6 Ways Meeting Suppliers can Build Better Relationships with Planners
Sep 23, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan

partnershipMeeting and Event Planners have to use a variety of suppliers and partners in order to ensure that their event is successful. From the venue to the caterer to the AV company, these partners are critical to the meeting.

Here is a list of Do’s and Don’ts for meeting suppliers to consider when trying to build a relationship with an event planner:

DON’T ask to be on the preferred vendor list. First of all, most planners don’t have such a list any longer unless they work for a huge corporation. Second, you need to earn the trust and respect of the planner, not expect to get on the "list" because you called them up. Lastly, it is okay to call a planner and ask some value-based, engaging questions about their next event. You might even ask them if they would be willing to let your event services company work with them on a small meeting just to "kick the tires"

DON’T offer kick-backs, incentives, or anything else. Planners worth their salt are ethics-centric. They are going to work with a meeting supplier because they think that vendor can do the best job for their client at a reasonable cost. Providing value is more important than any incentive you could offer. In addition, if a planner thinks you are in the gray area, they will go viral about the reputation of your organization. Protect your reputation and stay above the fray.

DO want to work with the event company. Before responding to a RFP or submitting your proposal, check out the planner. Go to their website, ask around, and make sure you are 100% in. It is better to say no early on, than to find out you made very little money. 

DO provide flexibility, the day of the event. Any one who has worked in the events industry can attest to the fact that things are in a state of constant change the day of the event. If you are the conference equipment rental firm, equipment needs could change in a moment’s notice. If there are going to be extra charges, let the event planner know right away and present some alternative solutions to the problem that won’t break the bank. 

DO bring the right attitude. The "best people" suppliers can have on-site, the day of the event, are those with smiling faces and a can-do attitude. When things are at their worst, that’s when you need to be at your best. Planners will remember your organization if you went "above and beyond". 

DO refer planners. I have worked in this industry for 11 years and it always flabbergasts me how many suppliers want me to refer business to them when they NEVER refer business to me. I think the fear is, if the supplier refers a client to me, I will, in turn, recommend a different partner. There is nothing further from the truth. Many small planners thrive on referrals and are so appreciative of them, they will do everything in their power to make certain that vendor is chosen or at least, has a fair shot in the proposal process. 

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