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How to Find the Right Event Agency Partner – Red Flags and Green Lights

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Event planning agencies are not all created equal. If you want to make sure your event agency partner has the knowledge, skills, and experience to make your gathering successful, you need to know what to look for.

Be on the lookout for these warning signs that you may need to choose a different event agency, and some reassuring indicators that you’re in good hands.

Red Flag #1 – Doesn’t Know How to Say No.

It feels nice at first to hear “yes” in response to every request, but that feeling quickly vanishes when last-minute cancellations happen or other plans fall through. “An agency who doesn’t set realistic expectations is setting their clients up for disappointment,” says Valerie Bihet, founder and principal at Vibe Agency.

Saying yes too often also stresses vendor relationships leading. to declines in service or quality when a vendor becomes frustrated.

Green Light #1 – Always Offers Alternatives

A good agency partner can to find a silver lining when they have to say no. Sometimes a request that normally couldn’t be delivered can become possible with more time, or more budget. Or, there might be a suitable replacement that’s just as good, or even more impressive.

Because quality agency partners value their vendor relationships, they have plenty of options to explore when certain elements are booked, unavailable, or outside the established budget… and your agency should be happy to present these choices to you.

Red Flag #2 – Poor Communicators

If your agency partner doesn’t return phone calls, texts, or emails in a timely manner, it’s time to move on. Yes, event planners are busy people, but if it takesdays to get in touch with someone there’s a problem. It could be that the agency is understaffed. Or, it could mean that there are too many inexperienced staff members who have trouble staying organized or multi-tasking. Neither are good situations when trusting someone with your event.

Green Light #2 – Responsive and Accessible

A well-staffed agency partner has people available to answer questions and deliver necessary information even when they’re organizing several events. You may not always reach your designated agency contact at an exact moment, but there should be someone else on the team who can assist you and have your coordinator follow up with you afterward.

Good agency partners may also have multiple ways for you to reach them or find out the status of your event. Agencies with client portals, dedicated chat threads, and project management systems are agencies who want to get in touch with them. The same goes for agencies that provide regular status updates and scheduled reports throughout the event planning process.

Red Flag #3 – They Can’t Stand Contracts

Be very careful when an event planner tells you they “don’t do contracts.” They may promise that this helps them get better deals from vendors or lets them have special privileges at a venue, but this is a disaster waiting to happen. Not only does this mean you could end up with surprise billing, but you could have missing event elements, event materials that get mixed up with another client’s event, or inadequate staffing or other resources for your event.

This warning especially applies to any contract you’re missing between your organization and the agency itself. When they don’t deliver as agreed, you need to be able to prove what you paid for if you want any hope of getting deposits or other money back.

Green Light #4 – Paperwork Perfectionists

Having a buttoned-up agency team that likes to do everything by the book is an asset in the event planning world. Your event directly benefits by having documented invoices, clearly worded contracts, and itemized checklists for maximum transparency throughout the pre-planning, event, and post-evaluation stages.

Beyond these major considerations, choose an agency partner with whom you can enjoy working. Personalities matter when forming lasting relationships, and not everyone is a perfect match for each other. Also, trust your instincts and the agency’s reputation. It is rare for event agencies to stay in business for decades or longer. The ones who do are those who have worked hard to deliver consistent quality experiences again and again, with repeat customers to prove it. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to speak up early when an agency isn’t handling your event at the level you expect. The sooner you address potential problems, the less likely they negatively impact your event.

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