The importance of vendors at your event cannot be overemphasized. As a professional event planner, you will want to assure your clients that you have the resources available to manage their event. The more services you can offer, the more value your client will perceive in hiring you. For this reason, it is imperative that you build a resource base of reliable vendors that you can outsource some tasks to in order to successfully complete an event.
Many event planners are able to co-ordinate a number of events simultaneously while maintaining control over all the smallest details involved in each one. The question is: How do they manage? Successful event planners have learned (sometimes the hard way) that they can’t possibly attend to every detail of each event they are managing. At that realization, they turn to the experts in the particular field for assistance. What this means is that event planners have to know when to outsource or contract out some services they provide. This is to ensure better management. Juggling too many functions at once could lead to poor outputs.
Vendors (also known as “suppliers”) are sellers of merchandise or services that may be used before, during or after an event. As an event planner, you will be working with many types of vendors. You will be expected to find and hire them (or recommend to your client which ones they should hire), as well as coordinate and supervise their work.
Types of Vendors
Following are some of the types of vendors that may be needed for an event. The list will give you a good idea of how many different individuals and businesses are involved in the successful planning of an event.
• Equipment Rentals
• Interpretation (for participants who speak a foreign language)
• Mailing Houses
• Party Supply Rentals
• Security Companies
• Sign Shops
• Sound Systems
• Speakers (to speak at banquets and other events)
• Tent Rentals
• Travel Agents
Some of these services may be supplied by the venue you have booked. For example, if you are using a convention center they will supply tables and chairs. And you will likely be required to use their audiovisual supplier and catering services.
In other cases you may need many a wide variety of vendors in addition to those listed above. For example, if you are organizing a large outdoor event, you may need to find companies that rent bleachers, portable refrigerators, power generators, and portable sanitation units (toilets).
There can be no exaggeration on the need to keep your vendors satisfied with your arrangements with them. It is hardly possible to pull off any event without outsourcing. How then do you keep your vendors happy for maximum output and cooperation?
DIvria Events is a professional Event Management outfit, and we are experts at keeping vendors satisfied 100%. Here are five of our major secrets, because we care!
#1. KEEP IN TOUCH REGULARLY.
Don’t fall into the error of contacting vendors when you need them. Remember that event planning is a human interest venture. You must make additional contact with your vendors. Ask about family, health and general well-being.
You should create a natural, easy-going atmosphere that allows easy communication. It doesn’t take much; make a note of three things you can talk to them about – the interest (or even lack of it) in their property, any local property sales, and the current market conditions.
Even if you really feel you have nothing to say to them, call them and ask how they are – they will appreciate the gesture. In addition, your work will be done with more passion and interest on their part. What goes around definitely comes back around.
#2 BE ABSOLUTELY RELIABLE.
Always keep your end of all bargains. Don’t promise to make a deposit and fail to do so. Don’t request for three flasks of snacks and then cancel at the last moment. Your vendors need to be able to rely on you, just as you do them. Do what you say you will, when you say you will. That’s all most vendors will ever ask of you. In order to receive the best efforts of your vendors, you must put in maximum reliability.
#3 FEED BACK POSITIVELY.
Once again, in dealing with vendors, the main thing to remember is that they are people with feelings. You should avoid being impersonal, and standoffish. Don’t belittle or manipulate your vendors. Don’t make your vendors feel they have been greedy with their hoped-for asking price. Of course, you have every right to negotiate. After all, you’re paying hard-earned money. It’s the approach to the negotiation that really matters.
Start with telling them something positive, then deliver any rejections or complaints you have with sensitivity. Then end with an upbeat comment. As Maya Angelou once said “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Be polite and firm; your vendor will trust you more in the long term.
#4. HELP YOUR VENDORS SELL MORE.
Your vendors are at your event for one reason: to sell their product. You need to make it easy for them to sell (and more importantly, for attendees to purchase) those products.
Square research found that 37% of buyers say their top pain point is slow lines. If your payment processing is slow, you won’t just frustrate attendees — you’ll sell less merchandise, leaving your vendors wondering if your event was actually worth their time.
Cashless payments, either by phone or RFID technology, can help speed up spending. It also decreases wait times in lines, and keep attendees coming back to your vendors. The seamless experience will delight your attendees, while keeping your event vendors happy.
#5 INITIATE CUSTOMER LOYALTY FOR YOUR VENDORS.
Your vendors don’t just want people to know about their brand. They also want to turn your attendees into their loyal fans. So how do you make your vendors stand out long after your event? Create memorable connections between your vendors and your attendees.
Your event might be organized around static booths, but it’s your job to get your vendors and attendees up on their feet and interacting. Ultimately, your vendors are looking for new, loyal fans — if you don’t deliver, your vendors won’t bother coming back next year.
Keep attendees and vendors engaged by providing entertainment in unexpected places. For example, have some of your top vendors give a pop-up demonstration or talk near your food stations. That way, attendees will be entertained while they’re waiting in line for food — and will have a chance to chat with your other vendors.
Event planning and management is all about interaction. The better your “people” skills, the higher your market value. You must always bear in mind that it is your duty to satisfy your clients. And because you cannot possibly achieve that alone, your vendors must be treated as important. Nobody likes to be an afterthought; everybody wants profit, and that includes your vendors!