Vendors are the most critical players in any event. That is why choosing the right vendor is key to creating a memorable experience for you and your attendees. It is, therefore, vital that you understand how to get vendors who have relevant experience and genuinely care for your needs.
How to Get Vendors For an Event
Before you sign any contract with a vendor, you need to ensure they are the right fit for your event. A good vendor should be professional, experienced, helpful, and willing to negotiate.
To get a vendor that strikes a good balance between cost and a memorable event experience, simply follow these steps.
- Define your needs
- Ask for recommendations
- Research vendors online that meet your needs and budget
- Compile a list of vendors that fit your needs
- Schedule a discovery call with each vendor
Define Your Needs
Before shopping around for a vendor, you need to be clear on the kind of vendors you need. If you are hosting a small event, you may only need one or two vendors. However, for a big, complex event, you first need to brainstorm the kind of vendors you need and what they will be doing.
Vendors often come in the form of:
- Venue managers
- Production managers
- Security personnel
- Decorators and florists
- Entertainment team
- Photographers and videographers
- Logistics team
Depending on your event, you probably won’t need most of these vendors. That is why it helps to have a complete list of things you want to outsource to vendors. This way, you can quickly tell what you need and what you can do on your own. You might also want to work with an event planner since they understand better the kind of vendors you might need, and oftentimes have an established relationship with set vendors.
Ask for Recommendations
After defining the kind of vendors you want to work with, you can start by asking for recommendations. Of course, you can quickly search online for vendors or event suppliers near you.
However, recommendations from people who have first-hand experience with a vendor provide more insight into their capabilities, culture, and skills. So, first talk to people who previously hosted similar events. Ask about which vendors they worked with and the kind of experience they had. Would they recommend those vendors?
You can also ask for referrals from:
- Vendors you already know
- Event planners
- Other people in the event industry
- Friends and family
Do Your Research
You should not, however, start working with a vendor simply because someone you know recommended them. We encourage asking for recommendations, but you shouldn’t stop there. You want to research to be sure that you are getting precisely the kind of vendors you need.
Some of the things you will need to do while doing your research include:
- Look at the vendor website: Professional vendors usually have well-designed websites. The website should show the services they offer, their fees, availability, and contact information.
- Check customer reviews: While you cannot trust reviews 100%, they can paint a pretty good picture of how credible a vendor is. If a vendor has thousands of online reviews, they have worked for many events and might have the experience you are looking for. Some of the best sites to find online reviews include Angie’s List, Google, Facebook, Yelp, and Yellow Pages.
- Check expert reviews: Many niche websites focus on the events industry. Unlike customers, these sites have experts that give a more detailed review of vendors to help you make an educated decision.
- Check their Better Business Bureau rating: BBB ratings can give a good idea of how credible a vendor is. These ratings mean that the business is transparent and trustworthy. If you care about integrity more than anything, look at businesses with an A+ BBB rating.
Compile a List of Vendors That Fit Your Needs
The purpose of your research should be to compile a list of potential vendors as opposed to directly looking for vendors to work with. Compiling a list will help you to shop around for better pricing, professionalism, and competency.
While creating this list, you should group vendors into different categories. For instance, you have a category for caterers, event producers, florists, designers, and transporters. From there, you can list potential vendors under each category. Say, about 5 vendors or supplies for each category.
The best way to go about this is to create a spreadsheet. Start by listing what you are looking for, then indicate whether the vendors you come across meet these requirements or not. Use this information to further narrow the list by removing those that don’t align with your needs.
Schedule a Discovery Call with Each Vendor
You won’t always find everything you need to know about vendors from your research. Sometimes the information you find online may not be specific enough to your needs. So, you must contact them and ask more questions before working with them.
- Availability and timeline
- Their team and experience
- Their cancellation policy
- Pricing by requesting an RFP
- Liability insurance
Of course, you will have to ask different vendors different questions depending on what they’ll be helping you with. Also, ensure to provide the vendor with as many details about your event as possible so that they know exactly what you require them to do.
What to Look For in An Event Vendor
To get the best vendor, there are several things that you should consider while doing your research. In a nutshell, a good vendor should:
- Be licensed
- Be professional
- Have a good track record
- Be within your budget
- Have relevant experience
- Be credible and trustworthy
- Be flexible and ready to adjust as needed
Getting the right vendors for your event is very important. You need someone that clearly understands your event concept and can deliver the best experience for you and your attendees. Start by defining your needs, asking for referrals, researching, compiling a list of potential vendors, and then contacting them to ask additional questions.