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rolodexIf you read my article from yesterday, you’ll know how strongly I feel about building relationships with the people you work with in the events industry. These relationships prove invaluable when planning future events and can simplify your job as an event planner immensely.

In the same breath, I’d like to reaffirm that this essentially means that every successful event planner should have a rolodex the size of a soccer ball and not a single name in there should be unfamiliar. If I say I want scuba divers falling from airplanes at my event, then my event planner better know who to call to find them. More importantly though, this network of contacts should be dependable and trustworthy. This eliminates the need to search for suppliers when time is of the essence and ensures that the event planner already knows how to work with those companies and individuals to get the best service for their client.

In the meetings, incentives, conferences and events industry, networking is of the utmost importance. It can mean the difference between landing a job and losing it to the competition.

So on that note, we’ve put together a list of eleven suppliers/vendors that no event planner should be without and a few examples of companies who fit the bill…

Corporate/Promotional Gifts

Whether planning a conference, incentive, meeting, seminar or exhibition, it’s standard practice to provide your clients or guests with a gift of some sort.

Most of these companies allow you to include branding or logos on the gift items and they offer everything from pens to apparel to power banks, so you’ll have a range of choices to fit the hosting organisation’s image and the event budget.

If you need to contact a local corporate or promotional gift supplier, Corporate Conference Gifting and Newport Advertising should be your first points of reference,

Communications Consultant

Don’t underestimate the importance of a communications consultant. Many event planners manage communications on their own, but considering the amount of information that has to be communicated to guests and/or clients, it’s sometimes wise to hire an expert to produce all the communication materials.

Communications consultants can assist in creating templates for every possible communication tool that you might like to use and that follow accepted decorum. Most communication consultants also have expert designers and writers who will ensure that the event theme and brand standards are thoroughly incorporated in all communications.

Some suggested companies you can contact in South Africa are Atmosphere and PR Worx.

Destination Management Company

A destination management company is seen by many as direct competition to event planners. Not only do they specialise in the planning and execution of events, tours, programme logistics, activities and transport, they also focus on maintaining strong relationships with all local hospitality services and venues. Exactly what an event planner does.

However, when organising out-of-town events or events outside of their area of expertise, an event planner could really benefit from having a trusted DMC on their speed dial.

If you are looking for a good DMC in South Africa, you can get in touch with The Spirit of Africa or Tourvest Destination Management.

Florist

Needless to say, flowers at most, if not all events are essential. They add colour, sophistication and aroma to a room. Granted, some venues will offer this as part and parcel of hiring the venue, but many won’t, so it’s essential to have a good florist to recommend to clients. The best part about having a go-to florist is that a strong business relationship might give you added discount and a bit of extra effort when you need miracles to happen. In need of a good local florist? Why not contact Floral Trader or Jill Manson Floral Design

Photographer

In a recent article, I shared the importance of having a photographer at your event. Granted, it’s a budget item, so some clients would prefer to skip it, but there are many events that can’t go without a good professional photographer and having a few trusted ones on your contact list is never a bad idea.

Some of my favourite photographers in South Africa includes MK Photography and Dan Rosenthal Studio.

Caterer

Unfortunately, not all venues come with catering services, this makes the food an even greater expense because it needs to be ordered and delivered or a team needs to come out and cook at the venue. Therefore, many of an event planner’s events will require a private caterer.

Ensure that the caterer you add to your network offers excellent breakfast, lunch and dinner options with a range of different menus for different needs.

Good caterers might be hard to find, but I would definitely go with By Word of Mouth Catering or Food for Thought Caterers if you’re in the Johannesburg area.

Sommelier

The wine is usually included in the catering, but depending on the event, an event planner will most likely need a wine expert in their network for at least a few special events.

A good sommelier will have good relationships with suppliers and might be able to arrange decent discounts on bulk orders.

Chocolatier

This might come as a surprise, but great chocolatiers could be worth gold to an event planner. Hand-made chocolates and truffles are always a winner when it comes to gifts. Many chocolatiers even offer the extra service of adding images or logos on top of the chocolates.

Since chocolate is my downfall, it’s hard to pick a favourite, but why Michael Sauvenier Chocolatier Artiste or Belgian Chocolate if you’re in need of a brilliant chocolatier.

Party Supplier

Again, this might be part of your agreement with the venue, but if you have needs that can not be met by the venue or if the venue doesn’t include this service, you will need someone that offers a range of decorations, lighting, linens, glassware, tents and equipment.

A good party supplier will also be able to offer advice on what fits your theme and what works well for your particular venue.

To save you some trouble of finding the perfect party supplier, I recommend you contact House of Decor and Events or Unlimited Events Decor

Convention and Visitors Bureau

The purpose of a convention and visitors bureau is to promote a town, city, region, or country in order to increase visitors. Mainly focussing on convention sales and tourism marketing, they aim to promote the development and marketing of the destination. The reason why they can be invaluable to an event planner is because they can supply valuable information about the event destination, its services, and facilities. Thereby saving the event planner time when doing research on local services. It’s a great idea to have at least one inside contact in a CVB who can provide detailed information about local travel and tourism.

This really depends on where you’re based, but just so you know what to look for here’s some information on Tshwane Convention & Visitors Services Bureau.

Stationery Designer

This is not a must at every event and many corporate events wouldn’t ask for it, but it certainly adds a sense of class to anything from notepads to invites to tags. Some stationery designers offer amazing options and once you’ve ordered the stationery, you can most likely print on it yourself, which saves some costs.

When it comes to the actual design—the stationery designer will be able to advise you on some great options to suit your needs and they’ll most likely be able to order any custom materials you might need as well.

If you need your stationery designed by experts in the industry, Seven Swans and Say It Creative will be able to cater to your every need.

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