4 Tips (plus 2 extra ½ Tips!) on how event suppliers can gain more business through their relationships with hotels & venues

Relationships are the backbone of any business, whether that is between supplier and client or supplier and business. But as an events supplier it is really hard to work out how to manage and nurture a relationship with a hotel or venue without seeming too pushy.

I am Kate Plowright, the Founder and Director of Selling Savvy. I have a career in sales and events within hotels and now act as a supplier to the industry as a sales trainer. I know both sides of the coin and am therefore well versed in nurturing the business/supplier relationship whilst not becoming a pest.

Here are my 4 Tips (plus 2 extra ½ Tips!) on how event suppliers can gain more business through their relationships with hotels & venues!

Tip #1: Really understand the way they do business, their selling cycle and what their clients want.

The absolute key to sales is to understand what makes your clients tick. In more detail, this means what drives their decisions, what is important to them and the reasons why they buy what they buy. Unfortunately, there isn’t ‘one size fits all’ for this; it really depends on each individual. However, you are a little bit in luck, because the venues clients are also your clients.

Delve deeper into your clients and understand what makes them choose you. It might be that you have great taste and your products are very stylish, it might be that you have a very affordable price point, or it might be that people just like you. (You can be honest about this – don’t feel like you are boasting. Sometimes your business’ biggest asset is you.)

Once you know why people buy what you offer, you need to showcase this to the hotels and venues. They will understand their clients just as well and will therefore understand that you are the best choice for them.

Tip #2: Stay in touch, but not too much

Of course, it is important to update your hotels and venues with what you are up to in your business, but there is a very fine line between updating people, so they build rapport with you/enjoy hearing from you and pestering them.

More often than not, an event coordinator will put you on their preferred suppliers list and that’s that. They probably won’t be proactively selling you day to day, or even be thinking about what you are up to (sorry, the harsh reality there!). They will, however, be grateful to hear interesting and relevant updates from you now and again.

Here are a few ideas for a ‘keeping in touch’ email – but remember, not too regular!

1. Images of a recent event you have done that you are especially proud of
2. A new design you have been working on, or a new piece of equipment/furniture you have just bought
3. Create a new package to sell. If you design a new package for you and your venues to sell, clients will love it because they will see it as the newest trendiest thing on the market.

I would recommend keeping in touch once every 2 months. Don’t expect a reply straight away (or sometimes at all) but this amount of contact will keep you in the forefront of their minds.

Tip #2½: Bespoke your updates

Another little key tip – try not to send the above in a Mailchimp campaign to everyone. Send it specifically, personally and tailored to the hotel/venue you are working with. This will well help build rapport and is more likely to be opened and enjoyed by the recipient.

event suppliers can gain more businessTip #3: Take time to learn about their business, and spend time nurturing their product knowledge of what you sell

Firstly, an important thing to remember is people will only be interested in you if you are interested in them. Take time to get to know what is going on in the hotels/venues so that when you chat with the events teams you can ask insightful and topical questions.

“Oooh I saw you did a lovely BBQ for Father’s Day last week! The menu looks great, how did it go down?”
“WOW those Christmas party pics you put on your socials last week looked amazing!! Have you started getting bookings in for this Christmas?”

Once you have brushed up on your product knowledge of the venue, along with keeping an eye on what is going on day to day it is time to educate them about your business. This is often done quite regularly to be honest. Having worked in hotels I can’t tell you how many cupcakes were sent to us by cake suppliers. Especially during Easter and Christmas; we honestly didn’t want to see another sweet thing again. Of course, I get that this is an easy way of sticking in the event teams’ minds, however everyone else is doing it.

Try thinking outside of the box. If you are a cake maker, why don’t you send them a recipe of your favourite cake? You could supply branded ‘Bake Off’ style paraphernalia and encourage a baking competition between the team members? This is a quirky way to build their product knowledge, whilst not just being another cake in the office.

Tip #3½ : Remember who your audience is

Remember who your audience is (in this case an events office) and be mindful when you are coming up with some quirky ideas. This ties in with Tip #1 too because the event team members are also your target market here. This is very stereotypical of me, but if you are building a relationship with an events office that is full of girls, girls are, for the most part, watching their waistlines. So, whilst we are extremely grateful for the gesture of dropping in sweet treats on a Friday morning, we spend the rest of the day in a battle with our own mind trying to avoid them. Try to think a bit differently and understand who you are marketing yourself to.


Do you want to increase your conversion every single day? Check out our poster that gives you an A to Z Guide of key tips to remember.


Tip #4: Thank them for every piece of business

It is not the event teams’ job to market/sell your business. Some may do it because they believe in enhancing their clients experience and therefore want to recommend only the best, tried and tested suppliers. Some may do it because the suppliers have paid a fee to be included in their brochure. But in my experience more often than most, they are doing it because they feel they should, and they aren’t very good at it.

Now you can take one of two paths here; you can take the path that is softer, or you can take a path that some might say is less moral (but definitely works).

The softer approach is sending them a personalised email thanking them for recommending you. If it’s a big piece of business, then you could pop in a bottle of wine or a bunch of flowers as an extra big thank you. I’ve received Thornton’s Personalise Thank you Gifts before which was a lovely touch and inexpensive.

The ‘slightly less moral’ path is to guarantee a reward after every booking they recommend you for that confirms. When I first starting out in the events industry, one supplier offered Love to Shop vouchers with every booking confirmed. I would always recommend them (I had never used their services) and would actively promote them. I got quite a few Love to Shop vouchers off the back of it which I was thrilled about (as a 21-year-old girl on a relatively low salary!). So, this way definitely works, and it works well. But it’s up to you to decide if it is moral or not!


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Categories: Sales Events