We have been cooped up indoors for quite some time. For the safety of our family and colleagues, staying home became the new norm.
What do Singaporeans do when they are stuck at home and have fewer activities to do? Well planning parties became a “thing” that rose from the ashes of the Covid-19 destruction.
Party planners and party product sellers Vulcan Post spoke to said that they’ve seen as much as 300 per cent more enquiries since the government relaxed gatherings to five-per-group from the two-per-group heightened measures (which was implemented in the middle of the year, to curb the spread of the Covid-19 Delta variant).
“The government’s recent announcement allowing five guests in the household has definitely brought a lot more inquiries and booking confirmations. I have secured event bookings for next year. So far, I have received 300 per cent more inquiries,” said Mary Soltysiak, Founder and Director of Estilo & Co Events.
In fact, the party and events firms we spoke to said that customer demand during the pandemic has taken their businesses by surprise. They thought it was going to be the end for them when Covid-19 struck, but business got better instead.
Dora Lee, the Founder of balloons firm Funlah said: “During the pandemic, gifting became very popular and demand for home celebrations increased. This helps us gain more awareness and eventually more orders.”
Online sales take the lead
Dora said that amid Covid-19, most of her customers order online. Some also prefer to chat with them via WhatsApp or Messenger before placing an order online as it is their first-time getting balloons.
“Customers will place their orders online and select their preferred delivery time and date at checkout. The majority of our customers make their orders in advance and we also do same day delivery, subject to our schedule and manpower,” said Dora.
Mary said that she relies on regulars and referrals. “I do get contacted by new clients, especially from referrals. For example, after they (or their child) have attended events that Estilo & Co have styled and loved the set up, they would contact me or recommend our services.”
“Clients can easily book via direct message or through the websites. For all enquiries, I provide them with my marketing decks with the styling themes, prices, and booking details. I do require a booking deposit so they can secure their event date and request for final payment one week before the event,” she said.
Estilo & Co’s events setup costs from S$380 for a basic indoor picnic setting while its table styling starts from S$450. According to Mary, picnics and table styling are the most requested setups, with the Boho style as the most popular styling theme.
“The profit gain depends on the setup in terms of complexity, time invested, and client requirements. Estilo & Co has a wide range of available themes, and I make sure to stock a large inventory of decors and styling pieces to accommodate any of my client’s requests,” said Mary.
According to Mary, she thinks that the reason why customers are splurging on these events despite them being smaller scale parties is because Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of spending time with family and friends.
“Clients will arrange even a simple celebration at home with just family and a few friends to help uplift the spirit. And that’s why we try to make every occasion a memorable experience,” she said.
When it comes to pandemic celebrations, the ones most affected are actually the children, she said. “The restrictions limit the number of guests, which means they have fewer friends who can come over and celebrate with them on their birthdays.”
During the heightened restrictions, it was more challenging to organise events. “For instance, two household guests were only allowed for celebrations, but thankfully there are still event bookings coming in but with smaller setups.”
Hence when Singapore went to two-per group gathering restrictions, the business owner decided to let her clients enjoy the event setup for two consecutive nights without any additional charge so that they can invite two more guests the following day.
“It is a small token of gratitude for clients not cancelling the booking, and for this, I gained loyal customers who booked me again for their next event,” Mary said.
Year-end orders and growth plans
The year-end festive period which usually lasts till Chinese New Year (which takes place in January or February the following year) is usually a time where party planners and sellers rake in the bucks. The business owners agreed with that.
Dora said that demand and enquiries in this quarter have risen by 20 per cent to 30 per cent more compared to other periods.
Mary added: “The company has been very fortunate which has grown in the last year by threefold…It has actually been an inspirational year when I was able to bring fresh ideas to the brand and thankfully develop a positive rapport with my clients. This gives me the drive to continue my passion.”
Thanks to the internet, Mary even gets styling inquiries outside of Singapore, with customers telling her that her work has inspired them. “This positive feedback is really unexpected, and I’m grateful and further determined to provide the best service for my customers. The revenue is more than I’ve been anticipating.”
But the business owners are not resting on their laurels and want to strike the iron while it is hot.
“My styling has expanded to include a lot more services this year – retail styling, photoshoot, and Christmas tree styling,” said Mary.
“I have also been continuously developing new offerings to make celebrations interesting for clients. We have pioneered some of the unique entertaining experiences for events theming, luxe picnic styling and table styling services in Singapore,” she said.
Featured Image Credit: Funlah, Estilo & Co