Market Evaluation and Business Plan of Party Planner Business

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3.3 Semi structured interviews

3.3.1 Purpose

Researcher used semi-structured interviews as the other method of collecting primary data for the project because “semi-structured interviews facilitate the researcher to ask new questions based on the context and to change the order of the prepared questions based on the research” (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2012, p. 681). Therefore the researcher conducted semi-structured interviews as it enabled gathering a rich and a detailed set of data.

The reasons that the researcher conducted semi-structured interviews are many. Semi-structured interviews were supportive in understanding the reasons behind the participants’ decision in hiring a party planner and it allowed the researcher to understand the participant’s attitudes and opinions on the research subject. Accordingly in conducting this type of interview the researcher had the opportunity to probe on the participants’ answers.

The interview questions were prepared and asked with the objective of finding out the following.

  • reasons behind getting the services of party planners
  • concerns for budget
  • participants’ expectations from party planners
  • opinions about party planners hired or observed
  • participants’ opinion about the researchers’ innovative idea business ideas e.g. 360 degree viewing

Audio recordings of the interviews were made with the permission of each interviewee for further analysis. Recording interviews provided the research student with many advantages such as;

  • total concentration could be made on questioning and listening as there wasn’t any need of notes taking
  • the ability to re-listen to the conducted interview
  • ability to use direct quotes depending on interviewee’s statements
  • precise data could be provided

3.3.2 Procedure

The researcher conducted internet mediated semi-structured interviews as most of the participants were from Sri Lanka and some were from Sri Lankans living abroad. Ten questions were prepared with the guidance of the supervisor and some extra questions were asked to gain some more information based on the answers given by the respondents to gather rich and detailed data on the research topic.

The researcher used personal contacts as mentioned in section 2.2, in finding the participants and made an open invitation to be interviewed. Interviews of the female participants were self-selecting participants who had experience of hiring a party or who were in the process of planning a wedding or child’s birthday party. Out of the 21 interested female participants the researcher was able to interview 11 participants because of the time constraints and the time difference New Zealand has with Sri Lanka. Male participants and the supplier interview were contacted using personal contacts.

Once the respondents’ contact numbers and the email addresses were collected, the researcher sent the interview consent form via email for their perusal and at the beginning of the interview each participant was told about the consent form and the interview was conducted only when they conveyed the message that they have read and understood the consent form and their rights.

A specific time to interview each participant was allocated depending on their work schedules and their availability. Then they were reminded of the fact that the interview is being recorded for further analysis.

The research student used Viber and Facebook messenger forums as the modes of interviewing. The reason to use these was that it is cost effective and they provide making international calls at a low cost and it was convenient for the participants as well. Many issues were faced during the interviewing process, the main issue was with the time difference with Sri Lankan time and especially the supplier interview was conducted during mid night from here as his free time was after 8.00 pm in Sri Lanka. Similarly the researcher had to face signal failures with most of the interviews and some were interrupted with background noise as well.

3.3.3 Sample

Interviews were conducted among 15 participants and all the participants were professionals in different fields. They were in the age group of 25 to 40 and two of them had hired party planners in planning functions more than once.

3.3.4 Pilot study

The pilot test was done, conducting one interview with one of the selected participants to get to know whether the questions are understandable and whether it helps in getting the required details. Prior to the pilot test the participant was made aware of the pilot test and upon her willingness a time was allocated for the interview.

Then an internet mediated interview was conducted by using the Viber forum and the researcher tested the interviewee’s understandability of the interview questions and made attention to the answers given.

Therefore as a result of the pilot test question numbers 4 and 9 were added to the prepared questions in order to gather more details on the research topic.

3.3.5 Data analysis

The conducted interviews were recorded.  The researcher listened several times in interpreting the qualitative data and identified some coding units such as patterns, particular words, items and themes. Then the gathered data was presented under the identified coding units.

3.4 Effects of bias and the steps taken to control

The researcher was mindful of the effects of bias from the beginning and steps were taken to minimize such effects in conducting the online questionnaire and semi-structured interviews. As the questionnaire is circulated in Sri Lanka where the first language is not English, the researcher used simple English in designing the questions to make it easily understandable.

