By Francis Muli
People acquire land during their heyday which they can keep as they wait for prices to appreciate before selling or add to their property portfolio.
To some, it could take them more than a decade before they decide what to do with the land. Should one decide to offload when prices have dipped or stagnant, it means no gain has been made from the property.
Land should not remain idle, its value should be converted into earnings.
For instance, it can be maintained well and rented out for events and weddings that mostly happen during the weekends.
According to Catherine Matsisa, a wedding expert, uncommercialised prime land and unoccupied luxury properties can fetch between Sh100,000 to Sh300,000 a day when converted into wedding venues.
“The venue is the most prominent element of the wedding day as it sets the tone for the event. It is also the largest expense generally comprising 25 per cent of the average wedding budget, (just for rental alone). This is good news for wedding venue owners,” says Matsisa.
The sentiments are supported by Sansi Dietz-D’Souza, a property consultant at Pam Golding who says turning land to wedding venues would rake in rental income earned in a month in just a day.
“If you are a land owner and you make a rental income of Sh300, 000 per month and now you don’t have clients to rent, and a wedding opportunity surfaces for the same amount which you are going to earn for a day, this is a lucrative deal. Wedding venues pose a good opportunity for the property market that has been on the decline.”
Remember it is advisable to avoid conflicts with the authorities that could pull you down and drain your hard-earned resources.
County by-laws and environment regulations should be observed to avoid disappointments.
“The regulations should be observed by event suppliers, venue owners and event managers. Venue owners need to keep abreast with the zoning requirements for conversion of residential properties to commercial use; as well as the regulations on waste management and noise pollution,” says Kezy Mukiri, partner at Mukiri Global Advocates.
Also, make peace with your neighbours so that they won’t complain of ‘small’ things like noise and traffic disturbance that comes with weddings.
Also, clients will not automatically flow into the property for booking, hence a marketing strategy should be employed. Marketing starts with making the brand attractive, so in this case it will entail beautifying the property.
Also, it is good to partner with established wedding planners and churches that will recommend your property as a good reception venue, or for the actual wedding. In such partnerships, make sure that it can cater for all aspects that entail a wedding, like having a place where food can be prepared for outside catering services.
Partners help one to market, and you could decide to pay them a commission in a bid to entice them to bring business.
You can segment the packages offered to cater for a number of socio-economic classes who might not fit at one package. In case you have to offers, you will choose the better option.
It is also advisable to benchmark with existing wedding venue vendors, to understand better the rules, the challenges and the opportunities that come therein. You cannot venture into a market that you do not understand, it might backfire and put you into a worse situation.
Every brand is now going online for marketing, so make sure you have a strong online footing to market your venue. This will make you fetch clients from far and wide, who might not have ‘connections’ and opt for an online search.
Lastly, ensure the property is secure, as this is what attracts ‘big’ clients who prefer serenity and security. A security issue could make potential clients avoid your venue.
High profile weddings are highly budgeted and funded, hence owners with idle property can take advantage of that to eke out a living, instead of letting it lie ‘useless’ waiting for unconfirmed profit in future.