How to choose your service providers

How to choose your service providers

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.

Shortlist

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.

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