It’s that time of year friends! The holidays are coming up and vendors, crafters and local businesses are all looking for ways to get their name out there. Vendor events are an amazing way to showcase your product and gain new customers, but there are a lot of organizers out there who are not on the up and up. It’s important to protect yourself and do your due diligence to ensure you aren’t getting scammed by someone who has no intention of doing anything but ghosting you once you have paid them. Knowing that people never expect to be surprised by an event that doesn’t hold, I have created a list of questions/advice detailing the red flags to identify and questions to ask.
Here in Wisconsin, we’ve had some … ahem… newsworthy situations on this topic and it’s become super important to me to share these tips to ensure that you are booking with a coordinator you are confident in.
Questions to ask:
How many years have you been organizing events? Do you have some examples of previous events that you can share with me? If this is their first event, it doesn’t mean it will be bad. A newbie organizer may have things to learn when it comes to organizing, I know I still do, but if they check out in other areas, give them a try. They are only bound to get better at what they do.
Can I have the contact information for the sales office at the venue? This is an immediate way to verify that the event is legit. If the venue has them on their books, then it’s a good bet the event will hold.
What kind of event is it? Make sure For example, if you are a crafter looking for an event and the majority of the vendors are in direct sales, that type of event may not be your niche of event. Some coordinators will offer spaces to a wide range of businesses – from local businesses, to crafters, antiques, direct sales, handmade, etc… while some will drill down to a specific niche of vendors in a category. For example, handmade vendors who only feature gothic style creations.
How will you be advertising the event? Will you be advertising in the local paper, a sponsored Facebook post, TV ad, billboard, yard signs, fliers, etc. While this is a standard question, it’s important to note that advertising is the responsibility of the vendor and the participants to ensure a great turnout. There are a ton of ways to advertise the event but there should be an advertising budget for the event. That’s a fair question to ask.
How many vendor spaces do you have and how many spaces remain? Some organizers coordinate an event close to the event date and others plan out over several months to a year in advance. This could vary, but if it is within a month of the event and half of the spaces are still open, you may want to ask additional questions to get more information as to why so many spaces are still open.
How many vendors are returning from the previous event? This could vary on the organizer’s philosophy of cycling in new vendors per event, but in my opinion, I like to see vendors who book with a coordinator time and time again. It lends credibility to the vendor that they are doing a good enough job that the vendors choose to come back.
Is there a fee for shoppers / guests to attend the show? This is a personal choice at the discretion of the organizer. It may be to lessen the costs of the vendors or to raise funds for a specific cause. Most of the time it is $5 or less.
Are there any additional costs for the event? If you are a food vendor, you may need a food license, or need insurance, etc. Those additional costs may make or break your bottom line.
Other event specifics –
What is the size of the space?
Are tables and chairs provided?
Is there an additional charge for electricity?
Is wi-fi available?
Can we set up the night before?
Would someone be available to help load/unload inventory?
Are there any plans in place of inclement weather?
How can I pay? Check, Square, Paypal, Money Order?
What if I book the spot and can’t be there? Can I be refunded?
If the event is cancelled, what is the refund policy?
Do they have a list of references you can use to reach out to current / past vendors and venues?
How often do you communicate with your vendors leading up to the event?
This is a long list of questions, but don’t be afraid to ask them until you are confident that you are working with a great organizer.
Now that you’ve booked the event, have a great show!