The questions were ordered starting from simple attribute questions and then up to behavioral and opinion questions to minimize order bias. In designing the research questionnaire, leading questions or ambiguous questions were not included to minimise response bias. The researcher sent personalized invitations through Facebook messenger to the intended recipients to reduce nonresponse bias.

Participants’ willingness to take part in the interview was asked prior to the interview and only the agreed participants were interviewed. The consent to interview was emailed prior to the interview for interviewee’s perusal.

The researcher spent some time in understanding the background of each interviewee before each interview as participants have different perceptions and different backgrounds. The researcher was mindful in asking appropriate questions and therefore avoiding leading questions or ambiguous questions. And from the beginning of the interview the researcher paid the fullest attention to the interview and demonstrated attentive listening skills.

Since the interview was done over the phone using Viber platform, the researcher was extra careful in handling the tone to prevent being interviewer bias. Interviewee or response bias was reduced by inquiring about their willingness to be interviewed. By giving the opportunity to the interviewee to choose the time for the interview, bias to participation was minimised.

3.5 Issues of validity and reliability

The researcher took necessary steps to avoid issues in validity and reliability as well as minimizing bias effects of the research. To enhance the validity and the reliability of the questionnaire, the researcher complied with the following;

  • stated clear instructions
  • avoided ambiguous and leading questions
  • used simple language in forming the question

To overcome the issues from conducting semi-structured interviews, the researcher adhered to the following;

  • interviews conducted only among the participants who were willing to be interviewed
  • used different types of questioning
  • paid fullest attention by listening thoroughly
  • recorded the interview with the consent of the interviewee

3.6 Conclusion

The researcher has conducted a descriptive research with a deductive research approach, a multiple methods research design using the survey strategy. In meeting the research objectives both primary and literature review data were assessed. An online questionnaire and semi-structured interviews were conducted in gathering primary data pertaining to the research. Some modifications were made to the questions as a result of the pilot test and in circulating the questionnaire and in interviewing participants a convenience sampling method was used. The researcher demonstrated fullest attention to minimize being bias during the research process hence increasing the validity and the reliability of this process.

4. Ethics

4.1 Introduction

The researcher was always careful in maintaining the integrity with the participants of the research and therefore the entire process of the research was carried out abiding by the set terms and conditions.

4.2 Ethical and cultural considerations

The research student was mindful of the ethical and cultural barrier, as the research was conducted in Sri Lanka where there are significant cultural variations when compared to New Zealand.

As the first language of Sri Lanka is not English, researcher used simple language in designing the online questionnaire and the semi-structured interview questions. Similarly some interviews were conducted in Sinhalese (the first language of Sri Lanka), as some participants were more comfortable with it and they could express their real idea using their own language.

The personal details of those who took part in the semi-structured interviews were not disclosed when writing up the results and direct quotes were mentioned depending on the content of the interviews, to make points and provide the ‘voice of the participant’ in the research.

4.3 Measures taken to address the issues

The researcher was careful in taking the measures described below to address the issues of anonymity, informed consent, non-disclosure of information and the nature of participation and withdrawal.

4.3.1 Anonymity

The researcher did not collect the personal details such as names, contact numbers or email addresses to secure the anonymity of the participants who took part in the online questionnaire. Even though the interviews been recorded for further analysis researcher did not use the participants’ real names in the write up to maintain their anonymity.

Some participants in this research were discussing their experiences of using others’ services or identifying preferred features of future or past events which are very special to them. It was very important to keep their identity and feelings about these personal events, confidential.

4.3.2 Informed consent

The circulated online questionnaire was designed with the consent and the purpose of the research was clearly mentioned. Similarly upon agreeing to be interviewed the consent to interview was emailed to the interviewees for their perusal. Moreover at the beginning of each interview the researcher made sure by asking that the interviewees have read and signed the consent forms before proceeding.

4.3.3 Nature of participation and scope to withdraw

All the participants were informed in the information sheet about their ability to withdraw at any time to confirm the voluntarily nature of participation in the questionnaire and in the interviews.

