How to Find Suppliers and Vet Them: A Guide for Event Planners

Sourcing the right suppliers is a crucial stage in the planning process for those in the MICE industry. Key elements such as venue selection, ambience, and catering can significantly enhance the attendee experience, directly impacting satisfaction, safety, and the success of your event.

In this blog post, we cover everything you need to know about how to find suppliers for events, including where to look and how to vet them effectively.

How to Find Suppliers for Events

By following the steps below, discover how to easily find and connect with suppliers that meet your requirements.

1. Understand Your Event Needs

The first step in finding suppliers for your event is to thoroughly evaluate its specific needs. Start by creating a comprehensive logistics checklist that outlines all the services and supplies you'll require from vendors. This might include:

  • Catering
  • Audio-visual equipment

  • Furniture and decor

  • Transportation

  • Security

  • Entertainment

Next, if you have already sorted your venue, do some research to determine which services they already provide. Many venues offer in-house security, decor, and other essentials, which can streamline your planning process and reduce the number of external suppliers you need to source.

Additionally, consider the scope and scale of your event. Even if the venue provides certain services, you may still need to outsource based on the event's size and nature. For instance, a themed event, a formal occasion, or one with high attendance might require hiring an external food vendor to match the intended ambience or cater to a large number of guests.

Consider your primary objectives as well. If your goal is to encourage networking, you might need to invest more in decorations and layout to facilitate interaction. By understanding your needs, priorities, and what the venue already provides, you can clearly identify the types of suppliers you require.

2. Do Some Online Research

Now that you have a clear idea of the suppliers you need, it's time to do some online research. You can start by searching websites like Google, Yelp and industry-specific directories such as Event Services Directory to find suppliers that fit your criteria. 

Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram are excellent resources for finding suppliers. Many suppliers have accounts dedicated to showcasing their work and services. Additionally, you can see recommendations and reviews from other users who have used their services.

It’s also a great idea to join event planning pages and groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Here you will find lots of other industry professionals sharing their experiences with different service providers. You can even make posts in the groups or pages asking for advice or recommendations from others in the sector.

Using technology to your advantage to do some online research on suppliers is an excellent way to get a comprehensive overview of available options, along with valuable insights into the quality of the services provided by different suppliers.

3. Attend Trade Shows and Exhibitions

Attending trade shows and exhibitions can be another effective way to find suppliers. These events allow you to meet suppliers face-to-face and evaluate their services or products in person. You can also discuss your specific needs directly with the suppliers to see if they would actually be a good fit for your upcoming event.

Even if they're unable to assist with your next event, establishing a positive relationship and getting a clear idea of the services they provide can be highly beneficial for future occasions.

4. Tap Into Your Personal and Professional Network

Leveraging your personal and professional network is one of the most reliable methods for finding suppliers. Reach out to family, friends, colleagues and others in the industry who have organised similar events to the one you're planning. 

Inquire about the vendors they worked with, their reliability, and whether they were pleased with the level of service provided. This firsthand feedback from those you trust provides invaluable insights into the credibility of suppliers and their suitability for your event.

How to Vet Your Suppliers

Now you are clear on how to find suppliers for an event, it’s crucial to vet them to ensure that their services will live up to your expectations and requirements.

1. Review Portfolios and Past Work

The first thing to do when vetting the quality of a supplier is review their portfolios and past work. This can often be found on their website or social media accounts. You can also ask the suppliers themselves for portfolios and case studies showcasing their previous work. 

Reviewing these materials will give you insights into their style, quality, and capability. Look for evidence of successful projects that they have catered for that align with the scale and type of your event, as this demonstrates their suitability and expertise.

For example, if you are planning a huge event with thousands of attendees, a supplier who has only worked for intimate events for 20 may not be the best fit.

It’s also a good idea to ask the supplier how and if they customised their services for those events. This will give you an idea of how much what you are seeing was doing specifically for that occasion.  This also helps you assess the flexibility available for adjusting elements to suit your event's needs.

2. Search For Reviews and Testimonials

Delve into reviews and testimonials left by past clients to gain firsthand insights into the supplier's performance. Platforms such as Yelp, Google Reviews, and industry-specific forums serve as valuable resources for evaluating the supplier's reputation and dependability.

