Special Events

Insiders insights on RFPs

Costly, time-consuming, easily pirated--Requests for Proposal are a controversial topic among independent planners (see the June issue of Special Events Magazine). But there is another side to the story. The in-house planners issuing RFPs have their own frustrations with the proposals they receive.

FLAT FEE, YES; HYPE, NO

Armed with an MBA and years in international event management, Kathleen Moore, vice president and senior event marketer for New York-based JPMorgan Treasury Services, knows what she needs in event proposals.

"I send a fairly detailed RFP, with objectives, audience demographics, details about past events, if applicable, as well as any specific elements that I’d like to see included, and anything I think should be avoided," she notes.

"What I like to see in a proposal is creative, conceptual thinking that seems to be derived from my RFP. I also like to see that the company has energy and enthusiasm for what they do," she explains. "I prefer a theatrical, interactive approach to my events rather than one that depends heavily on decor. People often get too caught up in the scenery, which--unless it truly contributes to people interacting and participating in the event--shouldn’t be the main focus."

She has an iron-clad rule on budgets. "I also ask for a line-item budget, including a flat event management fee based on how the company prices its time, experience and expertise--not based on a percentage of the overall cost of the event," she explains. "If you do cost-plus, I’m going to make you do it over."

WHAT WINS

Claire Stroope, CMP, is a former independent planner and catering consultant who is now senior manager of global meeting services with Redwood Shores, Calif.-based software giant Oracle Corp. She advises proposal writers to avoid silly mistakes, such as failure to include page numbers on the proposal and failure to check their own math. "Do your homework and quadruple-check your numbers," she advises. The number of math errors is "amazing," she says.

According to Stroope, the best proposal writers:

  • Do their homework.
  • Include quotes from and photos of their senior management.
  • Answer all the questions that are asked.
  • Include all the questions and the answers to their proposal (so the evaluators don’t have to switch back and forth between documents).

See the full story in the July issue of Special Events.

Photo by iStockphoto.com/ © Kutay Tanir

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