For the ultra-rich, a wedding is a grandiose event that brings together their near and dear ones, as well as their large circle of influential friends and connections- and the task of putting it all together is assigned to a wedding management company. Among the ‘star’ wedding management companies in India is E-Factor, run by 40 year old Samit Garg who is based in Delhi NCR. Wedding Planners in India are often referred to as the ‘dream merchants’ or individuals who accede to all the impossibly romantic or plain idiosyncratic demands of the rich and famous, but Samit Garg puts it differently: “making a wedding guest happy when he or she comes to a celebration event managed by my company is my job”. And when you get talking to Garg you realise that making such guests happy can be challenging. He explains: “Almost 60% of the guests attending the next wedding or social event we are managing have attended one of the recent events we managed. They are discerning, well-traveled and have witnessed different dazzling themes at many destination weddings. Now the challenge is how do we make them ‘happy’ or give them a refreshingly different experience? They may not even know the name of the company who managed the wedding, but what do we do so they go back with fond memories and talk about the beautiful celebration that was put together by the host? There is no clear answer here, because you have to do different things to please different guests. ‘What different concepts or ideas can I work on’? I ask myself this question all the time and this is what gets me more excited about my job every day.”
Samit Garg decided to venture into a career in Event Management when he realized what really made him happy was when as a college student in Lucknow, he would put together events which his friends and fellow students would enjoy. “Watching others have fun and enjoy continues to be the mantra today, but obviously if you have to build a profitable wedding management company you need to possess many other skills other than living by this mantra.”
E-Factor is synonomous with magnificent weddings, so Garg may have achieved what so many entrepreneurs interested in the wedding space would like to achieve- work behind the scenes as Wedding Planners, Stylists, Caterers or Photography Directors at a wedding where the guest list comprises political bigwigs, transnational tycoons, film stars and socialites. But having achieved this, like every other business owner who has built a successful business empire, he has challenges of a different kind. He is uncomfortable talking about these challenges on a public post though. “You must understand” emphasizes Garg, “weddings are an extremely personal affair, as an individual who is almost ‘part’ of such families for a few months or more there is a lot that happens in this personal celebration that cannot be shared, and while it’s easy to document all that goes into managing an event management company with corporate profile clients, there is nothing that is documented on what goes into scaling up a wedding management company.” Indeed, the very articulate CEO has to keep a low profile; after all, every time he has managed a very high profile wedding he is deluged with requests from the media wanting all the details on the wow wedding. And while we have briefly interacted with him for many years, and he is always super prompt with a response to our emails, he earlier politely declined to give a detailed interview, until we met him at Galaxy, the integrated entertainment and hotel complex in Macau. The invitees at Galaxy, Macau included select wedding industry professionals and all eyes on this ‘destination wedding’ focus meet were on Garg. Fellow wedding planners sought his views on how to scale up their wedding management business and The Galaxy, Macau officials wanted to know what more they need to do to get more Indian families to host their celebrations there. “The Destination Wedding market is growing, and will continue to grow but International Resorts and Tourism Boards must understand that it is very difficult to offer wedding clients what is offered in India. After all, hotels in India like the Taj Group offer the most exemplary service, and to match their service for a traditional wedding is quite a feat. And then there are more complexities- we receive invitations from the world’s most beautiful palaces and resorts who are keen to get a slice of the Indian wedding pie, but how can we ignore the cultural factors- Indian families are not comfortable in all places, no matter how luxurious or beautiful it is; then there is the ease of travel of course. Having said that there is a huge interest which brides and grooms evince in wanting to travel to newer destinations, most of our conversations with families in the initial phase is around international destinations, so we have to keep ourselves abreast on the newest options.”
By now Samit wants to talk and not be interviewed. So we get talking and the man is at his humorous best. Next day, it was time to leave Galaxy, Macau and we left the magnificent resort happy to have had the most amazing stay there with some of the wedding industry’s most dynamic and interesting personalities.