We thought we'd address a tricky subject in the world of event planning and design - when agencies charge vendors commission for referring them to their clients.
Here at Studio Sorores we never ever charge commission to those suppliers and artists we shortlist for events. We feel that integrity and trust is key when it comes to client relationships, and we charge a fair fee for our planning and design services direct to our clients from the outset. It makes us more expensive than many, but there are no hidden costs and utmost confidence that we always recommend the best suppliers for the particular job (and not only those who agree a kick back for us!).
Where it becomes more difficult is when other planning agencies and venues ask us to add commission to our quotes or insist on a referral fee to recommend us - more common with the floristry side of the business than anything else.
We know our competitors comply more often than not, but we can't help but feel uncomfortable with the concept. Is the client aware the agency or venue use commission and referral fees - and do they ultimately take the hit on costs when suppliers build the fee into quotes but keep it hidden?
In our experience, corporate clients tend to be more aware of commission structures and expectations of agency fees are also based on that knowledge. However private individuals almost always have no clue that it goes on - those planning a wedding, birthday party or other private celebration are none the wiser. And that's where we feel it's time to shake up the industry and change things.
We'd encourage other wedding planners, event planners and agencies to consider changing their pricing strategy so that the client fee is sufficient enough to remove commission and referral fee incentives all together. And we'd encourage those being asked to add it - florists, photographers, caterers, marquee companies etc - to challenge those who do.
Choose suppliers on merit, on the ability to fulfil the brief. Give the industry a better name. Encourage and invest in trust with your clients. Choose a code of practice for your business that is more ethical and professional, with fair competition and representation on pitching and vendor selection.
Here at Studio Sorores we are committed to absolute transparency between clients, vendors and agencies (including ourselves). We are not being shortsighted by chasing the money, and as such our client loyalty is extremely high.