Wednesday, 27 May 2020
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With 2020 bookings pushed an online pivot secures 2021

Rapidly adjusting to change is good business but adjusting to the rapidity of change under Covid-19 restrictions brings with it a unique set of challenges.

Almost a full calendar of wedding bookings for the White Chapel and accommodation bookings for Herrmann House in 2020 have had to be shifted forward to later this year, and for most, into next year.

A devastating prospect for business owner, April Cornwell, but this is not a ‘poor me’ story.

It’s a story of creative ways of adjusting.

Certainly, the business, and all those businesses which depend on flow on bookings from the wedding, celebration and funeral venue and the accommodation venue, will suffer a significant loss.

“We can’t simply ignore that loss, but we can’t sit still and do nothing,” says April, “we need to think about ways to ensure forward bookings once the health crisis is over.”

The wedding season tends to run from March to November. 

More than 20 weddings which were booked in across the 2020 White Chapel season have been postponed.

While April could not change that outcome, she was determined to develop ways to ensure business sustainability in the future. Her first move was to create a virtual tour of her venues - White Chapel, Black Hall and Herrmann House.

“I decided that brides would have a lot more time on their hands now to plan their weddings and while they can’t come to us, we would make it possible for them to experience all we have to offer.

“Last week we launched the virtual tour on our website.”

And there’s more …

“We have a three-pronged social events calendar. The virtual tour is the first and we’ll follow that up with professional videos putting the spotlight on the people who help make our weddings such a special event.

“These videos will include our staff and our suppliers from photographers through to caterers.”

The third, but not necessarily the last, feature on the social media calendar will be … “twenty amazing wedding ideas that you can include in your bespoke wedding at White Chapel”.

The biggest incentive to follow April’s wedding calendar will be that brides will have the opportunity to win a free ceremony and photography at White Chapel in 2021.

“We’re calling the competition our ‘Corona Virus Offer’,” April said.

While the Covid-19 restrictions have been the instigator of an uplift in virtual creativity, April’s venues were already attracting ‘online brides’.

“One of the last weddings held in White Chapel before the restrictions was planned completely online.

“The bride lived in Tasmania and she planned her whole wedding through Facebook and Instagram. The first time she saw White Chapel was on her wedding day.

“I’ve been talking to the businesses which supply the wedding day add ons and encouraged them not to get swept up in the loss represented by the cancellations, to try and look beyond their disappointment to find ways we can set our businesses up to take advantage of the demand once the restrictions are lifted,” April said.

“Next year will be a ‘helluva’ year if we can manage our way through this. We need to make our own opportunities now.”