How BNPL can help the wedding industry combat the challenges of COVID-19

Wedding vendors have been some of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s a look at the state of the industry, and what small businesses need to do to survive.

The wedding industry in Australia and New Zealand is made up of thousands of small businesses, from venues to caterers, makeup artists to hairdressers, bands to photographers, and many more. The average wedding involves 14 vendors and costs $30,000. And with around 120,000 weddings occurring in Australia every year, and 20,000 in New Zealand, it’s a multi-billion-dollar sector. But the global pandemic has thrown it into chaos.

Multiple COVID-19 lockdowns over the past year and a half have forced thousands of couples to cancel, postpone, or significantly change their wedding plans — in some cases, several times — pushing many vendors to the brink of collapse.

The Australian wedding industry suffered a 70% loss in revenue in 2020, as the number of weddings fell by half, according to the Easy Weddings directory. 60% of businesses received financial support through the JobKeeper program, and an estimated 4,000 businesses closed.

In New Zealand, an estimated 20,000 events were cancelled or postponed as a direct result of COVID-19 last year, and the financial loss to the sector between March and August 2020 was estimated at over $570 million, according to the New Zealand Events Association.

Survival mode

While the industry has banded together to encourage customers to rebook rather than cancel their plans, small businesses remain under intense financial pressure. Many vendors have already taken full or partial payment for the weddings that are being rescheduled, and with newly engaged couples struggling to find available dates to book their big days in the near future, it could be many more months before revenue returns to pre-COVID levels.

Managing customers’ expectations around refunds during this time is crucial. A lot of emotion goes into wedding planning, and some couples will be disappointed that they need to pick a new date. Their original date may have held some special significance, and any new date will almost certainly mean they can no longer work with all their preferred vendors. They may also have been impacted financially by the pandemic and want to downsize their event.

But while it’s important to understand each couple’s circumstances and try to find a solution that works for them, customers generally need to forfeit their deposit if they cancel. Providing clear information around the terms and conditions of the contract and sympathetic customer service will help minimise the negative impact of any disgruntled customers.

How hummpro can help

The wedding industry is in survival mode right now, but there’s a glimmer of hope that a marriage boom and trend towards extravagant celebrations — once the pandemic is finally under control — will revive struggling vendors in the years ahead.

While it might seem counterintuitive, investing in areas of your business, such as customer service and marketing, is actually a smart move during these uncertain times, since many couples will continue to research potential vendors, even if they don’t know when their wedding will take place.

A buy now, pay later solution like hummpro can help you manage the cost of advertising on digital platforms like Google and Facebook when cashflow is tight. As vaccination rates increase and couples can plan their weddings with confidence, you can use hummpro to pay for the monthly hosting fee of your website, your phone bill, storage space for your equipment, and other things you need to hit the ground running.

It only takes a few minutes to apply for up to $30,000 in interest-free finance, which you can use anywhere that accepts Mastercard. With multiple short-term and long-term repayment options, you can gain some much-needed breathing room when bookings return to normal.

As vaccination rates increase, couples are beginning to plan their weddings with confidence again. Make sure your business is ready to hit the ground running with hummpro.