From the Experts, Your Event Career
What They Forget to Tell You About Slow Season
Amira Harris is the owner and destination wedding planning specialist of Aisle Travel™ based in Calgary, Alberta Canada. Aisle Travel™ provides Canadian couples with full group travel services, destination wedding planning, and customized wedding group experiences.
I plan destination weddings full-time and am currently writing this blog post during our peak season. Most planners would think this is crazy to take this task on, but here I am, discussing what to do in the slow season.
After the winter holidays until around March, it’s non-stop work for destination planners with client consultations, phone calls, emails quotes, proposals and new bridal clients. Not to mention that the winter season is when we have the most wedding groups depart. This is very different from local wedding planning businesses. They’re still busy with consultations and current clients, however less weddings take place during the winter months for them.
I do destination weddings year round. However, our colder months are definitely our busiest times. Right now, it’s a go-go-go time of year for me, and that’s why it’s so important to have everything in place before peak season comes around. Most of the time, it’s short lived. So when you have a break, take advantage of the quiet time.
Step 1: Find time to work on your business
During the year, I have an on-going list of things I want to take care of for my business and my goals. At the end of the year, I have that time to focus and make decisions. So I have time to revisit everything I wrote down. The slow season is the best time to work on your business and not in your business.
I worked on automating a few processes I felt could be a lot better this year. I also worked on on-boarding our client forms and optimizing the flow of behind-the-scenes work. I also worked on modifying our contracts and setting up more reporting processes to capture time spent on certain tasks.
I worked closely with my accountant to find places to reduce costs and find more returns on my financial investments. During slow season, it’s important to always be on top of your finances. You still need to be profitable and may need to stretch those dollars. You could decide to provide more or other services during your less-busy times. The down season is the best time to work on your business and build momentum to have a successful peak season!
Step 2: Slow season is the best time to get more planning experience
When you’re new in the wedding industry, you need to get your feet wet. You need some experience and the only way that’s going to happen is if you put yourself out there.
Interning provides you with valuable experience. When I first started, I volunteered any spare time I had. Most of the time, it was on wedding days in the spring and summer. In the late fall and winter, I volunteered with a couple charities that had numerous events throughout the year and planning was on-going. This gave me a great opportunity to work with others and to learn from more experienced planners. This also opened a lot of doors for me since volunteering put me in front of other businesses I wouldn’t normally get to know. I also was able to take paid positions doing event set-up and working alongside some fantastic charities.
Step 3: Expand your planning services and keep learning
Each year I determine the courses, seminars and conferences I want to attend. I always have a running list of things I want to tackle and learn. Over the years, I’ve learned that there’s going to be a lot you don’t know. And things can change pretty quickly in this industry.
It’s so important to stay on top of things and determine what you want to get better at. You need to examine what’s essential for you to keep growing. Take as many business courses as possible since so many are offered locally and online. That also goes for wedding and event planning classes offered by QC Event School or your local college that offers event management courses. Even courses on web design, entrepreneurship, and marketing are always great to have in your back pocket.
Step 4: Self care and mental wellness
Self-care and mental wellness is the most important item on this list. Regardless of the industry you’re in. We should be doing this constantly. However, as entrepreneurs, we always put this on the shelf as something we will get back to when we have time.
Time is the most expensive commodity we have, hence why we should do a lot better with it. Striking a work–life balance was once one of my biggest struggles. I was constantly working and had less freedom. I had a hard time saying “no” and setting boundaries with my clients.
Once I changed my mindset, I was able to set correct client expectations and a goal on the kind of life I wanted. It really helped my business and myself. Keep in mind that it’s not an overnight process. It takes time to make changes and to stick with them. That’s why it’s so important even when you’re busy to schedule time for self-care. Whether that means taking a trip for some R&R, connecting with your family, getting some exercise, having a night out, or just taking some “me time” to do as you wish. During this time I always like to go for a massage or a spa treatment and even getting together with my colleagues for lunch since we’re all in the same boat.
The off season gives you time to analyze your business, catch up on that never ending to-do list, learn new things and build your vendor relationships. It also gives you time to re-focus, and it’s the perfect opportunity for self-care. Spend your time wisely because the low season can be shorter than you think!
What else can you do to maximize your time during slow season? Let us know in a comment!