By Paul Pannone
The wedding business isn’t changing– it’s changed, never to return to the way it was. “Normal” marketing, advertising and product sales are falling prey to budget cuts and lack of any emotional consideration. Owners of suppliers turn a deaf ear to independent accounts, favoring big budget buyers who can place huge advance orders and pay invoices in a timely manner.
eWedNewz is watching several instances where competitors are aligning to take orders and hand off fulfillment to third-party sources, wanting only to collect money and divest themselves of any liability. While the plan sounds good (on paper) and is also being hailed by some least likely “supporters of the wedding business” claiming how well certain programs are working in Europe, it is doubtful the same approach will work here in the United States.
Ken Robasco of Bosco’s Wedding Expo gave his clients his take on what’s going on.
My dear friends:
“It is with deep regret that I shutting down Bosco’s Wedding Expo and I will not be producing shows this fall or winter. The last two years have been difficult but this year was by far the worst. The industry has changed and it’s beyond my control. The media has gotten so fragmented. When I started 18 years ago you ran an ad in the newspaper and the brides were there. Then everyone stopped reading the newspaper. So I moved on to direct mail and radio. With social media and The Knot the brides have too much to say and they are changing the game. They tell other brides don’t give anyone your real address or e-mail they will just dump junk mail on you. I would mail out 2-3 thousand postcards only to get half of them back in the mail. With every new car that is sold, comes satellite radio. I spent close to $18,000 last year on Pandora only to flush that money down the toilet. Advertising on Facebook and other social media was a joke. Nobody is listening to traditional radio even the vendors. I found myself spending more and more money with every show only to see the bridal count on a steady decline.
At the end of the day I was making just enough money to pay my bills and not pay myself a salary for 2 years. It kills me to stop doing something that I loved doing for so long. I’ve always said I don’t have vendor’s, I have friends in the wedding industry. You know who your friends are when you have a flood and have 32 inches of sewer water in your office. The vendors stood by me then and I came back bigger and better than ever. I was shocked when 31 of these crazy vendors threw me a surprise birthday party at Frankie and Johnny’s in the Bronx. Yes we were all part of one big family. Everyone knew that I had an open invitation after the shows. We would go to the diner and I would pick up the tab. What show producer does that? I built this company on relationships.
I have many friends who are bridal show producers from around the country. Everyone is facing the same issues. Even the show at the County Center was down by 100 brides this year. Then you have those who think they can do what I did so well. They are happy to take your money only to have a hand full of brides show up. Most are only doing shows to promote their wedding business which is such a conflict of interest. You got to know they are contacting the bride weeks before you even have the opportunity to meet them at the show. I’ve always felt I had a responsibility to the catering halls and the vendors to do the best possible job. I can deal with competition. I can’t compete with the changes in technology, social and traditional media.
I know many of you rely on me to promote your business. It kills me to make this decision, because I know I am letting you down. I want to thank you all for 18 years of support and friendship. I will be taking down the website at the end of the month. If I can help any of you at any time I can be reached at my new e-mail address, KenRabasco@Gmail.com . Please stay in touch.”