4.3.4 Non-disclosure of information

The online questionnaire was designed in a way where the personal details of the respondents were not recorded to the system. However interviewees’ personal details were asked in the interviews to gather background details but the researcher was mindful in securing their confidentiality in writing the results. Therefore created names were used when describing the content and using quotes.

4.4 Data storage and destruction

Gathered internet mediated primary data was printed and stored in a duly locked place and will be destroyed according to SIT prevailing destruction policy after five years.

4.5 Conclusion

The researcher was careful in the set ethical and cultural considerations and has taken steps and measures to address the issues as mentioned and made sure to meet the ethical guidelines set by SIT.

5. Results

5.1 Introduction

The researcher has conducted a research questionnaire and semi-structured interviews in gathering primary data pertaining to this primary research. To describe the relationships, trends and to explore the quantitative data that had been gathered from the questionnaire; the researcher will use the techniques such as graphs, charts and statistics (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2012).

The qualitative data that has been gathered from conducting semi-structured interviews is summarized and categorized by identifying different patterns, trends and characteristics (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2012). Therefore the qualitative data is presented with discussion of these patterns and themes.

5.2 Data analysis techniques

When respondents submitted their completed questionnaires online, the individual data was recorded in the google drive automatically since the researcher conducted an internet mediated questionnaire. After completing the questionnaire the collected data was exported into an excel spread sheet. Then the results are shown in appropriate forms of graphs, charts and tables where these can be more easily understood.

The researcher conducted semi-structured interviews in order to gather qualitative data as described earlier and they were audio-recorded with the permission of the interviewees. Then subsequently the audio-recording was transcribed using actual words and important factors were summarized (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2012).  After identifying revealed themes, patterns and relationships, the data was reported using the researchers’ own text and a selection of quotations from the interviewees (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2012).

5.3 Relevance of data collected

The researcher conducted the primary data collection process in a way of a survey questionnaire and interviews as defined above, while the secondary data providing background to the research, was gathered referring to journals, magazines and newspapers and this material was presented in the literature review.

The researcher was precise when designing questions for the questionnaire and interviews prior to data collection. Questions were formed to find answers to the research question and to meet the research objectives (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2012, p. 423). Moreover gathered data was particularly used in validating the following;

  • designing the important components in the business concept,
  • implementing the marketing strategy and in pricing,
  • designing job analysis and job descriptions of employees,
  • analysing risk and in capitalizing the business.

Consequently the results and the findings of the research are detailed as below.

5.4 Questionnaire Results

5.4.1 Age & gender (Question 1 & 2)

The researcher has mentioned age groups starting from 18 to 40 and above. Out of the 211 participants in the questionnaire only 1% represents the category of 40 and above and the age groups of 26-30 and 31-39 has got the highest percentage. 30% of the respondents in the questionnaire are males while 70% are female.

Therefore it could be seen that the participants from age 26 to 39 have actively taken part in the research and among 158 participants in the age of 26 to 39, 130 were females. So it is revealed that the females in the age from 26 to 39 have shown more interest on the research subject. It is anticipated that the main target customers will be in the 26 to 39 age group, with mainly females planning these events. This pattern of respondents was expected because of the organisations used to distribute the questionnaire. This age group concentration suits this research project.

Figure 3  – Age group

5.4.2 Marital status and whether they have children (Question 3 & 4)

Customers’ status is significant for a party planning company in getting business. Singles and ‘about to get marrieds’ are important in getting business for wedding planning and the married ones are important in getting business in childrens’ birthday party planning. Therefore the researcher has got 47% responses from the single; and about to get married; categories and 52% from the married which shows 99% of respondents from the potential customer base.

Figure 4 – Marital status

There are 76 participants who have children out of the 110 who are married which shows a current potential customer base of 69% for children’s birthday parties from the married group.

5.4.3 Annual level of income (Question 5)

The researcher’s intention in including this question was to find out participants’ ability in hiring a party planner and to recognise the target customer segment income wise.10% of the participants are earning an annual income of LKR 300,001 to LKR 500,000 while 21% are earning an income of LKR 500,001 to LKR 1,000,000 and 19% of the participants are earning an annual income over LKR 1,000,001.

