Handling the HNI Client - by Chetan Vohra, Director, Weddingline
by Kanika Mehta Weddings | June 4, 2015 | Interview
Weddingline Chetan Vohra
The one constant factor in a wedding is People. People marrying each other, people being invited, people being hired to work, people entertaining other people, people cooking for people, the list is endless. And in the same scheme of things, there exists a certain breed of people, called ‘The Client’.
They have something you want - and it is called money. You believe they have enough, and they believe they have already paid you enough! You want them to hire you, and they sometimes wonder why they have hired you? You show up beaming the Value-Addition card - they look at it as a wild card entry to make a few extra bucks off them. This dance between the agency and the client is universal.
HNI’s- highly evolved folk, who have seen it all, and done it all, who set you challenges that get your pulse racing. They are a different kettle of fish. Whilst every client who has contracted an agency for their wedding will need the functions to be seamlessly planned, unique, fresh and different from what others are doing in the market during the time, it is simply exposure that sets an HNI client apart from all the rest.
Exposure and the ability to have travelled and seen stuff from across the globe, be it locations, fashion trends, use of materials, the choice of food and drinks, table layouts etcl. Our counter-parts in the west do things very differently and that “difference” is what the HNI client needs. The novelty of theme based parties or entertainment nights no longer excite this lot. They want a unique signature style, which is tailor-made to represent the kind of people they are, and thus taking our cues from the way they live, to the way they dress and who their contemporaries in their social circles are, we design a look that is an extension of they themselves.
Today, every HNI client possesses an inherent desire to be different and since different has an infinite tool of measurability, I really feel the real mantra of dealing with this segment of clients is to be attentive, observant and tuned in to their needs as people. If you look closely enough, you will see what makes them smile, makes them laugh and make them go wow. Look closer and you will see how they govern you to create what they want.
The level of planning is the same as any event or wedding that you want to pull off well. There really should be no difference pertaining to who the client is. But yes, with a client being well informed, you need to do your home-work in much greater detail, maybe plan a few additional recce trips and have all the information on your fingertips, because chances are, they have either been there or have attended a function in the same place you are planning the event, or have someone from their office who has spent months researching the same venue, long before you even came into the picture. Imagine being caught off guard in any of the scenarios!
However, as mentioned earlier, HNI’s are like every other client you may have. They have similar anxieties and questions and turn to experts for guidance. I have seen that our ability to advise a client not to do something which may have wasteful expenditure is much appreciated. Not only have they heard us out and bought our point of view, but thanked us for it later as well. The only differentiator is that an HNI client will always and always insist on personalized attention from you which may not necessarily be the case otherwise.
Once you have a one on one equation, every minute detail of the wedding is run past you, from the block your date letter to the thank you cards. However decisions on whether a particular venue works for a function or not, water-proofing requirements, traffic management systems, guest experiences and entertainment and lastly food and bar management, take up a large part of the planning processes. I have seen in our own client base, it is the HNI’s who lay more emphasis on each of the above, solely because of the nature of their own guest lists and the exposure they have to unique events and experiences. There is also this silent societal expectation of HNI’s and their events - if done well is met with a “to be expected” affirmation and if for some reason it falls short of expectations, is dissected at every other social function in the season.
Whilst weddings done in International locales are always bound to excite guests and planners alike, another developing phenomena has been that of the NRI community that reaches back home to celebrate their weddings.
Weddingline has been fortunate to be handling a growing number of NRI weddings, and the experience has been very fulfilling. The bond of coming home for a celebration is infectiously gratifying. There is a different sense and expectation that this lot of NRI’s - many of them HNI’s in their own rights, have. But because they have been away from the country or are used to a system different from how we operate here, the role a planner becomes all the more crucial.
Let us take venues for example. Getting a museum or a historic venue abroad to host a function is never really a challenge. Old historic buildings are often giving out as venues for private functions after public hours, in most part of the world. This however is sadly not the case in India with most venues and museums not allowing any private gathering, with the exception of a few privately owned palaces and forts in the country. I am often asked if we can have a function at the Taj Mahal or the Qutub Minar, but sadly we have to discourage the queries and move to private venues. A venue for the function is always the deal maker for an exceptional experience. One needs to do little to provide a surreal experience in a venue that is as majestic as a historic monument.
NRI Weddings in India also have a large gathering of foreign guests, who want to experience as much of the country as possible, in the limited time that they are here for. Recreating a culinary and cultural experience that showcases India is a must have. We successfully partnered with many of the leading caterers in the country, to provide food experiences that we are certain, have their taste buds whet even today.
Every client, whether he is an HNI, a Bollywood Celebrity, a referral client from a hotel or a family member, everyone, is looking for greater value and a sense of assurance that their special day is in the hands of professionals. That is great faith being instilled in you right there. Realize it and it will raise you to another level.
Vohra throws light on what it takes to successfully execute weddings for HNI and NRI clients.