The keyword for every event is collaboration. The multi-billion dollar industry is composed of countless key players that bring their talent to the table. However, it takes experience, intuition, and some business savvy to select the best event vendors to support your design. Whether that’s focused on catering, lighting, to promotional swag, trusted event vendors are hard to find but not impossible.

Over the last 16 plus years as an event designer, I have curated a trusted network of industry professionals that deliver time and time again, but how did I trudge through the lackluster to build relationships with the stars of the event industry? It’s a threefold journey that makes for a lasting professional relationship.

Scoping Out Vendors

  • The timeliness and thoroughness of a vendor’s correspondence correlates with their level of organization and attention to detail. This is a two-way street, so make sure that your communication is top-notch.
  • On that same note, excessive correspondence and requests for clarification from a vendor breeds a dependency and foreshadows a lack of experience that is sure to rise to the surface come event day.
  • Don’t dismiss vendors that are new to the scene. Evaluate the quality of their work over the quantity, and you may have just discovered a hidden gem.
  • With social media, the ability to find vendors is literally at your fingertips. It’s an easy way to get a glimpse of a vendor portfolio and see their following. However, be leery of a beautiful marketing façade that may represent just a shell of business.
  • Above all, referrals are the most valued resource in a designer’s Rolodex.

Pitching with Vendors

  • The product a vendor can supply is as important as their personality and work style. Business partners who work at your pace and with your level of detail make collaboration easier. The client can sense a healthy relationship between vendors because the execution is seamless.
  • Taking the time to familiarize yourself with your vendors and knowing them by name makes a relationship more than email deep. An organic trust and advocacy for each other develops that turns it into a partnership rather than a singular effort.
  • It’s vital that an event vendor doesn’t have an ulterior motive for business outside of your contract. They do not run the show nor do they need to use the opportunity you offered them as a chance to advance future business on your clients or their guests.

Maintaining the Vendor Relationship

  • Show your appreciation. It’s that simple.
  • Credit your vendors where appropriate in the press.
  • Nurture your relationships with vendor happy hours, industry dinners, and opportunities to discuss more than just business.

Brian Worley - event vendors Over the last 16 years, Brian Worley has made a name for himself in the corporate entertainment events sector on the East and West Coast, and he now holds the title of Director of Design at one of Atlanta’s premier design firms, Bold. Spearheading production and design for the Teen Choice Awards, American Idol parties, and the Emmy Award’s media tent, Worley is known for pushing the limits on creativity and building a star-studded team of collaborators.

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