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How to Find the Right Vendors For Your Event

Choosing the vendors to supply your event can be a make or break decision. There are so many vendors to choose from that finding the best fit for the right price can be a challenge. More importantly, it only takes one wrong vendor choice to completely throw your event off kilter and create a bad experience for your event attendees.

Luckily, finding great vendors for your event doesn’t have to be a headache. It all comes down to doing research, identifying what you specifically need from each vendor, and knowing how much you’re willing to pay and how much you should pay for each type of vendor.

The following is a basic guide on how to find the right vendors for your next event.

  1. Make a Plan

Before you start contacting anyone, you need to have a solid plan mapped out. What type of vendors do you need? What type of services do you need provided? Are there some logistical items you might be able to do on your own? Knowing what needs to be provided by an outside source and what you can do in-house can set you up for success before you start making calls.

Here’s a basic list of some things you’ll want to consider:

Security: This is absolutely crucial. If your venue doesn’t provide security, look into hiring experienced, licensed security guards who are well trained but personable. There are companies that specialize in event security, so make sure you’re seeking out the right type of protection for your event.

Catering: If your venue doesn’t offer catering services, find a catering service that will work within the needs of your event. Caterers should come highly recommended and should have prior experience prepping food for large crowds in an event space. Try to seek out catering specifically rather than a restaurant to provide food. The difference boils down to a level of service and availability the day of the event.

Staffing: If you opt for a catering company that doesn’t include staffing for the event, consider hiring bartenders or wait staff to help serve at the event.

Seating: Your venue may not come with tables and chairs, so you may have to look into rentals. Make sure you find a company that also offers linens and additional labor to help set everything up!

Entertainment: The right DJ, artist, or entertainer can make or break your event. Start your search process early and make sure you know exactly what type of vibe you want to create at your event. This will make it much easier to weed out entertainers that don’t fit your event’s aesthetic.

  1. Get To Work

 Once you have a plan, it’s time to start doing research on your potential vendors. You’re not just looking for a company to provide a service, you’re looking to build a long lasting relationship with a vendor you can rely on to help make your future events a success!

The easiest place to start is to work with your venue. They’ll likely have a list of preferred vendors they work with on a regular basis, which can simplify things significantly. If your venue doesn’t have any recommendations or you want to look into other options, do some online research. You’ll want to compare vendor ratings on Angie’s List, Google, Yelp, and even check the Better Business Bureau to see if the vendor has a subpar rating.

If you’re still having difficulty finding vendors, ask for referrals. Whether it’s from other vendors or other event planners, relying on your personal network can be a great way to find reputable vendors that work well with your event.

  1. Lock Down the Details

Once you’ve found your list of vendors, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty; the contract or service agreement.  Now is your time to be thorough and leave nothing up to chance.

You’ll want to be meticulous and discuss every detail with your vendors so your expectations are clear and defined. The description of services including the date and hours, the cost and payment schedule, insurance, licensing, and permit information (if applicable) should all be explicitly outlined in your agreement. If they’re not clearly stated, talk through them with the vendor and get those items in writing.

If your vendor is offering a fixed event package, talk to them about their level of flexibility if what they have to offer doesn’t quite fit. You want to leave some room for negotiation but whatever you do, be upfront about your budget. If you ask what the vendor can supply at your price point, it’ll make it much easier to get what you actually need.

Finding the right vendor for your event doesn’t have to be a headache. If you do enough planning ahead of time and know what you’re looking for, it’ll make the entire experience much easier. Make sure you’re vocal about what you want, and don’t be afraid to ask questions rather than just taking what’s offered to you the first time.

Once you find the best vendor for your events, you’ll likely end up using them again and again, so make sure you treat this search process as a way to build a long term professional relationship. Vendors don’t “owe” you anything, they’re potential partners that can help elevate your event experience!

How to Keep Attendees Engaged Between Events

Unless you host events on a weekly basis, you’ll probably have a big stretch of time between your events. After the “post-event” window has passed and your follow up surveys and emails have been sent, what can you do to keep your attendees engaged before the registration process starts for your next event?

If you want to keep your attendees excited about what you have to offer year-round, you’ll need to create and publish content year round. If your social media channels and website go into hibernation mode between events, you’re missing out on opportunities to turn attendees into fans, and fans into loyal brand ambassadors. After all, your attendees have more changes to engage with your brand the more regularly you publish content!

The best part about creating engaging content between events is that it’s usually low cost, low effort, and open to creativity. Here are just a few ways you can churn out content year-round.

Video, Video, Video

Video is one of the most powerful marketing tools out there, so powerful that it can boost your web traffic.If you have any footage from your previous events, want to give your attendees a behind the scenes look at the planning stages for your next event, or want to create new video content for your brand, video can help engage your attendees in the off season and remind them what you have to offer.

Sharing is Caring

You don’t always need to create your content from scratch. Sharing content created by other channels that are related to your brand can be a great way to continually post engaging content your attendees can connect to. Whether its posts related to your industry, other events similar to yours, local news, or brands your organization can connect to, take a little time each day to share 2-3 posts. This is also a great way to track what your followers are interested in and can help you get ideas for what types of content you should be creating.

Competition is Key

Nothing grabs more attention than a chance to win tickets to your next event. Create an online contest where attendees can earn free tickets, VIP upgrades, accommodations, merchandise, or other perks for your next event and watch your engagement soar! Contests should be interactive and encourage your attendees to provide feedback or share your content in exchange for contest entries. For example, sharing a post on Facebook could be worth one entry, but sharing the post on Instagram and tagging two friends could be worth 3 entries.

