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Gown specialists discuss how to market a brand to brides
The Association of Wedding Gown Specialists held its annual convention in San Diego Feb. 28- March 3, offering informative seminars, social networking, a plant tour, the addition of new board members and the handing out of an award of distinction for a full schedule of events.
AWGS President Kermit Engh presented the prestigious Jack Barth Memorial Award of Excellence to Chuck Horst of Margaret’s Cleaners in San Diego.
The award recognizes a member of AWGS for his or her advancement, promotion and development of industry standards for wedding gown care and for outstanding contributions and service to the association and its members.
Horst is a longtime member of AWGS and has cultivated a reputation as being an innovative industry trend-setter with impeccable cleaning and customer service standards.
In fact, his plant is credited with cleaning a $250,000 gown that is considered the most expensive in AWGS history.
Last year, his 22,000-sq.-ft. plant in San Diego received the American Drycleaner grand prize for best plant design. That same plant, which Engh referred to as a “Disneyland for drycleaners,” was open for a tour for members of AWGS during the convention.
“Margaret’s is pleased to welcome the association to San Diego, and I am honored to receive this award, but it is important for you to know there are seven members of my family in the business and I could not begin to accomplish all that we do without them,” Horst said.
Also during the convention, AWGS called in several expert speakers, including: Sonny Ganguly, chief marketing officer of WeddingWire.com, who suggested the group focus its marketing strategies to accentuate visual aspects.
“Focus on the visual with a consistent look that is relevant to your message,” he noted.
Lynne LaFonde DeLuca from the Academy of Special Event Professionals discussed harnessing the lucrative market of luxury brides, defined as the top 5% of the market whose weddings cost $100,000 and more.
“Remember, the luxury bride does not have a budget; she has a spending plan,” said DeLuca. “Also, there are four types of luxury brides and you must learn the buzz words that appeal to each type.”
Also presenting during event were Alan Berg, founder of the Wedding Industry Leaders Conference, Kate Harrison, founder of Green Bride Guide and Rick Brewer, a long-time wedding professional.
Berg outlined ten ways that websites can kill business.
“Your websites’s home page is your receptionist and the button or tabs represent questions you answer when the bride clicks on the tab,” he said. “Try to answer the questions that help her understand you better, and give her better choices, not more.”
Harrison noted that “green” is on of the top five global wedding trends as 78 percent of brides currently are looking to reduce the carbon footprint left by their weddings.
She also encouraged members to take advantages of AWGS partnerships with Carbonfund.org and GreenBrideGuide.com.
Lastly, Brewer examined a four-step plan for developing a strong relationship with brides that emphasizes what you can offer to them.
“Brides do business with people they like and trust, not with a business card,” he noted.
Before the event culminated, AWGS announced its incoming members of the board, including Jamie Zurat of Classic Cleaners in Lemoyne, PA, and Dave Barker of Drycleaning by Dave in Calgary, Alberta. Leon Neal of Classic Cleaners in Indianapolis, IN, retired from the board.
New members who attended the meeting included David Machesney of Pratt-Abbott Cleaners in Portland, ME, and Leema and Dudu Mofokeng of Legacy Drycleaning and Laundry Services in Pretoria, South Africa.
TCATA conference comes to San Diego
“Today’s Vision, Tomorrow’s Reality” will be the theme of this year’s convention for the Textile Care and Allied Trades Association. The event will take place from July 31 to August 3 at the Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego, CA.
The schedule kicks off on Wednesday, July 31 with a board meeting from 1 to 5 p.m.
Later in the evening, the association will host an opening reception at 6:30 p.m.
The business programs, which begin on Friday morning planned, include “Release Your Inner Nerd: Internet Tools and Search Secrets to Make the Computer Your Friend” by Beth Ziesenis from 9 to 9:45 a.m.
Ziesenis will take the mystery out of online tools and smart searching to help attendees increase productivity and will have a quick reference guide to more than 70 favorite tools.
Then, from 10 a.m. to noon, Barry Maher from Barry Maher & Associates will present “Slicing Through the Noise: Powerful Communication for Leadership and Professional Success.”
In his session, he will help attendees learn how to connect instantly with their employees and their customers and overcome some of the most common counterproductive communication problems.
On Saturday, Mike Marks of the Indian River Consulting Group will head an interactive session on “New Pathways to Growth” from 9 a.m. until noon.
He will cover four major subject areas, including: dealing with an aging workforce; emerging threats and opportunities; options for selling new products; and pricing strategies.
Later that evening, TCATA will host a closing reception.
The cost for registration is $695 for members and $295 for spouses prior to June 26; after, the cost goes up to $745 and $345.
Rooms at the Rancho Benardo Inn are also available at a rate of $199 nightly through TCATA. Call (800) 542-6069 for reservations. For more information, visit TCATA online at www.tcata.org or call (973) 244-1790.

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