Once you’ve determined the purpose, audience, and budget for your event, you’ll need to select vendors to help carry out your vision. Even if you’re a top-notch event manager, you can’t go at it alone. If you envision a wildly successful event, you’ll need to choose exceptional vendors. Employing vendors that are anything less than exceptional could result in a less than optimal experience for attendees.

Depending on the nature of your event, your roster of vendors might include the following:

  • Caterer | Bartender – Food, beverages
  • Decorator – Venue decoration
  • Florist – Provide centerpieces, etc.
  • Graphic Artist – Design event signage, invitations
  • Photographer | Videographer – document the event
  • Performers – Provide entertainment
  • Transportation | Parking services – Drive and park vehicles

As you’re searching for vendors, solicit referrals from colleagues and make a shortlist of those that come highly recommended. When contacting those vendors, obtain and record the following information (at least). 

  • Vendor name and contact information
  • Service | Product
  • Prices | Discounts
  • Lead times required
  • Payment | Refund policy
  • Licenses | Permits | Insurance (where applicable)

If and when you decide to move forward with a particular vendor, this information will become part of your vendor management system.

Your vendor management system can save you a great deal of time when planning future events because you’ll have everything you need right at your fingertips. The more information you can obtain from the vendor, the better. Letters of reference, samples, portfolios, and observations from the vendor’s work at another event can give you more confidence in who you ultimately hire. 

Once you’ve assembled your team of ace vendors, effective and efficient vendor management is essential to ensure that they meet your expectations and those of your attendees. The following tips will help you stay on top of the vendor management aspect of planning your event.

1.  Write Down Your Expectations

Even if you provide verbal instructions to your vendors, it’s also important to provide written documentation with clear expectations. The documentation doesn’t have to be complicated; a simple list of services/products to be provided will suffice. If you prefer more detail, you can create a spec sheet with explicit descriptions of everything the vendor has agreed to provide.   

 2.  Have a Contract for Each Vendor

Your written documentation for each vendor can live in the form of a contract that outlines the terms of the agreement. The contract is a legally binding work order with specifics about what you expect from the vendor and what recourse you’ll take if they don’t deliver on the contract. By signing and dating the contract, you and the vendor agree to the terms that lie within. Those terms should include the following:

  • A clear description of services, equipment, and products to be provided
  • Costs and payment terms
  • Delivery date and time
  • Proof of insurance, licensing, bonding (where applicable)
  • Vendor requirements (access to water, electricity, etc.)

3.  Maintain Open Lines of Communication

Staying in close contact with your vendors is an important aspect of effective vendor management. During the hiring process, establish a method of communication that will be used to relay progress updates or changes. 

While exceptional vendors shouldn’t need to be reminded to deliver as promised, having a strong communication strategy in place will give you peace of mind. Vendor management software, such as eShow, can help you efficiently manage and streamline communication with your vendors.

4.  Reiterate Delivery Times Throughout Planning Stage

Timing is essential to an event’s success. Exact delivery dates and times should be established at the beginning of your vendor arrangement. It’s also helpful to ask vendors to re-commit to those times throughout the event planning stage to ensure they know when you expect delivery. You won’t want to leave that to chance.

 5.  Check Delivered Items for Accuracy

Whether your vendor hand-delivers items or uses a courier service, check each order for accuracy and quality. You don’t want to find out that your order is incomplete or damaged after they’ve left. Instead, carefully inspect (or designate someone to inspect) all items in the order. Notify the vendor immediately if the delivered order deviates from what’s stated in the contract.

6.  Be Good to Your Vendors

The adage “good help is hard to find” can apply to vendor selection. If you have vendors that are performing at or above your expectations, treat them well. Vendors expect a bit of negotiation, but don’t ask them for freebies or discounts to the point where they can’t make a decent profit. Doing so might cause them to turn down your future service requests.

Vendor Management Made Easy With eShow.

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Effective and efficient vendor management can take your events from so-so to legendary. To streamline this function, follow the lead of event managers who take advantage of technology to optimize your outcome. In Bizzabo’s 2020 Event Marketing Report (close to 500 mid-to-senior level marketers from high-caliber organizations like Forbes, SAP, and Gartner were surveyed), marketers were found to be overwhelmingly in favor of event software:

  • 92% of marketers feel event software makes it easier to achieve desired outcomes.
  • 80% of marketers who currently use event software have no trouble proving return on investment (ROI).
  • 89% of marketers who use event software feel that they save time when planning events —  roughly 200 hours per year. Additionally, 20% of marketers reported saving 360 or more hours per year with event technology.

