So, you have come up with your event idea, guests, invite, location, date and time.
You are set to host the event of the year; the best training, the best end-of-year party or whatever the occasion is. You’ve done your work diligently.
But now, you must leave crucial aspects of your event in the hands of others. Vendors, as they are generally called. The problem is; how do you find the best corporate event vendors?
What strategies must you put in place to ensure you patronise the best of the bests? And how do you ensure these corporate event vendors do not make your event flop?
This article discusses the strategies for finding the best vendors for your corporate event. It also features some of the key vendors you need in any corporate event.
Key Vendors Needed for Your Corporate Event
- Event Venue Provider
- Caterers/Food Vendors
- Printer/Publishing Companies
You can use many other vendor services, such as ushering services, but these five are the most essential.
Now that you know the essential vendor services you need, let’s discuss the strategies to find the best corporate event vendor.
10 Strategies to Finding the Best Vendors for Your Corporate Event
1. Know Your Why
This particular strategy is key to the success of any event. Myles Munroe succinctly addressed this in his famous quote: “When purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable”.
The first strategy is to determine what kind of event you are hosting and why you need a particular event vendor there. Why do you need an MC? Is it to host the event elegantly? Or to elicit boisterous energy and laughter?
Knowing your why is a strategy for finding the best vendor for your corporate event. There are several vendors out there, but only a couple are the best fit for your needs.
In knowing your why, it is also important to decide what values your business/event conforms to.
For instance, a vendor known for working with shady characters is automatically eliminated from servicing a fraud prevention company. Likewise, in some cases, an event vendor that is in partnership with a competitor is also a “no-no”.
Another angle that relates to your why is public perception. What is the word on the street? And to what extent are these opinions accurate?
In finding the best vendor, there is no such thing as too much research. You need to know as much as possible, right up to the payment point.
2. Have a Budget
Another key strategy to successfully identifying corporate event vendors is to draft a budget and stay around it.
Imagine going to the market and not knowing how much you want to spend on each item on your list. There are three possible outcomes;
You spend so much money on the first set of items you buy such that you do not have sufficient funds to buy the remaining things on your list.
You buy everything on your list, but by the time you get home, you realise you have emptied your account, and when new needs pop up, you realise you have no money left for unforeseen circumstances.
You spend so little on each item that you go home with way more change than anticipated.
While the last outcome may seem favourable, chances are high that you may have purchased subpar items in what is popularly referred to as the “pennywise, pound foolish” situation.
To avoid these results, decide how much you want to spend on each service. Proper budgeting allows you to patronise vendors that offer the quality of service you need without spending more than you can afford.
It will enable you to bargain effectively. It also influences what additional services you can procure.
3. Get References
Organising a corporate event is very different from organising other events. Therefore, to find the right corporate event vendors, you need to get references from the right people – mainly from the corporate world.
Speak to other members of the planning committee, colleagues and other corporate event planners. Look through LinkedIn and other social media platforms for past corporate events.
Watch out for tags and hashtags that link you to corporate event vendors. Have they done similar events before? Are there feedbacks or reviews you can read?
When using LinkedIn, do not be afraid to reach out. Draft concise message templates and send them to professionals you feel might have the information you need.
An advantage of networking on LinkedIn is future connections. While you may not use every vendor suggestion, you have made first contacts that can foster other relationships and opportunities.
For more LinkedIn tips, check out Harvard Business Review’s detailed article to help you navigate networking on LinkedIn.
In addition to online networking, become an event networking expert. Do not fail to make connections whenever you attend an event with other event planners or organisers.
Exchange business cards, make small talk and stay visible. That way, you have weapons in your arsenal for future references.
Also, as a consistent corporate event host, view every event you attend as a free fair. Beyond the event, watch out for spectacular service delivery and take note. Jot vendor names and your experience.
Were they early? Was the food salty? Or did the photographer connect deeply with the guests? These notes will help you make future decisions.
4. Create a List
Following good research, goal setting and receiving references, make a list of all your possible event vendors.
Write down reviews, analyses and other details obtained about each vendor. Also include contact details; website, phone number, email address, social media handles, etc.
