Working with venues I have found to be of a challenging nature already. I am learning hard and fast lessons about it that I just had to share with you.
Every venue has their cost and I am learning that you get what you pay for.
Here are the first set of basics I think you have to ask yourself:
- Understand first of all why you are doing this. Why are you planning your event? Why are going to go through all of this? If you understand that then it will make all the chaos afterward worth it. Fund raiser? Raise awareness? Bring talent together?
- Who is going to come to these events? Who are the attendees?
- Budget of the event? What are you willing to spend?
- What are you trying to earn?
- How to make the event different, Unique, not like all the rest, not like the others, not like the rest of your competition or the rest of the town
- Who is going to be doing what? Are you doing it all? Are you going to have help? Are you delegating to others? Are you hiring out?
- How are you going to promote it?
To me, these are my Make Sures: You know…make sure you….and other info…
- Make sure you know what is included in the cost when looking for venues
- Make sure you know if they are going to let you set up the night before
- Make sure you know if even if you do get to set up the night before if your set up will be secure the night before as mine was ravaged and I had re set it back up anyway
- Make sure electrical is covered in the cost and if not what is the cost per each vendor use
- Check other events in the area to make sure you are not competing with other markets such as yours. This can be daunting since you could check and then right before your event someone could plan something you have no control over.
- Make sure you do lots of advertising and marketing to promote for your event
- Make sure to post lots of signs as the establishment may not have good sign age (as my establishment did not)
- Make sure to set your pricing for the vendors so that you do more than break even. Divide the cost of the event venue by the cost of the table fee you are planning on charging. Then double that fee for cost or double that by tables. If you don’t you will do a lot of work for nothing.
- Make sure to plan to have food at your event. Either have food vendors or have concessions. Some venues have concessions that you can have at the events but if they don’t have such things look for vendors who sell food.
- If you are not planning food like this perhaps plan on having a few people bring some pot luck items in the kitchen so people are able to eat.
- Make sure to check the wifi status of the venue when you get there to scope it out. Make sure you have it. Check the strength, etc. Nowadays with everyone having swipes and squares without WIFI having these shows is useless.
- Make sure to Plan out a map of your event of where each vendor is located. This helps you as well as guests know where to place people. However, for me I had people all placed and then people canceled. Then people wanted to move and I neglected to check who they wanted to move across from and found as I was walking by that they were across from their competitors. Not good.
- Make sure to Remember you can only do the best you can. Don’t beat yourself up.
- Consider a theme and decorations. This will help bring everything together but it is not mandatory.
- Plan your event a month at least ahead of time.
- Go see the venue and check everything out.
- Measure the spaces fit the venue.
- Make sure there is enough tables, electrical outlets etc if that is needed. I made the mistake of taking the venues word for it only to find out two days ahead that there were not and then we were scrambling.
- As well, the event venue thought I would show up on day of to do everything and if I had we would NOT have had enough tables or outlets as they had ripped all the outlets out.
- Try to have fun raffles. Ask vendors to donate items to the raffle but make sure they understand it is Not mandatory. It cost each vendor to do these things so it is up to them. However it helps market their brand so it benefits them in the long run.
- Have entertainment or something fun going on. This makes it more fun for the vendors and the attendees.
- Try Not to plan everything yourself. Sure sage words if yo can do that. However, I am one business and one person. I would love to have help and ask many people with no response. I get annoyed and irritated if I keep asking and no one is willing to help. If you can get help, that is great. If you want to plan it yourself, if you think you can do it yourself go ahead. But be-warned, it is a LOT of work. At some point you WILL need help. In the end, I had helpers with the raffles, tables, chairs, set up and take down and a few various things here and there. For the future I am trying to offer rewards to those who bring in sales for future events.
- Don’t assume your guests will enjoy the event and just love how you did everything. On the flip side actually. I figured the vendors hated how I arranged it, I figured the guests didn’t arrive because I did something wrong. I figured all the opposite. But then I told myself, I did my best because I did. In the end, that is all you can do.
I found Google Docs and Google Drive and Google Forms to be the best tools to use.
I used and created a Google Form for everyone to fill out. I asked all the questions I needed and used this as my interest form AND contract. At the end they need to sign and Date it. Once they have done that it goes into a Google Database that is connected to my gmail. I set a notification that alerted me when anything was changed or updated so I could stay on top of it. This is also how I made sure I did not duplicate vendors. This went to Google Drive and saved it into a Google Spreadsheet. I created extra tabs for the three events I am hosting. I copied the information into those sheets so I knew who would be at each even and who needed tables, electrical, and who had an had not paid. I also kept track of who I had contacted, how many times and when I had given them a final warning. I highlighted their name in green and marked PAID when paid. I marked in RED once I had given final warning after three times and had not heard.
After I get their info I email them with info to my Square account info for a payment I created. They can pay me via Square and it is all secure. It send them a confirmation and then I also see it and sent them a separate confirmation. This is how I keep track.
In the Google Spreadsheet I also have separate tabs of Vendors, Venues, Performers, FB Groups I promote to, Other Places I promote to, and other leads. I can also share this with my team to help me keep track of everything.
In the end, no matter what you do, you can’t make people show up. You can be the best at advertising, marketing, and make sure everything is perfect and then the weather craps out on you and no one wants to go out or the weather is great and no one wants to shop. Either way it is up to the people. They are either going to come to your event or their not.
Do your best. Use what works for you. Enjoy it. If you hate it, I would say Event Planning is not for you. It can be stressful.It can be a delight. It can also make you want to never do it again.
My fiancée’ made me laugh this morning when he said, “Handling vendors for events is like handling kids. They either are happy or their not. You can’t please them all. You just have to do your best and someone is always going to yell that someone is touching them!” LOL