How to choose an event managment agency,event staffing agency, or a sampling management agency


There are many things to consider when you’re thinking about  choosing an event staffing agency. Before you get overwhelmed with the choice you have to make, we suggest asking tour mangers and market managers that you have worked with before which companies they have worked with in the past that they would recommend.

More times than not, the people in the field that manage teams each week know which agencies they prefer and how they find their teams. Lets face it.. The sad reality is that most agencies have a database where workers load their profile and email address into an online  ‘revoluationary protocol’  and it is held there until the company has an event in their area.  Having a database to organize and pull staff information from truly is priceless and a great thing to have, however most agencies stop right there.

Their work ends after they send a ‘blast’ email to their staffers and maybe a few follow up emails to confirm.  They do not take the time to be sure that those brand ambassadors and event staffers are right for the program and they never even talk to the brand ambassadors that are going to work the event. Worst yet they don’t review their resume or credentials. So basically you have no idea what type of person is going to show up at your event. That’s if you’re lucky enough to have them show up at all. We strive to have a very high show up rate and after ten years of practice we must admit we are pretty good.

More times than not, The types of agencies that use this kind of system usually have hundreds of different events going on all over the nation. They’re staffing everything from hundreds of thousands of retail promotions to street teams and bar events, you name it.  They don’t have the administrative resources to pull from that can deal with an event staffing contract with care and attention. They focus on quantity rather than quality.. And as a result, they book large amounts of events quickly. The problem with this is that the tour manager/market manager and the end client has to pay the price.

If we lived in a perfect world then yes, we could book events with just a simple email. The reality is that many times someone

that just gets an email about an event or signs up to work a promotion has no idea what they are representing (or cares), lacks the skills and experience they need to be successful (they haven’t been screened) and they do not take the job very seriously. This style of staffing is more common than the majority of agencies will have oyu believe.  I can’t tell you how many times this happened when I was a tour manager. On an average week I was lucky if 5 out of 20 of my event staff showed each day.  Plus if teams didn’t show it was pointless to call the staffing agency that was being used because 99% of the time they would not even answer the phone.  I can’t tell you how many times people would show up to work an event I was managing and I would ask them how they found out about the promotion and they would say they signed up online and got a email the night before. Seriously.

One of the worst parts of working with agencies like this was hearing the complaints that came from event staff about payments.  Many times workers would complain that they were often paid months after a promotion so their motivation was often lacking.
Agencies should never ask an event staffer to wait months after the promotion is over for payment.

One way to test out an Agency is to sign up on an agency’s site and see if you get a job offer by just signing up and waiting.   You might be surprised how easy you can get hired and are given event details and booked for the event with no so much as a phone call or interview. In addition check Google and yahoo for comments. If you read that a lot of brand ambassadors never got paid or had issues getting paid from a certain agency then you might want to avoid the agency.
Where you see one comment from one internet poster, there is likely to be hundreds of more similar situations as well.
What tends to happen when teams don’t get paid after attempting to resolve the issue with the agency is they will track down the client and call them.  This can be extremely embarrassing and costly to your event and your company. So make sure the event staffing company pays their staff quickly and fairly. This is very important. Also ask the agency how they find and book people. They should be happy to tell you.    Also ask if an agency will do free phone trainings or mandatory conference calls to go over all the product/services details and event details.  If the event staff shows up ready to go with all the product info and event details, this can make your event run a lot smoother on event day. Also another way to check to see if you have a great agency is by checking their response time on event day. If you have a few event staff that don’t show up.. Don’t be afraid to call the agency (Even if it is Saturday morning at 5am!)  and see if they even tried to find replacements.  You might be surprised how many agencies don’t event answer the phone or try to find replacements.  Also make sure the event-staffing agency has the proper insurance coverage and work contracts as well.

There are many fly by night event staffing agencies. Ones that pop up get a contract and never pay the workers and pocket the money themselves. The best way to go is to stick with an agency that has been around for a while and has worked in the field.

So once again to summarize we recommended that you make sure your agency offers the following at minimum before you hire them.

They screen their event teams and personally interview each and every brand ambassador that is sent to an event.
They provide free mandatory conference calls for the event staff to go over the product details before the event
They have the proper legal contracts and and insurance.
They truly have account managers that are on call during your event times.
They have been in business for many years and have a good standing reputation.
They pay their event staff efficiently and quickly.

If you use this criteria you’re most certain to find a good agency that can handle your program. Ask the sales representative that you speak to at the agency you’re considering for hire if they can handle a program of your size right now. Be sure to let them know what you expect out of an agency and ask them for honest answers to your questions. Be upfront about charges and rates and ask them about what you should expect on your final invoice.

Having a great event staffing experience can help you ensure that your client’s promotions are a success. Doing your homework before making a hire can help you prevent some heartache later. Good Luck!

George Hayes

Lucky 415 Marketing and Promotions