Top Tips from TLC

Choosing an event management company

3rd February 2020, 3:58 pm

Finding the right event planner is like playing the dating game.  It’s not just what’s on the surface that counts, but the deeper connection that will maintain the relationship.

From ensuring your company philosophies are aligned to examining their portfolio with a fine-tooth comb – the process shouldn’t be just about seeking out the company that ‘looks good’ or puts the right figure on a tender document – but finding the perfect fit for your event and your company values.

Set your objectives

Events come in all shapes and sizes – so do event management companies. Whether it’s an employee recognition event to celebrate achievements, a staff Christmas party to boost morale or a customer event to generate sales or launch a new product, the first step in any event is to define why you’re holding it in the first place. Draw up with a list of measurable objectives covering exactly what do you hope to achieve and why.  Only then can you begin to hone your list of potential suppliers and see how they hold up against your aims.

Go by word of mouth

I’m a firm believer in recommendations.  It’s how I’ve grown my business and built my reputation. Reach out to individuals and organisations within your professional network for their advice, introductions and honest opinions. You can also do this via LinkedIn and via other social media outlets. If you’ve attended a particularly memorable event, then contact the organisers to see who was behind it.

Unpick their Portfolio

Once you have a shortlist, research a company’s testimonials and case studies. There’s no harm in contacting some of the companies they’ve worked with to gauge their experience. If they’ve done repeat business with recognisable brands, it’s a good indicator you’re on to a winner.

On the other hand, don’t just opt for the company that shouts the loudest, that’s always appearing in the media or who has scooped all of the top awards.  Accolades may highlight that an event management company has achieved great things, but they can’t tell you if it can do great things for you.  Which brings me to the next point.

Is the chemistry right?

Over the past thirty years I’ve worked with many different people – from huge organisations and to celebrities and private clients who prefer to stay that way.  Some relationships thrived.  Others fell by the wayside.  The difference was chemistry.

The litmus test for anyone looking to hire an event management company should always be whether you feel you can work with the person or team that’s putting your event together.  Ironically there’s no scientific formula for how to measure this. It’s all about the feeling. Your gut instinct.  You don’t have to socialise with them, you don’t even have to like them personally (although it helps), but a mutually respectful professional relationship is essential.

Make sure you’re on the same page

If you’re thinking low key and affordable and they’re wanting to hire Beyonce to play at Grand Central Station (either of which would be fabulous by the way) the relationship is never going to work out.  Agree the budget from the outset.  And that doesn’t mean an event can’t have the wow factor, it’s about making money work hard by spending it in the right areas. If they’re worth they’re salt they’ll find creative ways to achieve your goals within budget

Are they qualified?

Experience vs qualifications. The old conundrum. For me, the perfect recipe should include a good mix of both.

Are your philosophies aligned?

What are the core values that set your company apart?  And how does the event management company fit into your overall philosophy?  If environmental issues are at your core, then choosing an event management with great eco credentials should be a consideration.  Perhaps CSR is high up your priority list – find a like-minded company to reflect what you value most.

Become a secret shopper

Attend an event the company has planned. This may feel like snooping, but it doesn’t have to be done under the radar. I’d have absolutely no problem with a potential client attending one of our events.  In fact, I know that allowing them to experience one of our events as a guest is the best way that I can promote my company.  Seeing a team in the full throws of an event will allow you to see first-hand how they operate.  It will alleviate any worries or lay bare any issues – either way it will help with your decision.

How do they measure success?

Simply putting on a brilliant event then moving onto the next one isn’t good enough.  Neither is saying an event was successful without any measurable results to back this up.  Events can only prove their worth if there is a robust evaluation process in place. And this needs to be front of mind right from the outset.  What monitoring and evaluation steps has the company built into the pitch?  If it’s not mentioned that’s a red flag for me.

Check the Ts and Cs

What is their billing structure?  When does their invoice need to be paid? And does this fit with your internal processes? These are questions that need to be answered at the outset to stop a relationship turning sour at the end.

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