Among all the respondents, 50% of the participants are earning an annual income over LKR 300,000. As the majority of the participants earn an annual income over LKR 300,000, the researcher intends to value the party packages based on this data. Results show that 76 out of 162 participants who are positive about hiring party planners earn an annual income over LKR 300,000. It can be seen further in the findings that 76 respondents out of 105 who earn more than LKR 300,000 declared that they will get the service of a party planner and it represents a percentage of 72%. This does demonstrate that income is a factor influencing who hires a party planner.

Figure 5 – Annual income

5.4.4 Previous experiences with party planners (Question 6 & 7)

The researcher included these two questions to measure the participants’ awareness about the business idea. However there were only 37 participants who have previously taken the service of a party planner but there were 137 who have been to a function that was planned by a party planner. It shows that party planning is an emerging business and the total participants who have been exposed to functions which were organised by hiring party planners was 65%. Therefore the percentage indicates a potential customer base for the business.

As the majority of the participants were aware of the business idea, this indicates that the researcher doesn’t need to waste time on making customers aware of this business concept and that time could be utilized in promoting the benefits of this particular business.

Figure 6 – Participants awareness of parties planned by party planners

5.4.5 Aspiration for using the services of a party planner (Question 8)

This question was included to get a clue of the majority’s opinion on the researcher’s business idea. As a result 46 participants have strongly agreed while 116 participants have agreed about getting the services of a party planner in planning their remarkable life events, which shows a percentage of 77% of potential customers from this group of participants. Hence it makes a favorable condition for the business to enter in to the field.

Only one participant has strongly disagreed, and that participant is a male participant who earns an annual income below LKR 100,000 and whose status is single. However the researcher will be focusing on the customers who earn an annual income over LKR 300,000 who are in the middle class or upper middle class society.

Figure 7– Aspirations in getting the service of a party planner

5.4.6 Party planners’ ability in organising a hassle free function (Question 9)

This question was included to re-confirm respondents’ favorable opinion about the service of party planners under the previous question. As mentioned above, 64% of the participants are willing to use the services of a party planner while an overall percentage of 90% have agreed on the opinion that by using the services of a party planner, they can have a more hassle free function.

Figure 8 – Ability of having a hassle free function in hiring a party planner

5.4.7 Willingness to recommend getting the services of a party planner (Question 10)

The researchers’ intention in including this question was to further confirm their favorable view on the business idea. Therefore 80% of the participants are willing to recommend to others to get the services of a party planner, which represents an overall figure of the agreed and tend to agreed participants. This indicates that word of mouth is likely to be an important factor in this industry.

Figure 9 – Willingness of recommending the services of party planners

5.4.8 Perceptions on the cost factor (Question 11)

Researchers’ intention in having this question was to gather information on respondents’ ability for spending in order to make it supportive in pricing the service. Therefore it could be recognized as a positive condition where 67% of the participants are willing to spend more than LKR 100,000 for their wedding planning and 59% of the participants are willing to spend more than LKR 15,000 for planning their child’s birthday party.

Moreover 20% of the respondents are prepared to spend LKR 150,000 to LKR 250,000 while 19% of the respondents don’t mind spending more than LKR 250,000 for planning their wedding functions which shows a healthy potential. Consequently 19% of the respondents are ready to spend LKR 25,000 to 50,000 while another 7% is ready to spend more than LKR 50,000 in getting their child’s birthday party organized, showing a potential customer base for the intended business.

Figure 10– Ability of spending

5.4.9 If you were looking for a party planner how would you most likely get the details of businesses offering these services (Question 12)

The researcher included this question to identify the potential media in carrying out the marketing campaign to promote the business. The question was designed in a way where one participant can select any number of methods that they prefer.

Therefore the highest percentage chose the recommendations from family and friends and another high percentage chose websites and Facebook. This indicates the business should focus more on using a website and Facebook for promotional purposes while providing high quality services to customers to encourage recommendations to be given.

