Updated: Mar 7
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Depending on the type of event you are planning, you will need to utilize various types of event vendors to bring your vision to life. Juggling communication with all of your vendors can be tricky and downright daunting. You might find yourself fretting over whether all of your contracted vendors have all of the information they need. It is critical that everyone involved with your event is on the same page. Luckily, there are some straightforward steps you can take to ensure that your event goes without a hitch and all of your vendors deliver precisely what you need them to.
You Are in Control
As an event planner or coordinator, you are the person in charge of the event's success. Before reaching out to potential vendors, it is critical that you have already extensively researched what your event requires. You need to have a detailed written plan for your event. This method allows you to be direct with potential vendors, informing them of your exact needs. As soon as you let a vendor suggest or dictate the services you are requiring, you are loosening your grip on your event's success. With that said, you should still lean on your vendors for valuable advice. Once you have a general idea of what you need, you might want to ask for specific help from a vendor.
For example, asking an AV company what the best powered PA speakers and mixer for your event communicates that you have a firm grip on your requirements, but are willing to accept their advice about your rental equipment. You do not need to be an expert on all of your rental equipment, that is the vendor's job after all, but you should know enough to communicate what you want from them.
Pick One Mode of Communication
It is highly recommended that you stick to one form of communication with all of your event vendors. For example, at Channel Audio, we prefer to handle all communication via email. This allows both us and the client to have a written record of all details that is easy to refer to. It might seem easy to fire off a quick text to your vendor, but it is imperative that you communicate professionally. In today's technologically-connected world, email is always at the tip of our fingers. Set the tone for communication with your vendors from the initial consultation. Prompt, efficient, and professional communication is beneficial for everyone involved.
Prepare a Detailed Schedule for the Day of the Event
One of the most important parts of communicating and coordinating with your chosen vendors is scheduling load-in and load-out times. Everyone involved with servicing your event needs to be on the same page regarding the day's schedule, and it is critical that you stress prompt timing with everyone. It is always useful to stagger load-in times with your vendors. If your staging, lighting, and sound companies all show up at the venue's loading dock at the same time, it can become a nightmare to coordinate moving all the equipment into the site at once. The schedule you prepare should also stress that all vendors need to check in and out with either you or another identified event coordinator. Don't be afraid to ask your vendors questions about how long it will take them to set up their equipment. Experienced vendors should be able to tell you exactly how much time they will require.
Follow-Up Multiple Times
You are most likely planning events months in advance. It is crucial that you communicate multiple times with your contracted vendors at equal intervals between the time that you first reach out to them and the day of the event. The last thing you want is for a vendor to not show up on the day of your event, leaving you scrambling to find a solution. It is common and accepted to call everyone involved in servicing your event the morning of to confirm everything you have discussed.
Communicate Your Expectations Clearly
Whether you like it or not, your vendors might try to cut corners wherever possible. When contracting their services, make sure you explain your expectations in writing. If the vendor cannot adequately meet your expectations, move on to the next one!
Make Sure You Practice Fair Business
You can try and squeeze every penny out of a vendor's quote that you want, but you need to keep in mind that many event services require a particular level of expertise that can't be found anywhere. Your vendors need to make a profit to stay in business, and it is better for everyone if all parties involved are fairly compensated. You absolutely cannot expect to put on the type of event you envision in your head with a budget too low to adequately pay everyone involved. If you haggle a vendor down too low, you risk them not wanting to work with you again. Remember, you are building long-term relationships.
Follow-Up After the Event
After your event is over and all vendors have been paid, it can be incredibly useful to follow up with your vendors and discuss the success of the event. A vendor might have some valuable suggestions regarding how you can do things better in the future. In addition, you can communicate to the vendor how satisfied or not you were with their services, in turn improving experiences for everyone involved in the future. Your communication style and tone can set the bar for how vendors interact with you in the future.