Destination Weddings: Vendor Travel Fees, Preston's blog

If you haven’t yet been hired to do a destination wedding, it’s only a matter of time. These days, it seems like all of my clients want a destination wedding or event. I generally breakdown destination jobs into one of two categories:

1. A “local” destination wedding, by which I mean a job that I can reach by car.
2. A “foreign” destination wedding, by which I mean a job that requires traveling by plane or boat.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be blogging the many lessons I’ve learned working destination weddings and events, but today I’ll focus on traveling to “local” destination jobs. My offices are in New York City, but last weekend my team and I did an event on a beautiful beach in South Hampton, Long Island. It’s a three-hour drive from New York City to South Hampton, and so I considered this event a “local” destination job.

One of the first things to establish with new clients is the location of their event and how they expect you to get there. If you don’t, you’ll pay for it later.

You could argue that most jobs are destination events. After all, clients routinely throw parties an hour or two away from where they live. But when it comes to charging for event travel, it doesn’t matter if a job is two hours or 22 hours away; how you charge remains the same.

It’s very simple: You need to get from your office (point A) to the event location (point B). Therefore, you need to charge for travel time and the cost of transportation to the location and then back home again.

1. It sounds straightforward and obvious, but some clients are always shocked to learn that they’re being charged travel fees. They assume vendor fees are all-inclusive. The sooner you make the reality clear to them, the better. Address the subject of travel and fees as soon as possible. Never assume they expect to pay for your travel expenses!

2. Lesson number one, brings me to lesson number two: My fees are never all-inclusive. I always price my travel separately. Why? Let’s say you’re a florist, and you’re charging a client for bouquets; it doesn’t make any sense to incorporate your travel fees into the price of your flower arrangements. You want your client to understand explicitly why everything costs what it does. Your goal is to minimize confusion, facilitate communication and ensure your costs are covered.

3. Finally, remember, it’s up to you what you want to charge for travel. Some vendors charge half of their hourly rate, and if that works for them, wonderful. However, I don’t recommend this, and I encourage all of you to find the approach that’s best for you.

Dear Readers, in your area, are clients receptive to travel fees? Do they ever complain? How do you handle this situation? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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