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Confessions of an Event Planner: Choosing a Supplier

So you have secured your dream venue and now you are ready and excited to start locking in the other elements that will really tie your event together.  But once you start looking you will find there are A LOT of options out there all promising to be better, quicker and cheaper than the last!  Before you go into information overload, below are 5 tips to take the stress out of choosing a supplier.


Tip 1: Know What You Want

Before you start your search, be very clear about what you want.  Write down your vision and be as specific as you can.  Do you picture an acoustic guitarist performing Ed Sheeran covers or an ABBA cover band?  Do you want your attendees arriving by bus or making an entrance in stretch hummer limos?  This will help you clear out some of the suppliers that will not meet your needs early on in the process.  Also before you get too excited make note of what your budget is and keep this in mind when choosing your suppliers.  If you fall in love with a band but it is outside your budget you may need to compromise on another element of your event.  Alternatively, you could try to negotiate the price with them or keep searching for an alternative supplier.

Tip 2: Ask Your Network

Whether you are planning your event alone or as part of a team, chances are that most people around you have been to a similar event that has used a DJ, band, stylist, transport company, etc. that they can not stop raving about.  Take advantage of this!  Ask your trusted colleagues or friends and family about suppliers that they remember as adding WOW to that event.  They have already experienced the supplier first hand, and if you trust them that is all the referral you will need.

Tip 2: Don’t Forget Your Venue

Your venue is a very valuable resource and you should definitely use this to your advantage.  Remember they have already hosted thousands of events similar to yours so not only will they have a good insight into what works in your chosen space, but they will also have contact details for lots of suppliers.  Also don’t forget, some venues do have preferred suppliers, which means you may not be able to bring in your own.  Make sure you read through your venue contract again carefully to confirm what your restrictions are and if in doubt ask the question.  You never know, they may even be happy to make an exception.

Tip 3: Show Me, Don’t Tell Me

If you are tossing up between a few suppliers, don’t be afraid to ask to see an example of their work or testimonials from previous clients.  Not only will it give you a clear representation of their work, but it will also give you a chance to explore their range.  For musical acts, speakers or performers, this may be an online showreel from previous performances.  Similarly, photographers, photo booths or stylists might have an online gallery of their work.  Look and listen closely to what they are showing you and always make sure it meets your vision.

Tip 5:  Start a Database

If you are likely to put together future events, save yourself a headache and create a database of suppliers as you go!  Not only will it save you time later, but it will also help you compare similar suppliers and help you accurately budget for future events through storing information to refer back to.   This could be done simply in an excel spreadsheet, or via other online software such as Smartsheet, find a platform that works well for you.  To help get you started we have prepared a free Supplier Tracker that you can download here.