Vendors are a very important part of your association’s annual meeting and expo. Besides covering some expenses with entry fees, they also provide valuable goods and services that your members can use or may need.  

But sometimes in their efforts to make a sale, vendors can be a bit pushy. Your members are probably already busy and it might be tough for some sales representatives to take “no” or “not right now” for an answer. If your members feel hounded by vendors, they may not want to come to your annual meeting and expo next year, or worse, they’ll discourate others from attending.

So how can you help? Here are five easy steps

  • Step one: Make your expectations of your vendors clear

Be sure to tell them when they register for your event both the benefits and how they’re expected to conduct themselves. Consider guidelines on approaching members outside of the expo floor. A signed code of conduct is a good idea just to be sure you’re covered. 

  • Step two: Keep the communication open with your members

Be sure to get feedback from your members on how they liked the expo and assure them that they’re welcome to talk with you candidly about any questions or concerns. Be sure to tell your members that they are your first priority, even over the money you make from vendors.

  • Step three: Take the heat

If you’re that worried about vendors being too pushy with your members (or had a bad experience in the past) you can take the heat in two ways: offer to connect vendors with members themselves rather than have the vendors approach people directly or just cut out the “expo” part of your meeting except for a few trusted sponsors. 

  • Step four: Intervene if necessary

Sometimes you might have to cut in if you hear that a vendor is acting inappropriately. How you proceed is up to how the vendor acted and how your member reacted. 

  • Step five: Follow up with your members and help connect them with good resources

Whether you acted or decided not to, be sure to follow up with your members and make sure they know you heard them and what you decided to do about it. If they are interested in a particular good or service but are now kind of jaded by the whole shopping process, offer to connect them with vendors you know and are comfortable with. A referral or a call-ahead to your friends in the field can go the extra mile to ensuring your members are treated well this time. 

Luckily this problem is pretty rare. Most vendors are very friendly and professional and know that from a business standpoint, being too pushy is a quick route to losing a sale. 

Are you putting together your next big meeting and expo? Download our free event planning checklist!