From floor plans to operating hours, the parameters set by the event venue dictate many aspects of planning a special event.
As an event producer, you need to be aware of everything from the fire code to the number of bathrooms to how many steps there are between the loading area to the event space. All of these answers are best provided by the venue, of course, and the process is made much more seamless when there is already an existing relationship.
The relationship between venues and event producers is sacred; arguably, they are the two most fundamental parts of a successful event. Not to mention, the opportunity for mutual referral business is strong when there is a solid relationship between venue and producer.
Of course, there is a lot of merit in providing excellent work. Venues recognize the star producers and designers in their market and what their events can do for their spaces in the way of promotional images, media buzz and word of mouth.
However, producing great work is not the only factor that venues consider--in fact, it may not even be the first. A highly talented designer who is rude and disrespectful will have a hard time developing strong relationships with other vendors. Being a force in the industry requires far more than just an eye for color palettes or the ability to match textures like a pro.
Let’s explore how event producers can bolster their relationships with local venues, earning them more experience, new clients, and even a spot on the ever-coveted preferred vendor list:
1. Be selective
Do not feel as though you need to sell yourself to every venue on the market. While having a great relationship with everyone would be nice, your efforts will be best spent on venues that cater to similar clients as your business.
Check out their price points to see if they are the caliber with which you want to be associated. They need to have the same business ideas, models and clientele. Getting referrals from a venue is always a thoughtful gesture, but it will not be a good fit if the prospective clients can’t afford your services or want something that is out of your wheelhouse.
2. Be professional.
Being professional is akin to being successful, so it is something venues (and other vendors, for that matter) look out for as you approach them and work alongside them.
For example, we make sure our venues know that we have liability insurance and workers’ compensation coverage before we’re on their grounds. Most places do not ask for it, but it is necessary, and we have to be mindful of our responsibilities.
This is not your hobby; it is your livelihood and your profession. Act accordingly, and venues will recognize your commitment to excellence and attention to detail.
3. Be collaborative.
Planning an event is always easier when there is a cohesive team at work, as opposed to distinct professionals contributing only their share of the final product.
When you can collaborate with a venue on a celebration, you combine the value of two professional outlooks and will more than likely come up with an even better idea. As they say, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
If you work together successfully, start the conversation about growth and learn what direction your favorite venues are looking to go. Offer your help and see how you can grow alongside them, with mutual support coming from both sides.
4. Be friendly.
Just because you work together does not mean you can’t genuinely enjoy each other’s company.
Reach out to your favorite venue contacts and keep them close on a personal basis. Take the managers to lunch or pop in occasionally with a sweet treat to share. Think about them on holidays or anniversaries and check in with them on social media.
Being a professional does not mean you need to be a business robot all the time (or ever)--you can be pleasant and generous while still maintaining your professionalism.
Relationships do take time to grow, but with some intentional nurturing, you can build a lasting bond with your venues that will reap benefits for both sides for years to come.
Sending referrals is a quick way to make an impression, but it is essential to recognize that relationship-building is not just a one-time thing. Instead, it is an ongoing process that requires deliberate cultivation along the way.
With these tips in your back pocket, you will be well on your way to building a formidable and robust network that is ready to work with you and for you--as long as you are prepared to return the favor.
Oleta Collins is the owner of Flourishing Art Design Studio, a premier florist and design studio in Bakersfield, Calif., that specializes in luxury weddings and events. She is also a Certified Floral Designer and an accredited member of the American Institute of Floral Designers.