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Ask FVO!: How Do I Judge Whether Vendors I See on Social Media are Genuine?

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Ask FVO NEW PICBellaNaija is pleased to announce a new column for our special readers – Ask FVO! Funmi Victor-Okigbo (FVO)  is an expert in Event planning & management, and is now a  BellaNaija contributor.

Need help planning a family dinner, birthday party, seminar, wedding, board meeting, concert or just curious about how the professionals do some of their amazing tricks? If you have a burning question, just Ask FVO and get a focused, clear, no-nonsense answer!

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Dear FVO,

A friend was disappointed recently by vendors he discovered via pictures and posts on Instagram, he was impressed by the photo presentation and hired them based on that and even though some turned out ok, what some of them delivered looked nothing like the pictures they put up. My company has put me in charge of planning our upcoming event, I’m not a planner so all I have is the names that come up when I search the internet and what they claim they can do, how do I avoid what happened to my friend? I could lose my job if this goes wrong!

Halima

Hello Halima,

Sorry to hear about your friend. This topic has come up quite often and I’m happy I finally have an opportunity to address it. With the growth and competition in the events industry, there is a lot of pressure on people in the industry to present themselves and their businesses in a certain way. We as humans are drawn to things that are visually appealing so it’s not surprising that your friend fell for those vendors the way he did, however, your friend is a victim of poor research.

Let’s face it: We are all guilty of enhancing, adding filter to and photo-shopping even our personal photos, we all want to present our best…magazines do it to models all the time. If you are seeking for a partner are you going to marry the first attractive man/woman you find on the internet? No, that’s just a first step, even if you bumped into them somewhere you still need to date them for a while.

I love good presentations, it’s a good way to sell your services and at least get the attention of your clients, nothing wrong with that. However, it is your responsibility as a client to do your research before you engage anyone.

So how do you ensure you know exactly what you’re getting?

The single most important piece of advice I can offer is that you should hire an event planner with a good reputation and a lot of experience. Doing this can save you from a lot of stress and expense. You can gain the benefit of their experience – all their past mistakes and triumphs with vendors and suppliers work in your favour – and you can focus on the big picture while they take care of the details.

The second most important thing I can share is that if you do not want to hire a reputable event planner for any reason, then try to do the following (Keep in mind that this advice applies to hiring any service provider) :

  1. Get feedback after searching online. The search itself is a good first step, especially if you haven’t planned anything before, but make sure you send an email or place a call to talk to the person in charge. You can also ask around for someone who has worked with them before for some kind of feedback. Bear in mind though that tastes are relative, what is good to the eye of one person may not be to the other so you still have to check it out yourself, it’s YOUR event remember? But it’s a good start to ask around.
  1. Make sure you schedule a face to face meeting with the team or person in charge. Have a list of questions ready and make sure they are answered to your satisfaction. Ask the hard questions do not be sweet talked into making a financial commitment; you are the client, you have the power. If possible, schedule to visit supplier/vendor/planner in their space, so you see them in their natural environment. Ask for samples that you can see, feel and touch.
  1. See them in action. Ask for their next event and request to see them set up and see them at work. With caterers, for example; in addition to tasting the food, see their waiter’s uniform and observe how long it takes for food to get served. With decorators; see how early they get to the venue to set up; see if they are still busy setting up as guests arrive. If it’s an event planner please observe how guests are welcomed, how the venue is set up/laid out, human traffic flow, event flow, timing etc.
  1. Ask to speak to a client who has worked with them in the past, make sure the ‘client’ is not their friend or business partner.

From my list above, it’s clear that you need more than a picture to hire a service provider. Yes the photo/hype is a good way to get you interested but you still need to do your homework.

If you follow my guidelines chances are you get to keep your job!

Do you have any other advice for Halima? Please share.

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Send your questions for FVO to askFVO(at)nosurprisesevents.com stating your name and where you are writing from. The editor reserves the right to edit submissions for content brevity and clarity. We regret that we cannot provide individual answers to questions sent in and cannot state at which exact date answers would be published.

We look forward to reading your emails and tweets with questions.

Funmi Victor-Okigbo (FVO) is the Chief Executive and Lead Production Designer of No Surprises Events. Her corporate client base spans industries as diverse as technology, entertainment, banking, government and consumer goods across sub-Saharan Africa. No Surprises Events practices an in-house methodology termed “Event Architecture” which they hold delivers world class events in a predictable on-time and on-budget fashion. Developed over the years, “Event Architecture” has become the company’s trademark as well as a FVO’s personal approach to creating and managing events for corporate and individual clients. The approach has since been incorporated into FVO’s other venture, The Wedding Company. Visit www.nosurprisesevents.com

2 Comments

  1. Mitch Williams

    January 29, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    Nicely stated. As an experienced event entertainer, I can attest to the importance of client testimonials and referrals. With any service provider it’s helpful to get feedback from their past clients.

    One other note is that it’s important whenever possible to not make price the main factor for choosing a provider. I can’t begin to recall the number of times when I’ve been under-bid by a cheaper competitor, only to find out later the client wasn’t happy with the entertainment they provided. It’s as with anything, you usually get what you pay for.

    Mitch Williams
    mitchwilliamsmagic.com
    mitchinspires.com

  2. Elvi

    January 30, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    This is a nice article and a nice response from Mitch. As an online shoe retailer, I have had clients move to cheaper competition. Most times clients know what they are paying for, but always wish that their case will be an exception and they will get maximum value. O well!
    A story for the gods!

    myworkshoes.com

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