Industry Experts Decode the Impact of Coronavirus on the Business

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With the number of Conoravirus cases growing every day, the Indian subcontinent is justifiably anxiety-ridden and wary. People are unwilling to move beyond the safety-nets that they’ve established within their own homes. Countless industries have been affected by the pandemic- from tourism to food service, from retail to education, they’ve all suffered. One that hit particularly close to home was of course- the wedding industry. The implications of the Covid-19 are severe, and it was mind-boggling to try and imagine how it would affect those planning to get married this season, especially those who had destination weddings lined up…

And so, to clear some of your doubts, and then some of ours, we reached out to a few renowned professionals within the industry to try and truly gauge how the Covid-19 is affecting the wedding industry. Here’s what they had to say:

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Vijay Arora, Director Touchwood Group said, “Yes, for sure, there has been a major effect. People are scared to travel specially for international weddings. We had a 400-people engagement in Antalya from 27to 29th March which got cancelled because 72% of the guests refused to travel. It’s a really panicked situation right now and people are not making any bookings for even local weddings. It’s a scary situation where business has come to a complete standstill as no one is in a position to take firm decisions. Even small events like birthdays or anniversaries in Delhi are getting canceled because people are really scared. These are not important celebrations like weddings so they want to avoid them.”

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This sentiment was echoed by Aarti Manocha, the director of Milestones to Memories who said, “The effect has just started and if the situation of travel advisories and global restrictions are not in control then this will certainly affect the international destination wedding business. Fortunately, we are at the rear end of this wedding season so the ones that were planned are done. The summer weddings will probably get postponed to winter. The winter wedding season will get extremely busy I think.”

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Mohomed Morani, Director, Cineyug informed clients about the effects by saying, “Yes, certainly it has impacted the Wedding Business. There has been a mixed response regarding the big fat Indian wedding. In India couples and their families are postponing & not cancelling the wedding celebration & functions. They are keeping a lowkey affair and gathering. While outside India, Weddings are getting cancelled for various other reasons. In India, 50% weddings are being deferred & the rest 50% wedding celebrations are on schedule due to the various financial implications. The medium & small wedding planners in the industry will definitely get financially affected due to the deferred wedding celebrations leading to in some cases shutting shop. The established wedding planners can survive this downturn due to their strong bottom line. They should keep a wait & watch approach and not set the panic bells ringing leading to the insecurity in the minds of their employees and vendors & in the industry.”

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Bhavnesh Sawhney, Director, FB Celebrations added, “Yes, we do feel that the Covid-19 virus has a serious impact on the business because a lot of clients are downsizing their events or postponing them. Wedding dates are changing due to this and the guests prefer not travelling. A lot of things that were planned for are being re-planned and this will incur losses to the family as weddings are planned much in advance and viruses like this cannot be predicted prior but neither can we go ahead with large gatherings being aware of the current situation and the probability of the guests catching any sort of sickness. We all have to stand together and overcome this world problem.”

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Yogesh Gajwani, Director, YS Design Studio, commented further on the postponing of destination weddings by adding, “Yes, corporate events and private parties have been affected. But as far as weddings are concerned I don’t think it really has had an impact. As the few wedding invitations that we are doing, we haven’t heard from the family or event planners for any postponement. Maybe people see a smaller gathering and may not expect as many people, as on the whole people are avoiding large gatherings. Surely, destination weddings are either being postponed or relocated to local destinations.”

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Speaking of weddings getting postponed, Badal Jain, Director, Badal Raja Company added the conversation by saying, “Yes, I’ve witnessed few of my international weddings slated for this April being relocated or postponed to indefinite date. It will have a bigger impact than we thought and I wish that some miracle should happen to stop the spread with immediate effect. As of now I seriously think that I’m happy to be safe at home with family.”

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Furthermore, Manika Garg, Co-Founder and VP, E-Factor Entertainment said, “Without a doubt the Coronavirus has wreaked havoc in the business sphere in various ways. Whether real or perceived, the impending has made people susceptible to rumors and over reaction. Many events are being cancelled and this shall have a long, telling effect on our industry… Fortunately the main wedding season is over in North India but still the market for destination weddings for summer is hugely dented… I hope that the rising temperatures may soon provide the environmental relief from this and life gets back on an even keel.”

