Vendors Every Event Planner Should Have in Their Network

The best event planners stay current with trendy event venues in their area from hotels to resorts to restaurants. Most importantly, they establish good, even friendly working relationships with the sales and catering management at those venues as both will help make or break an event. Those relationships will also prove valuable for future events and will hopefully make your job of delivering an excellent event easier.

In the same vein, every event planner (whether independent or hired as a meeting planner at an organization) should have a personal business network of trusted event vendors and suppliers that can be hired for various events. Not only will that network cut down on time dedicated to searching for those contractors, but the event planner will have learned how to work with those companies and individuals to get the best service for their client. In the end, networking is incredibly important in the meetings and events industry. When it comes to referrals, your network (or lack thereof) can mean the different between landing a job and watching it go to the competition.

Here are the event services vendors, suppliers, and contractors every great event planner should have in their network.

1
Destination Management Company (DMC)

A destination management company.
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A destination management company (DMC) may appear on the surface to be a competitor to a local event planner, given its focus on maintaining relationships with all local venues and hospitality services, but in reality, they can be excellent partners for event planners.

When planning events out of town or outside of your area of expertise, a good DMC can become your best friend and closest ally. Their relationships and extensive local knowledge often cover all aspects of event planning. DMCs are usually hired to help plan and execute all offsite and evening activities.

2
Communications Consultant

A communications consultant.
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A tremendous amount of information must be communicated to clients and guests, but many event planners do not have the unique expertise to produce all communication materials like invitations, agendas, conference materials, etc.

A communications consultant will help create template materials that follow appropriate etiquette and formats for each type of communications tool. Working with writers and graphic designers (or performing these responsibilities directly), this person will make sure that the materials incorporate the event theme, messaging, and client brand standards. They can even assist in the actual production and printing of these materials.

3
Stationery Designer

A stationary designer.
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The more intimate an event, the more flexibility with the style of paper materials that can be used. Local or online stationery shops have incredible options, and most papers today can be printed on using an inkjet printer which can add some cost-savings.

Try to work with the shop owner. He or she should inventory hundreds of styles directly in the shop (and have the ability to order custom materials when needed). A stationery designer will make suggestions and help to wordsmith and print your materials as well.

Stationary Tip: In addition to more classic or traditional stationery and invitations, make sure the inventory includes other more unique options as well.

4
Promotional Products Distributor

Promotional products distributor.
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One of the rules of any event is to never let a guest go home empty handed. Regardless of whether you are planning a client meeting, seminar, conference, trade show, incentive trip, or the like, one thing remains common: your guests should receive and take home a relevant gift item.

Your promotional products contact should provide you with access to name badges, notepads, pens, pencils, apparel, awards, and any other item you or your client may be interested in giving to those who attend your program.

Gift Tip: It's always best to choose gifts that reflect the image/brand of the hosting organization. When appropriate, you may even want to have the ability to brand certain items with the company or association logo.

5
Photographer

A photographer.
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This is a budget item that many clients like to avoid, but a great photographer will capture the essence of an event or multiple day programs and give guests a keepsake. Having a few great photographers in your network can be especially invaluable when you are hired to plan a more personal event like a wedding.

Your photographer should also maintain a network of resources such as video production, A/V technicians, and other photographers. The photographer who embodies technical expertise with marketing savvy is the one who you want in your network. He or she will understand the art and business rationale for any event.

6
Private Caterer

A private caterer
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Not every event takes place at a hotel or restaurant where catering services are automatically provided. Internal meetings and events are oftentimes planned at the organizations themselves, and catering is ordered and delivered. Some of the most unique event venues like art galleries, landmark buildings, or even beautiful parks will also require private catering services.

A caterer may have his or her own restaurant, banquet facility, or shop. In addition to offering a range of menu items that will appeal to general or ethnic dining experiences, he or she should offer incredible options for breakfast, lunch, breaks and/or dinner.

7
Wine Shop Owner/Sommelier

A wine shop owner/sommelier.
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Your caterer will likely take care of the bar needs for your event, but an event planner will have his or her own reasons for including a wine expert in their network.

A good wine shop owner can provide inventory (for consumption or appreciation gifts) as a direct resource for private parties, but more importantly, this sommelier can help educate the planner about wine.

Wine Tip: For an added bonus, work out a direct relationship with the wine shop owner to ship inventory directly to your clients and include a personal note from you.

8
Chocolatier

A chocolatier.
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Similar to a wine shop, a great chocolatier can really make an event planner look good. Everyone loves hand-made chocolate ganaches and truffles.

If you can, work with a local chocolatier who uses all fresh ingredients, but there are many gourmet chocolate makers that will ship directly to your event. ​MarieBelle New York creates beautifully displayed chocolates.

Chocolate Tips: If you really want to get fancy, a great chocolatier can include a custom image on top of the chocolates or even create a chocolate sculpture or centerpiece. It's also not a bad idea to ask your contact to keep your personal business cards in the shop for personalized shipping to clients.

9
Florist

A florist.
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Great floral arrangements will add color, sophistication, and fragrance to a room. Many events will incorporate floral arrangements as part of the event decor such as table centerpieces.

A good florist will offer various ideas that address the theme, colors, and budget for your event. He or she will also advise which flowers will hold up best for the duration and temperature of your event (e.g., outdoor events) and the season.

10
Party Rental Supplier

A party rental supplier.
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Although most venues will maintain relationships directly with a party rental supply firm, it is helpful for event planners to have their own relationship with reliable party rental supplier.

A great event may incorporate any number of items for decorations, linens, flooring, lighting, audio/visual equipment, dinnerware, glassware, props, tents, etc. A good party rental company will offer all this and more. Your party rental supplier can also be a great resource to help brainstorm the best ways to support the theme of your event.

11
Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB)

A convention and visitors bureau.
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A convention and visitors bureau (CVB) will provide valuable information about the event destination, its services, and facilities. A CVB will save time and energy for any meeting planner when needing to research local services. Some CVBs even offer online tools for planners to request information from participating hotels and other services and venues.

The CVB is responsible for promoting the local destination and can generally provide information about the history and unique characteristics of a destination. Event planners should reach out to the CVB and its staff as one resource for detailed information about local travel and tourism.