Your Relationships with Event Vendors Matters: Here’s Why

When you’re searching for vendors for your event, you’re probably not thinking much about the next event after this one. But when it comes to vendors, it pays to think ahead. It’s important to develop good relationships with event vendors, so when you’re looking at what you need for the future, you can rest easy knowing you started off each new relationship on the right foot.

What Kinds of Vendors Do You Need?

The types of vendors you need for an event depend mostly on the kind of event you’re holding, but other factors can play a role too. For instance, the location and venue of an event often help determine what services and amenities you need to contract out to vendors. A typical event might need some of the following vendors:

  • Food and beverage/catering. If this isn’t handled in-house by the venue, most events will need some kind of caterer. Vendors in this category often specialize in particular kinds of food, meaning you may eventually need to work with several catering companies to accommodate different kinds of events.
  • Equipment rental. Some venues supply certain kinds of equipment; for instance, a hotel with a banquet room or ballroom may have its own sound equipment. But for some events and venues, you’ll need to find a vendor to supply and set up what you need. Depending on your situation, that could be anything from chairs and tables to a sound stage and portable toilets.
  • Music and entertainment. This can cover everything from bands and DJs to magicians, face-painters, and balloon artists.
  • Depending on the other vendors you hire, you may need additional people for things like table service or coat-check.
  • Photographer/videographer. This is for any moment that needs professional capturing, whether it’s at an awards banquet or video footage for promotional purposes.
  • Design, décor, and floristry. If you don’t have an in-house design team, vendors can help you add visual flair to an event, for everything from flowers to venue décor to stationery.
  • Transportation. Organized event transport adds convenience and helps people save time getting where they need to be.
  • For large events that people attend from out of town, organizers often arrange with local hotels to supply accommodation at a bulk rate.

Where Do You Find Vendors?

There’s no need to get too inventive when you’re looking at how to acquire vendors for an event. These tried-and-true methods are typically all it takes to find plenty of options from which to choose.

Ask for Referrals

Before you go online looking for vendors for an event, ask people you know if they can offer any referrals. If you know other event organizers, that’s a great place to start. People who’ve recently held weddings and other celebrations may be able to offer suggestions too, depending on the types of vendors you’re looking for.

If you already have some vendor relationships, they may be able to offer suggestions too. Ask them about vendors they’ve previously worked with, and if they can introduce you to any prospects. For vendors that are in high demand, a personal introduction from another vendor may tip the scales in your favor.

When you work with a professional corporate event planner, you’re in great hands. Your dedicated team will likely have relationships with vendors in the city in which you’re planning.

Online Research

Finding the perfect vendor doesn’t always happen in a snap of your fingers, but the internet can take a lot of the guesswork out of the process. Thanks to popular review sites like Yelp, you can get a good head-start on finding vendors with great track records.

When looking for vendors for your event, Yelp and Angie’s List are good places to start. Industry-specific websites and blogs may be able to provide you with suggestions that mesh well with what you need from your vendors. Be on the lookout for vendors that have good, consistent ratings over a long period of time. They’re the people you want on your team for the long haul.

3 Steps to Establishing Great Vendor Relationships

For most event organizers, having long-term vendor relationships is a cornerstone of holding successful events. Whether it’s great food, exciting entertainment, or just reliable equipment setup, vendors who know what they’re doing are an integral part of any successful, memorable event. And having event vendors you can rely on frees up time for you to focus on elements that need careful management.

Having good vendor relationships also makes it easier to resolve any issues that come up. If there’s a problem with the floral arrangements for a banquet, for instance, your florist will be more willing to work on a quick solution if you’re a long-time customer and on good terms.

Of course, you don’t necessarily find the perfect vendor the first time, but once you find one who ticks all the right boxes, it makes sense to retain them for future events. So it’s always in your best interests to treat each vendor as though they’re the one you want to work with long-term. Even if it turns out that they’re not what you need, there’s always a chance they can recommend someone who’s a better fit.

1. Look for Vendors Who Operate in Your Niche.

If you work in a specific industry, or niche industry, it makes sense to look for vendors who do the same. By going this route, you get to work with vendors who already have experience in the kinds of events you’re putting on. It’s frustrating for both you and your vendors when there’s a steep learning curve, and that frustration can affect your working relationship. It’s not essential, but finding niche-specific vendors can reduce or eliminate that problem.

2. Negotiate with Honesty and Transparency.

When people negotiate, it’s often a matter of one side trying to get the highest possible price and the other side trying to get the lowest. The problem is, treating a negotiation like a tug-of-war means that when one side wins, the other loses. It also means a lot of back-and-forth, with both sides being cagey about what they want and what they’re willing to settle for. While it might work for a one-time deal, it’s not the best way to build a productive working relationship.

Instead, it’s better to negotiate transparently, right from the start. If you have a strict budget, let the event vendor know. Tell them what you need, and ask them if they can do it. It prevents all the back-and-forth negotiating that wastes time and often leads to frustration that can sour the working relationship even if you do manage to make a deal.

3. Be the Client Vendors Want to Work With.

Is your ultimate goal a vendor dream-team that other event organizers would kill for? Unless you have a limitless budget, it’s not likely to be something you can achieve right away. It takes time to build your reputation to the point where you can hire the types of vendors that have their time booked out months or years in advance. In the meantime, it pays to build your reputation as someone vendors enjoy working with.

