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Select the Right Vendors for Your Event.

Andy Robertson

When planning you live event, especially a music festival, the selection of the right vendors can make a big difference in the event’s success. Almost all live music events post an online application for potential vendors and many organisers can be faced with choosing the right balance that meets the requirements of their event and the audience.

It is not unusual for vendor applications for a live music event to outnumber the number of pitches available so selection of relevant vendors is important but what processes can an event organiser go through to ensure the vendors they select will contribute the events overall success?

Most organisers start with the application which will be posted on the event website inviting vendor applications. Design of the application form can help to narrow down the number of applicants with careful selection of questions and information requested. The following are the key questions to ask potential vendors:

Applicants should clearly indicate the category they fit into that could be food and beverage, merchandise, art and crafts and other services like yoga, mediation or therapeutic massage for example. It may be sensible to indicate the number of pitches available for each category probably weighting it towards food and beverage as they are most likely to be in high demand from event goers.

Ask vendor applicants what experience they have previously working in a live event environment and can they supply references, recommendations and testimonials to back this up?

If the event is a three-day music festival will the potential vendor have sufficient levels of staffing to cover the event’s suggested operating hours and will they carry enough stock for the anticipated audience numbers? Are staff suitably qualified to meet and health and safety
requirements and is the vendor appropriately insured?

Social responsibility.
If the event has an environmental or ‘green’ theme what are the environmental credentials of the vendor applicant including their stance on sustainability and their carbon footprint for example.
More importantly does the vendor’s operations fit in with the ethos of the event? 

Finally, all vendors should be asked for a statement that illustrates their uniqueness and what makes them different or more attractive than other vendors. Suggest that the prospective vendor submit photographs of previous pitch installations plus product descriptions, menus and price ranges for example. 

Taking into account the answers from each vendor will allow the event organiser to shortlist potential vendors at which point pitch requirements, size and costs can start to be negotiated. The vendors selected should reflect a good variety that can be offered to event goers and have a good fit with the event theme. Even once the final selection has been made and deposits taken it's important to keep a backup list of first refusal vendors should any selected vendor pull out.

Using an event software management platform like FestivalPro can help manage vendor selection and the management of vendor logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The FestivalPro platform is easy to use and has all the features and functionality a live music event organiser needs to plan and control their vendors.

Andy Robertson
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