Last week saw the launch of The Wedding Industry Awards. These were a quiet revolution in the wedding industry in 2012: their integrity was a breath of fresh air. The voting was open to brides and grooms; not to twitter buddies and wedding industry pals. Feedback given by couples during the voting process was fabulous, in depth and heartfelt. The eventual winners in regional and national categories deserved their glory: they were truly admired by the customers they’d worked so hard for.
After the awards event early in 2012, there was a buzz of anticipation as wedding suppliers across the country looked forward to a bigger and better Wedding Industry Awards in 2013.
The launch of the 2013 Wedding Industry Awards
The biggest change to the awards for 2013 is the £50 entry fee. In 2012 the awards were free to enter, and the charge for entries came as a surprise to many wedding suppliers. Twitter’s dashboard lit up with the news, and there were lively discussions on facebook.
The organisers behind the awards have stressed that fees will go towards marketing and promoting the awards. The first Wedding Industry Awards in 2012 were financed privately by the organisers. (Imagine: could you lay on such an event if you had to pay for it yourself?)
I spent much of last week reading about the awards, looking for facebook discussions and blog posts about the event, and considering my own perspective. I wondered if there could possibly have been another way to finance the wedding industry awards. What do you think?
1. Should the organisers pay?
Considering the hours and hours of work involved, on IT, promotion and marketing, and not to mention the event management side of things with the awards event – Damian and Anna Bailey paid for the 2012 Wedding Industry Awards. (As far as I know, the only money raised was from tickets to the ceremony.)
2. Should they have courted big sponsors?
I asked Damian about sponsorship: turns out it’s a really difficult thing to sort out. The website FAQs explain that acquiring sponsorship is a long process, and with many companies cutting back on marketing budgets it hasn’t been possible to get sponsors to foot the bill for the wedding industry awards. Yet.
3. What about wedding magazine awards: do it like that!
I considered the wedding magazine awards. It’s no secret that Wedding Ideas Magazine put all their paying advertisers up for an award. Other businesses can be voted for, but they’re not on the dropdown lists in the voting process. (Last time I had a look was 2011 so things may have changed.) Could The Wedding Industry Awards be run the same way?
Without a print magazine, the wedding industry awards could have asked suppliers to pay for listings on their website. I actually think it’s fairer to charge an entry fee. It avoids any arguments about suppliers with paid listings getting more coverage. Charging every wedding supplier who enters the awards a nominal fee is simpler, more straightforward and feels fairer to me.
The only solution: wedding suppliers pay to enter
I don’t see any other solution to financing the wedding industry awards. We can’t ask brides and grooms to pay for this! The ones who benefit from the existence of the awards are wedding suppliers.
We benefit if we enter, by showing our customers and potential customers we’re shortlisted / regional or national winners.
The industry as a whole benefits from having an awards process and event which won’t fall apart when you poke it with a stick. And by that I mean it’s genuine, well-intentioned and has as much integrity as it ever did.
The Wedding Industry Awards & integrity
The question of integrity isn’t about “paying for entries” to the awards. Considering all the hoo-haa (a wonderful word from my sister, who has had her ear to the ground all week!) around the £50 charge to enter the awards, this is really only a nominal fee and it doesn’t affect – in the slightest – who will win an award.
The whole point of The Wedding Industry Awards when it was launched in 2011 was to be fair. Companies win on merit; only brides and grooms can vote, there are no twitter cliques getting in on the action!
Shortlists are based on votes and scores; customer service is absolutely key – and the companies who won last year were chosen for their absolute dedication to the brides and grooms they served.It’s not about big businesses getting all the votes and winning on a vote count. The small businesses have an even chance (because the awards look at how many customers a business has each year, and how many of them vote for you as a % of your total customers).
And it’s not about being the most active in social media: you can shout loudest on twitter and facebook by all means, but it won’t get you that trophy from The Wedding Industry Awards. You have to work – and I’m talking blood, sweat and tears – to delight your customers and earn that award!
So winning a Wedding Industry Award means something, it really does. It shows your dedication to customer service is outstanding. It’s a badge of honour, and something to be very proud of. By paying your £50 entry fee you’re giving your customers the option of supporting your wedding business in the awards. You’re also supporting our industry, helping to finance an event which stands head and shoulders above any awards we’ve had before.
The Wedding Industry Awards is an event which really is worth every penny.
Thank you for reading my contribution to this big debate! If you’ve got something to share, please do – I’m very interested to hear what everyone has to say about all this.
The only thing I haven’t mentioned is the amount. Is £50 a fair price? I don’t know. That all depends how many businesses enter the awards… I think it’s a discussion to have next year!
Photo credits: http://www.adbycreativeimages.co.uk/