Table 1 – Perceptions towards the given promotional media

Method Paper advertisements Advertisements in magazines Facebook Website Recommendations
No. of participants 28 51 117 130 151

Seven participants have mentioned their suggestions using the “other” option and they are google maps, google, event exhibitions such as “My wedding” annual exhibition, Kandy mums FB page, banners, posters and flyers.

 5.4.10 Convenience of the business premises

Intention of including this question was to measure the importance of the business location for customers. Question was a 5 point numeric rating question where the number 5 being very important and number 1 being less important.

Therefore 36% responded that location is very important while 28% rated it as high importance and for 27% of the participants it was with moderate importance. As a result, the convenience of the business location is important for 64% of the respondents which is a considerably high rate which means the researcher has to identify a convenient location for the business.

Figure 11 – Convenience of the business premises

5.4.11 Questions from 14 to 20

These questions were designed to measure the respondents’ attitudes on the aspects that is discussed below, if they were to plan and organise a wedding or a child’s birthday party by getting the service of a party planner.

Questions were formed as rating questions to rate from 1 to 5, with 5 being very important and 1 being not important. These questions were formed with the intention of gathering data pertaining to the service, processes and people that are engaged in operating the business.

Following table shows the results gained.

Table 2 – Results gained for questions from 14 to 20

Smooth running of the event

This aspect was rated very important by 63% of the respondents while another 23% rated it as important. Therefore this will be helpful to the researcher in preparing the business concept as this could be mentioned as an important element where 86% of the respondents have measured as important.

Planning of the entire event including organising suppliers

This was mentioned to measure the respondents’ attitudes with regard to the party planners’ service in planning of the entire event including the suppliers of food, music, party tents and other required party needs.

It could be seen that 57% of the respondents have taken it as very important while another 26% has treated it with much importance and only 5% has rated it as not important. However 83% from the overall respondents have rated it as an important aspect.

Attractiveness of the decorations used

Majority of the participants have treated the attractiveness of the decorations used as important. 65% of the respondents have rated as very important and another 24% has rated as much important and it altogether shows a favorable figure of 89%.

 Innovativeness and creativeness

This was included to assess the respondents’ opinion on party planners’ creativeness and innovativeness as the researcher intends to make new innovations to the service. Therefore the results shows that this as an important aspect where 68% of the respondents have rated it as very important while 21% of the respondents have rated as much important and altogether it shows 89% of a favorable figure.

Overall organising and planning of the function to lower cost

The researcher included this aspect to measure majority’s opinion on organising functions according to the customers’ budget. Therefore 115 respondents have rated it as very important where 59 of the respondents have rated as much important. Hence it shows that 174 respondents among 211 have given their preference as significant on the idea of planning to lower cost the functions.

Understanding and a friendly team

This was added to measure the importance of having a friendly and an understanding team where it will be supportive in hiring and training the employees to the company. As a result for 160 respondents, it was very important and to 38 respondents it had been a much important aspect. It shows a total number of 198 respondents among 211 who responded to the questionnaire which could be seen as the statement which has the highest number of rating as very important.  This was a slightly surprising finding but considering the close interaction needed between party planner and client it can be understood why this was seen as the most  important factor.

On time arrangements and overall time management of the party planner

This was included to assess the importance that the customers would give for on time arrangements and time management of a function. As a result it shows that majority of the respondents have rated it with a significant importance. Therefore 80% of the respondents have rated it as very important while another 13% has rated it with much importance and altogether it shows a positive percentage of 93%.

Provision of security at the event

Seeing this as a significant factor when organising a function, it was decided to include security as an additional rating question in the questionnaire to measure respondents’ opinion on the same. And the results shows that 124 respondents had rated this as very important where another 53 respondents have rated this as much important in planning a wedding or a child’s birthday party.

The outcome of the rating questions from 14 to 21 is summarized as follows and as per the graph it could be clearly stated that the majority is giving a significant preference to the discussed aspects and features of a party planning service. All of these factors were rated as important to the majority of respondents so these will all be important services to offer to customers but the more personal factors relating to friendliness and time management rated the highest indicating that interpersonal skills will be very important in this business.

