25 Deal Breakers: What to Watch Out For When Booking Corporate Entertainment Vendors

corporate.event.entertainment.trivia.pngCorporate event entertainment trivia

I’ve been in this line of work for ten years now – eight years doing trivia, two before that running corporate scavenger hunts. During that time I’ve had just about every conversation imaginable with prospective clients, some of whom initially expressed concern. They wanted to know if they were making a good choice or not – and who can blame them?

If you’re planning a corporate party and are able to book a fantastic entertainment vendor, you’re going to be treated like a rock star. However, if you choose poorly you will be the office pariah – it will reflect poorly on your decision-making skills, and sully your reputation. Who needs that!

And so, I have decided to write out a full list of what I call “deal breakers” you should be on the lookout for when booking your corporate event. You don’t have to go with TrivWorks (though I’d be lying if I’d say I’d be disappointed), however whichever way you choose to go, please take into consideration the following – and don’t let yourself fall victim to what could be a potentially embarrassing, career-affecting fate!

  1. No physical location – Your prospective vendor must be located somewhere – it’s a fact. If they avoid telling you where “there” is, then how can you be sure they’ll deliver – or even show up?
  2. Severely under-priced – There’s generally a going rate for most competitively-priced services. If you find somebody willing to render their services for a fraction of what the other guys are charging, then you’ll probably get what you pay for (click here for a good example).
  3. Price-gouging – Conversely, an ethical vendor won’t try to gouge you when you’re in a pinch; rather, he or she will bend over backwards to make it work. If you find that you’re being squeezed, there’s a strong chance you’re dealing with somebody whom you don’t want to do business with anyway.
  4. Limited contact information – It shouldn’t be hard to reach your vendor via a variety of media. At the very least, they should provide easy access to a Website, Email address and phone number.
  5. No liability insurance – No vendor wants to have to suck it up and purchase liability insurance, because it’s not cheap and so rare that it’ll actually be needed – yet most of us do it for one reason: it’s the right thing to do. If your vendor can’t be bothered to guarantee proper coverage in the event of an accident or emergency – however remote the possibility – how responsible do you think they will be handling other aspects of your event?
  6. No humans – You don’t want to entrust your next event to a Web form. Unless you have the ability to speak with an actual, live human being when booking and planning your event, you should look elsewhere.
  7. Shady service agreement – You don’t have to be a lawyer to know when a service agreement looks professional, versus something that’s just been slapped together. The contract your vendor provides speaks volumes about their level of professionalism, care, and attention to detail. Be exceedingly wary if the agreement doesn’t seem legit or up to snuff – especially if you’re the one signing it!
  8. No service agreement – My grandfather used to say, “It’s always best to get something in writing.” Are sums of money exchanging hands? Money that doesn’t even belong to you, but to your employer? Then get a contract. Even if your vendor seems honest and trustworthy, if they don’t offer (or outright refuse) to provide or entertain a service agreement, you’d better ask yourself, “Why?”
  9. Unresponsiveness – A reliable measure of a quality service provider is how quickly they respond to you. If you are hiring somebody for your event, and they never get back to you despite multiple messages, how much confidence to you think you should put in their ability to perform their job well?
  10. Unavailability – Is your vendor outright ducking you? That’s a bad sign as well. Years ago, I hired a consultant to help me with my Website – after I put through the final payment installment, he stopped returning my calls and Emails. Turns out he’d skipped town with my deposit, and the deposit of a bunch of other clients.
  11. Nonprofessional appearance – This extends from the vendor’s personal appearance, to how he/she keeps the shop looking, to the quality of their Website, images, videos etc. I realize that looks can be deceiving, and that slovenliness isn’t necessarily indicative of a vendor’s skill level or abilities – but they do matter, especially when compared to other vendors who clean up well.
  12. Consistently horrible online reviews – You shouldn’t be swayed by one or two negative reviews (people immediately take to the Internet to vent if they feel wronged); however, if there is a distinct pattern of consistent bad service, that’s as red of a flag as you need.
  13. No online/social media presence – It’s 2017. A vendor specializing in corporate entertainment events should have a solid online presence. No Website or social media? No booking.
  14. No client list – Maybe the reason your prospective seller doesn’t proudly display their list of prestigious clients is because they don’t have any. Do you really want to be their first?
  15. No testimonials – It’s not easy to get testimonials, even from loyal clients who love you. Still, any quality vendor should at least have SOME testimonials from satisfied clients. If not, what’s that tell you?
  16. No media coverage – An excellent sign of a quality vendor is that they’ve been covered favorably by the media, preferably top-tier consumer and trade publications. On the other hand, no media coverage means they’re either A) just starting out, or B) not worth writing about – neither of which sounds very appealing when hiring for a company entertainment event.
  17. Bad media coverage – P.T. Barnum famously declared, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” However, I dare say you’d be hard-pressed to explain why you hired a vendor who received extraordinarily bad media coverage. It could backfire on you, big time.
  18. Cash only – Does this seem legit to you? Me neither.
  19. Spamming – If a vendor is willing to bombard you with advertisements, updates, announcements and what have you, then they really aren’t as interested in the quality of your experience as they are in sales.
  20. Won’t meet with you in person – It’s not necessary to meet the person you’re buying from face-to-face, especially in today’s online world. That said, if you DO want to meet either the principal or their representative, than that opportunity should be made readily available to you. If not, you must again ask yourself: “Why?”
  21. Inflexibility – There’s a very human element to booking and planning events. Things happen, plans change, the unforeseen becomes reality. A quality service provider understands all of this, and will adapt accordingly; ones only interested in themselves won’t make any such accommodations.
  22. Website hasn’t been updated in months (or years) – I’m a Website owner. I can attest how easy it is to update a Website. If you’re considering hiring somebody for you event and their last blog post is from sometime during the Bush administration, or they’re advertising something that you know is no longer even available, then that tells you what you need to know about their attention to quality and details.
  23. No connection to trusted sources – You’ve come across this vendor somehow, most likely via a trusted source: a referral, an article in a reputable media outlet, something. However, if you’ve stumbled across them with no trusted connection of any kind, no one to vouch for their abilities or reputation, how then can you entrust them in front of colleagues or clients?
  24. They pull something funny – Honesty and integrity should be the bedrock of all businesses whom you deal with. If you have been the subject of a bait-and-switch, or been hoodwinked at any time, be it at signing or during the planning stage, back out. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
  25. Something’s just not right – At the end of the day, your gut should be your guide. Is there something about this vendor that you can’t put your finger on, but that seems like there’s something wrong here? Then go with somebody else. When you sign that dotted line and put the event – and your reputation – in the vendor’s hands, you should feel nothing but 100% confidence that it will reflect well on you.

For further reading, visit https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/top-12-tips-for-throwing-an-amazing-business-event/


  1. Kamalesh Kiyoh on August 29, 2017 at 5:14 am

    The above blog is a perfect guide for corporate event planners. Thanks to the above post as I have decided to establish a special wing for planning out corporate events. I have recommended my team members to read the above post and excel in organizing corporate events. Definitely a post that is worth sharing 🙂

    • David on August 29, 2017 at 2:00 pm

      Thanks Kamalesh for sharing – glad to hear you found this post useful!

Leave a Comment