I am not the ranting kind. In fact I try to be positive as much as possible in my life and business and it works for me. But today I feel like moaning. My issue is with wedding venues that ask referral fees from other suppliers in the wedding industry in exchange for being put on their “preferred suppliers” list. Now in principle you might think it is a fair transaction and I am sure that there are many companies in many industries operating that way. But the wedding industry probably has the most fierce competition of all. This means that in order for brides to notice you, you have to spend thousands of rands in marketing and work very hard at optimizing your website (SEO) so that it ranks high in the search engines. And then along comes a very popular venue that is making a killing in terms of venue hire and they take advantage of entrepreneurs like photographers trying to make a living in this tough industry.
My beef is specifically with Shepstone Gardens – an absolute stunning venue in a price class that is out of reach for most brides. And it also happens to be a venue that photographers love shooting at because it is just so beautiful and versatile. They have now emailed photographers who have shot there in the past informing them, should they want to be on the Shepstone Gardens preferred supplier list, a photographer must pay the venue 15% of the package that the couple has chosen for their photography! And while I think there will probably be a few very good photographers on that list that are willing to scratch a back or two in exchange for a similar favor I have to wonder how brides would react if they knew the full story? I might be wrong, but somehow I don’t think a wedding coordinator at a venue is going to tell a bride: “And these are our preferred suppliers. Yes they are very good. And by the way they are paying us to say that”. I am not saying that this is an unlawful practice or even unethical. I am merely stating the fact that I am opposed to it.
So now you know. Make an informed choice when you get to a venue and are presented with a preferred suppliers list by asking how that list is compiled and if the venue is getting a referral fee from those suppliers. Don’t bargain on a honest answer either. And then go do your own research and get the suppliers that YOU think will make your special day perfect!
And now you also know why I am not, and will never be, on Shepstone Garden’s preferred suppliers list 😉