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Sandy and Kapil Khurana, Directors, EDC added, “It is most certainly a complex situation . The scare is at multiple levels across all businesses which will eventually affect the supply chain and price of all essentials impacting not only the average daily life of people associated and working in our industry but businesses as well owing to all last minute cancellations. However, we need to keep the outlook positive for things will change soon and we need to hope for the best.”

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In order to reassure clients and bring forth the resilience of the wedding industry, Rajeev Jain, Director, Rashi Entertainment said, “For a while, everything was at a standstill. But we realized that the wedding industry was safe because the major weddings of this season happened in February. The April, May, June weddings are slightly impacted, but hopefully, it should subside soon. The thing about weddings is that they are fun… It’s about a ritual! Weddings will continue to happen because people will continue to get married. We are seeing a short stall momentarily, but after a sudden decline, the industry will certainly bounce back and double the speed!”

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Speaking about some of the measures that event agencies are undertaking to contain this imminent threat Alim Morani, Division Head, Dome Occasions said, “On a general level and on an event specific level, we are working on putting forth a set of guidelines to become a common practice in all the events we do from here on. The guidelines would be different for different sets of people involved in putting an event together. For example, there would be strict rules for all labor working on an event in the production department- rules pertaining to sanitation of the hands at regular intervals. All fabrics and cloths would need to be sprayed with disinfectant, including draping, sofas, seat covers, etc. There would be a different set of guidelines for the catering team as well to ensure the highest level of hygiene is maintained. While details are still being worked on, this is a gist of what we can do.”

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In addition, expressing concern over fear mongering by media personnel, Sachit Mittal, Director, Innocept Studio, stated, “Two of our Thailand weddings have recently got cancelled. I am also aware of many other weddings that have been cancelled. Having said that, it is actually the unnecessary media hype and exaggeration and not the Covid-19 Virus that is doing the damage to our business!”

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Mahesh Shirodkar, MD, Tamarind Global stepped on board, agreeing with the previous statements and said, “These are yet early days and due to the uncertainty there is a lull along with a wait and watch period- the global sentiment currently is surely impacted, especially decision making, for destination weddings, with the media- electronic, print and social calling an ant an elephant so to speak. However Indians are not only optimists but also resilient- the power of media works positively or negatively and hopefully in q2 the exaggerated ‘fears’ will subside and the bounce back will surely happen- Wedding dates are mostly centred in q4 and q1 of 2021 so in my opinion we should be back to confirming venues and weddings by latest end of q2- the pessimistic scenario would be staycation celebrations and festivities in the respective Indian cities- I also feel this is the time to introspect and exercise austerity especially with unnecessary spending, and develop and train the existing human resources to multitask for future optimisation . Lastly time for the industry to collectively rally and send positive messages wherever possible, to combat false rumours and reports. Here, working with tourism boards and organisations to have hotels offer early bird commercially attractive incentives may just propel advance commitments – and finally, in the interim, the term masking in our events industry may just adopt a different meaning.”

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Rituraj Khanna, MD, Q Events by Geeta Samuel further the conversation by adding, “We have not had any cancellations yet. I think the hype that the media is creating is making things worse. Possibly, international weddings may be cancelled as guests may be apprehensive to travel overseas.”

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Lastly, Chetan Vohra, Director, Weddingline, concluded the conversation by adding, “Short on the heels of the demonetisation and then the gst roll outs, if there way anything that the wedding industry did not need – it is another major disruption. Travel and hospitality are closely related to the Wedding Industry and when there are fears of the virus going completely rogue, it creates a panic amongst people who do not wish to travel for even the most important day of their lives. We have seen widespread cancellations – which first started with certain destinations such as Europe and South East Asia being put on the back burner – but now almost everything has come under the same fear psychosis. We are now seeing domestic weddings in destinations such as Rajasthan, Kerala and Goa being carefully evaluated. Rsvp calls to guests reveal that majority are extremely skeptical to travel or even assemble in large gatherings, all the more that government advisories are now being issued.
All this will create a huge impact in the months to come. Few realise that this crisis and cancellations will affect majority of the agencies in the harsh summer months were you counted on business confirmed to pull through. Agencies have only a small reserve of funds to be able to survive this onslaught and with overheads and taxes being what they are, the summer ahead shows a very bleak picture.”