Vitality brought its key suppliers together at London's Soho Hotel
Vitality brought its key suppliers together at London's Soho Hotel

Top tips for running a supplier awards event

Planning, inclusion and senior buy-in are all key to running a successful suppliers awards, according to the procurement team at Vitality.

The health insurance firm has just hosted its second supplier awards at the Soho Hotel in London, bringing together suppliers and partners from a broad range of categories.

Before the event, sourcing and supplier managers Duncan Campbell-Marsh, Frances Cooke and Chris Wilson sat down with SM to advise on what makes a supply awards work. Here are their four top tips:

1. Plan in advance

Organising a successful awards takes time. Vitality held their first supplier awards in November 2017. “We gave ourselves a month off at Christmas and the went straight back into it in January,” said Cooke, because so many people need be cajoled to make an event like this happen. “It’s all those little conversations, a little push here and a little push there,” she said. “We’ve got many, many people to talk to and everybody’s got their different angle and we need to pull that together.”

2. Have a structure

In its first year, Vitality’s supplier and outsourcing team nominated suppliers themselves. This year suppliers have been encouraged to self nominate and were asked to submit their own entries. “Certainly I think this was a more structured attempt to funnel it through the right channels in the first instance, rather than 10 of us sitting around a table deciding,” said Campbell-Marsh. Nominees were also asked to name a referee within the business to vouch for them, allowing stakeholders to have a voice while also vetting the authenticity of the entries.

3. Be inclusive

Let everyone know you are hosting awards, and don’t ever assume a stakeholder won’t be interested, “because actually sometimes you’ll be surprised,” said Cooke. Similarly, brace yourself for parts of the business to come back saying they haven’t felt included, said Wilson. “It’s impossible to do across an organisation [of Vitality’s size]. Everyone will have a say so you’ve got to be quite strong about your viewpoint about who can come.”

4. Invite your top team

Having representatives of your C-suite at your supplier awards is not just a boon for your suppliers, but can show to your own company the value of what you do. Vitality had zero budget for their awards last year, but invited their chief executive officer Neville Koopowitz and their commercial director Nick Read. “They came along, they saw what a great ceremony it was and decided then to back it financially,” said Wilson. As a result, this year the awards were held at a London hotel with the support of Vitality’s in-house events team.

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