New Event Planner’s
Guide to Event Suppliers
Our New Event Planner’s Guide to Event Suppliers is designed to bring clarity to the multiple layers of planning and executing an event for the first time.
Organising an event can be overwhelming, even for the most experienced event planners. Most importantly, you need a team who can support you in your time of need. Whether those people are colleagues, or suppliers, you need to build a trusted network and that’s exactly why we’re here to help.
How to Build a Network of Event Suppliers
You may be fortunate and already have a long list of event suppliers to choose from. But many new event planners have to start from scratch. At first, it can be hard to know who to trust and ultimately who is going to be right for the job.
From the venue and catering to set design and technical production, your event will have its own special requirements, but we can offer some advice on how to make an informed decision.
Initially, you’ll need to carry out some research to decide what type of suppliers you will need to produce your event. For example, a conference typically requires keynote speakers, a venue and technical production team who can look after the AV, lighting, rigging, power, set and stage design and filming. You may also need to look at travel, accommodation, entertainment, and translation services.
Start carrying out some basic web research into suppliers. Explore each supplier’s website and social media for projects/case studies to see what they have done before. Hopefully they will include some customer testimonials.
If you are running a one-off event, it’s best practise to search for suppliers that are local to the event, however if you need suppliers that work nationwide or internationally, consider that when narrowing down your choices, as some suppliers may not travel beyond a certain service area.
Create a Brief for Initial Engagement
At this stage, you may not know enough about the subject matter to provide a full and detailed brief for your suppliers. But don’t worry, the suppliers that you engage will likely lead the brief based on what they think is required. They are the experts after all. However, there are a few things you should be clear about, including:
- The budget (there’s more on this further down)
- Event date and time frame
- What you expect each supplier to provide
- How you want it to look and feel (use pictures and visuals if needbe)
- How the delegates should feel and interact
- The number of delegates
- Any special requirements
Put the Feelers Out But Don’t Spam
You can now start approaching your suppliers with your brief. You can either pick up the phone or drop them an email.
As you approach your suppliers, be mindful that they will spot a pricing exercise a mile off, so it is best not to spam lots of suppliers that offer the same service at once. They may know each other and discuss projects. It’s best to approach suppliers that you think will fulfil the project to its potential. They will be more forthcoming with their support, loyalty, and offer more favourable pricing if they think they will win more work in the future.
Pick Up The Phone
Once you have sent out your initial enquiry, you will hopefully receive lots of responses and questions about your event. Take this opportunity to pick up the phone and have a chat. That’s when you will get a true idea of the people behind the email, the website and social media. You’ll certainly get a better vibe as to whether these are the people you can trust and work with going forward.
Cross Reference and Build Your Own Knowledge
Depending on your needs, the suppliers will offer advice on how they can deliver the different aspects of your event. They are the experts in their field, so if you are exploring a few options, it’s a good idea to cross reference the advice that you receive. You may find one supplier offers more knowledge and solutions than the others. This is a sure sign they want to engage and will be supportive of new event planners like yourself. Be sure to use their advice support your own learning and growth going forward.
Create a Detailed Timeline/Schedule
New event planners listen up, the timeline is one of the most valuable tools you will ever have! It works as a task sheet for every stage of the event planning process. It’s also your time management bible, ensuring you never miss a deadline or crucial aspect to your event.
To begin your event planning timeline, you need to create a calendar. This could be in the format of a spread sheet that you create yourself, or an online task-based tool. Asana, is good option for new event planners, as it allows you plan, track and manage your project from start to finish. Asana offers free and paid options, depending on your needs and the size of your team.
When mapping out your event planning timeline, the fundamental entries should include:
- The event date
- Meetings with vendors, stakeholders and event team
- Site visits
- Delegate communications and marketing
- Deposit due dates
- Booking deadlines for vendors and suppliers
- Guest list confirmation deadlines
- Designs and ideas for event
- Goals and objectives
- Delivery dates
- Access dates
- Build schedule
- Call sheet/crew list/ event schedule for everyone involved in the event, specifying where everyone needs to be and when with contact details
- Streaming schedule for virtual events
- Accommodation and venue information for everyone, including clients, delegates and crew
- Derig plans for post event debrief
For a detailed list of what to include on your event planning timeline, we recommend this blog by Pro Global Events, which offers a thorough overview of the process and how to update your timeline as the event planning progresses.
