By Les Selby, CMP, CMM
If you’re not currently using an external sourcing expert, should you consider it?
Until the late 1980s, anyone who ran an event did their own sourcing. Then the recession of the early 90s made companies examine how financial commitments were made on their behalf.
Procurement experts gained influence within many organizations and companies started to implement purchasing strategies and processes.
Almost at the same time, the commercialization of the Internet opened up a whole new way to conduct supplier searches.
The convergence of these factors encouraged the development of a new meetings and events professional – the external site-selection expert, who did the supplier research, negotiated a good deal, and often finalized the contract on the client’s behalf.
Most site-selection experts offered their services at a very low cost (or even free), making the bulk of their money from the commissions paid from the venues and service suppliers.
Corporations directed their employees who planned meetings to use specific site-selection companies because of the low cost and the fact that the site-selection experts supported corporately designated “preferred” suppliers who had already agreed to grant the end client favourable corporate rates or annual rebates based on total volume.
There are many reasons to consider “outsourcing” your sourcing: site experts usually have vast venue experience; know what terms and conditions should be included in a contract; and are able to negotiate favorable terms based on the total amount of business they transact each year.
Reasons against using an external site selection company: they don’t understand your business objectives as well as you do; their choices may be influenced by “override” targets set by their suppliers rather than what is best for your event; and you lose an opportunity to start building a relationship with your suppliers before any contract is finalized.
There is also an impression that costs may be inflated.
As a corporate meeting and event planner and a third-party supplier, I always believed it was important that I was involved in the site selection for any event or incentive that I ran.
But as a corporate planner, I knew my limitations if operating a program in a part of the world I didn’t know, and so I would turn to external professionals.
If you’re considering using a site-selection expert, question their knowledge, financial relationship with suppliers and knowledge of your objectives.
If you are not experienced with supplier sourcing, you should consider that most site-selection experts are highly professional and seek the best terms and costs for their clients.