As a wedding planner with what seems like a constant crazy schedule, I always find myself making excuses for why I can’t leave my desk, let alone actually leave town. When I do treat myself to a vacation, though, I always come back feeling refreshed, recharged and ready to make things happen, and I’m reminded how valuable vacation time is for me as small business owner.
With summer in full swing and a mini vacation fast approaching on my own calendar, I thought now would be the perfect time to break down some vacation prep tips for wedding planners. Hint: a lot of it has to do with giving up control. So hand over the reigns, put on your linen pants and go get a tan. Or a mojito. Or both.
Prep Before You Go
1) Choose a good time for you to break away from work. If you try to leave during the month you have three huge events coming up, you’ll never be able to completely unplug.
2) Give fair notice to your couples/clients. Let them know what to expect and be honest. I tend to make the mistake of saying, “I’ll be on vacation, but if you need anything at all, call me…” Try to not do that. Make exceptions in extreme cases, but, if at all possible, always refer clients to another trusted and responsible point of contact.
3) Give clients “homework” that they can do while you’re away. Vacation doesn’t mean that the planning process has to go entirely on hold. Sitting idle can be hard for a bride with a wedding around the corner. Most clients simply want something to do so they know they’re working toward their goal–here’s how you can make sure they are:
Visit your client checklist in Aisle Planner and create and assign a handful of next tasks to your clients. Set due dates to encourage clients to complete the tasks before your return. Some of my favorite ways to keep clients productive while I’m away include:
→ Inspiration Uploading
If you’re early in the planning process, create a few style guides in Aisle Planner’s design studio for your clients and ask them to sort through the images they’ve collected on Pinterest and upload their favorites into Aisle Planner.
→ Song Lists
Create a new note within Aisle Planner titled, “song list” and ask your clients to fill in the blanks with music selections for the first dance, father/daughter dance, reception songs, do-not play songs, etc.
→ Seating Charts
If a client’s wedding date is near, prepare their seating chart in Aisle Planner with the appropriate table numbers/table names and max chair counts per table so your clients can work on assigned seating.
The same goes for your team. Delegate tasks to keep team members productive while you’re away. To help ensure my clients don’t feel forgotten in my absence, I like to assign each team member a couple or two to check in on at least once while I’m gone. Create a task and using our checklist tool and set automatic reminders visible only to staff: “Jenny to check in on Erica and Matt today.”
I tend to make the mistake of saying, “I’ll be on vacation, but if you need anything at all, call me…” Try to not do that.
4) Schedule social media posts. Use social media management tools like Buffer, Edgar orHootsuite to help you keep a consistent online presence. We also love the idea of scheduling a social media “takeover” with a vendor or partner–it allows you to relax knowing your channels aren’t silent, and it’s a great way for the vendor to get their name out there with a new set of followers.
5) Schedule your out-of-office reply for incoming email and set up your voicemail to let callers know you’re on vacation. Don’t promise you’ll get back to everyone on the first day of your return, and remember to keep your schedule clear the first few days to give yourself some time to get settled.
The key is to do all of this in advance. Begin setting calendar reminders, scheduling social media posts and creating tasks in Aisle Planner as soon as you begin planning your vacation.
While You’re Out
1) Unplug. If you’ve followed prep steps 1-5 above, you should have no reason to check your work email. I also like to delete my Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest apps from my phone for the week–they’re quick to reinstall once you get back, and I often find that simply turning off notifications isn’t enough to keep me from habitually opening the apps.
2) If you simply can not unplug for whatever reason, set and stick to a schedule. Allow yourself to check your emails the first 15 minutes of everyday and don’t look at them again until the following morning. I also recommend not replying to emails no matter how tempting it may be. Doing so sets a hard-to-reverse precedent that every time you’re on vacation, you’re still reachable by email.
3) Reprogram your priorities for the week. If you’re a to-do list person, make yourself a lighthearted to-do list for vacation: read a book, try a new cocktail, go three full hours on the beach without your phone, etc. Treat emails as you would treat reading a book in your busy everyday life, and treat reading a book as if it were as important as reading your emails. Repeat a mantra to yourself if you have to. Stick a post-it that reads “ME TIME!” to the mirror in your hotel bathroom if you have to. Remember to allow yourself the time you deserve so that you can ultimately give your business what it deserves.