How to Create Your Travel Fees

Do travel fees confuse you? Are you unsure of what to factor in? Allow me to help you calculate your rates.

When I was 26 I decided to focus on brides while I worked on my portfolio and production work during the week. I put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears… and made MANY mistakes, but at the end of my 1st year, I did over $110,000.USD (for those around the world; R1,176,950, $116,975 AUD, $117,398 CAD and 64,286 GBP). I got better and better at my bridal business and it grew tremendously. That was in 1989! So the rates were so much cheaper than today’s rates. For those that have experienced my training, know that I have insight on loads of details that most never think about… details that ALL that make a huge difference at the end of the day with our results, reputation, income and growth…

When asked about out of town bookings, I tell all my students to realize the conversation is about BUSINESS and must be viewed from a business perspective. After all, that is how you want to be perceived by the client… As a viable business and not just some person that “does makeup.” Keep in mind that by the time a bride books a makeup artist, she has already signed contracts for the wedding location, reception venue, catering, a photographer and probably several more vendors. The bride has given large deposits to ALL of the above mentioned vendors AND all of them had an immediate answer for rates based on the services requested, dates, travel, etc. So create a rate sheet and be prepared for these future bookings so there is no hesitation in your reply and you can immediately give a factual, easy to understand answer about travel fees to anyone that inquires.

First of all, you need to have a set answer for how far you travel for whatever you are already quoting her for your bride rate or bridal package! It is YOUR business so it is up to you if you will drive a certain amount of miles/kilometres or prefer to estimate the minutes for driving time.
***So the real issue now is actually how much ADDITIONAL you charge for going further that however far you are willing to travel for your basic bride rate.

That being said, you are not an ‘employee’ but an independent contractor, so the whole “So many cents per mile/kilometer or per minute” is not an answer that is expected, nor really a satisfying answer to their question. Don’t expect a bride to whip out a calculator to figure out what your answer means! (That is equivalent to you asking how much an apartment is to rent and the landlord tells you .88cents a square meter and you don’t know the how many square meters the place is!) Plus, your calculation of time or number of meters can be argued with what she estimates. And lost bookings can be the result as well as the potential for arguments later making things really uncomfortable when she doesn’t agree on what you determine you are charging. And if this happens, you can forget getting a tip now!

Realize that almost ALL brides are pinching pennies when it’s time to make final payment because they’ve overspent as most brides do. A typical bride is looking for a simply stated rate to determine if she wants to book with you, or at least compare your rates to others. Have a prepared rate you quote for travel, it does not matter what others do, it is your business! As long as you can validate it, then it is what it is. Remember that your bridal party rates should include traveling some distance in the first place on the wedding day unless you have your own studio and make all your brides come to you. Determine how far you will go that IS included in your basic price quote. Examples would be, 40 miles/kilometers or 30 minutes in any direction.

However, in my opinion, charging purely for distance or time is a mistake. I suggest that you take your time into consideration (of course) as well as cost of expenses. But is it really her fault if you own a gas guzzler type of car?! And would you charge less if you drive a “green” vehicle?! Just consider all things and determine what your rate is for travel. Keeping in mind that you need to re-coop expenses AND cover your time, determine what you charge for the entire bridal party that is local. Then divide that rate by the number of hours you will actually spend with them on the wedding, day, the preview appointment, all phone calls and correspondence time to book, looking up directions, driving to and from both appointments, confirmation calls/emails and gathering necessary details, etc. The figure (amount) you come up with gives you what you are realistically already telling the client you are worth per hour. Ideally that hourly also covers website fees, disposables, any advertising and you still need to make a profit! Your travel time can be that hourly rate or less but it should not be more! Because you should not be charging more to drive than you charge for doing makeup!

Now if the location you are being asked to quote is between four to eight hours of driving or flying time, especially if needing to be done the day prior, then you need to be charging your half day or full day rates on travel days.

As for fees for parking and or valet, when working with clients that are getting ready at hotels or other venues that charge parking, you should include the fees into your charges and have collected them prior to that day. Often the client will validate your parking ticket, which means that the bride ends up paying the fees after the event ends.

In the end, please remember that you can only sell a bride on what you truly know and believe in your heart you are worth. Those of you that would like to increase your rates but don’t know how… Doing this calculation may be just what you need to validate to yourself what needs to be done.

Another thing to think about is… Brides will often not be willing to pay you all the additional fees for travel, when she could simply hire an artist that lives closer to her venue or location. Life is a negotiation… You could drop the travel fees if you really want the job… but I don’t suggest it… INSTEAD, tell her that you will waive the travel fees IF she adds 3 additional makeups/bridesmaids, moms, etc. That way SHE IS saving on travel fees and all she has to do is convince her bridesmaids to book you and pay to have their makeup done. So you have just increased your booking/income quite a bit so its better for you to trade a little more time for the increase in services/income. OR if she already has booked a large party or claims there is no one else to get their makeup done, then instead, you could waive travel fees (or cut in half for whatever you want… ) if she ALSO books you for an additional day of services, (engagement pics, bachelorette party, etc.)

I hope you are inspired to figure our your own value, and perhaps increase your rates if the quality of your work dictates it. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Love and Wisdom,
Donna xoxo