I’ll be honest, having a wedding and events venue during Covid-19 times has been tough. But whilst a lot of hospitality and events businesses shut their doors and furloughed their staff during lockdown, The Wellbeing Farm adapted working practices. We stayed well and truly OPEN and fully focused on looking after our couples – all wedding coordinators continued to work.
Staff were and still are, fully set up to be able to work from home; this includes having full access to management support, to our CRM systems and virtual phones. We had daily team meetings to keep spirits up. Being available and having a secure working team was paramount to look after all our wonderful couples.
HOW WE STAYED VISIBLE
We remained in constant contact with couples. We organised zoom meetings, offered free of charge backup dates, kept them up to date through our private social media channels and were there to guide them through the difficult times ahead.
With Lots of LIVE social media posts, our couples have commented that they have felt very reassured and looked after through all of this. These have included Wine n Wed, live question and answer sessions, Llama treks and in depth briefings after government announcements .
One of the first things that we did was video a virtual tour of the farm to be sent to newly engaged couples. We changed our meeting structures, offering virtual quotes, meetings and show arounds through Zoom. We wanted couples to feel confident in booking a wedding so introduced our ‘Book with Confidence’ offer. Couples could book a date with us for just 50% of the deposit. Once it was safe to do so, a visit was organised with the confidence that if the venue did not suit, we would refund any monies paid.
We kept in constant contact with these new couples who had booked with us (and there were a lot of you!); again through live updates on social media, zoom calls and emails to update on any new situation. We adapted our open days; we held virtual wedding open days in conjunction with suppliers to help with couples looking for a venue and assist in their wedding planning.
I found time to do all those niggling projects I always wanted to do but never had time – creating a new overflow carpark, transforming part of the staff offices into a new lounge, having murals painted around the farm, completing four courses and numerous books.
SETTING A CHALLENGE
During this time, I also revisited my own health and wellbeing and created a ‘100 days of wellbeing’ challenge, incorporating daily exercise, meditation and commitments to self-care. This re-confirmed to me the powerful connection between physical and mental health and I am even more passionate than ever about providing opportunities for others to find their passion.
I identified emerging trends post-lockdown being sustainability, wellbeing and fun and wondered could these elements be combined?
So a pivot emerged, the North West Centre for Business & Team Wellbeing in collaboration with #Wellbeinglancashire brings together the very best wellbeing providers Lancashire has to offer in a beautiful, purposefully designed centralised location (utilising the facilities of The Wellbeing Farm) The Centre offers a creative events space for strategy, meeting and team building days to corporates keen to look after their staff.
As I sit here now writing this, we still have no road map for reopening or when we can return to the type of weddings we love to deliver. It’s incredibly frustrating being a venue owner sitting on a venue that can safely hold 300 but you are restricted to 30. Meanwhile I go down to my local cricket club and see hundreds milling around on a sunny day and likewise we’ve just experienced the end of the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, during which I confess I did pop into a Weatherspoon’s and witness what must have been easily around 150 people in there.
It is unfair, but I know that by supporting our couples throughout this period, we’ve experienced hardly any cancellations and The Wellbeing Farm does face a fantastic future, with a huge doubling of turnover expected for 2021 predominantly from making numerous event bookings during lockdown which has generated revenue for the hospitality business not only to survive but thrive.