I want to tell you about an amazing customer service experience I recently had with a small business owner. This was on a short holiday to Tasmania where my partner and I stayed at a family owned and run retreat. Being like-minded and highly impressed with his business model, I got talking with the owner. Gently smiling, he referenced and old Benedictine Monk saying; “Good hospitality is the politeness of Kings”.
How apt, I thought.
I strongly believe that in whatever service industry you might be in, small or large, that this saying will guarantee success and a good working relationship with your clients.
The trick is, when you scale your business up, one needs to ensure that one keeps the quality control tight – ensuring that the premium hospitality and service that we just mentioned doesn’t go missing or feel fabricated in any way within your business processes.
I strongly believe that the exact same notion should also be used within our own wedding industry.
With my own experiences within the industry, I have found that the smaller operators are generally more pleasant to deal with, more flexible and holistically, care more about the overall success of your day.
More so, I feel that this notion works well for both venues and wedding vendors – but today I wish to speak more specifically about venues.
I recently had an experience with a venue manager at a wedding event, which prided itself on having the most booked wedding reception room in Melbourne during the winter period. Indeed, they did have multiple wedding events week in, week out – but that necessarily isn’t always a good thing.
I’ll give you an example.
At this venue, my groom was particularly nervous about his final speech and first dance. So nervous in fact, that he couldn’t even stomach his main course when it was served. Digging around, I found out that his nerves weren’t specifically related to speech that he was about to partake in; it was more to do with the first dance that would follow his speech.
At this stage I asked my lovely assistant to have a chat to the venue manager to see if we could do anything to help this situation. We suggested to the venue that we turn down the lights at the conclusion of his speech, to help set a more comfortable scene for their first dance.
We explained that we no longer had a professional photographer in the room – ie: a professional photographer that didn’t need light to capture the moment of their first dance. Furthermore, this would also help to reduce the spotlight (quite literally) on our couple; the real source of our groom’s nerves.
As general side-note here, I’m always a fan of having this done by the venue on the night. Dimming the lights at the moment of the first dance can help to create a more ‘candlelight’ and warm feel to the room. More so, if your entertainer has done his/her lighting right, the warmth and the extra colour in the room should really add to the moment.
This small adjustment in the room can create a more inviting and warm dance floor. It’s less intimating as a whole, more comfortable for guests that might be a tad hesitant to dance and much easier for your entertainer to build a solid dance floor.
Long story short, coming back to our venue manager – he commented that he had done over a 1000 wedding receptions in this room, and that he’s never had to do this for the first dance. My lovely assistant gave some more context to our request, also explaining the benefits of dimming the lights in this specific situation. To his credit, he saw how this would help – and what a difference this made to the client’s night.
You could see the relief in our groom’s face when the lights went down. Instantly our dance floor was filled by all our guests following our couple’s short moment in the (dimmed) spotlight.
I guess this short story highlights the scale of the situation here in Melbourne, in regards to the wedding industry.
It’s always hard to give a blanket statement or have a general rule of thumb in any service industry. You always have variants to the norm. You always have venues or vendors that come up and surprise you.
However, saying that, in my experience, I have always had a better time at venues that cater for a smaller number of events throughout the year. The same goes for wedding vendors too, be that photographers, videographers, photo booth companies, flower suppliers, wedding planners, celebrants, etc.
With bigger venues or multi-operator vendors, you tend to become somewhat more of a number. More times than not, the person you talk to in sales isn’t the person you work with on the day. I don’t see the point in pouring your heart and soul into the preparation of an event with one person, if it’s going to be ‘lost-in-translation’ with the actual venue manager who runs your event on the night.
With smaller venues or vendors, you tend to receive more care and attention to detail. It seems to mean more to them. From my experience they’ll try to get to know the real you and become more flexible and sensitive to your needs/requests. Generally too, they’ll just want to make the day all about you and to make sure you actually get what you visioned for your night.
Take our example above. They’ve obviously done the first dance formality a 1000 times in the past – why should they do it differently they might ask? What if the style that they undertake this moment or event doesn’t suit you specifically? What if you need some flexibility and sway in regards to how this moment is conducted on the night? Do you think they’ll accommodate?
Most importantly, do you think they’ll SUGGEST / OFFER alternatives in the first place?
Indeed, good hospitality really is the politeness of Kings.
Coming back to our story at the very top of this post. I’m always blown away when you come across a business or company in a service industry that goes the extra mile for their clients. Often these venues or vendors don’t advertise. They’ll have such a strong ‘shout-of-mouth’ network working for them, it’s generally not needed. The venue’s own advertising is done for free for them. They have an army of very loyal and extremely satisfied customers that will make sure that the world knows what a good operator they are.
When you stand out that much and really take the time to know someone and work out what they really need from your business, people notice – and I assure you, it goes a very long way.
Make sure you sit down at an early stage with your entertainer and ask him/her for any recommendations in regards to venues or other vendors. They’re out in venues every weekend and probably have a great idea with whom might suit you and your day.