You know that 80-20 rule Dyer was talking about in one of my previous posts?  Well, it applies to my work as well.  I promote four venues in my city town, and 80% of my clients choose one particular oceanfront resort.  The average number of guests that these destination weddings bring is about 100, which is the minimum that the resort requires in order to book the wedding.  I understand that my groups are not large, but they fill up the entire hotel (which local weddings fail to do) and they consume more than locals do in the days leading up to and following the wedding.

I have worked well with this location for the past three years.  In 2006, I booked over 20 weddings with them between February and October.  This year I downscaled my business for personal reasons, but still managed to book 10 out of my 14 weddings with them.   As far as I knew, they were happy with my services, although the hotel owner (it’s family-run) had never so much as called me to thank me for my business in these past three years.

Then, this past weekend the shit hit the fan.  Literally.  Almost.   See, this venue has an oceanfront garden where they hold the wedding ceremony.  Because the grass takes a beating from the ocean breeze, it has to be fertilized every 14 days or so.  They started applying the very stinky manure-based fertilizer on Monday, so when my weekend wedding couple showed up on Tuesday, they almost had a collective heart attack.  They called me and chewed me out, but of course I don’t own the venue and couldn’t do anything more than call the events manager and lodge a strong complaint.  She explained that the manure would be removed and that the smell would be gone by Saturday.   I told her that if the clients kept bugging me, I would be forced to send them to the General Manager because all of this was out of my hands, yet I was taking the 80 gazillion phone calls from the irate groom and his hysterical bride.

By Saturday, the manure had been cleared for the most part and the ceremony and reception proceeded without incident thanks to the parents of the groom, who convinced the couple that nobody would notice the slight mulching effect of the fertilizer on the grass.   The bride was very rude and demanding with me, but I won’t go into that right now (happy thoughts, happy thoughts).  I did my job diligently as always, received much praise from guests and parents, wished the nice groom much luck with his marriage (while the bride glowered), and high-tailed it back home.

Fast forward to this afternoon.  I was sitting with my florist, who’s also a great friend and a talented gossip.  He looked nervous, so I asked him what was up.

“I’m only telling you this because you’re my friend and I respect you,” he started.  “You know I care for you very much as a friend and I admire your professionalism.”  A knot turned in my stomach as I imagined something awful I had done to him or another of my esteemed vendors without realizing it.

Finally he spilled the beans.  “One of the hotel employees told me that they are not going to allow you to book weddings for 2008,” he said in one quick breath.  I blinked a couple of times and asked if he knew why.

“They say that the groups you take are too small, but mainly it’s the fact that you’re too demanding.”

I laughed.  I had to!  Before you think I’m some sort of maniacal ogre wedding planner, you must understand the culture of the country I live in.  In Mexico, if you want a banquet waiter to bring a guest a fork because the waiter forgot to set the table properly, you have to address him as follows:

“Jose, could you do me a huge favor?  See, the guest is missing a fork.   Would you be a dear and pretty please go get me another one?  I would really appreciate your kindness, if it’s not too much trouble.”  Meanwhile, the guest is sitting there without a fork and their food is getting cold.

I AM SERIOUS.  I AM NOT JOKING.  This applies to EVERY SINGLE EMPLOYEE.  It is maddening.  When I first started working in Mexico, I would say, “Jose, could you please bring a fork for this guest?”  After a couple of times of saying this, I was pulled aside by the events manager and chastised for my rudeness to their staff!!  HELLO?!?!  What f*ing retarded backwards country do I live in where a waiter gets offended by a straightforward request?

But beyond this, if I am “demanding” with the staff, it is only because the client is demanding with ME (and trust me, I don’t get “pretty pleased”).   The client is paying me so that they don’t have to worry about the little details.  Funny… All the American vendors I’ve worked with have been impressed by how laid-back and nice I am.  They tell me crazy stories about dictatorial wedding planners who snap fingers, throw clipboards, and yell if things are not done their way.  I wonder how the events manager would react to this type of coordinator…

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, I’m going to plop my ass down in the event manager’s office and get the straight scoop (politely, of course, because God forbid I offend her sensibilities).  If she so much as mentions the fact that I am demanding, I’m going to say, “Juanita, who pays your salary?”  She’ll obviously say her boss’s name, to which I will smugly reply, “Wrong!  The client pays your salary, and the client is always right.  I am the client’s representative, which means that when I ask for something, as long as it is a reasonable request and it is asked politely, it has to be done.”

Ooooooooo, I can’t wait!   I am not worried about losing this venue.  It is a cycle whose life has come to an end and it is time for me to move on to greener pastures.  There’s a gorgeous private villa I have my heart set on promoting… And the commission alone covers two months’ rent for my apartment!

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