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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Business of Commissions for Wedding Planners in Spain

Ok here we go again, to stick my neck out and become hugely unpopular yet again, as I broach the sensitive subject of commissions passing from the suppliers to the planners.
No pretty images on this blog post as it is serious subject that makes me growl :)!
So having finally quietened down from our actual weddings, wedding world here in Marbella is very sociable and a lot of the suppliers involved are good friends having spent years together working on weddings.
We meet up for lunch, coffees and generally chat about the past year, what we achieved, where we can improve and of course lots of gossip!
I am still saddened to hear the stories that go on about planners literally bullying suppliers, whether it be photographers, cake makers, entertainment, etc into building in commissions into their prices in order to pay wedding planners.
This to me is completely wrong, as most of my followers will know, I stormed this subject last year and fell out with a few planners who then refused to use me for decorations, but I had already planned for this to happen, I was not stupid.
A year on we have had an amazing year of weddings without parting with any commissions, backhanders, etc so I am ready to give yet another opinion :)
 So you hire a planner as their fee seems reasonable, bargain in fact at 800 euros, but how do you feel if you then find out they have been paid another 800 euros by the venue, plus another 370 euro in commissions from the suppliers, bargain indeed. 
 This means the client has paid nearly 2K to this planner without even realising it.  None of this is declared to the client, the planner has made another 1200 euros on their wedding without their knowledge and had not even attended the wedding day. 
What amazed me, in this instance that I quote, is that on the actual day it was the Reviva team that oversaw the wedding and not the planner´s company.

Bargain indeed?
So where does this lead us, I had a client tell me he did not care about commissions as long as he does not know about them and as long as the planner is good, well fine, but is it not better to be transparent or charge a higher fee for the planning and not take commissions off the already disgruntled suppliers?
If the suppliers are being paid what they are worth then they are happy and will breeze into your wedding without having to worry about cutting corners and scraping back that 10 or 20%. 
If they are paying out commissions to planners, who is going to bear that cutback because believe me there is one.
Noone is about running a business here without making money and least of all your suppliers, if they are paying out 10% to a planner you can bet your bottom dollar they have reduced the quality of their service in order to accommodate this loss of profit in order to pay a planner that insists on commissions.
It is a ludicrous situation and a gripe I have had to listen to yet again from all the wonderful suppliers that make weddings here what they are. 
They are bullied, fear not getting work or being recommended and yet most savvy couples have already come across all the suppliers via the internet and already know about them. 
I am still puzzled by clients insisting on telling suppliers that so and so is their planner and recommended them, I do wonder what that client has been told, perhaps if they say a planner has recommended them they are going to get a discount, well in fact it is the opposite, they are going to have to build in a 10% at least for the planner and yet many of these clients already know about that supplier having googled them.
All it means is your supplier is going to be about 300 euros short so they will scrape this back from the service they offer you. 

They are handing over a commission, which is usually not declared by the planner, therefore no invoice can be raised and it cannot be shown on paperwork so it means a double whammy for the supplier as they are also then paying tax on the whole amount and not the amount less the commission.
I could rant and rave, but it is not this, it is merely brilliant suppliers struggling with the unfairness of the whole wedding commission thing that still exists here, albeit it is becoming less popular but never the less still popular, you pat my back and I will pat yours and relieve you of 20%?!
The suppliers are stuck with three choices.

Firstly, for those trying to get their foot in the door and perhaps not so established or have a lot of competition, they opt to pay the commissions albeit reluctantly.

Perhaps there could be an argument that it is a form of advertising which is fine if it is transparent.
Secondly you could cut back on the quality of what you are supplying to the client, perhaps the quality or amount of materials you are using, spend less time on the wedding, anything to justify the actual charge and not the full price the client is paying.
Thirdly to opt out of the commission structure and risk not being recommended or in some cases being completely blacklisted by a planner.

So is this fair to you as a client that a supplier who is perfect for your wedding is not recommended as they have taken the decision to not pay commissions. 
If you are a couple looking to get married here please ask your planner if they take commissions, most of them don´t but there are a few that do still operate this policy in order to run their businesses. If they do take commissions ask them to be transparent about them, there are a few that still deny they operate in this rather old fashioned stratch back philosophy. 
If you are told to contact a supplier whether it be a photographer, cake maker or entertainment do be honest about where you found them and not assume if you mention a planner you will get discount in fact it is normally the opposite.
I think my parting shot with this perhaps rant is that I have heard a planner is setting up a governing body for wedding planners here in Spain and yet takes commissions, so I watch this space with interest.

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