is simply to guide clients to the proper vendors who will best understand the clients’ needs.

3. As much as I love giving great service, no one, not even the President, works twenty-four hours, seven days a week. But a few clients seem to expect their planner to respond immediately to midnight emails. I always tell clients what my working hours are, and then do my best to respond promptly during those hours. Even planners need to sleep sometimes; we’re human, too!

4. Now, this next challenge is especially tricky. When I am hired to plan a wedding or event, I consider myself both my client’s planner and their immediate family’s planner. However, I am NOT the planner for my client’s friends and more distant relatives. More times than I care to count, I have received irate calls from a maid of honor or second cousin. It isn’t always easy to say, “You are not my client,” but it’s often necessary. You have to set boundaries, and stick to them. Otherwise, you’ll get taken advantage of.

5. Lastly, there are those difficult guests. I’ll bend over backwards to ensure that the comfort and needs of guests are met. However, there are limits, because, remember, your first responsibility is to your client and the event. For example, when a guest is showing signs of intoxication, you may have to cut off their access to the bar. This is touchy, because you never want to offend a guest, but you also can’t let a guest ruin an event.

I’m looking forward to speaking at my ABC seminar this afternoon, and I know I’ll be asking the planners in the audience several important questions. Dear Readers, I’d love to know your answers, too:

a. Do you have a hard time explaining and getting your fee?
b. Do you think it’s your responsibility as a planner to get your clients vendor discounts?
c. Do you tell clients your working hours? Or, are you “open” for business 24 hours a day?
d. How do you handle demands from your client’s relatives?
e. How do you handle drunk or otherwise inappropriate guests?

Please share your thoughts on any of these questions in the comments!

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