5 Tips for Writing a Successful Event RFP

Category: Ideas, Strategy

If you want to receive a great response to your event RFP, you have to put in the work.  Even though the prospect of creating a thorough RFP for event planning services can feel overwhelming, as recipients of countless event RFPs and RFIs, we’re here to tell you that putting in the work up front will pay off in the end.

Writing a better event RFP has a huge impact on the quality of responses you receive, which allows you to find the most qualified partner who will truly understand your vision. Here are five things to keep in mind before you begin writing an event RFP. Follow this advice, and the process will be easier, and more fruitful, for everyone involved.

1. Be Upfront About Expectations and Budget

First things first. The key to writing a really great RFP is to be clear as possible about the parameters of the exhibit, event or activation. When the expectations are understood from the start, all parties are less likely to suffer from miscommunication throughout the process.

When you specify a budget number and timeline you give suppliers a chance to determine whether or not this project is feasible for them. Disqualifying companies based on budget and timeline can save you a lot of time and effort. Remember, you don’t need more responses, you just need better responses.

2. Prioritize Information, Not Deck Design

Don’t get bogged down by your own design. Sure, it’s important to look professional, but content is key. No matter how good an RFP looks, it has to meet the company’s objectives. Spend 90% of your time collecting and organizing as much information as possible.  When in doubt, put it in.  For example, if the project requires a physical structure, try to indicate as many details as you can regarding types of materials preferred. Not sure? A guess is always better than nothing.

In general, it’s best to err on the side of too much information, so include the nitty gritty: your annual sales revenue; client list; a description of your management team; a list of your tech and web-based systems; a detailed explanation of your capabilities vs. your expectations, and so on. It may seem tedious, but the more you tell us, the better prepared we are to succeed.

3. Don’t Dictate the Design

OK, so we just told you to be as prescriptive as possible, but hear us out.  When it comes to design, you walk a fine line. Yes, you can and should include sketches, mood boards, previous examples, and anything else that helps communicate your vision… but telling the supplier exactly what to do does not give them room to showcase their actual skills.  In short, when you do all of the work for them, you might be disappointed to learn that their skills aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. And at that point, it could be too late!

With that in mind, give the agency a chance to do some design work on their own so that you can see what you’re working with and whether or not you like it. A good agency will be ready and willing to show their design skills and take your initial ideas to the next level.

4. Ask the Tough Questions

Yes or no questions don’t tell you a whole lot about the company you’re requesting information from. Open-ended and specific questions, however, force your suppliers to provide tangible evidence of their experience and skill sets. For example, instead of asking “Do you have any experience using virtual reality at events?” Ask, “What is your experience with virtual reality and events and what insights have you gained from implementing this technology?”

Hypothetical questions can be useful too. “What would you do if…” or “How would your company respond when…” are great ways to determine whether or not a supplier is the right choice for you. Another trick we often like to suggest is asking a company to describe themselves in 50 words. Why? It tests their ability to follow directions exactly. Too sneaky? Asking for “50 words or less” works too.

5. Make Sure Your Event RFP Also Tells Us About Your Brand

Selecting the right vendor partner is a lot like finding the right life partner– honesty is everything. So tell your potential partners about how you run your business and what is important to your team. Your business model and approach are essential pieces of this document, don’t neglect them.

When you’re open and honest about your budget, timeline, expectations, and capabilities, you can’t go wrong. So don’t be intimidated by the RFP process. Creating a proposal that properly represents your goals takes a little bit of effort, but will save you time and money in the long run.

Do you need more help creating a winning trade show RFP? Let us know what you’re looking for and how MC² can help make it happen. Let’s talk!


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