Avoid Problems by Making the Most of your Supplier’s Expertise
Once you have chosen your suppliers, engage them in all the necessary processes to really make the most of their expertise. For example, as a technical production supplier, we should be involved in:
- Site visits to assess the power, rigging and access points.
- Meetings with other suppliers that require technical supports, such as power for catering, stage lighting for performers, speakers and entertainment, general interior and exterior lighting.
- Stakeholder or creative decisions regarding filming or set design.
- Scheduling for build and derig.
- Crew requirements.
As a technical production company, we help even the most experienced event planners avoid major problems. Just by joining you on site visits and creative decisions, we can ensure there aren’t any issues with access, power or rigging.
Keep Your Client and Suppliers Informed
As you travel along your new event planners’ journey for the first time, remember to keep your clients and suppliers informed of any changes or updates as soon as possible. You could send an updated timeline or have regular conference calls. Either way, make sure everyone involved has all the necessary information.
For your own peace of mind, why not keep a communications record that tracks your emails and phone calls? This could include the date, name and brief description of what was discussed last time you spoke to the supplier or client.
Pricing and Budgeting
Sharing information on your budget will be key to getting the right suppliers on board. In building your relationship with your suppliers, it’s good to be open and honest about your budget from the start. By giving them plenty of information, you will build their trust and they should reciprocate with an open and honest approach.
It’s all very well waiting and seeing what suppliers come back with once you have provided your list of requirements, but if you can offer an idea of the budget upon the first engagement, it will help to get a genuine idea of what you can achieve for your money.
A good event supplier will give you options and will try their best to accommodate you. They will also tell you if your budget is reasonable for achieving the goals you have set.
Finding a suitable venue will largely depend on the type of event. For example, conference production requires adequate seating and space for delegates, while a party or corporate hospitality may involve entertainment, an activity or a dining experience.
There are so many types of venues available, from conference centres to temporary structures, lavish hotels to concert halls, those with city views to country retreats. The list is endless and only you will know what suits your event best. However, we can offer some advice from a technical event production point-of-view, and this may determine how you choose your venue.
Things to consider when choosing a venue:
- Is there adequate power supply for the event or will you require temporary power solutions, such as a generator? Generators will be an added cost to your budget, so make sure this is a key consideration.
- Cable routes for powering equipment need to be considered to ensure the safety of your delegates. You technical production company will provide advice during the site survey.
- What is the access like? Both suppliers and delegates will need safe and easy access to the event.
- Consider the load in requirements for event equipment and staging. Will your event suppliers be able to access the site in advance to build your event? Are there any restrictions, such as parking, lift and stair access?
- Can delegates access the site on event day – are there any travel restrictions? Is there adequate DA access? How long will it take them to get there?
- The overall size of the venue; does it offer enough space for what you want to achieve? Can you fit in a stage and still have enough seating?
- Rigging points and ceiling height. If you are planning a lighting and camera rig, you will need to consider the ceiling height, or enquire about exisiting rigging points and their load capacity.
We always recommend liaising with your technical event production partner and other vendors before settling on a venue, as they will provide professional insight to the venue’s feasibility for your event, and ultimately how your choice will impact on your budget.
To cover all basis, invite your technical partner to carry out a site visit. They will be able to offer advice and recommendations.
Sustainability is a top priority for every industry and event production if no exception.
As a first-time event planner, you won’t be expected to know everything about running a sustainable event, but being conscious about the decisions you make will give you the foundations for the future. You can start by simply asking your suppliers and the venue questions about their sustainable practices. You may find they can offer much more information than you had expected.
As your experience and knowledge develops, you can look at:
- Venues that are built with sustainable modern building practices
- Locally sourced consumables and suppliers
- Eco modes of transport
- Locations with public transport access
- Reducing unnecessary waste
- Using technology to improve sustainability
Please take some time can explore more in our blog: Sustainable corporate event production
How Can TPP Help?
You’ve read the blog and you should know by now that we strive to be as helpful as possible. Therefore, please pick up the phone and talk to us about your next event. We are the technical event production partner you’ll decide you can’t be without.