» Surprise and Delight Ideas for the Off Season

The off season is fast approaching and, as you find more time in your schedule, consider it an opportunity to increase productivity and map out PR and marketing strategies for the year ahead. No solid marketing plan is complete without a focus on positive experiences for customers and creative partners, as they’re in an ideal position to refer business.

Surprise and delight creates opportunities to really ‘wow’ someone unexpectedly. It’s a proven strategy among Fortune 500 companies and, as wedding professionals, this is our place to shine. We specialize in hospitality and our business is designed around pleasing people — surprise and delight is simply a way to take it to the next level.

Always prepare first

Implementing surprise and delight touchpoints should be a strategic move, so don’t just dive in and start handing free things out to every client that walks in the door. Start by asking yourself the real questions: What are you hoping to accomplish? Who are you trying to reach? What are your strengths? Do you have the resources required to make it happen? The answers to these questions will guide your approach to client and partner outreach.

Start small

Don’t overwhelm yourself upfront with complicated tactics. Start out with a test group as a trial to get your feet wet. This allows you the time to work out the kinks and evaluate feedback. Focus on what will bring you the most relationships, as well as maintain the valuable ones that you already have.

Get to planning

Once your strategy is ironed out, have a brainstorming session with your team or yourself. The sky is the limit, so don’t be afraid to get creative. However, be mindful that some of the best things can be small as long as they’re thoughtful. Keep in mind that it may not be everyone’s off season — hotels, for example, are busy all year round especially during the holiday season. Consider how you can surprise and delight without causing inconvenience.

Build it into your workflow

Surprise and delight strategies should come naturally; if forced, they can lose their genuineness. Think about how to incorporate small tactics throughout your existing workflow. What is one thing that you can do for newly booked clients during the off season? If you use a project management software like Basecamp or Asana, schedule tasks to keep your plan moving. Don’t forget to track retention and referrals, as it helps determine ROI and identify what’s working and what needs tweaking.

There you have it — a starter’s guide to surprise and delight that is sure to get more business through your doors. The off season frees up some of your schedule, so it’s a great time to work on implementing ongoing strategy for client experience. Still, be sure to carve out time to rest and relax over your slow period. Marketing and PR endeavors are no good if you’re not taking care of yourself and taking the time to get re-energized.


Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

» How to Solidify Your Vendor Relationships in the Off-Season

Photo by Patrick Nied Photography

This article was written by Kevin Dennis, editor of WeddingIQ.

Having strong vendor relationships will help build your business; this is something we all know to be true. From networking events to associations to mastermind groups, there are lots of ways you can start getting to know your peers and establishing relationships that are going to lead to the all-important vendor referral.

So, how do you get there? See some of my top tips below:

Make the time

During the off-season many event professionals take the extra time they have and use it to network and get their face back out there. You should be doing the same thing. Yes, you may be understandably using that time to go on vacation and get organized for the upcoming year, but don’t disappear from your community. The last thing you want is for a competitor to sweep in and start using your absence to their advantage.

Always respond

Working in the events industry means you know that being unresponsive can cost you clients and money. The same can be said for your relationships. If you’re ignoring or putting off emails from your creative partners, even if it’s just a quick hello, they may forget to reply back to you when you need them in the future. Be sure that if you aren’t in the office, you’ve got a clear out-of-office email letting them know when you will be back to respond.

Share the wealth

When vendors start referring business your way, be sure to return the favor- when it’s appropriate. There is no better way of saying thank you or showing that you value their work than by sending one of your clients to them. If you have a preferred vendor list that you give to couples, consider adding them to it. The gesture will no doubt come back to you tenfold.

Make the extra effort

Sending your creative partners a symbol of appreciation is a great way to cement your relationship. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or cost a lot of money, but it should be something meaningful and from the heart. For example, in the middle of summer, we send popsicles to our friends in the community as a reminder to stay cool down and take a break. We’ve received Starbucks gift cards from fellow event professionals that know how much we love caffeine.

Use part of your off-season to plan how you’re going to strengthen your existing relationships and establish new ones. We promise that dedicating some of your off-season time to this will ultimately be a long-term investment in your own business.

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the current chapter president for Silicon Valley NACE, and National Vice President for WIPA.