Sourcing Trusted Event Vendors
Regardless of the location or theme, every event requires extensive work with a wide variety of vendors. As such, these coveted vendor lists are more than just names; they are the foundation of any successful event.
The events industry relies heavily on the strength of vendor relationships. These vendors provide services such as rentals for tables and chairs, photography, production, lighting, scenic or themed décor, draping, floral, food and beverage, entertainment, custom fabrication, printing and the list goes on.
Benefits of Working With Trusted Vendors
Working with a trusted vendor is like working with a friend who has your back. And with so many details and last minute changes, you will want your best friendors by your side. These trusted vendors can mitigate risks, whether in terms of operations, unforeseen costs, or compliance. Not only that, having an established relationship with a dependable vendor saves time and ultimately, money.
Working with qualified vendors means that everyone on the team benefits from their expertise, especially the client. Vendors with specialized knowledge can be brought in to offer unique solutions to a challenging logistic problem, provide fresh ideas, or grant access to equipment and new products that might otherwise be unattainable.
Experienced vendors can also ensure optimal performance throughout the planning process by offering ideas and services that provide the best fit for the client’s needs. Often times they are able to make initial suggestions that are priced accordingly and in line with time and space constraints. This may reduce the need for multiple revisions, time delays and will almost certainly provide less room for error on the day of event.
Because vendors are often more competent in a specific area, they achieve greater cost efficiency when performing tasks related to their areas of expertise. Vendors which receive repeat orders from the same designers may also be more apt to offer discounts. A good relationship between a designer and a vendor opens up the possibility of strengthening mutual benefits. A vendor who is familiar and comfortable with a designer (and their specific approach and style) is more open to making recommendations.
Additionally, having strong relationships with vendors, due to effective procedures and processes, can help negotiate better rates and provide access to discounts and incentives that can increase your event’s profit margin.
Establishing Preferred Status
As with all lasting relationships, preferred status is a two-way street. The ideal vendor relationship is one that is mutually beneficial and this requires honesty, communication and shared vision.
Foundational partners for most events will include the venue or hotel, food and beverage (if not provided by the venue), production, décor and most importantly, the client. These vendors are the backbone of the event and it is crucial to establish a healthy partnership early on so when challenges arise, everyone is already working toward the same goal.
Part of the vendor selection process involves determining whether both companies’ objectives match. Compatibility and communication matter greatly in a vendor relationship and will go a long way to ensure every event execution is less prone to errors. It is more difficult for either side to fulfill the other party’s expectations if they are not stated up front. The event, attendees, and ultimately the client, will suffer from unmet or mismatched expectations.
Finding great vendors is not as easy as visiting their website. Experiencing how professional they are on the phone, their communication style, willingness to be flexible, quality of products, how products are stored and maintained are all factors in sourcing quality vendors. For example, with centerpieces, does the glassware come back (after an event) and simply get returned to the shelves, or, is it unpacked, washed, inspected and then restocked? Asking the right questions to determine experience level, knowledge base, creativity and ability to deliver on their contract are all key indicators which must be considered.
A Team Mindset Ensures The Win
An event designer’s team consists not only of their internal staff, but extends to their vendor team as well. Together, the team works toward the common goal of bringing the client’s vision to life, on time and on budget.
The event designer acts as the coach, and is responsible for finding the right players and assigning them to their correct positions. They write the plays and provide support and direction throughout the process, and recalibrate as needed. Since a good vendor knows and understands their product and people, the event designer can rely on them without micromanaging.
In turn, a good event designer knows that their vendors control a lot of the planning process when it comes to the schedule and budget of an event. They trust them to know exactly how much time load-in will require and how to work with and around other vendors so that, on event day, everything runs smoothly.
By focusing on creating a lasting long-term, working relationship, vendors are more likely to go the extra mile. If they feel valued and are respected as important team members, they will be more likely to show respect toward the client and other vendors.
The golden rule of treating others how you want to be treated applies to all vendor relationships and provides the blueprint for ensuring a healthy partnership:
- Define expectations
- On time payment
- Clear communication
- Be open to suggestions
- Work together to create solutions
Team effort is the key to any event. When you work with a vendor for a long time, you develop a trust, and this synergy can lead to better events than you could have imagined. Trusted vendors will go above and beyond to make the event exceptional and be excited to work together on your next event.