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Hosting an event: a guide to service providers and compliance part 1

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A new series of articles on event compliance in South Africa, in association with Honey Badger Consultants. The purpose is to assist new event organisers in hosting a safe and secure event.

Warm greetings to all from Honey Badger HQ. I am sure there are many of you out there who are either already working on your own festival brands or are thinking of jumping in and testing your metal on what is shaping up to be a cracking summer season.

I thought I’d take some time to compile a guide based on my experience and skill set that will hopefully aid some of you to avoid nasty speed bumps and help guide you to good service providers, give you a solid foundation for your growth, and overall offer help and support for those who would like it.

In the coming weeks, I will be releasing a series of blogs based on event production, compliance and various other aspects that pertain to events and festivals and how to safely and compliantly fine-tune your vision for your event space. 

Service Providers Do’s and Dont’s

Choosing the right service providers

The right service providers for your event is critical! As an event organiser, the pressure is always high, so you need to invest wisely when it comes to your core team and relevant event services such as security, safety, production or site manager, compliance, medical, covid compliance, private fire services, décor and rigging, AV, waste management and more. It is also important to note that if you pay for cheap…that is what you’ll get!

Good service providers hold many years of experience and layers of formal qualifications when it comes to their work, so don’t insult them by requesting rate reductions straight up, you need to establish a rapport to be eligible for this sort of bonus.

I would far rather pay more for a suitably qualified, trained and event experienced service provider as opposed to squeezing the budget when it comes to paying for your core teams that help to drive your event forward safely.

Its always better to reduce art, décor, lighting, or venue budget than reduce that of your core teams, as they could be called to save a life or have your back if there is an incident on your event site, whereas a high priced DJ or stage design offers aesthetics.

Undercutting

Event service providers whose first order of business is to sharply undercut all other event role players do not only demonstrate the nature of their business as shallow and parasitic but also clearly demonstrate that they are in no way invested in the growth and collective progress that we all need to exorcise as we get the wheels turning again after the lockdown saga and no work for nearly 18 months.

Undercutting everyone also indicates the potential desperation of a service provider to try and remain relevant in an ever-evolving and very competitive market. These are massive red flags and none of these are character traits that will help build your brand or strengthen your relationships and should be avoided at all costs – research is key.

Warning signs to be aware of

Cheap is nasty! Never, ever go with a service provider who claims openly to be the cheapest.

You need to ask yourself, why they are the cheapest? Why are they priced so low but claim to be the best out there? How would they cover their running costs with such low margins? Look out for bad reviews/PR, history/track record, service recommendations – all elements to consider before appointing.

Yes men and staying in your lane

Something I find that is becoming a rather tedious task to undo is the ever-present ‘yes men’.

What I mean by this is for example, when a new event organiser is busy building his or her team and they approach a service provider who then attempts to take a further chunk out of the budget by offering other aspects of event compliance or production assistance.

Further to the yes men, a cross over service provider is just as much of a hindrance. Steering out of your lane and giving advice on aspects of event production that you are not certified to do can also be massively detrimental to your client – the event organiser.

The best advice, stay in your lane, keep to your course and don’t clutter a very complex formula. As an event service provider, rather make a recommendation for an appropriately suited company or individual and move on.

Core Service Providers

To help fortify your brand and keep your event space safe: an event safety officer, security services, site and production management, covid compliance, medics, private fire services, waste management, parking marshals and lifeguards are all requirements for events.

These are the core service providers that will help to strengthen your presence and safely grow your brand. I work with some amazing people with great teams, I am most happy to share their contact info with whoever would like it and hopefully help anyone who might be a bit lost with who to trust or who to chose for their event team.  

Timelines

Further to the above point, I feel it necessary to share some insight into timelines and how your service providers can either assist you greatly in this regard or grind your planning, production momentum and application to a very avoidable halt!

Increasingly, I have noted core service providers accepting the job, waiting a few weeks before quoting, claiming the deposit payment as they refuse to issue their plans without it, then swiftly proceeding to carry on with other work.

This can be due to either their bad planning, not delegating or not expanding their business enough to accommodate a swift turnaround with their plans. Or they are unable and unwilling to send their plans through to you in a timely manner with respect to you and your event, so you can lodge your application on time!

This is a pet hate of mine as it is tardy, unprofessional, and very poor service delivery, never mind the even more important point of forcing your application to stop or slow its momentum which puts municipal services, your event application itself and the whole compliance process at risk.

I cannot stress this point enough, if you approach a core event service provider in 2022, there is no, and I repeat no reason as to why you as the event organiser/client should wait before getting your plans in. In this day and age, it should not take more than 2 – 3 days maximum to compile and send plans through!

Companies that subject their clients to this sort of treatment should be avoided at all costs. The name of the game here is to work to reduce stress, not have your team make more stress for you. They are there to support and help drive the event mechanism, if they can’t keep their timelines considerate to your event, or worse – choose not to, then they don’t deserve your money or the opportunity to represent your brand in a very competitive marketplace.

event crowd Hosting an event: a guide to service providers and compliance part 1

Event Compliance

The necessity/importance

The importance and cognizance of event compliance in the current event marketplace are vital! And with this an in-depth understanding of how these mechanisms work and how they can be empowering to help you grow and to help keep you and your brand safe.

At Honey Badger Consultants, this is specifically what I specialize in and am always most willing to give advice and to help guide. I truly believe that coming together and helping each other right now is the only way we will all keep pushing forward. I will always make time for individuals who are eager to learn, as sincerely, this is one of the most gratifying gestures I can facilitate.  

Cognizance of role and responsibility

Knowing what is expected of you as an event organiser is a must. This can be attained through contacting me, as well as in your own time, doing critical market research by attending other events and festivals to ascertain which elements will work and which elements are similar to what you might have in mind. Understanding these aspects is vital to help you achieve your vision and to build your own individual and exciting event experience.

Know the risks

Risk, in general, is to be mitigated with the correct service providers and also with knowledge of what the potential pitfalls could be in general, on your event site, for your guests and the venue and the surrounding area. One should never be shy to ask for help or guidance, this is why people like myself and others are here – to help you!

We all need to start somewhere and we are all eligible for advice at any time. Knowing the risks prior to jumping in will help cushion the blow when things can and sometimes do get hectic. The event and festival realm is one of the massive highs and also very heavily weighted lows. Thankfully there are many service providers who are here to help you grow and to help by offering advice and commitment to you and your event.

Conclusion

We are steadily marching forward into what seems to be the makings of a very busy and very exciting year ahead as far as events and festivals go in the Cape. Let’s work together to keep everyone safe, their events compliant and to help ensure positive progress for us all.

Next up: following on from this, I will be writing about cutting corners, lack of cognizance of risk and the consequences, bad or lack of planning and most importantly how to safely apply for, manage and operate your event.  

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