Blog about It

Your event website should include a blog section if it doesn’t already. Blogs are a great way to post event recaps, organization updates, and your take on industry trends and topics. Blogs are a great option because they drive traffic to your website and have a very open content medium. You can post anything from articles, reviews, listicles, quick tips, and any other easy to digest content you can think of!

When in doubt, email out

Emails are a reliable way to reach your attendees. While you certainly don’t want to overdo it during the lull between events, sending the occasional newsletter or promotional email can help engage attendees that might be dormant otherwise. Email is also a great way to show attendees that may not be social media savvy where to find your latest content, how to keep in touch with your brand, and what they can expect for your next event.

No matter which options you choose, continually pushing out content is the most reliable way to keep your fans engaged. Taking the initiative to stay in touch with your audience base in addition to your event planning can actually make it easier when it comes time to promote your next event.

Event Ticket pricing 101

For most paid events, the biggest revenue generator will be the actual tickets sold to your event. Whether your revenue will be donated to a charitable cause or kept as profit, the goal of almost all paid events is to generate money. If you’re not making a profit off of your events or your ROI for the entire event is lower than you’d like, you might be pricing your tickets incorrectly.

There are many approaches to figuring out how much your event ticket should cost, and they typically hinge on the different types of tickets and packages you’re offering. For example, many event planners like to offer early bird pricing to increase pre-sales and generally drive up their ticket sales ahead of time. This approach might help pad your sales numbers but you could be missing out on revenue if you don’t know when your attendees are most likely to purchase their tickets.

Before you adjust your pricing model, get familiar with how customers buy tickets to your event. Do you see a large spike in premium ticket and package sales as soon as the event goes on sale? Do most people purchase their tickets starting one week before your event? Are there any patterns to which tickets sell out the quickest or which tickets tend to not sell as well as expected? Knowing basic information like this can help you pick the right ticket pricing model for you.

Here are 6 pricing strategies you can use for your next event.

Cost-Plus Pricing

This is by far the most common pricing model. Cost-Plus works by determining the total cost of producing and running the event, determining your desired profit margin, and pricing the tickets accordingly based on your expected number of attendees.

This option is great because it’s a simple, straightforward way to price your tickets that almost always guarantees a profit of some sort. The issue is that this pricing model doesn’t add your event’s perceived value into the equation. Your attendees don’t know and likely don’t care how much it costs for you to run your event, so they’re typically willing to pay more than the “bare minimum” price if they think your event is valuable. Essentially, you could be losing out on a higher ROI.

Early Bird Pricing

The early bird gets the worm, but in this case the worm is a discounted ticket.  This discounted pricing applies to people who purchase tickets to your event prior to a set deadline. This is usually a hard date and time, but it can also be based around another instance such as buying tickets before another event, before a new website is launched, or before the full event lineup is finalized.

This option is a good way to encourage early sales and build up buzz about your event. After all, the more people who have purchased tickets ahead of time, the more people there are to spread the word online and in person. That being said, it can be tricky to get the timing down for an early bird pricing special. If it runs for too long, most attendees won’t jump on this deal until the last week or two before the price increases. If the window is too short or if you don’t advertise the early bird special with enough time in advance, you may end up losing out on some advance sales.

Rush Pricing

Rush pricing is a way for you to sell any unsold seats or packages close to the event date. Broadway theaters typically do this the day of the performance for any seats they haven’t sold in advance so that their remaining seats can be filled, but this is a great tactic for events of any type.

 While this pricing method accomplishes the goal of selling as many tickets as possible, you run the risk of training your attendees to purchase their tickets at the last moment possible in an attempt to get a better price.

Competition Pricing

Keeping up with the Joneses can be hard, especially if the Joneses are hosting a similar event to yours. Take a look at your competitors or similar events in your industry that may not be direct competition. Are they doing something you’re not? Do they typically sell out ahead of time? Observing their pricing model and sales strategy may help shed some light on where your event can improve.

This option is easy because someone else has already done the work and research for you, but this is also the downfall of this method. You don’t know what research your competition has done to decide on their ticket prices and their event pricing could be based on other factors that don’t affect your event. Competition pricing is a good starting point for changing your pricing strategy, but it’s unlikely that directly copying your competitor’s exact price structure will result in a boost in revenue for your event.

First X Tickets Sold at a Discounted Price

Similar to early bird pricing, you can choose to sell the first 100 or 200 tickets for a reduced price. This incentivizes buying tickets as soon as your event goes on sale to boost sales as soon as the event is made available to the public. If you’re looking for a way to capitalize on FOMO (aka fear of missing out), this option is great.

Unlike the early bird pricing where your customers know when it’ll end, selling a pre-set number of tickets for a discount is a mystery because your customers have no way of knowing how many tickets have already been sold. The downside to this is that you’ll need to determine how much of a discount can be provided to really make this an incentive. You’ll then need to figure out how many tickets can be sold at this price point without losing money.

Price Based on Demand

Dynamic pricing is a fairly standard tactic for large events and is based on simple economic principles. As your supply of tickets dwindles, demand for the remaining tickets increases. In turn, your customers will pay more for the remaining tickets. You can continue to increase this price incrementally as your sales increase, and even drop the price down the day of the event if you find yourself left with unsold tickets.

Not knowing what the price will be at any given moment highly incentivizes customers to purchase their tickets ASAP because they want to hop on the best deal before the price goes up. This is similar to how airlines handle their ticket pricing. The price increases the closer to the flight date and fluctuates based on how many customers are viewing and booking that specific flight. This is also why you can sometimes get a cheaper rate if you risk buying your ticket at the last moment- the airline would rather get you on the flight for a reduced rate rather than risk flying with empty seats.

The demand-based pricing model can generate some backlash if customers contact you about pricing discrepancies. There are bound to be a few unhappy customers that figure out that they paid more than their friend simply because they purchased their ticket at a different time.