For instance:

  • Pay on time, as per your contract. Most vendors have stories about clients who pay late or fail to pay at all for their services. Those kinds of stories tend to travel far, and the one thing you don’t want is to be a client vendors start avoiding. Even in a situation where you’re not entirely satisfied with the outcome, consider whether it’s better to pay what you owe or argue about it and take a reputation hit that might stick.
  • Don’t make your vendors work for peanuts. While you, as event organizer, might be trying to make a profit out of an event, never forget that your vendors are too. Don’t make the mistake of trying to squeeze a few dollars more at their expense. It often leads to frustration, resentment, and a negative working relationship. If you want vendors who go the extra mile for you, be willing to pay for it.
  • Go the extra mile. Speaking of that extra mile—make it a reciprocal relationship. What can you do for your vendors that goes beyond the scope of your contracted arrangements? It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular, just a gesture here and there that reinforces your value as a long-term working partner. Follow them on social media, and link to their content or tag them when it’s appropriate. If you hear they’re having a problem you can help with, offer your services. Refer them to others, and if they do a great job for you, give them a social media shout-out.

Long-Term Partners Make the Best Vendors

Many elements combine to make a successful event, and when you’re planning an event, it’s all about bringing together the best mix of those elements. Deciding where and how to get vendors for an event is just the start of this process. Just as important is developing good long-term relationships with those vendors. When you’re on good terms with your vendor team, they’ll be happy to do their best work for you, at every event you hold.

Jack Connolly

Executive Creative Director

As an experiential creative director, Jack prefers to draw outside the lines. He tells stories with original content and impactful design to ignite meaningful conversation.


Jack brings 20 years of event industry knowledge to ProGlobalEvents. He specializes in building live & virtual platforms for audiences to connect, engage and immerse themselves in the power of a shared experience. His skills range from ideation and concept development to defining an attendee journey through storytelling and design.

Jack understands the creative process is not linear, but a collaborative process between agency and client. He manages teams of designers and technology developers to pioneer impactful brand experiences. His diverse skillset and leadership ensure for award-winning results and memorable impressions.


In 2019, BizBash named Jack one of the top event designers in North America. SXSW awarded his work the “People’s Choice in Innovation” in 2021.

Jerome Nadel

Chief Marketing Officer

Jerome Nadel is Internationally experienced design-led marketing executive (CMO and GM) with a track record of improved market position, revenue growth, and M&A. He is an advance degreed psychologist and user experience product/service design expert, board member and advisor.


Prior to joining ProGlobalEvents |ProExhibits |XtendLive, he has had a variety of chief marketing officer and chief user experience officer roles at companies including Rambus, BrainChip, Human Factors International, SLP InfoWare, Gemplus, and Sagem. He started his career in the IBM Human Factors Labs.


He is also an avid cyclist with National and multiple California State Champion titles.

Ivan Fujihara

Chief Financial Officer

Ivan brings 25+ years in senior level management experience from a variety of technology industries.  His background includes accounting management, analytics and audit management for technology companies.  He has worked with companies such as THX, Ltd, Recruitology , Double Click, Creative Labs and more.  Ivan has also served on the board of Lincoln Families, a non-profit that supports East Bay children with the objective of disrupting the cycle of trauma and poverty.

Matt Rulis

Vice President of Sales

Matt is a marketing professional and has been managing marketing strategies, campaigns and environments for a diverse client base for over 15 years. From a service perspective, Matt and his team of Account Executives focus on fostering relationships to uphold a greater than 99% customer satisfaction rating year-over-year. Additionally, with extensive experience on the client-side of the industry, he understands that alignment between expectation and budget is paramount to a successful project. As a result, ProGlobalEvents' clients can expect a competitive advantage paired with top quality products and services. Matt is an avid fly-fisherman, enjoys most outdoor activities and is a true college football fanatic.

Tom Foley

VP of Operations

Heading the fabrication side of ProGlobalEvents is exhibit and event industry veteran, Tom Foley. For over 35 years he has been responsible for building amazing exhibits and environments for clients. Tom started out in the production area and has broad experience in project and operations management. He currently oversees production, warehouse, graphics and project management departments. Tom studied machine tool technology and welding before entering the industry. As a true "builder" he also enjoys restoring and modifying classic American cars.

Dick Wheeler


Dick serves as President of ProGlobalEvents and President of ProExhibits and is a board member of CEMA (Corporate Event Marketing Association). At ProExhibits he has been nationally recognized as an innovator and driving force in the fast-growing trade show exhibit and event industry. Under his leadership in 1997, the firm received INC magazine’s INC 500 award as one of America’s fastest-growing companies. His informative articles on developments and innovations in the trade show exhibit and event industry have appeared in national trade publications. Dick has a B.S. degree from Wittemore School of Business & Economics at the University of New Hampshire and has completed the Entrepreneurial Executive Leadership Program sponsored by MIT, YEO and INC. He is actively involved in Vistage, an interactive group of over 20,000 CEO’s and presidents worldwide and is a member of CEMA and EDPA.

Jody Tatro

Chief Executive Officer

In addition to being CEO of ProGlobalEvents, Jody is also the CEO of ProExhibits. With Jody at the helm, the company has been recognized repeatedly as one of the Top 50 Women Owned Businesses in Silicon Valley. She has set the outstanding client service standards for which the firm’s account management team is noted. Jody is a recipient of the YWCA’s Tribute to Women Award, the Junior League Community Volunteer Award and is listed in Who’s Who of Women in Business. Following her graduation from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Jody held various sales positions in several technology companies.