Event planners rely on great vendors to make the events we manage a success. We are typically highly organized, type A personalities and we expect our vendors to be as organized as we are.

I am sure you have some horror stories about dealing with vendors that maybe weren’t as detail oriented as you would have liked – an event vendor not showing up on time, not bringing the right product/services or disregarding your agreement. There are lots of ways you can work with your vendors, whether it be audiovisual, catering or décor, to make sure the event is successful and that both parties are satisfied.

Ask for References from A New Event Vendor

Most event planners have their preferred suppliers, but every so often you will have the opportunity to work with a new event vendor. Often your preferred vendors will have suggestions for who to approach for quotes, for example, your decorator may be able to suggest a great florist. Even when a vendor is being referred to you, it is important to ask the event vendor for references and also ask your colleagues and other event planners about their experiences with these suppliers.

I recently had a new company respond to a request for proposal for audiovisual for a conference. Before I presented the quotes to the client, I did a background check on the vendor. Although their price was nearly half the price of the other two that bid, the feedback I received from others was that their service was not up to the standards the client and I expected. I was able to provide this information to the client before they selected the vendor.

Get It In Writing

Contracts or agreements are important when it comes to dealing with vendors. Every vendor will deal with this differently, but be sure to have them provide a written description of the products/services that they have agreed to provide. Make sure all details are included including set up time, take down time, venue restrictions, quantity of product, type, etc.

Remember You Are Not Their Only Client

Much like an event planner, an event vendor may have multiple events they are working on at any given time. They are juggling information for each event and attempt to keep their events organized. This is something to keep in mind when communicating with them. Instead of sending them multiple emails about different things, combine all your questions into one well thought out email or phone call. They will appreciate that you are valuing their time and it will also ensure none of your questions or requirements get missed.

I find it helpful to remind vendors of the event date often. For example instead of the subject of an email just being the name of your event, add the date to it. This will be easier for them to file the information and also helps to ensure it gets filed in the right place.

Confirm Details Before Your Event

It is always a good idea to touch base with every event vendor shortly before your event. Many vendors will appreciate having a run sheet for the day that reflects all set up and take down. This will also help them to plan their set up and arrival times. For instance, if your stage is being set up at 11:00 am and a balloon drop needs to be installed afterwards, the balloon vendor will know that they shouldn’t come any earlier than 11:00 am. There will always be last minute changes that are out of your control, but make sure to keep your vendors informed of these changes. They need to be kept in the loop in order to fulfill their commitments.

Better Together

Treating your event vendor as a partner in your event will allow for a relationship built on trust and mutual respect. Treating your vendors with respect and looking to their expertise is sure to create a lasting relationship!