Employees at Ava Luxury Surprise Planer

Creating unforgettable memories with her siblings and closest friends has always been a dream of Ruth Samuel who is in her early 20s. She is the cheerful one who is always up for buying gifts and celebrating her loved ones on their special day.

She has the habit of calling cake and flower shops that dabble in delivery. Ruth says the emotional gratitude upon delivery is heartwarming while seeing the emotion on their face is unmatched.

Ruth came across a social media post where a group of people have teamed up to make an appearance at a birthday party with entourages to surprise the guest of honour. The timing could not have been better as she was running out of ideas while planning a party for her sister's upcoming birthday.

"It felt like a dream come true," said Ruth.

Promotions and marketing through social media platforms play a large role for these "luxury surprise planners" that are taking on the event planning scene.

The guest of honour Hana Samuel remembers the moment as if it happened a few days ago. The silent gesture from her husband of six years- who usually mistakes the day for a month prior led her to believe he forgot to even remember it this time around.

A bunch of people dressed in uniform and holding out over 30 inflated balloons arrived at her workplace around the Ayat area with flower bouquets, cake, and champagne. They started singing and celebrating her with a saxophone playing in the background.

"I felt loved and appreciated," said Hana.

Employees at Diamond Luxury Surprises

Small business owners have found a sanctuary to promote their products and services following the revolution of social media marketing that has taken a turn for the better.

Ava Luxury Surprise Planer is one of the contenders in the upcoming businesses located around Bole Medhanealem Namibia Street.

Kalkidan Negash, 28, came up with the idea during the pandemic lockdown as she was looking for ways to surprise her friend for her birthday.

She browsed for event organizers that would deliver gifts and celebrate on her behalf to no avail.

"It's a business idea born out of a challenge," she told Fortune.

Kalkidan claims to have done a market analysis that lasted for four months before jumping into the business with both feet.

The company offers Platinum, Gold and Silver packages with prices ranging between 35,000-15,000 Br tailored to the service that may last up to an hour. The service includes a cake, champagne, helium balloons and flower bouquet, a vocalist along with a saxophone player, a postcard, a video and photography.

It also has holiday packages that usually rest on the same price range, charging overtime payments ranging from 4000-6000 Br for customers that prefer service after 5PM.

"We revise the packages with three-month intervals," said Kalkidan.

Ava has a website and uses Instagram as its main social media platform with over 10,000 followers.

She claims to be engaged in other businesses to earn more as it is not a business that can sustain itself on its own at this stage. According to her, the company may run dry of customers for a couple of months during low seasons. However, she firmly believes that the class and quality of service sets her company apart from others.

Another company with a lower price seems to have its most days booked.

Diamond Luxury Surprise Planner is located around the Bole area near Bora Amusement Park.

MerhaTsadik Kassahun, 27, claims to have been drawn to event planning while tuning to reality shows with scenes of surprising moments in the end. However, he decided to take it at heart following a surprise party he organised for his friend.

He got first-degree in Marketing Management and worked at Zeleman Communications, Advertising and Production where he was introduced to domestic and international events in the capital. After serving as the corporate event planner outsourced to Zeleman, he formed his own company a year and a half ago with 12 employees.

According to MerhaTsadik, most customers seek his service looking for ways to express their love during events such as marriage proposals, birthdays and Mother's and Father's Days.

He claims to accommodate close to 40 customers a month growing from 15 at the start of his business attributing the inclined number of customers to marketing on social media platforms, especially TikTok. He garnered over 55,000 followers.

Diamond offers three packages with the price range of 14,000-26,000 Br. The set-up includes cake, champagne, balloon, a flower bouquet and photography accompanied by a violin, saxophone or flute player and vocalist while a bunch of people with a uniform cheer for the guest of honour.

"The service offering increases with the price," MerhaTsadik told Fortune.

The Addis Abeba Trade Bureau grants licenses for this upcoming business under the label "others" with little available data to show its size or even the number of operators in the market.

Alazar Ahmed, with over two decades of experience in marketing, believes the business has the potential to grow both in value and relative terms if the planners continue to up their game with creative ideas.

Covering the cost of rent and employee salaries is a testimonial of its profitability, according to Alazar. He recommends using experiential marketing accompanied by social media influencers, to relate products with specific activities and imprint the service in people's minds.

"It'll be imprinted in people's minds," he told Fortune.

PUBLISHED ON Apr 22,2023 [ VOL 24 , NO 1199]

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