We’ve been in event services for more than 10 years, so we've seen it all.
If you're looking for some honest advice about what not to do and what to expect from your vendors…read on!
1. "We don't want to hear from you until five days before the event."
First of all, vendors are busy people. They have a lot going on and are working with other clients. If you call them at the last minute and start asking questions about your event, they will be annoyed (and probably won't answer your calls).
Secondly, vendors don't want to hear from you until five days before the event because they get booked fast! Most vendors book up months in advance and if they've got a client who wants their services for a certain date, it's not fair for them to take on another job that could conflict with that.
2. "You can do it without us."
You can do it yourself! Event planning in New York is a skill and an art, but it doesn't have to be complicated. You don't need to hire a full-service planner or event designer. In fact, you may find that hiring someone to help you will be less stressful than trying to do it all yourself and still feeling like there are holes in your plan.
Doing everything yourself may mean having to hire additional people such as caterers, florists, DJs or photographers (just to name a few). This will cost money up front which means lower profits at the end of the day.
But if you're determined not to spend any money on outside help then here's how I suggest approaching this type of situation:
Before hiring anyone else besides your team members (friends/family), ask yourself what kind of experience they have with this type of work? Have they done something similar before?
If so, then great! If not, then why would you expect them not only complete all tasks perfectly but also do it without supervision on top? That could lead into another problem too...
You're probably better off looking for someone who has experience in this area. If you do find someone who doesn't have any experience, then try to talk them through what needs to be done and show them how it's done before hiring them.
3. "We'll find someone else if you don't pay up."
We’re pretty sure you already know this, but event vendors are in business to make money. They will find someone else if they don’t get paid. Plus, if they can't find another client with the same capabilities and availability, they may have to get a second job!
Now that we've established that fact, let's talk about how you can use it to your advantage as an event planner or planner-to-be. If your vendor tells you that there is no way for them to work with your budget (or even if the price seems too high), ask them what could be done differently so everyone wins.
For example: “Could we change our timeline from 12 hours down to 10 hours? Would that help? Or maybe move some things around so we can fit in another hour for each part of our event? How about moving one item offsite instead of having it built here?”
If all else fails and there are no other options available within your budget (or at least not enough time), try asking other vendors if they would be willing to lower their prices temporarily while still being able to deliver on quality workmanship or products.
4. "When we say 'mistake,' we really mean 'upcharge.'"
This is a tough one, but it happens. Unless you’re willing to say “no” to your clients, you may end up getting stuck with an inflated price tag due to a mistake made by another vendor on the team.
For example: “I know this isn’t what we agreed upon, but the rug company wants an extra $500 per square foot because they messed up on their last order and had to send out some free samples. Would that be okay? I don't want them to lose any business over this."
Here are a couple more of these examples:
Mistake: Placing the wrong order on your ticket
Upcharge: A fee added to the cost of food and drink, in addition to what you ordered
Mistake: Ordering a margherita pizza when you meant to order cheese-less
Upcharge: $3 for each additional topping on a large pizza, or $5 per topping for small pizzas
5. "'Day of' doesn't necessarily mean the day of the event."
The term "day of" means the day of your event. That's it. It doesn't mean that you'll get a call the morning after with an apology because the vendor got hung up on I-95 and couldn't make it. Nor does it mean that you'll get a call from their assistant, who has been left in charge with no experience whatsoever.
If you're planning an event and want to know if someone is going to show up on the day of, ask yourself: Is this Friday?
If it IS Friday, then they will be there bright and early at 8am sharp (or whatever time they tell you). They won't show up until 9pm when everything has already wrapped up for them anyway.
If it ISN'T Friday, then most likely they will show up at some point during daylight hours but not necessarily before 2pm. And if you happen to live in Hawaii or Alaska where there are no specific days labeled as such, then don't count on anything happening until Wednesday afternoon at best!
Vendors are human. They’re not here to take your money and give you nothing in return. Yes, they want to get paid, but they also want to make sure their clients are happy with the service they provide.
And just like any other business owner or small business operator out there, vendors need repeat customers in order for their businesses to succeed. If you treat them right, then an event vendor will do everything in their power to make sure your event is perfect!
Come peruse through our exhibitor’s hall at The Event Planner Expo in October and meet the top event vendors in New York!