Managing Director & Lead Facilitator – Phil England – of Eventus explains
how he would go about sorting the diamonds from the garbage!

1) Be wary of flashy websites

Producing an all-singing-all-dancing website is really not that difficult. Try and
look “under the skin” of the site for signs that give you confidence that you are
dealing with an established and professional company. Do they provide full
contact details including a physical address, telephone numbers (not just a
mobile number) email address and testimonials. Do you want to be dealing
with a start-up business operating from a spare bedroom? What can you find
out about the company, its offices, its people and its history?

2) Give them a call

Do they respond professionally and promptly? A mobile phone number may
be fine once you’ve established a relationship…but what if you can’t get
through? If the company cannot provide a real person to answer your calls
what do you think will happen once you’ve booked and you need an
immediate response?

3) Ask about their health & safety policy and procedures, risk assessments and insurance

Any provider worth their salt will be confident in dealing with these issues and
will give full and clear explanations.

4) How long has their business been established?

Watch out for the response “Oh we’ve got 20 years experience in the
business”. What does that actually mean? Has the company you are dealing
with actually been operating for 20 years or do they mean the proprietor has
worked for someone else but perhaps only set up independently a couple of
months ago! Of course, new start-ups can offer good service but this is
something we think you should know about.

5) What is the legal status of the company you are dealing with?

Again, this is another clue to stability and long-term viability. Are they a soletrader or a limited company? Are they registered for VAT? If not, you are
dealing with a business that has a very low turnover.

6) Do they directly provide events/activities using their own staff equipment, or expertise? Or do they sub-contract?

There are many event organisers, agents and intermediaries out there that do a great job. In fact, here at Eventus, we work with some of the very best. But there are plenty of poor ones too! It’s the simplest job in the world for an aspiring agent to produce a long list of attractive sounding options that they then simply farm out to whoever they can find to service the job, taking a commission for themselves. Anxious to “protect” their customer, a nervous agent will often keep the service provider completely “in the dark” until the day of the event. Under such circumstances is it a surprise that the event or activity is not then tailored to your exact requirements?
Of course, a good agent will add value by drawing upon their expertise and
contacts. You may choose to use a professional event management company
or consultant who will remove a great deal of the stress involved in arranging
a wide-range of specialist providers.

7) Do they understand team building?

Just because you’ve contacted a “team building company” don’t assume that
they know anything about team building! To but it bluntly, some providers
organise an activity, sort people into teams and expect the “team building” to
simply happen…as if by magic!
A reputable team building provider will want to talk to you about all the
logistical stuff (timings, number of participants, etc.) however they will also
want to talk outcomes, objectives, learning points, debriefs, and feedback.
Some activities may be great fun but do they offer much potential for real
team building? In recent years we have all seen a plethora of ever-wackier
activities that offer little beyond being the “flavour of the month”. As the
economy becomes more challenging then Return On Investment is

8) Do they listen?

Unless you choose a roll-off/roll-off type activity (such as bowling, karting,
high ropes etc) it is likely that your team building activity will need adapting for your venue and group. Does this make your event bespoke? It is always good
to know that your provider has run a specific activity before and ironed out the
little issues that divide a reasonable event from a great event. However, the
key thing is that they should clearly demonstrate that they have both listened
to and understood your requirements. A good provider will welcome your input
and ideas and will feel confident in advising you about what will work and
what will not. They will be confident discussing the pros and cons of different
approaches and will speak in a language that suits your organisation and

9) Think carefully about the content and the delivery

Team building doesn’t happen by accident. The selected activity needs to be
inclusive. This means it should be inclusive in terms of the physical level, the
cerebral level, and the emotional level. You may have a group of real, full-on,
action types but if a couple of team members are simply going to opt out of
the survival “bushtucker” challenge you are considering then you probably
need to think again.
The pragmatists in your teams will also need convincing that there is a
purpose to the planned activity. What will they gain from the experience? How
will the team benefit? What will our organisation gain? Reflectors need and
enjoy the opportunity to think about and discuss what they have just
experienced. Does your event provider understand these principles?
The single most important factor influencing the success of your event is the
approach, experience and skills of the person from the team building provider
that “fronts” your event. They will probably call this person something like the
Event Co-ordinator, Event Leader or Lead Facilitator. Make a point of
ensuring you speak to this person well before your event is due to run…it’s
too late on the day should you discover your main presenter has an
interesting collection of body piercings and an incomprehensible sense of

10) Price is important but…

How much more important is value for money? In the events industry it is
notoriously difficult to compare like-with-like. You may get wildly different
quotes from different providers for activities that, on the surface, seem very
similar. This is when your experience needs to come into play. Is the company
offering that low quote desperate for work? Are they not very good?
Fact - a good team building company will be busy most of the year.
They should demonstrate that they really want your work - and not that they
really need it. Is their quote low because their event staff are students on work
experience? Apologies to all you students out there…our industry offers a
great learning curve for students but you probably get the message. Expect to
pay more for an Event Co-ordinator who can work with senior groups, who is
comfortable with large diverse groups, who can handle facilitation and
feedback. Many providers are rather secretive about their pricing structure.
Why? OK…we all know the line about every event being unique but you can
be sure that they will have a pricing structure…they are just choosing not the
share it with you. Ask them about it! Again a good provider will be confident
talking about pricing because they are confident about their product.
And finally, what about that really expensive quote? The one that is double
that of the nearest rival. Does it guarantee a great event? Probably not!

However, if you have satisfied yourself with the above Top 10 Tips then you’ll
be in a better position to judge!

Author's Bio: 

Phil England (age 48) is Managing Director of Eventus Training & Events Ltd and has been delivering team building events for the last 25 years. With offices in UK and France, Eventus provides over 175 corporate team building events each year.