Another key characteristic to include in your list is certifications and awards. However, pay more attention to the type of certification and recognition as some might be politically purchased rather than merit-based.
Creating a list is like a vision board. It is necessary to help you see clearly. Please do not go with an event vendor simply because a mentor recommended them or because you like what you see. Go with the facts. And to see the facts clearly, you need to take proper inventory.
After you have created your list, rank them in order of preference. You can now begin to make concrete connections to the event vendors.
5. Schedule Physical Contact
When you have shortlisted your corporate event vendor, it is time to schedule a physical contact – if you haven’t already done that.
Physical contact is necessary for several reasons. First, you need to see the vendor’s body language – an essential part of wholesome communication.
Secondly, some services require testing/tasting. For instance, you might need to taste the caterer’s food, the baker’s cake, see the printer’s backdrop material, or visit the event venue.
Recommended Post: 7-Point Checklist to Choose the Right Corporate Event Venues
6. Pay Attention to History
According to Edmund Burke, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” When getting vendors for an event, you cannot overlook history.
Ask them questions regarding past clients, past mistakes, past outstanding events, past conflicts etc. It’s like a job interview. Although you have conducted your background check, you still need to hear it from them.
Besides the vendor’s history, you also need to discuss your (event) history. In the past, did the event stretch beyond the estimated time? Did the guest turn-up exceed expectation? Or what unforeseen circumstances crept up?
Like visiting a doctor, you need to tell him all your symptoms to get the best diagnosis. Your vendor needs all the information they can get to help them serve you better.
Again, do not forget that research is your veritable tool in finding the best corporate event vendor.
7. Pay Attention to Processes
When speaking to vendors, always remember that they are in the business of making money. Therefore, it is easy to promise you heaven and the skies to get you to patronise them.
However, the onus is on you to pay attention to the processes rather than the promises.
If a photographer says, “don’t worry, you will surely get your pictures”, it is not the same as “we take 4-5 working days to edit our clients’ pictures. After which we send it via your mail on the 5th or 6th working day”.
The difference is the first statement is a generic statement. The second is a defined process that shows professionalism, experience and attention to detail.
This example is not to say that specific statements automatically determine expertise. However, they are tell-tale signs. If ever in doubt, do not be afraid to ask questions.
Ask as many questions as you need to clarify what services you are getting and what cost.
8. Assess Their Client Relations
One bad apple, they say, spoils the bunch. This is evidently true because apples produce large amounts of ethylene gas, a “fruit ripening hormone” that causes the other apples to ripen quickly.
Equivalently, bad client relations will corrupt whatever standard of service a vendor offers. Hence, when looking for corporate event vendors, look out for the quality of their client relations.
Evaluate client relations through communication skills. For example, how easily reachable are they? How soon do they respond to emails and messages? What are their communication manners? How professional are they? How rude or nonchalant?
The ripple effect of poor client relations is that it transcends into your event. When ignored, red flags can turn into a full-blown fist fight on the day of your event.
Or the vendor might be discourteous to your guests and end up smearing the overall experience of your event.
9. Compare and Contrast
Another critical strategy needed to find event vendors is comparing and contrasting.
Compare prices, compare offers, compare discounts, compare reviews, compare refund and legal policies, compare locations and compare your experience so far.
Comparison takes time, especially if it is your corporate event or your first-time patronage of a particular vendor. But it’s a necessary hurdle to ensure a successful event.
So, if possible, bring your findings before the planning committee or a group and discuss the advantages and disadvantages. At the end of your comparison, you should be able to come up with a shortlist or a selected vendor.
10. Go Ahead and Make a Deal
Finally! Go ahead and make that deal! Decide on a corporate event vendor, request an invoice, make payments, sign a contract and hope for the best.
However, note that these strategies are not necessarily chronological. You might have to hold some with you throughout the process of getting vendors for your corporate event. While for others, you will have to return to them repeatedly.
For instance, after comparing and contrasting, you might feel like no vendor ticks it for you and go back to seeking references.
Whatever you do, remember that event vendors are critical to the success of your corporate event. Consequently, go at your own pace, ask the right questions and do not be afraid to make your requests known.
We also recommend our article; A Quick Guide to Corporate Event Planning
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