Finding the right vendors for your event can be one of the biggest challenges in the planning process, especially if you are planning an event in a city you don’t live or work in. Hopefully a few of the following tips will help you navigate the waters a little easier and make sure you are getting everything you need from your vendor to make your event successful.

Read the proposal

I know you may be thinking that this is a given. It’s not. I have had way too many conversations with people that are disappointed with their vendor because they ‘thought’ something was included when it wasn’t (and yes it stated that it wasn’t included in the proposal). So make sure to take your time and read through the proposal and not just the bottom line number. This can give you so much insight into what type of vendor you are dealing with. Did they include everything you discussed, including optional items? Did they detail the information in a way you can understand? Is the pricing in line with the budget you gave them? Is the cancellation clause, payment terms and execution dates correct? These are all important things to you, they should be important to them as well.


Luckily we are in an age where the Internet is readily available with tons of information about almost anything at our fingertips. Use this to your advantage and check to see if there are reviews or any notes about the company (or companies) you are considering, however remember to take these with a grain of salt. There are always two sides of the story and if there is one bad review amongst a lot of glowing ones, make sure to note the issue, but not axe the company simply based on one review. You can’t please everyone all of the time and perhaps that person wasn’t the right fit with that company. Also, make sure to check with your colleagues, friends or referral’s directly from the company. They are going to provide you with the most candid and truthful feedback so take advantage of this if you can.


One of the biggest lessons that I have learned is that when you hire your vendor, while they are the experts in their business, make sure that they know exactly what you want. One of my first discussions with any potential vendor is that ‘it’s impossible’ is never the right answer. I am not implying that my way is the only way, but I do expect us to discuss each change, request or issue and finding a solution that works for both of us. My clients do not expect to hear this from from me and I expect the same courtesy. If they don’t feel they can work this way then I suggest moving on to the next company on the list.


As with any good relationship communication is key and if you have issues with communication during the proposal process this can be a sign of things to come.

To help combat this you want to make sure that you have a clear agreement about who is your contact within the company. Often the person that you work with on the proposal is not the person who you will be working with once you get started on your project. Preferably you will have one contact, however a dedicated team can also be beneficial. Either way you want to make sure that your needs are streamlined through as few people as possible so that when you call they know exactly what you need.

There are of course many additional elements that are specific to each of type of vendor that you need to hire, but I have found that following these guidelines have helped save me a lot of headache when hiring someone new.


Shannon Anderson has been an active member in the event industry for over 15 years trying out every job she could from banquet server to Director of Events. Taking on challenges from the screens at the Sundance Film Festival, the exotic locations of destination weddings and the slightly scary convention centers in Cartagena, Columbia, she has been there, done that and made small children and clients happy.

Currently she can be found traveling the globe, providing an educational experience about her job in creative production and spreading her wisdom to anyone within earshot. As a person who spends equal time on two different continents she chronicles her explorations on her daily lifestyle blog for sanity and admiration.
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