Armed with eShow’s tools and web-based solutions, you, too, can easily and efficiently handle vendor management tasks. Our tools can be customized to your needs and budget, help you communicate with vendors, maintain a vendor database, and stay on budget.

eShow goes beyond vendor management and provides solutions for all aspects of your event, from the planning stage to the actual event date. We can provide everything you need for a successful event, whether it’s in-person, virtual, or hybrid. 

From a complete industry shutdown to the rush into the virtual world, the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly kept event professionals on their toes. As more and more people get vaccinated, the interest in in-person events has returned. However, this has created new challenges.

Many event managers are unsure of what the future holds. In a world where the COVID-19 virus remains relevant, how do you balance the desire for human contact with the need to ensure safety and comfort? As we continue to navigate this “new normal,” you can expect to see a host of new trends arising.

For event managers, it’s essential to prepare for what’s coming next and lead the way. So here’s a closer look at some of the most crucial industry shifts happening right now.

Hybrid Events

As things slowly begin to open back up, hybrid events are positioned to be this year’s hottest trend. While this isn’t a new concept, the value has become highly apparent in today’s contemporary world. Offering both in-person and virtual event options allows your guests to choose the level of engagement that makes them feel most comfortable. In addition, since more people can attend without the expense and hassle of travel, offering a virtual option also makes your event accessible to a far larger audience.

Hybrid events offer many benefits. However, planning them creates some challenges. It’s critical to set up these events in a way that makes both in-person and virtual delegates feel welcome and engaged. Providing the best possible attendee experience also requires a significant amount of planning and preparation.

Forward-thinking event planners and managers are already procuring the tools and skills they need to create and execute stellar hybrid events. So not only is this format not going away any time soon, but it’s also likely to become standard practice rather than an exception to the norm.

Interactivity

One potential drawback of a hybrid event is the challenge of keeping your attendees’ attention. While it’s easy to pack a three-day, in-person event with fun and exciting activities, recreating this experience online is a bit more complicated. Your virtual attendees may not be thrilled about spending an entire day staring at a screen and are even less likely to want to commit to a multiple-day event.

Shortening your event is a great option. However, it still may not be enough. When planning a hybrid event, it’s important to keep engaging by adding plenty of interactive activities. This may include question and answer sessions, tutorials for hands-on projects, breakout sessions, and networking opportunities.

Investing in a virtual event management platform is one of the best ways to ensure your off-site guests enjoy a fully interactive event experience. This will also allow exhibitors to promote their products, provide sponsorship value, and enable two-way communication between remote attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors. 

You may also consider providing perks for your virtual attendees to make the experience as close to the “real thing” as possible. For example, you may consider providing vouchers for food delivery services, like Grub Hub or Uber Eats, or having physical swag bags delivered right to the attendee’s front door. 

Focus on Safety and Sanitation

Despite the increase in vaccinations, it’s still critical for event planners to stay vigilant regarding safety and sanitation. In addition, for the time being, the need for social distancing remains. This makes event design more complex and requires additional planning. For example, you’ll need to stay conscious of the layout of open spaces and consider using a seating management program to maintain proper separation during seated portions of your events.

It’s also critical to ensure your venue has cleaning protocols in place and communicate them clearly with your event attendees. Other accommodations, such as mobile app technology to limit physical contact between attendees and staff, will also remain the norm for the foreseeable future.

Smaller Regional Events

For now, mega-events will likely remain on hold. Instead of national conventions and tradeshows, companies are more likely to host separate regional events. As more people get comfortable, you may see a shift back towards more significant events. However, this possibly won’t occur until 2023 or later.  

In the meantime, you may see events slowly getting more prominent. So, for example, while a company may host four to five events across the country this year, they may cut it down to separate east-cost and west-coast affairs next year.

Data-Led Decision Making

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything. Old assumptions are no longer valid, making data-driven decision-making even more critical. Not only do event planners and organizers need to analyze new information coming in, but you’ll need to do it with far greater attention to detail.

Studying your data will help you clearly understand what’s going on in your regional area, across the nation, and around the globe. This will allow you to stay ahead of changes and prepare you to adjust your approach when the need arises proactively.

Continued Need for Flexibility

If recent events have taught us anything, it’s that we need to expect the unexpected. Whether it’s a resurgence of COVID-19 or another serious issue, there’s always the chance that something could throw a wrench in your best-laid plans.

Now, more than ever, event planners and managers need a way to clearly and efficiently communicate changes with event hosts, sponsors, and attendees.

Using a meeting logistics manager will help you orchestrate all the details of your event and serve as a single point of communication. Not only will this allow you to keep all the details you need at your fingertips, but it will also help you quickly make adjustments as needed.