As you navigate through reviews and online feedback, take note of recurring themes, both positive and negative. This comprehensive analysis provides a nuanced understanding of the supplier's strengths and areas for improvement, allowing you to make a well-informed decision about whether they are the right fit for your event.

You may also consider reaching out to individuals who have left reviews for more detailed insights into their experiences. Direct communication with previous clients can offer invaluable perspectives on the supplier's professionalism, reliability, and overall satisfaction with their services.

3. Assess Communication and Professionalism

Effective communication is key to a successful partnership. Pay attention to how promptly and clearly they respond to your inquiries. Take note of how promptly and effectively they respond to your inquiries. A supplier's responsiveness—or lack thereof—can signal potential challenges down the road.

Are they polite and attentive, addressing your questions thoroughly? Consider their responsiveness to text messages—are they prompt in their replies, or do they leave you hanging for extended periods without justification?

When arranging in-person meetings, pay attention to their punctuality and attentiveness to your event requirements. These behaviours serve as clear indicators of the supplier's professionalism and commitment.

4. Check Credentials and Experience

When evaluating potential suppliers, it's crucial to verify their credentials and experience to ensure they meet your standards. Here's a checklist of what to look for:

Business Licences

Confirm that the suppliers are legally permitted to operate by checking their business licences. This ensures compliance with regulations and gives you peace of mind.


Ensure that suppliers have adequate liability insurance coverage.  This not only safeguards you against potential mishaps or damages during the event but also underscores their commitment to professionalism and accountability.


Evaluate how long the suppliers have been in business and their experience with events similar to yours. This includes assessing their track record and reputation within the industry.

5. Conduct Interviews and Site Visits

You can arrange interviews with potential suppliers to discuss your event requirements and assess their suitability. This gives you an opportunity to clarify exactly what you are looking for from them for the event and to ask them if they will be able to provide this. 

Having this conversation face-to-face also allows you to get a feel for their professionalism. During the interview, be sure to communicate your expectations clearly and ask specific questions about how they would handle various aspects of your event. Potential questions to ask could include:

  • What is your experience with events similar to mine?
  • How do you handle last-minute changes or emergencies?

  • Can you provide references from past clients?

This personal interaction also helps establish a rapport with potential suppliers, laying the groundwork for a successful partnership. In addition to interviews, depending on the type of supplier you are looking for,  scheduling site visits can be highly beneficial. For example:

  • Caterers - you can get an insight into their kitchen hygiene, and preparation and get to sample their dishes. 
  • Decorators and florists - to see examples of their previous setups, displays and arrangements.
  • Audio-Visual (AV) Companies - assess the quality of their audio, lighting, and visual equipment. You can also observe their technicians in action to assess their professionalism and expertise.

6. Request Samples or Demonstrations

Requesting samples or demonstrations is a great way to check the quality of a supplier if they will be providing tangible products or services. This can apply to aspects such as catering, audiovisual equipment, live entertainment acts, or floral arrangements.

When you see the samples or demonstrations firsthand you can assess the style and quality of the supplier’s offerings and capabilities, allowing you to make an informed decision about whether they are right for your event. 

7. Look Into Pricing Structures

When vetting a supplier's suitability for your event, it's important to ensure their pricing aligns with your budget.  While they may seem perfect on paper, if their fees wildly exceed your financial limits, it’s not worth pursuing any further.

Request detailed quotes from suppliers, including breakdowns of costs and any potential additional fees. Comparing these quotes with those from similar suppliers allows you to gauge the best value for your money. Also make sure you are clear on payment schedules, cancellation policies and contingency plans.

It is also worth bearing in mind that some suppliers are open to negotiating which can enable you to get a supplier that initially appears slightly out of budget. 

If you do want to explore this, spend some time strategising and listing down possible incentives that would provide negotiating power ahead of communicating with them.

8. Discuss Deadlines

Once you're satisfied with a supplier's suitability, quality, and reliability, the next step is discussing deadlines. Timing is critical; delaying this conversation could result in you missing out on the perfect partnership due to scheduling conflicts. 

Whether you've pinpointed a specific date or have a few in mind, it’s best to share this with the supplier promptly. This allows you to secure their availability or, if necessary, to have enough time to explore alternative options without compromising your event's timeline.


Selecting the right suppliers is crucial for a successful event. Following these steps will help you find suitable suppliers for your upcoming event that align with your expectations, budget and timeline.


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