Event Planners: Here’s How to Find the Best Vendors
Planning an event can be hectic, and you want to make sure your vendors are always at the top of their game. So how can you trust that your vendor won’t be late like last time? Well, for starters, don’t hire them again!
Once a vendor breaks your trust, it’s time to move on. It’s not just you that they’re letting down – your clients will be extremely disappointed and guests won’t have the same experience. Follow these tips to narrow your vendor list down to the very best selection!
Nix Biased Referrals
Referrals from other event planners in your area can save you a lot of research, but that’s not to say that you don’t need to do any research! Always do a background check on potential vendors – especially when they’re referred by someone they know.
Even though a biased referral doesn’t always mean disaster, there’s a better chance that you’re not getting all the information you need. You want to know about their past experiences, how they overcome challenges, and tough situations they’ve encountered during events. You need to be sure they can adapt.
Beware of Business Deals
Also, be wary of referrals from affiliated planners or businesses. Sometimes, there’s an incentive to push a certain vendor – this means that your best interest isn’t at the heart of this referral. Most professional event planners will only ever refer a vendor if they’ve had positive experience with them…but you need to look out for your business! Although people generally team up with businesses because they are good, you should still take referrals with a grain of salt until you can verify for yourself.
Your peers don’t want anything bad to happen – they just want to support local vendors and friends. However, unless they have plenty of good experience working with this vendor at various events, then you should look to other opinions. For every vendor you consider hiring, seek out two glowing referrals from separate event planners or clients. This will save you a lot of heartache during the event!
Research Past Jobs
Most professionals keep an up-to-date list of any news or awards they’ve received for their work in the industry. The best thing you can do when looking for vendors is research whether they’ve been recognized for their hard work! Now, not every vendor will have won an award – they may be a new business, or are located in a sparsely populated area (where there are no awards!). But it’s still a great starting point for finding the top local vendors for your event!
Another tip: look at events that are happening in your area in the next few weeks. You’ll be able to check out who’s catering, who’s providing the flower arrangements and centerpieces, and what bands are playing. This is an easy way to check out up and coming businesses, and it gives you a chance to see them in action – if it’s a public event, of course.
There’s no shame in researching a company’s background and experience. If you don’t, you could be risking your client’s whole event and your reputation…
Network at Conferences
Attending local and national event planning conferences gives your business a huge advantage in the vendor-world. Not only will you receive invaluable advice from experienced planners, you’ll also get the chance to mingle with popular vendors. Tradeshows are best for finding local vendors – you can discuss their business, learn about their experience, and ask for referrals. Every type of vendor you need is at your fingertips, so start networking!
Keep diligent notes on which vendors show professionalism and give you a good feeling – you’ll want to remember them! As an event planner, you know as well as anyone that first impressions can make or break a contract.
Schedule a Styled Shoot
Put your potential vendors to the test by organizing a styled shoot. This way, you’ll be able to watch each vendor in action while they set up and work through the shoot. You’ll get to see their creativity and unique designs, which you can plan out with them based on a specific vision. Plus, working with each vendor in a mock event will give you a sense of whether they’re easy to get along with or not.
If it’s difficult to run a styled shoot together, you best bet it will be a nightmare to run a big event with that vendor. But it’s not a total loss – you both will still have gorgeous photographs to add to your portfolios. Just as well, you’ll know who NOT to hire for your next event!
Ask About Venues
A good vendor creates unique event designs, but a great vendor can adapt those designs to suit any venue you choose. And it’s a simple fact that décor and venue need to match!
When you’re narrowing down your vendors, ask for photographs of their work and learn about the types of venues they’ve worked in. This is especially true for caterers, as you want to know they have the resources and know-how to handle any kitchen setup. The last thing you want is to end up with a fantastic vendor thrown off by a different venue layout – your event plans will go from cool to chaotic fast.
Finding the perfect vendor can take time and experimentation, but it’s well worth it once you build up a list of reliable vendors. What’s even better is that you’ll be the one passing off the best referrals to other event planners!