Every month, we shine the spotlight on weddingsonline suppliers so our readers can get up close and personal with the best in the industry. Today we are speaking with Zeenia Master, a legend in her own right. Zeenia is the founder of Xenia Hospitality Solutions LLP a Mumbai based event planning company that got listed, recently, as one of the top 25 emerging hospitality companies in the country. Zeenia provides us with an exclusive insight into their wedding and event planning services.
1. When and where did your passion for fashion, décor and design begin? When did you realize your creativity and talent could be used to help brides and grooms plan their wedding?
I guess you could call it my upbringing. My mother and father made it a point to introduce me to the finer things in life very early on. My tastes have been heavily influenced by the classics because of this reason. My sense of fashion is formal since I am hotelier by profession, this I attribute to my university Glion Institute of Higher Education where dressing in formals and grooming standards were strictly followed. I think all of this put together and my experience abroad has influenced my design and decor style which has a very heavy European influence. Coming from a hotel background I realised that personalisation was lacking within the wedding industry in India. Brides and Grooms these days are well travelled which means you can’t just slip a shoddy job past them. Their tastes have changed as well which means traditional designs don’t work anymore. Innovation is the name of the game.
2. You recently won an award! Can you tell us a bit about it?
Well the award ceremony got postponed as the CM of Gujrat was going to be the Guest of Honour. Due to security reasons they have postponed the award ceremony indefinitely. Our company however did get listed as the one of the 25 emerging hospitality agencies in the country. That was a feather in the cap and a very good note to end the year.
3. Do you see a difference in the way planners work here in India and abroad?
Definitely there is a vast difference. Professionalism is the key aspect missing within the industry. Higher standards in term of execution there. I think our “Chalta Hain” attitude needs to change. One other aspect is not getting what you were promised. e.g. aspects of your decor aren’t there on the day of the event. But I think the most distinctive factor is the hospitality. We do not take care of our guests the way we should. The Indian industry is now getting there as our clients demand a lot from us but it has a long way to go.
4. What are the main qualities a wedding planner needs to have?
Creativity is the absolute key to surviving in this dynamic industry. It not only enables you to give your clients something new and innovative it also helps you think on your feet during a crisis. Public Relations i.e. people skills are important to get your client to trust you and your vendors to work with you. Passion for the industry as it is a brutal industry with a very small pay out initially. Only the ones that are thoroughly obsessed with their profession would be able to survive this industry.
5. Pinterest has become a major wedding planning resource for Indian brides and their families. Do you use Pinterest too? How different are your ideas as seen on that forum? How do you get the vision out from your client?
Well to be honest I don’t use it as much. Pinterest is more a DIY forum for brides. Most of the ideas are from Western or European weddings which are on a much smaller scale here so personalising everything is doable. But when you take the same idea and try replicate it for 2000 people it takes time and a lot of money. Having said that executing the couples’ vision is what we are here for budget permitting.
6. In India, weddings are a family affair. How do you manage aunts, mothers, mothers in law?
Funny you should ask this. Our business is modeled around the tag line “We invite you to your own wedding.” There is a one person contact for everything and the work is then delegated so that instead of the mama yelling at the caterer it’s someone from our team. This ensures that everyone’s doubts and apprehensions are heard and executed. This also ensures involvement of the family and aiding them to finish their family duties while they still make memories that will last them a lifetime.
7. Do you plan weddings abroad as well? Also, do you cater to budget/intimate weddings?
We do plan weddings abroad. Xenia does events for a wide range of budgets. We try getting the budget from the client before hand and then working backwards. This helps us in the ideation stage as well. That way, we don’t promise the world to our clients and not deliver the same.
8. Describe one wedding that is memorable. For what reasons…?
A wedding we did last year at the NSCI, I would say was by far the most memorable. It was a challenge in every aspect from security to set up and traffic control due to the number of VIPs there. But I think it was more memorable because our clients were extremely understanding and empowered us to do our jobs.
9. Finally, do you see any special trends in the industry and with current clients?
I think personalised Apps for your wedding is the upcoming trend for the season in terms of technology. In terms of colour, I think pastels are the scheme of the season. Also a lot of the bridal outfits are becoming more contemporary rather than traditional.
To book an appointment with Xenia, click here.