“Ask an Expert: Sharon Bonner”

Meet Sharon Bonner, an experienced event producer with 35 years of expertise. Since she started her journey in 1988, the event industry has seen remarkable changes. Inspired by the widely syndicated column “Dear Abby,” which is known for its common sense and compassionate advice, Sharon aims to provide a similar approach in her work. Like a reliable friend, she offers straightforward and sound guidance to her clients.

Due to limited space, Sharon may not get to showcase all questions and answers, but she promises to write back to every person with a solution.

Question: A few of my vendors approached me and told me that if I booked them directly instead of going through an entertainment agency, they would give me 15% off their fee. The budget is tight, and I could use the extra money for my event. What do you think I should do?

Answer: Say NO! It is never a good idea to “back door” your entertainment agency. That agency has worked hard for you and delivered excellent service and entertainment. We need to honour that relationship first! I learned early on that having ethics and morals would take me far, and it has.

Question: I have a client who is rude to my staff and continually disrespects my professional boundaries (calls me on my cell after hours, demands meetings when I am unavailable, asks for deals consistently, etc.). I am thinking of terminating our contract. What would you suggest?

Answer: Your gut is right. Never should you tolerate any unprofessionalism in the workplace. Allowing this to continue, you show your employees that mistreating people is okay. Could you do it yesterday and document everything to avoid future litigation?

Question: I am a new event planner and finding it hard to get business. I have a website, social media channels and printed business cards, but no one calls to book me to plan their events. I need help getting business.

Answer: I was in your position in 1988, so I know how hopeless this feels. I offered my services at no charge (for a small to medium-sized event). In exchange, ask for a taxable donation receipt and a reference letter (assuming you do a good job). Be patient. The business will come!