Figure 12 – Customer expectations

5.4.12 What makes people to get the service of a party planner (Question 22)

This question was formed to get an understanding of the actual reasons which makes people engage the services of a party planner. The question was designed as a multiple choice question where the respondents can select all the reasons that apply. The outcome is detailed in the table below.

Table 3 – Reasons to hire a party planner

As per the results, it shows the popular reasons are wanting to free up their time during the event to mix with the guests, as they are busy and the fear about the smooth operation of the event. These reasons are helpful to the researcher in approaching and marketing to the appropriate target customer segment.

 5.4.13 Participants comments for the open ended question (Question 23)

This was an open ended question that was included in the questionnaire to gather details about respondents ’different perceptions in getting the service of a party planner. Some of the comments that were made are as follows.

  • Hiring party planners helps in many ways. It is very important as people are busy with their occupation.
  • It would be better if there are pre-defined packages
  • Now-a-days people are busy with their work. Therefore hiring a party planner is a great idea. Currently Sri Lankans trend also think about hiring party planner to hold a successful event without stress. Party planner should have good marketing qualities, innovative ideas, good customer relationship as well as people management. Hence that I think this is good business opportunity in Sri Lanka.
  • At the moment one can observe a growing trend of planning themed kids’ birthday parties through party planners in Kandy and can expect the same with planning weddings in the future. So I think this is a current need of the society.

5.5 Summary

The results show that party planning is an emerging business since it shows a good potential customer base. It could be seen that the majority of the target market seek the service of party planners as they are busy and because of the wanting to mix with their guests. Similarly it is revealed that time management, an understanding and friendly team, innovativeness and creativity were the main features that the customers look for when selecting a party planner.

5.6 Findings of the semi-structured interviews

The interviews were carried out among three different categories of participants as follows.

1. Those with past experience of having hired party planners for a function.

2. Those who are seeking information about party planning for an up-coming event.

3.  Those who could be potential suppliers to events whom the business partner with.

The following tables outline the personal characteristics of the interview participants. As discussed in section 5.4.1 it can be seen with the findings of the interviews as well that females are more interested in the research subject as only the female participants were self-selected to be interviewed while male participants were identified through personal contacts as discussed in the Methodology section. All the interviews are in the age range of 25 to 40.

Table 4 – Category 1 – Those who had experiences in hiring party planners

Table 5 – Category 2 – Potential customers who look forward to have their functions in the near future in Kandy

Table 6 – Category 3 – suppliers

The findings of the interviews carried with category 1 and category 2 interviewees are as follows.

5.6.1 Main reasons that you did, or you intend to, hire a party planner

It was revealed that they all wanted the help of a party planner in planning their functions   according to their life schedules. They had various reasons as follows:

  • Because the couple live in different parts of the country or different countries.
  • Busy schedules.
  • Need of doing something creative and innovative.
  • Both working abroad.
  • To get the best deals from the suppliers
  • Minimise stress and work load.

It can be seen that the mentioned reasons shows a fit with the points identified in the questionnaire and the literature review where busy life schedules has been identified as a major factor for hiring a party planner.

5.6.2 Concerns on the cost budget of the function

It could be seen that all the participants in category 1 and 2 have concerns about cost budgeting of their functions and all of them seems to have expectations on the party planners support to them to stay within their budgets without affecting the quality or the standard of the event. Furthermore it is revealed that they expect the party planner to get the best deals from the suppliers in a cost effective way.

5.6.3 Features that are given most importance when selecting a party planner

They have pointed out that convenience, assisting with the cost budget, friendliness, flexibility, reputation, customer service, ability to select cost effective suppliers, ability to meet during weekends, responsible, understanding, innovations and creativity as the factors which influence their decision to select a party planner.

Findings shows that all the participants who reside in Sri Lanka find it difficult to meet the planners during weekdays as they themselves and their partners are fulltime employed professionals. Therefore they expect understanding, convenience, friendliness and ability to meet during weekends. Similarly as it is revealed from the interviews and from the literature review that they have the intention to out-do the others in their society in the impression made by their event so they expect innovations and creativity. Furthermore their comments show that because these are remarkable life events, they want reputed, responsible party planners to assist them with budgeting their cost and to get the best deals from the suppliers.

