Covid-19 – Taking positive actions as a wedding venue
13 March 2020
We might not want to think of or deal with Covid-19, but none of us are escaping the clutches of coronavirus right now.
This week in particular things have ramped up within the wedding industry as some venues are hearing from customers needing to seriously consider postponement of their wedding.
I felt it time to write with what I hope is practical advice for you venues. This advice is not intended to cause alarm, worry, or heighten fear. It is intended to provide thoughts on keeping customers at the forefront of our minds. Protecting ourselves, our businesses and taking precautions where we can in what are uncharted waters.
This blog is written as a snapshot in time (and news is moving fast). Therefore, please understand this advice is written with the best of intention with the information available on 12th March 2020.
Here are my thoughts on how to take positive action as a wedding venue:
Be available and show empathy
First up, if a wedding couple is contacting your venue re: any concerns on coronavirus or re: potentially cancelling or postponing their weddings, it’s important that you are there for them. Responding and acknowledging their email or phone call in a very timely manner is key.
This is a stressful and emotional time. Couples need to know that you are, above all, there for them.
Any delays in them reaching you will heighten anxiety so first off respond to their message and start a dialogue. It’s not expected that that dialogue is going to give them the answers they need, nor would I suggest promising to anything that would have a financial impact straight off.
However, you can start the dialogue with empathy in mind always. This is new territory for us all and we need to stand together to find solutions.
Be proactive with reassurance
As a further recommended step (and I’m pleased to see some venues doing this, this week) I suggest proactively contacting couples with the reassurance that you and your venue team are very much intending to carry on hosting their wedding (unless Government advice indicates otherwise).
Some couples may be worrying that you’re going to pull out on them; it works both ways.
Focus on telling them of the precautionary steps you’re taking to protect them and their wedding.
Covid-19 actions for wedding venues may include:
- The availability of hand sanitisers, anti-bac soap, paper towels, no hand towels, signage to remind of handwashing, extra tissues.
- Check of the recent travel movements of your venue team and key wedding suppliers (such as caterer). Ensure staff have been and continue to be checked for not recently travelling back from highly infected countries (China, Italy, Korea, Iran) and if so, are undergoing self-isolation for 14 days.
- Ensuring team members with a new consistent cough or high temperature are self-isolating for 7 days.
- Telling them of additional hygiene procedures your caterers have put in place.
- Telling them of measures you’re putting in place to ensure your supply chain is as unaffected as possible so that you can host their event (particularly relevant to those venues who provide catering in-house).
- You may want to suggest to couples that they look at their guest list and take a view on whether elderly or those with respiratory conditions consider not attending the wedding and that they check their guests & hired in suppliers for adhering to the self-quarantine regulations.
Whilst a different approach may be needed for couples not yet booked but venue searching currently. They are going to need additional reassurance of what a professional and reliable business you are before making any investment.
This is especially so as they are currently being denied wedding insurance. Give some thought as to ways you can communicate that during enquiry/showround/sales process.
Be Tech Ready – Covid-19 actions for wedding venues
Most of us we’re continuing business as usual, however, it is worth thinking and being prepared with ways you can reduce the impact should there be tighter controls on movement in the UK.
Or at the moment if couples are anxious about planning meetings and the like that are not urgent, can you find another way?
Can you look at moving meetings to video call using the likes of Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts etc? I’m not suggesting this as a proactive approach (I’m carrying on with meetings and life as usual for now) but being open to this for clients who are hesitating.
For those unable to get in and see you right now at prospect and speculative stage, perhaps you can direct them to a high-quality virtual tour for example?
For couples marrying soon, try to support them and try to offer some positive solutions in what is a very upsetting time. You could look at setting up a live streaming service for guests who may not be able to attend their ceremony either because of the risk (elderly, respiratory conditions etc) or due to illness. Not the same as being there but something to ensure they don’t miss out entirely.
Thank you to Celia Gaze at The Wellbeing Farm for inspiring me with this idea that she has researched and put into action at her Lancashire Farm Venue.
Late Availability Dates
Sadly a number of UK couples are in the midst of cancelling beautiful Italian weddings currently. Couples are overwhelmed, struggling with sadness and, of course, the responsibility of rearranging their wedding at short notice (and closer to home).
There is a chance to help here where you have availability. Can you make it as easy as possible for couples to find your availability and guide pricing for say March-May by updating your third party platforms, web and social media channels.
Check your Ts&Cs
You may well have done this but do ensure you’re aware of and understand your business Terms & Conditions fully. Discuss with the lawyer who wrote them how they stand if you are unsure at this moment in time.
As it stands today on 12th March, it is ‘business as usual’ within the UK so your usual Ts&Cs stand until any kind of government decision tells us otherwise.
Given the highly personal nature of the business we’re in, it is likely you are going to want to flex from these terms in some situations (which is your decision as the business owner). At the moment this is affecting mainly those venues unable to welcome wedding guests from Italy or other infected countries plus guests unable or unwilling to travel.
Most of those affected so far are looking at short term postponements and rearrangements of dates or accepting reduction of paid guest numbers to minimise impact all round.
This is an ever-changing situation of course and the key is to keep the dialogue going with your legal advisors and business insurers, whilst holding the customer firmly in mind too.
I hope you’ve found this advice useful as we all learn together how to navigate this challenge.
You can find the very latest government guidance and advice HERE.