Many event planning tasks require enlisting the help of external providers. You will not only have to find the service providers who are best suited to managing your event, taking care of the sound, the catering and the entertainment, but also many other services such as printing, decoration, and ticketing.
When you organise your first event, you may feel lonely in this search. That’s why we have decided to give you some guidelines on how to choose your service providers.
Writing a Briefing Note
The first step in your search for a service provider will be to write a full briefing note (also called “specification”) describing your project and your requirements so as to receive in return the most accurate and suitable proposals. You should define the format that you have in mind for your event. Specify the date, the target audience (age, gender, job, interests, etc.), your attendance target, and the venue that you plan to hire.
Describe the story of your project/business. How did this project come to light? Which values are you promoting through this event? What are your business or charity’s missions? Describe the events that you or your business have organized in the past, etc. A detailed description means the “candidates” will know how to adapt their proposal to meet your needs. Indicate very clearly what are the goals of the event that you wish to organise: brand activation, creative approach, brand image (values, expertise, etc.) and awareness (local, regional, national or international…).
At the end of your specification, set out your budget. Be careful to remain consistent with the rest of the briefing and do not hesitate to indicate a budget range so as to allow some room for negotiation.
Several online platforms can put event planners in touch with service providers. It is, however, more complicated to know which one of them will be the right partner for your event. Browse these platforms and make a shortlist. To do that, check their experience and their references to get an idea of their professionalism. Among those you deem most relevant, select those whose prices seem to match your budget and send them your detailed briefing note. Organise a tender for your key activities, those that are essential to your event.
The qualities of any good service provider
You should receive a number of proposals. The speed of response should help you make a selection. A provider who gets back to you more than 48hrs after a request for quote may not be able to reassure you during busy times…and all event planning projects have their busy times. 3 qualities are necessary in a service provider: responsiveness, availability and flexibility.
A relationship based on trust and assistance will need to develop so that your event goes well. Value the providers who try to call you – and why not meet with them? It can be easier to assess your gut feeling after a face to face meeting. It is important to be comfortable and feel free to ask any question you may have, particularly about those technical areas that require advice as much as service provision.
Compare the quotes and check that they meet 100% of your specifications. After a last Google check of their online reviews, choose two companies. That way, you will know who to contact in an emergency, as a back-up.
Once the event is over, debrief with your provider to give each other some feedback on your project. List the areas for improvement and those that went well. You will then know who to contact for your next event. Stay open to other offers on the market. Loyalty and open mindedness will allow you to approach the search for providers with calm and serenity every year.