5.6.4 Idea of customised functions

It could be seen that the category 1 participant from Welisara (Western province of Sri Lanka) has been to cutomised functions and she thinks that it’s a brilliant idea. Out of the four participants from Kandy in category 1, only one participant has been to customised functions, she stated she has been to two or three customised functions and she said she thinks it’s really trendy at this moment. Another one said that it’s really important to customize to make a difference and provide a unique experience, while another participant stated, that’s what they were missing in their party planning because generally the customers have to go with the planners’ ideas that were dependent on what they currently offer. Similarly another participant emphasized that “if we consider about weddings, we have seen the same thing again and again, if the customised function will be in the market that would be great”. Similarly it can be seen with their comments that majority had faced difficulties with the planner they had because they had to accept some features and structures of the planner as their service was not customised.

It shows that all the category 2 participants liked the idea of customised functions and the majority went on commenting that they need their function to be the way that they expect it to be.

5.6.5 Showing a 360 degree image of the layout in advance to the function

This is a new function for the industry in Sri Lanka and has been developed for use by this business so it was important to test the popularity of this new and innovative idea.

It could be seen that all the participants gave their positive feedback towards the idea of showing an image of the layout prior to the function as they commented on the importance saying that it’s a brilliant idea. Moreover they revealed that with the help of this they get the ability in adjusting the things that they have guessed wrong and it will help them to save their funds.

The response did indicate that this extra service could help provide at least a short term competitive advantage for this business. It is recognized that other businesses could also source this technology. The images from previous weddings would provide a valuable marketing and planning tool for the business.

5.6.6 Spending ability

The findings show that four potential customers who are looking to have their weddings next year, are ready to spend LKR 125,000 or more for the service of the party planner and some declared that they are earning more than LKR 85,000 per month which is a high salary scale in Sri Lanka. Similarly it can be seen that one of the participant who is expecting to celebrate the child’s birthday party is ready to spend LKR 25,000 while the other one is ready to spend LKR 30,000 for the party planners’ service in planning the child’s birthday party.

It was stated by one potential customer that they are ready to spend LKR 300,000 for planning her wedding and even another participant in category 1 revealed that she spent LKR 400,000 for her wedding planner. These findings show that the majority will spend higher sums of money since they are remarkable life events; which again shows a fit with the literature review.

These participants were mainly more highly paid professionals and it seems that these groups are willing to pay higher prices for a high quality service. This does indicate that this business should not underprice its services.

5.6.7 Findings from the interview carried out with the supplier

  • With two decades of experience that the supplier possesses in the field, he pointed out that there’s good actual demand for wedding planning and children’s birthday party planning in Kandy.
  • It is revealed that there is a gap in the market to match the customer demand for party planners as there are not sufficient planners at current and there are opportunities for good party planners.
  • The importance of hiring a party planner for planning functions is that they make the function creative, well organised, properly functioning, with on time arrangements and save customer time and funds.
  • As most functions are once in a life time functions, it is important to be coordinated with a party planner to plan a proper quality function and to prevent the mistakes as the damage that might occur to relationships and reputations cannot be easily reversed.
  • It is revealed that there’s a good environment for a good party planning service provider in the area, as there’s a growing class of people who seek such services in Kandy.

5.7 Summary

From the interviews with participants in the category 1, 2 and 3 it can be seen that there is a satisfactory demand for party planners in Kandy from people who work in distance places including the ones who work abroad but who will come home to celebrate big events and the local professionals who will tend to seek the service of the party planners.

5.8 Conclusion

The research findings show that there is an actual potential market for a quality party planning business in Kandy, Sri Lanka, as it has become a current need of the modern society. Therefore the collected primary data further proves the findings of the secondary data that were presented in the literature review which in-turn answers the research questions and objectives. Hence the gathered data is precise in validating the researchers’ business concept and provides many clues as to how a business such as this should be organized and run in order to be successful. These points will appear in the business plan.

Business Plan Elements

6. Business Concept

6.1 Introduction

The researcher’s intention is to establish a party planning service company in the name of “Glamorous party planners” which will specialise in planning wedding functions and children’s birthday parties. Glamorous party planning service would be located in Kandy, which is the main city in the Central Province of Sri Lanka.

