Procuring Event Services: Venues, Catering, and More

Explore best practices for procuring top-notch services for B2B events, ensuring your next conference or launch exceeds expectations.


The Procure 4 Marketing Team

5/27/20245 min read

a table with elegant catering
a table with elegant catering

When planning a business-to-business (B2B) event, the stakes are high and the expectations even higher. Whether it's a conference, a product launch, or a corporate retreat, every detail matters. Central to the success of your event is the procurement of top-notch services, from the perfect venue to delectable catering and everything in between. In this blog post, we'll explore the key considerations and best practices for procuring event services that will ensure your event not only meets but exceeds expectations.

1. Understanding Your Event's Requirements

Before you start reaching out to suppliers, it's crucial to have a clear understanding of your event's specific needs. Consider the following:

· Size and Scope: The size of the event directly influences many of your decisions—choice of venue, scale of catering, type of technology required, and more. Start by estimating attendance, which will help in determining the kind of space required. Consider factors such as seating capacity, the layout for booths if it’s a trade show, space for networking, and any special areas for presentations or keynotes. The scope of the event also includes the duration—whether it’s a single day or spans multiple days—which impacts accommodation needs and more.

· Audience: Knowing who will be attending is crucial to tailoring the event experience. If your attendees are C-level executives, the style and tone of the event will be very different compared to an event for mid-level professionals. Consider the demographics of your audience including their industries, cultural backgrounds, and even their generational cohorts, as these factors will influence their expectations and preferences, whether it’s the formality of the setting, the technology used, or the kind of networking opportunities that will engage them.

· Objectives: Clear objectives are the cornerstone of successful event planning. Whether the goal is to launch a new product, facilitate networking, provide training, or celebrate achievements, every element of the event should support these objectives. For example, a product launch may require a central stage for presentations and demo areas, while a training workshop would need smaller, interactive spaces conducive to learning.

A well-articulated brief that includes these elements not only guides your venue and service selections but also serves as a critical tool when communicating with vendors. It ensures that all parties involved have a clear understanding of the vision and logistics of the event, leading to more accurate quotes and services that align perfectly with your needs. By defining these parameters early on, you pave the way for a well-organized event that meets both the expectations of its attendees and its organizational goals.

Having a detailed brief can help you communicate your needs effectively with potential suppliers and ensure you're on the same page from the start.

2. Choosing the Right Venue

The venue sets the tone for your event and can be a make-or-break factor in its success. Here’s how to pick the right one:

  • Location: Look for venues that are easily accessible for your attendees, considering both local and out-of-town guests.

  • Facilities: Does the venue have all the necessary technical capabilities? Consider things like audiovisual equipment, internet access, and physical accessibility.

  • Ambiance: Ensure the venue reflects the event's theme and enhances the attendee's experience.

Don't hesitate to visit potential venues personally to get a true feel for the space and discuss your needs directly with the venue management.

3. Catering to Your Crowd

Catering is more than just food; it’s about making a statement. Here's how to ensure your catering is a highlight of the event:

  • Menu Flexibility: Choose caterers who offer a variety of menus and can accommodate dietary restrictions and preferences.

  • Quality and Presentation: Food should taste great and be presented elegantly. Sampling the menu beforehand is a must.

  • Service: Professional and courteous staff can elevate the attendee experience. Discuss the staff-to-guest ratio and their experience with events similar to yours.

4. Additional Services

Depending on the type of event, you might also need to procure additional services. These can include:

  • Event Technology: From event apps to interactive kiosks, technology can enhance the attendee experience and facilitate smoother operations.

  • Entertainment: Bands, DJs, speakers, or performers—they all require careful selection and negotiation to fit within your event's theme and budget.

  • Decor and Setup: The visual aspect of your event needs to align with your corporate identity and event objectives. This includes signage, flowers, lighting, and more.

5. Negotiating with Suppliers

Negotiating with suppliers is an art that requires clarity, strategy, and foresight, especially in the realm of event procurement. Here’s how you can approach this crucial phase effectively:

· Be Clear About Your Budget: Transparency about your budget from the outset avoids the back-and-forth that can occur when financial boundaries are not clearly defined. When suppliers understand your budget constraints, they can tailor their proposals to fit within your limits, focusing on delivering value where it counts most. This clarity helps prevent overspending and streamlines the selection process, as suppliers are less likely to pitch services that are beyond your financial scope.

· Ask for Customization: Standard packages may not always align with your event's specific needs. Don't hesitate to ask for a customized proposal that caters directly to your requirements. Whether it’s adjusting the menu to accommodate dietary preferences, modifying technical setups, or altering decor to fit a theme, tailored solutions can significantly enhance the event experience. Communicate your vision and let suppliers propose creative ways to achieve it. This approach not only fosters innovation but also builds a partnership mentality rather than a transactional relationship.

· Consider Multi-Event Contracts: If your organization hosts multiple events annually, consider leveraging this volume to negotiate more favorable terms through multi-event contracts. Suppliers are often willing to offer discounts or added perks when guaranteed future business. This strategy can lead to cost savings, improved service continuity, and stronger relationships with suppliers who become more familiar with your preferences and operational style over time.

By employing these negotiation tactics, you position yourself to achieve optimal terms that respect your budget and maximize the value of the services you procure. This strategic approach ensures that every dollar spent contributes directly to the success of your event.

6. Managing Contracts and Relationships

Effectively managing contracts and maintaining strong relationships with suppliers are essential practices that can significantly impact the success of your event. Here are more detailed strategies to ensure smooth cooperation and ongoing partnership:

· Clear Contracts: The foundation of a good supplier relationship is a well-drafted contract that leaves no room for ambiguity. Ensure that every contract with your suppliers includes comprehensive details about deliverables, deadlines, costs, and what to do in case of unforeseen circumstances. It’s wise to specify expectations for both parties, including quality benchmarks and timelines. A clear contract not only provides a legal safety net but also serves as a reference point for any future discussions or disputes.

· Communication: Open and continuous communication with your suppliers is crucial for the seamless execution of your event. Establish regular check-ins and updates to discuss progress, share changes, and address any concerns as they arise. Effective communication can preempt potential problems and foster a collaborative atmosphere. Utilize tools and technologies that facilitate coordination and ensure that messages are documented and accessible to all relevant parties.

· Feedback: After the event, taking the time to provide constructive feedback to your suppliers is invaluable. This discussion should highlight what went well and what could be improved. Acknowledging the efforts of your suppliers reinforces a positive relationship and encourages them to maintain or elevate their standards of service. Conversely, offering constructive criticism helps them to grow and adapt, which ultimately benefits your future events.

By focusing on these aspects of contract management and relationship building, you set the stage for not only a successful event but also for a robust network of reliable, high-quality suppliers that you can count on for future projects. This proactive approach ensures that each event builds on the last, continually enhancing efficiency and outcomes.

Procuring event services for a B2B setting doesn't just end with finding a supplier and signing a contract. It's about creating a partnership that ensures every aspect of the event is aligned with your business objectives and caters to your audience's expectations. By carefully selecting your venue, catering, and additional services, and managing these relationships wisely, you're setting the stage for an event that not only looks great but also delivers substantial business results.