Welcome to my first newsletter to help keep us all in contact with relevant issues pertaining to the wedding marketplace. Each week I receive multiple phone calls and emails from wedding suppliers who wish to discuss a wide variety of topics from the Johnny come lately’s, to fly by nighters, to the level of competition in the market, to cheap/overcharging suppliers, to the current economic difficulties, to the effect online shopping is having, to the impact China is having on bridal gowns and shoes, to ABIA award winners who have been breathed, hated, ridiculed and harassed by other suppliers. Many of these topics are worth further discussion amongst other wedding suppliers, so I will try and address as many of these topics as possible throughout my newsletters.I can make these newsletters diplomatic, (I’m the most diplomatic person I know) or I can make them hard hitting or provocative or controversial or touch a nerve. One way or another I hope that they will instil a desire to become proactive and engaged with the market that we are all so passionate about.

“Better you than me” is a phrase I hear very often when talking to suppliers who want to know what it’s like to be the head of ABIA. Not an easy job. You are loved and admired by about 35 people each year in each State, (The ABIA Award Winners) and either hated, despised, disliked or distrusted by some who didn’t win the ABIA. Some have actually gone out and started their own bridal awards; (a total of 9 over the past 11 years) as they thought they could do it better, fairer or more openly, all 9 have gone broke.

No awards system will ever deliver consensus, there will always be varying opinions as to who should or who shouldn’t have taken out the award. Many of the more prestigious awards around the world are educated by judges or panels of experts. Even these are often circumspect as the judges can be “got at”. Awards which are determined by members of the public can, in most occasions be believable, but again not everyone will agree with the outcome.

The ABIA awards are determined by your brides, experts in their field who probably know more about organizing a wedding from go to woo than so called “professional judges”. Almost 30,000 brides are registered by wedding suppliers each year on the ABIA system which equates to 25% of the total annual marriage market (120,000). So winning an ABIA is very desirable for any wedding supplier wishing to promote their business.
As much as I love what I do, there are times when frustration, anger and disappointment enter my day.

There are some low-life, mean, nasty people in this market. People, who for one reason or another find some sort of merciless pleasure out of ridiculing other suppliers and ABIA.

This week we received a call from an ABIA award winner, who was almost in tears. She advised that she wasn’t going to enter her brides for future ABIA awards due to the hate mail, nasty phone calls and Facebook posts she received from vindictive wedding suppliers after her recent award win.
What is wrong with these people? Are they so envious or so jealous or so downright offensive as to admonish a fellow supplier in their time of glory and celebration, having won the ABIA. It was even said to her that ABIA rigged the ratings so she could win the award. Let’s be very clear here; it makes no difference to ABIA who wins any of the 150 winner awards handed out across the 5 mainland States every year, as long as they did it fair and square and followed the rules, that is what’s important to ABIA.

So let’s talk about this. The above is not the first award winner to be ridiculed and scorned by low-life, mean and nasty people in this market. I have had numerous reports like this over the years from ABIA award winners. The ABIA ratings system is as good as it gets. During the 2 audits carried out on ABIA by 2 State authorities (as a result of sore losers), the results which came back, found that the ABIA ratings system was one, if not the best, fairest and most impartial methodology observed by these authorities.

But let’s talk about the “real” cheats or the people who try and “rig” the system, make no mistake, they’re out there. I have banned over 70 suppliers from ABIA over the years (mostly for unprofessional behaviour) and this year alone I have banned 4 wedding suppliers who have tried to rig the ratings system by registering real brides with fake email address. If the system had not “Red Flagged” them, they would have won the ABIA. How would or could anyone stand in front of their peers and accept an award knowing that they cheated.
It is people like these who try and discredit not just ABIA but the hardworking, honest, decent people who try so hard to do the right thing by their brides and get recognised for their efforts via the ABIA awards.

So let’s be clear here; neither I nor ABIA came down in the last shower of rain, I know all the manoeuvres, stunts and shonks which are perpetrated by so called “smart” people when it comes to trying to win an ABIA through false and misleading means, and make no mistake, they get caught and the embarrassment and shame which can be experienced once they get caught is not worth the effort.

Just like ABIA, the majority of people in the wedding market are small family owned, Mum’s and Dad’s business who work tirelessly to deliver the best we can. We are all in the same market; most of us want to do the right thing, but like any other industry there are always the bad apples who want to put down others who strive for; and have achieved excellence.

ABIA will never compromise standards and ethics in its effort to bring integrity and credibility to the bridal industry, after all, it is the integrity of the suppliers who engage in the ABIA ratings system which makes ABIA the credible and prestigious organization that it is today and a few ill informed, disgruntled or envious suppliers should never be allowed to scorn and ridicule the decent hard working and honest wedding businesses who strive every year to elevate the integrity of the bridal industry via the ABIA awards.

If I’ve touched a nerve or you agree or disagree with the above, then I would love to hear back from you with your thoughts on what we can do to further the credibility of our industry.

If you would like to know how the ABIA’s are determined then click here.

Next Week’s Newsletter: Is the wedding market going through tough times?

Kind Regards
Chairman John
john@abia.com.au