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11 Dec 2018

What kind of buyer are you?

What kind of buyer are you?

What kind of buyer are you?

You probably spend a lot of time shopping around for the kind of contractor you want to work with.

If you have had the opportunity to work across a broad range of suppliers, you will very quickly identify that all are not equal, and nor should they be.

What suits one, does not necessarily suit another, especially as there is such a broad range of Organiser nuances for suppliers to take into account.

But have you ever flipped it on its head and spent time thinking about what kind of buyer you are and what your business has to offer?

There is so much diversity and choice in the contracting community, taking the time to look at things from another angle might just be the most efficient way to find the right partner or partners for your business.

Developing your profile

Sit down and think about you and the needs of your business and how a supplier might view you.

Equally, take half an hour now to scribble out your ‘buyer’s profile’ using the headers below.

Be honest about the good, the bad and – unfortunately - the ugly.


  • Are you global and looking for a partner to match?
  • Do you need a contractor on the doorstep, available at your beck and call?
  • Does local matter to you?


  • Is this a one off show?
  • Is there a portfolio/series?
  • Are all the shows attractive to a supplier or do you have some that will weigh the collective down?
  • Do you have a ‘cash cow’ event?


  • Do you have an even spread of show times?
  • Will your shows put extra-ordinary pressure into the system at a particular time?
  • How long is the deal for/ could it be longer – could this give you bargaining power?


  • What do you and your business care about?
  • Welfare?
  • Waste/Sustainability?
  • Customer Service?
  • Innovative ways of working/ keeping things lean?

How much do you care about these things? Enough to spend any extra money on them, and how will you track this? And will what is the reality of these goals being met?


  • How easy are you to work with?
  • Does your process allow a supplier to get the information they need fully and in good time?
  • Will your sales team get on board?
  • How important is it for you to have simplified communications i.e. one stop shop?
  • Do you prefer to work with individual ‘experts’ for each service


  • How many deals have you negotiated before?
  • When was the last time you negotiated the contract in question?
  • Is your finger on the pulse of the market?
  • Do you know which services contractors make/lose the most money on?
  • How much do you know about the impact of sub-contractors or labour companies on your show?


Two things in this world that you should never mess around with and that is people’s time and money! Reliability is key to gain people’s trust – so:

  • Do you pay on time?
  • Do you have good credit
  • Will contractors have to work as hard on the accounts payable team as they do on the show?     

Type of business

  • Are you a family business?
  • A big corporate? Owner / Manager?
  • Is there a VC to keep happy?
  • Where do you fit into the grand scheme of things?


  • What do you have in your hand – extra time?
  • What access do you have to exhibitors?
  • What do you have to Marketing support and is this true support?
  • Are you able to offer packages or bespoke exhibitor offers?


  • Do you want to stick with the industry norms or do you want to innovate and mix things up a little?
  • Will you drive change, or are you looking for a supplier to throw things up in the air?


Which of these is your thing?

Lou- blog

Now own it! 

If you are upfront about your intentions from the start you will be able to identify a suitable match effectively and, more importantly, start your relationship on a solid footing.

This industry is fortunate to have such a great range of options at our disposal. We have strong ‘one stop shop’ contractors who hold a solid position, offering Organisers and Exhibitors a seamless approach. Equally, we have a great set of ‘independent’ contractors who specialise in a particular area or a core set of services. We have some that are excellent at offering a hybrid solution.

Ultimately, the right contractor for you is the one that most closely aligns to the things that make you tick. You can go into a tender process and figure that out along the way or you could get a head start, shortlisting your potential suppliers in advance.

Phone a friend, ask a venue, do some research… whatever it takes to make sure that the right companies are in the room before you move onto the next step…Choosing your contractor.

Lou Kiwanuka will be delivering a webinar on Contractor Management covering all the next steps of selecting and working with your contractors. This webinar is the 2nd in a series of Operations Webinars in partnership with the AEO and will be held on Friday 14th December.