We are very excited to announce that we are official sponsors of The Wedding Industry Awards! Because we couldn’t wait to shout about it, we caught up with Damian Bailey, Founder and Chairman of the official judging panel, to find out how wedding industry professionals can be recognised and rewarded in an increasingly competitive industry.
Tell us a little bit about your background in the wedding industry, and how you came up with the idea of The Wedding Industry Awards?
I have been a wedding photographer for about 13 years now and have shot over 500 weddings in that time, winning the 2007 Wedding Photographer of the Year award. I have met and worked with thousands of wedding suppliers and seen a wide variety of quality, but there was very little for prospective brides and grooms to go on when deciding who to book for their wedding. So we set up The Wedding Industry Awards (TWIA) in order to recognize and reward excellence in the wedding industry, and to help couples make better and more educated decisions when booking their wedding suppliers.
Why do you think there is a need for recognising and rewarding excellence in the wedding industry?
The wedding industry is a highly competitive market worth upwards of £5 billion per year. It is also easily accessible by anyone with an idea and a web site. There was a real need for an awards process that helps define excellent quality of products and services that is useful to both the wedding suppliers involved and the brides and grooms planning their weddings. The TWIA logo has become a recognised mark of quality throughout the industry. The need for a neutral industry body to set the standard for the industry is key.
What type of awards are on offer and how are they judged?
We have 25 categories overall. We split the country into 7 regions and present regional awards first, with all regional winners then going through to the national final. As a result our regional awards are arguably more important to wedding suppliers than the national awards that follow as most wedding suppliers only operate within a certain distance of where they are based.
The awards are based on user feedback as only recent clients of those who have entered can vote in the awards (25,000 couples voted this year). We also have the most extensive and expert judging panel the industry has ever seen. These things, combined with a fully transparent judging methodology, are unique to TWIA and make it the most rigorous awards process in the industry. Our awards are highly coveted by wedding suppliers and highly regarded by brides and grooms.
How can the awards help businesses that enter?
Just by entering the awards wedding suppliers are differentiating themselves from those that don’t, and in a competitive market, this is vital. Entrants have access to TWIA branding for use on their web sites and social media platforms, and each is also given a free listing on our directory, which is an incredibly popular resource for anyone organising their wedding. We also provide full voter feedback to all entrants and these scores and comments can be incredibly useful for businesses as they grow and develop. Being a finalist or winning a regional or national award really is the cherry on the cake and can be incredibly valuable to those businesses, but entrants don’t just benefit from a business point of view. For many, being involved with TWIA can really boost self-confidence and the desire to do the very best job possible for their clients.
You have a number of regional awards and then the national final. What are the events like?
Our awards events are amazing parties for people who are usually fully involved in helping other people have the time of their lives! The regional events take place throughout November and the national event takes place in London in January 2017.We have done away with the ‘sit-down-round-a-table’ type of events in order to free everybody up to mingle and connect with whomever they choose. Our events are exciting, glamorous and, of course, brilliant fun. They are often loud and raucous too as everyone gets behind the winners! This industry is full of talented people who work hard and our award events are a unique opportunity for them to get together, forge new working relationships, reinforce existing ones and let their hair down!
Do you have any tips for businesses entering?
The first tip is to enter as there is so much to be gained simply by putting your hat in the ring! Once entered, maximise your involvement by shouting about it on your web site and social media. Your prospective clients will be more than impressed that you have entered or been nominated. Work hard on your judging profile and make it interesting for the judging panel. Show the judges who you are not just what you do. If you become a finalist or win an award there is so much you can do with this achievement, the sky really is the limit!
Regional winners for TWIA 2017 will be announced at regional events taking place throughout November 2016. The national winners will be announced in London on 12th January, 2017. Entries for TWIA 2018 will open in the Summer of 2017. Go to www.the-wedding-industry-awards.co.uk for full details.
Printed.com are sponsoring the Wedding Stationery category award.