By Paul Pannone
It’s bridal show season in full force and once again exhibitors investing their valuable time and thousands of dollars on what some wedding experts call a crap shoot, holding their breath and hoping for the best. Experts say most exhibitors rent the space, lug in the equipment, man the booth but are more interested in networking with fellow exhibitors or worse, keeping an eye on the football score. Some are realizing the smaller, more intimate shows produce a better ROI than the herded national shows that stack one bride on top of another. Less is more we’re learning, as vendors– sometimes exclusive single exhibitors in a category– connect with couples from the show, right down to booking the wedding.
Wedding Expert, Christine Boulton, wrote a book on the finer points of how to get the most from participating in wedding shows. In her no-nonsense detailing she calls it like it is:
“Let’s face it, bridal shows are an expensive way to market your business. It’s not just the cost of the booth, but what you put in it and your time and that of your staff. Don’t you deserve to get the best return on that investment you possibly can. Yes you do!”
It’s no secret; brides do not want to be herded around like cattle.
Discussions in the Wedding Water Cooler this week talked about bigger shows like the The Wedding Salon and whether the rewards of participation are worth the investment. Events like the Wedding Salon require top-notch representation from vendors including high-profile websites and a presentation that is at the top of its game.
But through experience and discussions with disgruntled ex-employees of national and larger wedding shows, preferential treatment and perks to the highest bidder sometimes stacks the odds against even the most respected vendor-exhibitor. According to sources better placement, advance registration information and last-minute benefits goes to the highest bidder– not the best exhibitor.
eWedNewz spoke to Christine Boulton about the general divide between national and local.
“Right now it’s all about local and the bride feeling comfortable with whatever part of her planning she’s working on. She relies on her vendors for the right information to for an intelligent, well-informed decision. People want to be treated like people, with unique requirements, not a number,” according to Boulton.
Eeeee-ha, who needs a DJ? Giddy up, let’s take a look at limos next. Move along lil doggies….
In 2010, New York event planner, Maya Kalman, organized one of the most exclusive and intimate shows ever. Because of her market she extended her invitation to the show held at Gotham Hall only to couples with six figure budgets matching them with high-end vendors. But not every market is like New York. In most areas of the country total average wedding budgets of about $25,000 dollars could represent just the flowers at one of Kalman’s events.
eWedNewz is watching how a local show in Michigan shapes up. Carla Lowery uses her creative style to get noticed. Persistence and perseverance replace dollars– by design. According to Lowery, she’s building her show on a solid foundation to get quality brides to a quality show for her vendors.
“We have several local Charlotte wedding vendors that are participating in this event for brides and will offer some truly unique products and services from businesses based locally in Charlotte, Michigan. Brides will have the opportunity to meet many local professionals to help plan the wedding of their dreams. Each vendor will provide booth prizes and a Grand Prize will be given away to a lucky attendee of the event,” according to the show Press Release.
Reports from a few national shows say the number are up this season at selected shows but there is no way to verify the statements.
According to WWC experts, local advertising, marketing and shows will continue to chip away at national, big-box – cattle herding of brides– as time passes.
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