Wedding planner is a modern profession
When it comes to attracting high-end clients, you can’t underestimate the power of the little black book. That doesn’t mean you must be born into privilege to get on in this business – I certainly wasn’t. But you do need to recognize the importance of relationships and position yourself to make the connections you seek.
Whether you are just starting off in wedding and event planning or you are a seasoned professional, there are many ways to attract and keep luxury clients.
Put yourself in the right place
Sitting in your office waiting for the phone to ring is not going to bring in high end clients, no matter how much you spend on advertising. If you want to meet high spenders, you’ve got to go where they go. I holiday at the Lone Star Hotel and Restaurant in Barbados. It’s a wonderful resort, but it’s also a popular choice for the rich and famous. I travel business class, not just because I want to travel in style but because I never know who I might strike up a conversation with and what business that could lead to.
If you’re thinking you could never afford that, start smaller. Could you buy a ticket to a society dinner in Washington and work the room? You’re not going to build relationships until you get out there and mix in the circles you want to work in.
OK, you’ve got yourself into the right high profile event, now you need to start connecting. It all starts with saying hello and feeling confident to approach strangers so you can introduce yourself and explain what you do. Think of this as your 30 second lift pitch. These people are busy and can buy anything they want. You’ve got to understand what you can deliver for them and make it clear within in 30 seconds because that’s all you’re ever going to have.
Wedding planners generally get to know their clients well. Once relationships are established, it’s important to do all you can to keep them. At my planning company, Taylor Lynn Corporation, we have a 60-70% repeat business rate, which means that once we’ve planned someone’s wedding, we’re likely to be asked by the same client to organize a birthday party, a child’s Bar Mitzvah, christening, or any number of other celebrations.
This isn’t about sending out blanket gifts, like a bottle of champagne to every client. At the luxury end of the market, it is all about personalization. Listen to your clients and give them a memory they will cherish – if it’s an experience that money can’t buy, all the better.
When you’ve done a good job for someone at the luxury end of the market, don’t be afraid to ask for referrals. Use the leverage of who you know to widen your network of luxury clients further.
Make the most of media opportunities
Today there are so many opportunities for promotion that it can be difficult to know where to start. Hiring a good PR company helps, but when dealing with high-end clients, discretion is key. This is one of the most important days of their life and they don’t want photographs splashed all over social media or for the press to know how much they’ve spent.
At my planning company, we use social media to share style and trend tips and are very mindful not to publish information about client weddings without expressed permission. Once you become known for what you do, you can start to write case studies in high end wedding titles; comment columns and trend pieces in the luxury wedding media. I also do a lot of TV appearances in the UK and speak at high-end wedding shows and events.
Ensure you deliver
This may be the final tip, but if you don’t get this right, you might as well forget all the others. When it comes to luxury clients, not only do you have to be able to deliver what you promise, you’ve got to over deliver. Attention to detail is key. Sometimes that means I can be demanding to work for and challenge suppliers to raise their game. But you’ve got to keep in mind my clients are paying me to provide the best of the best and what I’m delivering is a very high end luxury wedding that is both personal and extraordinary.
So wherever you are with your event business, my secret to success in the luxury market is to seize every opportunity for all it’s worth. Be confident in selling yourself and your business to everyone you meet. Wherever I am, I never let opportunity go by. I live my business and I love my business.