Whether you’re serving your local market or you’re jet-setting around the globe, all weddings and events involve some type of travel element. How to handle travel costs for your business? As prices on airline tickets, hotels, and ride shares continue to skyrocket, chances are good that as a wedding pro, you’re feeling the impact. We reached out to a few seasoned wedding pros to find out how they’re handling travel costs for their businesses. From how to communicate travel cost estimates to your clients to budgeting for the unexpected, here are 6 wedding pros’ top tips for the taking!
Go Mid-to-High When Estimating Travel Costs With Clients
“Our travel costs vary based on location, number of beauty services and events we are providing services for. When we get an inquiry that involves travel, I ask the planner if there is room in the hotel block or research local Airbnb and hotel costs. I also take note of flight costs and rental cars. As hair & makeup artists, we travel with many bags – so we also factor in extra baggage fees.
In the proposal, I estimate travel based on mid-to-high costs at the time. For example, if Airbnbs range from $2,000 to $6,000 I estimate $5,000. I try very hard to keep the actual dollars spent in that range. For payment, we accept a 50% retainer and the remaining balance is due 30 days before the event. By then I’ve booked all team travel. However, I bill the client again for any overages after the event and outside the estimated amount!”
-Shani Gailbreath of Canvas & Coif
Over-Communicate Everything Related to Travel Costs
“We bill the clients directly for all of our travel and personnel fees. We do not allow the client to book our travel for us, we do it ourselves and this has never been an issue. We only charge the client the exact amounts for both travel and personnel, we do not inflate these prices.
Before we go to contract with a client, we create an Excel document breaking down and outlining staffing that we think we will need based on conversations thus far.
Here are few examples from our document:
- Number of staff members needed (minimum number for us is 8 people)
- Personnel - Each day has a different rate - travel days, set-up days, ancillary event days and event days. The staff members are paid as they report on site for the event. If we bring on a contractor that requires an hourly rate, we estimate what is needed and then settle out post event if needed.
- Flights - 2 Leads in First Class, the rest of the staff in Extra Legroom/Economy Plus+ seats.
- ALL Baggage fees (to be billed to the client in their final payment if we know what it will be or post event if necessary)
- Accommodations - 2 Leads get their own rooms, staff will share a room, but never a bed and no more than 2 people per room. Typically we start at 5 rooms if we have a team of 8.
- Rental Cars - at minimum 2, typically 3
- Food Allowance - it depends where we are at because things are so differently priced in certain areas. We charge them a per person per day fee. We just do a line item with the total for all staff members. We make sure there is room in there for “extras” - coffee, ice cream, late night burger, whatever!
- Airport parking or car service - this is also typically pre-arranged if we can, but will post a bill if needed.
All of this is outlined in the contract to our clients, line itemized out, so there are no surprises.
However, our contract has the clause: *Final travel and personnel fees are at the discretion of the Coordinator. If the scope of Services changes throughout the planning process, the Coordinator has the right to revise the above mentioned.
Most of our team members also have company credit cards to help with the baggage fees, rental car process and hotel check-in process. I don’t want our team members to have to put anything on their own personal cards and have to be reimbursed.
We really strive to have all of our travel fees paid for prior to the event weekend!”
Build Travel Into Your Overall Fee to Give Clients the All-In Cost
“My clients want an all-in price. I travel a lot so I have a good idea of what costs to account for. Per diem, extra baggage, travel to and from the airport, etc. So I determine travel costs and build it into my fee–so the client sees the all-in cost! It’s similar to Amazon. Someone can buy $250 worth of items and then when they see it has a $25 shipping fee–it can break the sale. I think most people appreciate knowing the all-in costs, so they can accurately plan for things.”
Source Team Members Locally (If At All Possible)
“Clients pay for all travel and it’s invoiced transparently with a pre-determined per diem per person. I bring main team members and source additional freelance work locally or closer to the wedding’s location (Europe, Mexico etc).
Book the Flights For Yourself
“For destination weddings, we prefer planners booking our travel as it is way easier. That includes all ground transfers, rental cars, and hotel bookings. We prefer to book flights ourselves, so we can modify quickly in case of delays!”
Button Up Your Contracts
“However you charge for travel, it’s most important that you are very specific in your contracts up front.”
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