Integrity-led Business Practices
Every industry struggles with integrity in some way—whether it’s your team over-selling or omitting details, price and rate changes that weren’t fully communicated, or people claiming work as their own.
Many of us have seen these things, so it’s important we take the time to discuss integrity as it relates to our industry. Here’s why: As event professionals, we serve clients that aren’t typically repeat or consistent customers, especially in the wedding industry. This creates an opportunity that some may take advantage of. For instance, because the client is constantly changing, so can your policies, procedures, and pricing, and few people would notice. However, this can also create mistrust with those same clients and with our industry partners.
Pricing Integrity & Transparency
When deciding on your pricing, it’s important to come to a decision and a number you’re confident in. Do your research on the market, talk to other professionals, and be honest about the level of products or services you are offering. We all contribute to the ecosystem of our industry's marketplace, and it’s in all of our best interests to add to that in an honest and valuable way. Prices fluctuating without reason may not be noticeable to the individual client, but they will be noted in the industry as a whole.
Referring Vendors You Can Stand Behind
Many of us often refer our clients to other vendors, and again, because many of our clients are not repeat customers, it’s of moral importance that our referrals of other vendors are honest and insightful for our clients.
As some of us know and have found, some vendors offer collaborating vendors discounts or incentives to lead their clients to use them. While this isn’t ethically wrong specifically, many of us know why and how it can become an issue. Monetary gain should not be the main reason any of us refer each other a client. Some may argue it shouldn’t be a reason to do so at all.
Over Promising and Under Delivering
This can often happen in the sales process. Our confidence might be high one day; we might feel like we can perform anything and we easily say “yes” to requests we’re confident we can execute for our clients. However, just because you’ve pulled off event miracles before doesn't mean it’s possible each and every time. Every event is different, and the circumstances are different each time.
For example, the timeline is tight on an event, and you promise the client you can serve 200 salads in 10 minutes, but staffing ends up being short that night. Or you promise the client you’ll set up all their personally created decor, but there ends up being a transportation issue, or the place cards are out of alphabetical order and you run out of time. We’ve all been there.
The solution is to create realistic boundaries for yourself ahead of time, taking into consideration all of the varying factors that will be faced the day of your event. You can always come through and assist with something that wasn’t promised the day of, but it’s much harder and more disappointing to have to tell your client you weren’t able to get it all done. Make sure you have solid standard operating procedures that can be executed regardless of minor bumps in the road. Our clients can initially come up with wild and crazy ideas and timeline expectations. It’s our job to educate them on what’s possible and what will cost additional to make certain timing work.
Social Media Integrity
First and foremost: Do not post images of work that is not your own.
When sharing an image a photographer took that showcases your work, always credit the photographer for their photograph. If you’re working on a large event with a team effort, this is also a great opportunity to showcase other vendors that helped the event come to life by crediting them in the description.
If you are posting an image of someone else’s work that is inspiring to you, note that immediately in the caption and do your best to find the original photographer and credit them. If you cannot find the original creators of the image/event, it’s suggested to not post it. It’s not fair to the original creators, and it confuses your audience. It will weaken your integrity if you are posting ambiguous images without crediting those that have done the real work.
Following some of these guidelines and procedures will help ensure that your brand has longevity, both with clients and the industry as a whole. To quote Paul Wellstone, “We all do better when we all do better.''
About the Author
Kastina Morrison is the creator of Kastina & Co., an event company in Minneapolis. She has over 10 years of event planning and management experience, including hundreds of weddings since 2010. Launched from a foundation of venue management, she has been involved in several venues such as Five Event Center, Minneapolis Event Centers, and Brick x Mortar. The majority of her work comes from creating weddings at ARIA in Minneapolis during its founding years. Kastina is driven by a passion for people, dedication to design, and a love of logistical planning.
The International Live Events Association (ILEA) represents and supports more than 5,000 members globally – event professionals who do business together, share knowledge, nurture talent and progress the live events industry. For more information on how an ILEA professional can help you with your event, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.