While I have enjoyed producing corporate events in Calgary over the past 14 years, every so often I have been asked to work in other cities and even small towns. There is a certain comfort that comes with working in a market that you are familiar with and know well. On the flip side, working out of town poses a whole new set of challenges and to be honest a lot more work and requires a leap of faith.
The research phase is where you may find yourself investing a substantial amount of time. Whether it’s finding the perfect venue, or searching for event suppliers in a new market.
The good news is that once you find your venue, more often than not they will have in-house suppliers that you can work with. Often this includes the in-house catering team and A/V team. Truthfully this can be a blessing or a hindrance depending on the venue and all the partners involved.
If you have an in-house team at the venue as noted above, generally speaking the on-site event coordinator can be a wealth of knowledge. As you can imagine, they see and assist with hundreds of events and as a result, may have a list of preferred suppliers.
I have been a huge advocate of the International Live Events Association (ILEA) for many years. While there may not be a chapter in the location you are working in, there may be active members. I recommend connecting with those local members to obtain their recommendations and feedback regarding local suppliers / vendors. Better yet, if you’re working in a city with an ILEA chapter, consider bringing in and working with an ILEA member.
Word of mouth
It may not work in all markets but if you have any friends, clients, trusted event partners – this is always another avenue for looking for referrals. I prefer this to just doing a Google search to conduct my research. The top contenders on Google are not always the best.
Leap of Faith
I can honestly say that over the years I have worked in very remote places and in markets larger than for Calgary Events. For the most part, I have had the pleasure of working with many fantastic event professionals. Having said that, I have also had my fair share of challenges. The biggest determining factor stems from that initial and critical phase of research which includes getting references for suppliers.