Following the Government's latest restriction updates on 12 May 2020 that lift restrictions to allow the housing industry to undertake viewings of residential properties, we believe that lifting viewing restrictions should also apply to viewings of wedding venues.
We have drafted the below letter to send to Government officials, highlighting the importance of venue viewings and reasons why restrictions should be lifted. We are also asking you to please write to your MP today to bring this to their attention.
You are welcome to copy the below letter, but we also encourage you to write your own words and express how lifting these restrictions will impact your unique business.
Thank you in advance for your support!
As coronavirus restrictions are slowly lifted, I would like to request your support to amend regulations to allow wedding venues to undertake viewings, in connection with the booking of a future wedding.
I am aware of the announcement made on 12 May 2020, by the Secretary of State to amend coronavirus restrictions for the housing market. The revised regulations now allow the viewing of residential properties to look for a property to buy or rent.
In light of this amendment, I urge you to support lifting restrictions on wedding venue viewings as well. Allowing wedding venue viewings in connection with the booking of a future wedding will help re-start the struggling wedding industry by driving revenue to thousands of small businesses across the industry.
What is a wedding venue viewing?
A venue viewing is a small private meeting between two parties at a vacant venue that bears no resemblance to a gathering or wedding. As such, lifting restrictions for venue viewings is not the same as lifting restrictions on gatherings or weddings.
The act of viewing a residential property, for which restrictions have been lifted, is a very similar experience to viewing a wedding venue. When clients view a residential property, a private appointment is made between a small group consisting of an agent and a set of prospective clients, who walk through a vacant property for a short period of time. Similarly, for venue viewings, a private appointment is made between a prospective client couple and a business representative, and they walk through the vacant venue for a short period of time.
Under both circumstances, the party size is small, a private appointment is arranged, and the property is vacant. For both types of viewings, social distancing and safety measures can be managed through advanced communication and on-site protocols in accordance with Public Health England.
In fact, wedding venues are generally much larger than residential properties, and are therefore better equipped to accommodate social distancing measures during viewings.
Why are wedding venue viewings important?
Weddings are typically booked over a year in advance, and 93% couples tour their venue before booking it. Without viewings, the industry is at a standstill. Other suppliers can not be booked ahead of the venue, as the rest of the wedding bookings revolve around the booked date and venue location. Therefore, the entire wedding ecosystem rests on the ability for venues to undertake viewings.
For each wedding, an average of 12 different types of suppliers are hired, from venue to photographer to florist. The majority of industry professionals are small, independently-owned businesses, for which weddings make up a majority of their income. In total, there are 139,000+ wedding businesses in the UK.
With the lengthy lead time involved, weddings can not simply re-start once coronavirus restrictions are lifted. But, by allowing venue viewings to take place, the booking process can re-start for next year’s weddings and bring some much-needed revenue to all sectors in the industry.
How has the wedding industry fared during the coronavirus?
The £10 billion UK wedding industry has been hit particularly hard by COVID-19 from three angles. First, the industry has experienced the disruption of weddings scheduled to take place during lockdown. Second, the industry is experiencing postponements and cancellations of weddings through Summer and later due to gathering size restrictions, which most weddings exceed. Third, industry professionals are experiencing cannibalisation of their future sellable weddings dates in 2021, as they postpone Spring/Summer 2020 weddings, mostly free of charge, to their available future dates.
Additionally, behaviour by the insurance industry has caused the financial losses from coronavirus postponements and cancellations to be absorbed primarily by the wedding venues and industry professionals, mostly small businesses, despite many couples and businesses having wedding insurance. Insurers have been focused on steering couples to pressure their venue and suppliers to postpone to later dates at no cost, rather than paying out to the couples. At the same time, the insurers of these small businesses have themselves turned their backs due to the crisis. To date, we have only seen uncollaborative behaviour by this goliath insurance industry against our severely impacted community of small businesses.
Now, wedding venues and suppliers are struggling to stay afloat, and the industry stands to see many businesses closing their doors permanently. A majority of the industry’s revenue in 2020 has largely been wiped out due to coronavirus gathering restrictions that coincide with its peak wedding season, between April and August, in which 56% of weddings take place. Further, by postponing free of charge - an act that most industry professionals are doing out of the goodness of their hearts - the industry is limiting its ability to drive new revenue for 2021 and beyond.
How will unlocking viewings help the wedding industry?
By unlocking wedding venue viewings, bookings can start to happen. Dates can be set and the many different supplier bookings needed for each wedding can begin to occur. While these weddings won’t take place for a year, the ecosystem can be unlocked and the industry revenue streams can be set in motion once again.
By unlocking venue viewings, we can restart the wedding industry.
A small business and proud member of the British Wedding Industry