A letter from our CEO Matt Butterworth to suppliers about COVID-19

It’s clogging up our news feeds, social media and everyone is talking about it. No doubt you may be tired of hearing about it, however, the current outbreak of COVID-19 is now a real issue here in Australia especially for the wedding industry.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness from the common cold to more severe diseases. Common symptoms of the virus can include fever, flu-like symptoms (such as coughing, sore throat and headaches) and difficulty breathing.

COVID-19 is likely to have very mild symptoms to almost all who catch it, however the most vulnerable in our society need to be protected. The impact of coronavirus within the wedding industry and the action needed to stop the spread and to “flatten the curve” creates some significant challenges to those in the wedding industry.

Impact on the industry:

We are currently surveying couples and businesses and combining that with the huge amount of data that is available to Easy Weddings, to try and guide the industry on the likely effects of COVID-19.

What we can tell you right now is that there are approximately 120,000 weddings in Australia each year. Critically we are looking at weddings taking place in April, May and June as they may likely be impacted by government initiatives put in place to limit public exposure.

Generally, 20% of weddings nationally take place in those months. Our initial research shows that a large majority of couples are continuing as planned until they are instructed not to. Of those couples that have proactively decided not to proceed with weddings in the next 3 months, 10% are cancelling for now and 90% have postponed or intend to postpone their wedding until Spring 2020 or Autumn 2021. If the government puts further restrictions on public gatherings in place, this will likely result in further postponements.

What this likely means to the industry compared to 2019 is:

  • 2020 will be a negative growth year for most wedding suppliers
  • 2021 will likely be a positive growth year for most wedding suppliers

The key is that even the weddings that cancel will still occur, they will just be postponed to late 2020/2021. So you need to be prepared for this rebound.

Impact on your business:

The impact of COVID-19 on all of our businesses sucks. Running a wedding business is hard work at the best of times, let alone in the midst of something like COVID-19. There will be impacts on your business, your family and your everyday life over the coming 6 months.

Through these tough times, Easy Weddings will do everything we possibly can to ease the impact of this global disaster and work with you, our suppliers, to ensure a strong 2021 and beyond. On Easy Weddings, over 86% of enquiries for venues are already more than 6 months out from today. This means couples are enquiring about weddings that will sit within the rebound stage of this public health event.

First and foremost, you need to ensure the health and safety of your family and all of your staff members and follow the latest medical advice from authorities. This includes whatever restrictions are necessary over the coming weeks and months.

Secondly, it’s time to take this opportunity to reassess your business and plan for the future. The decisions you make now will ensure a strong recovery from this period of uncertainty. It’s time to take stock and work on your business, your systems, and perhaps it may even be time to take care of those things you’ve always wanted to get to but are too busy to complete.

How do I speak to couples about the ban on mass gatherings?

The recently announced ban on mass gatherings of 100+ for indoor venues and 500+ for outdoor venues will have a large impact on the wedding industry. The key to managing your clients during this period will be having a strategy and message to deliver to them about how they can make changes, postpone or delay their weddings.

Check your contracts and get advice around your legal obligations in dealing with these mandatory government bans. Know where you stand and what you can or can’t ask of couples given this mandatory action being directed by the federal government. Easy Weddings will be running a webinar with our legal expert in the coming days where you can ask questions.

Have a clear and concise communication strategy and way in which you plan to manage these conversations. Be proactive, keep your clients up to speed with changes and be helpful through this tough time. They will be stressed, worried and uncertain about how to proceed. You need to be the voice of reason and confident in what you propose.

Use logic and a level head to project calm and let the couples know that this time will pass. Even if they do have to delay their weddings, you will make it work. Most couples will be understanding and work with you around these changes.

Our advice to couples getting married over the next 4 to 6 weeks is to downsize to under 100 guests or postpone if downsizing is not possible. Use this guidance to give your couples advice on what to do. They will likely be worried about what will happen to their day so work with them in a calm manner to ensure they do not panic.

What Easy Weddings is doing:

We are taking this situation very seriously, but at the same time, we’re trying neither to overreact or underreact, which can be tough while dealing with such a fluid situation.

Our main objective is to support both our couples and businesses that may be affected over the coming weeks and months, at the same time as ensuring the usual experience for our 15,000 daily visitors where most couples are actually planning weddings that are well after the riskier months and should not be impacted by the virus.

The EW Team:

Our team in Australia and the UK are operating normally to service all of our clients.

Education Services:

Our live in-person education and social events have been cancelled for the time being, however, will return once it is responsible to do so. We are currently planning our stream of content to help you as a business owner navigate the next few months.

To kickstart our education on the impacts of coronavirus and wedding businesses we will be holding a webinar on Friday morning on contract law and service agreements. We will send around details about how to register later today.

Media:

We have set up a media team inside Easy Weddings to assist the media on more accurately reporting on how the coronavirus is impacting both couples and wedding pros and to try and limit the amount of panic that we could see on both sides of the market. Already we’ve been working with national TV, radio and online publications.

Government Advocacy:

Over the coming weeks and months, Easy Weddings will be lobbying the government at both a state and federal level to ensure that the wedding industry is included in any talks of stimulus or breaks. We will ensure that the voice of the industry is heard loud and clear.

Summary:

It’s easy to get caught up in the hysteria. These are trying and concerning times but keeping a level head means that your business will thrive in the post-COVID-19 world and that your business can hit the ground running throughout the recovery.

Overall, the wedding industry is fairly recession-proof but there will be tough times ahead. The key thing is to plan for the future and try and keep all of your customers as calm as possible. Being the voice of reason and calm and being both pragmatic and flexible in dealing with your couples will ensure that you maintain as many bookings as possible.

Be mindful of cash flow and the way in which you manage your business and focus on delivering the best experiences for all of your current customers, while also focusing on the bright future and we will all get through this together.

Thanks, everyone for working with us and we look forward to supporting you and your business over these uncertain times.

If you have any questions please contact your account manager or email service@easyweddings.com.au.