In an industry where you are only as good as your last event, it is important to choose wisely when it comes to suppliers and partners.
Years spent dealing with everyone from AV companies to Venues and Entertainment to Florists mean I have come across some of the best as well as some that were, how shall I put it, not so good. It is easy of course to appoint suppliers in your own country; you can jump on the train or in the car and meet in person easily enough to discuss, in person, how you will work together to provide your client with the best solution for their event.
Delivering an event abroad, however, comes with its own challenges. Meetings at the drop of a hat to iron out the smaller details are not possible, language barriers can make correspondence more tricky and drawn out, allowing for exchange rates in budgets can mean a difference in the start and end price for a client that wants to see a GBP figure. We rely on emails, conference calls and video conferences for the majority of our pre-event discussions, of course there is a site visit, at least one face-to-face meeting with the main contact at your chosen supplier(s) but you don't know the team, you might not have worked with them before, there is an element of hoping it will be "alright on the night".
What is key when working with suppliers and partners, wherever they are located, is that communication is clear and regular, that everyone is involved in the what, why and how of the event – What are we doing, Why are we doing it and How will we make it work? Most people that I know who work in events do it for the love of the job, the adrenaline rush, not the glamour. It is wise to remember this when speaking to suppliers and partners around the world; we are truly one team, supporting each other to deliver seamless events for our clients. We have the same aim, the same passion for ensuring that we don't drop a cue, that presentations are spot on (many a night I have been known to be up until the wee hours tidying and triple checking my clients slides for errors, just to be sure they look perfect on-screen for them) that the sound is impactful and clear but not deafening, that the lighting adds to the atmosphere but doesn't blind the speakers or audience and above all else, that our clients message is delivered effectively and innovatively to their attendees, and that at the end of the event be that a day, week or month – they are happy.
So how do you go about appointing suppliers in other countries? The same way you do for a UK event of course, you ask your peers for recommendations, look at examples of previous work, get quotes (yes, more than one) and talk, in-depth, about the event and what you are hoping to achieve. You share as much information as possible and keep sharing. Once a supplier is appointed, it is important to keep that communication going. Yes, last minute changes do happen, yes, but keeping all those involved in updates as they happen helps everyone to plan and prepare.
And once the event is over, do we say thanks very much and maybe we'll see you around? Well some might, but in my mind it is important to recognise good teamwork when you find it. Recommend suppliers in other countries, share information with your peers and keep in touch with your new contacts; just because you can't meet for a coffee every now and then doesn't mean it's any less important to keep up-to-date on what's going on with them.
We are part of a global network; next time the people you have just worked with might be coming your way you'll want to make sure they have everything they need just like they did for you.
Written by: Jayne McFahn