Many high profile international florists and stylists cover the topic of commissions in their blogs, but for some reason Australian event professionals don’t seem to speak up about the elephant in the corner of the room. We feel brides and grooms to-be have the right to know what goes on behind the scenes, even if it is at our peril!
Of course not all venues operate unethically and we respect commissions can be acceptable if declared, but it still amazes us how many venues take commissions under the table. While it happens in every area of the event industry, we’ll focus on florists and venues in this post.
Below are the top 5 questions it would be wise to ask your venue (and potential florists to a lesser extent) to ensure you are being treated ethically in regard to commissions. While venue operators who have hidden agreements are likely have tricks for dodging all of the following questions, look them in the eye and trust your instincts no matter what you are told.
So, here we go…
1. Do they take commissions from suppliers? Believe it or not, there are venues that take commissions of over 20% from their preferred supplier panel without disclosing it to their clients. To cut a long story short, you pay this commission in lower flower volumes or lesser quality. But unless you produce events for a living, how would you ever know, right?
2. Is the preferred supplier they recommend related to the venue owner or venue staff i.e. wife or husband? Fortunately this doesn’t happen too often, but it does happen in venues even of the highest regard. What’s the problem exactly? Nothing if it is declared, but if it isn’t, you are most likely trusting the advice that they are the right supplier for you when the advice is inherently biased.
3. If the venue is offering a floral package, ask what you are actually getting for your money (including photos) so you can compare the offer to an independent florist. Quite often you are better off forgoing the package flowers once you take into account the compromise on quality, lack of value adds, and the volume reduction that will occur thanks to the commission arrangement.
4. If the venue only has one floral supplier, ask why. Some venues simply find it easier to have just one that suits the style of the venue, but trust your instinct on this one and see point 1 and 2 for clues. Floral designers tend to have different design strengths, styles and levels of professionalism, so it’s best to meet with two or three to get a better understanding of your needs.
5. If the floral supplier/stylist is a ‘jack of all, master of none’ business, ask if their florists (they’ll always be subcontractors) are qualified and what their experience is exactly. Get a commitment they will use that florist on the day. Flowers aren’t usually at the forefront of their offering meaning buying power is limited and it’s hard to keep decent florists on the roster. You really need to get to the bottom of what you are actually going to get from them. It’s most likely their pricing will be bundled up – you just need to unbundle it! Commission arrangements often go hand in hand with these types of businesses so double check this also.