Everyone knows, I try to keep my blog light, fluffy and non-controversial. But I’ve got a bee in my bedlah today and feel like venting. So here goes.
Brides, picture yourself in the following scenario. You’ve booked the Orlando wedding venue of your dreams. In your meeting with the venue’s event planning staff, the catering manager hands you a glossy brochure with wedding planning tips and featured weddings, and tells you to shop for your vendors in the “Preferred Vendors” list in the back of the book and on the venue’s website. You go ahead and begin your search – after all, if those vendors got the blessing of a high-end reception venue, then they HAVE to be trustworthy and good, right?
Well….not exactly. How would you feel if somebody told you that those vendors paid $400 or more for their “preferred” status?
In the Orlando wedding industry, most Preferred Vendor lists are exactly what it sounds like – a list of vendors that have proven themselves, time and again, through their hard work, outstanding customer service, and amazing product and/or service. You EARN preferred status through your own personal track record of excellence, and by carefully cultivating relationships with key wedding professionals. This can take years, especially in a supersaturated market like Orlando.
So picture my excitement when a rep from a high-end Orlando wedding venue, which shall remain nameless, called me this morning to let me know that they were going to place me on their Preferred Vendor list. (Little ole me? I must be doing something right). And then, a whole bunch of random distribution and demographic info later, “surprise!” the sales pitch. For just $400, I could join the ranks of their “preferred” wedding vendors.
NO, thank you. (And next time, just tell me that you’re trying to sell ad space.)
I can’t begrudge the publishing companies for trying to make money, the sales reps for doing their job, or the venues for distributing these brochures. The brochures are gorgeous and a nice little value-added bonus that doesn’t cost the venue anything. But I DO have a major problem with this:
If you have to pay to be part of the list, it’s NOT a true preferred vendor list. It’s an advertisement. If it’s not clearly marked as such, then the publication AND the venue that distributes it, are misleading their brides.
Here’s the deal. When a Preferred Vendor list is determined by a third party (the publisher) and the sales quotas they have to meet, anyone with $400 burning a hole in their pocket can simply buy their way to the top – whether or not they have a good reputation or a quality product to show for it. Quality referral-based relationships get thrown out the window when money comes into play. Where’s the quality control? And what happens to the venue’s reputation if their “preferred” vendors are sketchy and mess up a few too many weddings?
We all know that the vendors with the biggest advertising budgets aren’t necessarily the ones who put out the best work or have the best local reputations – pampered wives with “businesses” are an unfortunate reality in the belly dance world. Will a paid “Preferred” vendor list attract legit wedding pros or any fly-by-night vendor looking to take a shortcut?
At the end of the day, my work speaks for itself and I get tons of referrals and repeat bookings. If I’m placed on a Preferred Vendor list, or a wedding pro refers me to a bride, then this is because they love my work and they know I’ll make their brides happy. No money has changed hands – only good karma. And that’s the way it’ll always be.
What do you think? Vendors, would YOU pay $400 to get on a Preferred Vendor list? Brides, how do you feel about this practice?
About Carrara Nour: Carrara is an Orlando-based belly dancer offering custom entertainment for weddings and glamorous events. To learn more, check out her Booking or Weddings page, or follow her on Facebook.