Whether you are a fellow event partner (vendor), or a wedding/event client, the ethics and integrity with which your chosen professional wedding consultant approaches his/her work can make all the difference in the outcome of the wedding/event. We adhere to some standards that some may call “old-fashioned”, but in the end, we are referred by many of our fellow event partners and chosen over some planners because our commitment to integrity and ethics benefits them, as well as our clients. Here are top most commonly-violated ethics in the wedding industry and how we handle them:
- Accepting kick-backs or incentives. While some event partners offer kick-backs or monetary incentives to wedding coordinators who book their services, we refuse to accept them or offer them. Why? If we accepted personal gain from an event partner for referring them, our allegiance then shifts from our paying client (who is paying us to look out after their best interest) to the event partner providing the best incentive (or any incentive at all over another vendor who may not offer it). We promise our clients that we will provide them referrals to the event partners who are the best for them: this includes their spending plan, style, vision, and more. If we are accepting any kick-backs from event partners, our allegiance will then not be with our client who is paying us and will shift to the event partner we prefer to get the best kick-back from. “But everyone does it,” a Hotel GM told me one time. I still politely declined. One very prominent event partner in our area openly offers the choice of kick-backs to event planners or the choice of passing on the savings to their clients. I choose the latter and my clients love me for it. They are confident that I have their best interest at heart and then the bidding “game” truly becomes about the event partner seeking my client’s business and not my business.
- Sharing an event partner’s confidential, detailed proposal with one of their competitors, showing their name and full proposal details for the intent of “bidding down” one vendor or for the hidden agenda of swaying a client towards one vendor over another. This is the height of distaste and betrayal. For example, when a florist details out a custom proposal with the heart and soul of what they envision and all their unique special touches and that proposal is for my client’s eyes only, I respect that confidentiality and the creative process. My event partners trust me to share the most intimate secrets that make their business and I take that trust very seriously. I never forward proposals to their competitors to create a bidding war or try and manipulate one bid so my clients favor one over another. If an event partner asks me what the other bids come in at, I may share the dollar amounts with them, but not the names and details. Because of this, event partners trust me and know I will give them good, fair representation. They also know I will not ever betray them and their hard-earned creativity and business practices to their competitors.
- Asking event partners for a discount or break financially. A truly stellar, experienced wedding planner does not ever ask for discounts or freebies from event partners. Rather, he/she has such a wealth of knowledge of the range of event partners and their styles and price points, they know exactly which event partners to go to in the beginning of the planning process. If they aren’t sure, they will approach the event partner with “This is the budget for florals. What can we do to accomplish the items outlined in the RFP for as close as possible to the proposed budget?” And the planner knows that if the florist responds with, “I can’t do it for that amount,” that he/she moves on and doesn’t try and “beat down” the florist asking for discounts. And the more reputable a planner is, the more event partners will often times offer pro-actively to discount or do freebies on certain items. This is why building trust and integrity is so important. Those who are your “tribe” will come forward with generosity even when you don’t ask for it. But never, ever “expect” it or have such disrespect for an event partner that you think you know more than they do as to their price point and try and discount their service or products for them.
Our industry is very small and how you treat fellow event partners becomes part of your brand DNA. While it may appear some get by with bad ethical practices for awhile, it eventually catches up with them. And on the upside, for those of you who invest in integrity and ethics because it’s simply who you are, both clients and event partners come to know this as your signature hallmark for your business and when asked for referrals, revenue comes at you three-fold from all directions.
There is simply no downside to making standing out with good ethics a part of your business plan – and life.