Vendors can make or break an event. Your guests will remember that one bad vendor much more than the other great ones, so the OI team prioritizes these relationships. We see our great vendors not only as resources but partners. In this industry, there are times when we have to contact these partners with last-minute requests that take place after hours and on weekends, so positive relationships and a strong network are critical.
Don’t skimp on the research! Do your due diligence and find out everything you can. We always ask these questions:
Do they share the same values and standards of service as we do?
Who are the owners or executives?
What is their mission and do they stay true to it?
What type of clients do they serve?
It’s also useful to understand their payment and refund policies, as well as other logistics they use for their service. A great way to get valuable feedback on a company that you can’t get from directories or websites is by word of mouth; ask your colleagues about their favorite (and least favorite!) vendors. Through research and this word of mouth, you’ll get a feel for the vendor and whether they’re right for your event.
When bringing on new event partners, we at Occasions, Inc. like to conduct a minimum three-bid process to ensure we objectively compare services and get the most competitive rates.
This also helps us see what price breaks and value-added services suppliers are willing to offer. Additionally, working through the bid process with suppliers allows us to develop that rapport and provide insight into their customer service and responsiveness. If the whole bid process is a struggle, there’s a good bet that their services will be, too.
Though the goal is long-term, reliable partners, don’t get comfortable! Even OI’s preferred suppliers must go through the vetting process every two years to make sure we are getting the best offerings for our clients.
We also never stop learning and expanding our vendor network! As an event company providing services across the globe, it's necessary to constantly build and update our network of event partners. OI stays at the forefront of the event planning world and learns about new vendors by attending industry events, trade shows, and conferences.
The best vendor partnerships will remain at the top of your list through the years, but it takes time to build that partner. On the front side of events, be clear about expectations or negotiations while remaining positive and respectful. Follow up after events to talk about next steps. Share feedback from guests or clients.
By establishing a relationship of trust and ongoing mutual support, your vendors will turn into lifelong partners!
Have you ever had a good or bad experience with a vendor? Share it in the comments below!