Securing vendors for your upcoming event can make all the difference in your event’s scale. Understanding the needs and preferences of your food vendors, bartenders, performers, classic booth vendors, etc. will help retain those vendors for your event the following year. This will save you much needed time, heartache and moolah.
Finding great vendors and keeping them is almost like making a hole in one. (Forgive me, as the resident golf fanatic here I can’t help but use a golf statistic.) The odds that an average golfer makes a hole in one is 1 in 12,000. While that may not be the exact odds of finding a great vendor, when you do find that perfect vendor it can feel like hitting those 1 in 12,000 odds.
World class vendors enhance your attendees’ experience and increase the value of your event. Here’s some ideas to ensure you keep the best around for next year.
1. Showcase Your Vendors
Showcase your vendors by giving them an opportunity to shine! Set them up with a space that offers plenty of room for potential spotlight. The back corner room by the janitor's closet might not be the most appealing area. Set them up with a space that everyone is bound to notice, like the main entrance or a main hallway. If they need tables, chairs, or extension cords, do your best to have those necessities available beforehand. You also might want to have a point person, just for your vendors, that makes sure their experience is great!
2. Keep Their Goals in Mind
If they are looking to sell or sample a number of their products, you can help them reach their goals. This might mean incentivizing your guest, so if they go around to each vendor they will be entered into a prize raffle drawing! If the vendor knows you are on their team and want them to win, they are a lot more likely to work with you for your next event!
3. Provide Amenities
Hook your vendors up! I know every event I attended as a vendor when they provided snacks, water, coffee, or even a free meal it made the experience so much more enjoyable. Most vendors travel alone, and getting an opportunity to take a break is typically not in the schedule. Their main goal is to touch base with as many people as possible and having time to order food is not high on the priority list, but you can turn them from hungry to happy. You might also consider offering discounted tickets to your vendors for your event! Who doesn't love free stuff?!
4. Team Work Makes The Dream Work
This one is huge! If your vendor is given the opportunity to be partnered in your event, then they will feel like a VIP. You might consider giving them a spotlight opportunity. Try giving a vendor a chance to speak for 5 minutes, or announce a winner of a raffle. You might also have banners that say “sponsored by” throughout the event space. If you are fearful of losing one of your best vendors, then highlighting them as a true partner is a great way to keep them around long term.
5. Give Honest Feedback
Being open and real with your vendors is probably one of the best relationship builders. If you want them to be long term partners, being honest with them is crucial. Letting them know what they can do better is only going to benefit both parties. Also, open yourself up to their feedback as well. It will help build that honesty, and allow you to help them thrive in the future as well. Having tough discussions can only be a benefit in the future.
These helpful tips will develop a long term relationship with your vendors. If you have any more questions in regards to vendor retention let us know in the comments below!