Weddings may take place in any month of the year but most of the Sri Lankan Hindu and Buddhist weddings are seasonal. It is due to the astrological auspicious time for marriages. There are many weddings hosted during January, March and some in all the other months of the year. But the months of May, June and July represent the period where the highest number of weddings take place in Sri Lanka (Surasena & Boyle, 2017). Consequently to bridge the gap and to continue the company’s growth during the rest of the months the researcher has come up with the idea of planning children’s birthday parties together with wedding planning to create a better spread of business across the year.

6.2 Business concept of Glamorous

Glamorous would present a hassle free, customised, well organised functions which suit the clients’ budget as it was identified in the section 5.4.11 in the results section. In catering to the exact need of the customer the researcher concentrates in serving the identified niche market. To cope with the prevailing competition Glamorous would be innovative with the times and always would be up to date with the new trends in the market. As the first step of the innovation process Glamorous would create a separate event page and will give access to the client enabling them to monitor the progress of the planning process. Accordingly a 360 degree graphic image will be designed and shown prior to their function day. Hence the customer can have the opportunity of making any adjustments or making any changes to the plan.

The company would engage with faithful, reliable, quality and recommended suppliers who supply the services mentioned in the following list. Consequently the company will work closely and will build up a strong relationship with the mentioned suppliers as the final output of the process depends on them. To avoid unnecessary conflicts, customers are free to select the suppliers from the recommended ones according to their budgets and expectations.

Figure 13– List of suppliers

Location

As the researcher going to use personal contacts and the effective use of advertising, the business will function its operation at an office space in the owner’s house which is located within Kandy city limits, enabling customer convenience as per result finding in section 5.4.10 and reducing fixed costs of the business.

Vision Statement

The company’s vision is to be the leading party planner in the central province within three years of the business establishment.

Mission Statement

Glamorous’ mission is to make the dream a reality by creating cutomised wedding functions and children’s birthday parties without making any harm to the Sri Lankan traditions and the spiritual feelings of the function. Moreover will ensure the smooth flow of the function throughout the event by providing excellent service which would in-tern give a real value for the money spent.

Values

  • Promoting innovation for and value to the customers
  • Demonstrate customised unique functions
  • Committed to excellence
  • Treat all customers in the way we would like to get treated
  • Reliable and open to feedback

Objectives

  • On time arrangements and efficiency and effectivity in planning
  • Party planning according to customers’ budget and ensure friendly coordination of service at all times
  • Organising cutomised functions without harming the true spirit of the function especially within the cultural frames
  • To provide a unique experience to the customer at an attractive price

Company logo

This logo was designed as it describes the glamorous effect of a function with the elegant mixture of colours, used in order to get customer attraction.

6.3 Strengths of the business model

6.3.1 Product/ Service

Glamorous would do the coordination of the wedding functions and planning and organising of childrens’ birthday parties. Glamorous would offer four designed categories of services in organising wedding functions, for the customers to select from. They are been categorized to cater to different needs of the customers due to their different perceptions and different budgetary requirements.

 

 

 

 

 

Childrens’ birthday party package

Table 7 – Service offering for birthday parties

Theme wedding coordination      

Theme weddings have become a fad and a trend today as everyone wants to make a difference in their wedding. Therefore coordination would be provided to make their dream wedding a reality by accomplishing the needs of their theme.

  • Designing of decorations and arranging the venue according to the theme
  • Coordination with the required suppliers with regards to the fulfillment of the wedding theme

 

 

Partial wedding coordination      

This category is for those who need a hand on certain complex areas on the wedding planning process. There are some who have booked some suppliers with their personal contacts but have difficulties in finding other required services. Hence this package is designed to cater to that segment of the clients.

Complete wedding coordination

This package is designed mostly to cater to the needs of the busy fulltime working couples. Glamorous would take the responsibility in planning and organising the whole process of the wedding function on behalf of the couple. The things that needs to get accomplished through-out the coordination process would be divided under three categories to ensure the smooth flow of the event.

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