What corporate event planners want from suppliers

Part eight of the State of the Industry Corporate Report asks what the most influential factors are when choosing suppliers.

When we asked corporate event planners the question ‘How do you choose your suppliers?’, the most popular answer was ‘cost’, followed by ‘existing relationships’ and ‘experience in the industry’.

Cost was a deciding factor for more than 70% of respondents, with existing relationships being important for 62.9% and experience crucial to 40.7%.

At the other end of the scale, a recognised brand name was only important for 11.1% of corporate event planners.

How do you choose your suppliers? (%)

"It's essential to deal with an agency that you already trust or that comes with a trusted recommendation," said Kate Conway, event manager at Hyundai Motors UK.

"And with budgets dropping, cost is also a key consideration. This tends to mean that we need to look for agencies outside of London, which in my view offer better value for money."

Amanda Hoffmeister, head of group events management at Amadeus IT Group, also focused on cost and existing relationships, saying: "Cost is a major issue, with reduction of budgets. However, the most important element is relationships and where the agency and internal customers have similar values and work ethics. Very often an event doesn't work well due to clashes in these approaches. 

"Location has also become important as more and more we are being required to work with agencies that are based in the market rather than bring in a full-service agency and fly them in for the event." 

Carla Hallmark, head of events at Nesta, also echoed the importance of a good business relationship: "If I have worked with a supplier for years, I trust that they will give me the best price and advise me on my choices and options even if that means a lower spend for them. 

"I also enjoy benchmarking exercises as these back my supplier choices (mostly!)"

Another event manager said: "As much as cost is important, for me the most important thing is the understanding of client needs as well as the trust and chemistry between the client and the supplier, which will be reflected in the guest’s experience."

Environmental considerations were also high on the agenda for another planner, who said: "Due to the current climate crisis we find it important to work with suppliers who operate in an eco-friendly manner."

At the recent C&IT US Forum, many attendees cited the need to get on the phone with a client/supplier early on in the relationship to avoid any miscommunication that could potentially take a long time to resolve over email. 

However, several suppliers in the audience said that it is sometimes very difficult to get hold of people this way. The topic was examined as part of a discussion panel on relationships between suppliers and planners, which we will be covering in full online soon. 

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