TAG Global Events – Five ways to write the perfect Request for Proposal (RFP)
By Marjory Brown (read more about this author)
You’ve done your homework researching event agencies and approached The Appointment Group (TAG) Global Events team to help with your requirements. Now it’s time to create a Request for Proposal – more commonly known as an RFP – to receive proposals and see which agency can fit in with the needs of your business.
This may sound like a relatively easy task – especially now that eRPFs (or electronic RFPs) are commonplace. Yet the process can sometimes create confusion if your event brief isn’t clearly written and your aims are not adequately defined. As leaders in event management planning in the UK, US and Asia Pacific, The Appointment Group are here to help you get the best results. We understand that the better your RFP, the more suitable the responses and the more successful your event will be.
What is a Request for Proposal?
An RFP is a solicitation by an organisation to potential suppliers. The client usually wants to procure services (in this case, event management services) and requires prospective vendors to return their business proposals as soon as possible. Requirements should be the same across all RFPs you submit, ensuring you can evaluate all responses fully and fairly.
To help you put together your next RFP, we’ve compiled a list of five key points to consider.
1. Define your requirements
If potential agencies don’t know exactly what you want and need, then it’s almost impossible to meet (or even exceed) your expectations. Your RFP should provide a comprehensive guide to the key boxes you want to tick for your event.
In the first instance, you need to establish the key components, services and products you require for the event and create a list. This will also help you decipher if the event agency you have approached can help you in all the right areas. The Appointment Group can offer support in a wide range of services, from venue finding and budget management to creative event consultancy, from group accommodation to in-house website design and management. TAG are also an IATA-accredited travel agency and we have dedicated travel managers in the Global Events team who can manage group flights and transfers.
In addition, it’s important to explain the idea and the objectives of the event. For example, what are the top five things you hope to accomplish from this event, and how can the event management agency help you achieve these goals?
2. Be clear, be concise
In doing the above, you must make sure that the brief to the agency is as clear and concise as possible – nothing included in your RFP should be contradictory.
From the outset, it helps to be clear on whether you’re looking for a partner to work alongside throughout the process, or if you only need help with one aspect of the event management, such as sourcing a great venue. This will help to establish the roles in the project from the beginning, and ensure that we offer the best possible services to you.
Providing an event profile is helpful to share with agencies including key information such as the name and purpose of the event, your preferred dates and the event budget. It is also useful to know what market segment you fall into – are you an association, corporate, non-profit or something else? We can include specialist insight and experience in our responses.
It’s also a good idea to include details such as: is this a first-time event, annual or regular? Who are your delegates and what is their demographic?
3. Establish a timeline and answer question
Short deadlines favour the incumbent – so be sure to give a decent length of time for responses. A tight deadline will only serve to favour contractors who are already expecting the bid, which can negate the whole point of your RFP from multiple prospective agencies.
It takes time to put together a detailed proposal, so bear this in mind when it comes to setting a deadline for potential vendors. And don’t include holiday times (such as Christmas) within the response time – even event agencies need a break from time to time.
Whether you’re distributing your RFP to event management planning agencies in the UK, US or Asia Pacific and elsewhere, questions are likely to arise.
Remember to include your name, company name, address, email and contact number within the RFP. Detail your preferred contact options and specify the date you set to answer queries. It’s also a good idea to include a back-up point of contact if we’re unable to reach you.
4. Don’t ask for too much
It is a good idea to obtain the agency credentials to enable you to shortlist the candidates that you will send your RFP to. TAG Global Events can provide case studies of numerous types of event on an international scale, with a range of well-known clients.
By starting with a list of approximately ten agencies, and then narrowing it down to around five depending on their suitability and office locations, will reduce the quantity but increase the quality of work required by the agencies. This means that you can be sure that you’re getting the best possible responses. With regards to location, TAG Global Events has offices in London, Manchester, Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore and New York, meaning that we will have a team who are close to your time zone.
If you have several different scenarios for your event, you can make a judgment on your preferred agency by asking them to propose based on just one possible event style. Ask for sample event documentation without requesting a detailed project plan for each option. A concise proposal is easier to read and judge than a long one.
You should also allow each agency to present their ideas to you in person. They have invested a great deal of time in their submission so you need to do the same in return if possible. TAG Global Events are always looking for innovative ways to pitch their ideas and bring the event proposal to life. We have recently employed a Creative Designer on our team to add a creative edge to our pitches, focusing on our clients’ brand identities and campaign themes. We find it important to immerse ourselves in your brand and vision for the event, from designing the website or event app to assembling a bespoke menu or entertainment act that is on brand and memorable for delegates.
5. Give feedback
What’s more, once you have made a decision, make sure to inform all the agencies who pitched. It’s always a good idea to give feedback to those who were unsuccessful before they chase you – remember that they’ve put a great deal of effort into a pitch and deserve to know why they didn’t win.