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The Next Generation of Event Planning

As the world continues moving forward, it’s critical to make sure you’re prepared for the next era of events. Whether you’re hosting in-person, full digital/virtual, or hybrid events, eShow offers various products and services that will help ensure they’re both engaging and effective. Contact us today to request a full demo! 

The future of live events is starting to look brighter! While the COVID-19 pandemic forced almost all events into the digital world in 2020, vaccine rollouts have allowed us to start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

In fact, small-scale gatherings are popping up all over the country. Families and friends embrace the opportunity to start spending time together again, and organizations are looking for ways to meet the growing demand for in-person gatherings.

While we’re all ready to get back into the swing of things, it’s also important to consider some of the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s a look at a few of the things you’ll need to consider.

Safety Concerns

While the vaccine rollout has created some exuberance, it’s critical to remember that the COVID-19 virus has not been eradicated. In fact, new variants and a rise in cases among unvaccinated individuals have created a new wave of concerns.

People are excited to start gathering again; however, many still feel apprehensive about the safety of going out into large crowds. Event planners and managers are now tasked with taking extra safety precautions and doing everything they can to ensure attendees feel comfortable during their events.

For now, in-person events will likely remain scaled back. While they won’t have the size and grandeur of the past, that doesn’t mean they have to be boring! The best event planners are now doubling down on creativity to ensure their events are still exciting and well worth attending.

At the same time, things like limiting capacity, offering contactless registration, and creating set-ups that allow for social distancing are now at the top of every event manager’s priority list. Hand sanitizing stations and other precautions are also likely to remain the “new normal” for the foreseeable future. In addition, event organizers must now seriously consider the pros and cons of mandating COVID-19 tests and/or vaccines. Planners must also figure out how to seamlessly execute any mandates put in place, including explaining the protocol to attendees and handling any push-back. 

Communication

Event planners and managers need to ensure safety protocols are in place and followed. However, it’s also equally important to communicate with event attendees. Making them aware of the steps you’re taking to keep them safe will help ease any remaining anxiety, allowing them to enjoy your event truly.  

From explaining protocols by email before leveraging your social media platforms, the ultimate goal is to make every attendee feel as comfortable as possible. Your messaging should clearly and repeatedly communicate a “safety-first” attitude. Do this correctly, and you’ll be able to shift attendees’ thinking from “Am I going to be safe?” to “I wonder what they’re serving for dinner?” This is the sweet spot where they can finally relax and become truly engaged.

At the same time, you’ll need to manage your attendees’ expectations. Ensuring they know that the event will be scaled back can help ensure that no one will be disappointed. In fact, if they’re aware that they should expect less, you’ll have a greater chance to impress them with the incredible experience you’re able to create despite any current restrictions.

Flexibility

COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines have not only influenced the structure of all events, but they’ve completely changed them. This has made flexibility more important than ever.

While there’s a lot of optimism and excitement about the steady return of in-person events, it’s also important to be ready for unexpected setbacks. Additional outbreaks, the return of mask mandates, and even new restrictions on gatherings are all still possible. For this reason, it’s critical to have backup plans in place. Having a system for efficiently communicating any changes to your vendors, speakers, venue, and attendees will save time when it matters most and help ensure your event goes off without a hitch.

Hybrid Events

Innovation has been in overdrive as event planners, and other professionals find ways to adapt to the new challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although there’s a clear demand for in-person events, it’s also important to understand that virtual and hybrid meetings are here to stay, at least for the next few years.

Some people aren’t ready to deal with crowds, while others appreciate the ease and convenience of attending events from home. In addition, continued capacity limitations will lower the number of in-person tickets you can sell. Combining these factors makes it important for event planners to continue finding ways to make both hybrid and in-person events appealing to attendees.

Smart Partnerships

Keeping up with COVID-19 compliance and successfully managing hybrid event production is certainly intimidating, particularly if you’re trying to do it yourself. The good news is, partnering with a professional team of advisors and having the right technology in place can make all the difference!

As you continue to navigate these uncertain times, it’s important to remember that events are no longer just about dates, rates, and space. Today, the focus has turned to health, safety, efficiency, and transparency. Having the right partners in place will allow you to plan the in-person and hybrid events attendees crave while remaining nimble enough to adapt as things change quickly.

eShow offers a full suite of event management solutions under a single umbrella. Our web-based solutions communicate with each other, allowing you to customize and scale your experience completely. In addition, if an unexpected change occurs, our system will allow you to make a change in one central location instead of losing valuable time contacting multiple vendors.

To learn more, contact us today! eShow’s innovative products can help you not only survive but thrive in this continually changing environment. We would love to walk you through our suite of solutions and show you how we can provide you with the peace of mind you need for your next event.