Special Events
Tough Times Bring Tighter Scrutiny for RFPs

Tough Times Bring Tighter Scrutiny for RFPs

The work required to create and respond to Requests for Proposals for special events is always tough. And not surprisingly, today's lousy economy is making following the rules even more important.

With budgets tight, "Contractors unwilling to discuss fees and overhead--especially when they are unchanged compared to better days--or those who do not commit to negotiating the best deals with subcontractors make steam come out of my ears," Frank Supovitz, senior vice president of special events for the New York-based National Football League, tells Special Events. On the other hand, "Partners that demonstrate that they understand the downward turn that event budgets have taken and are committed to providing value and prudent cost controls will have a greater value to in-house planners than ever," he notes.

To respond to today's demanding environment, independent event planner Rachel Hollis, founder of Los Angeles-based Chic Events, has one watchword: more.

TELL THEM WHAT THEY'RE GETTING

When responding to RFPs today, "[Clients] need to feel like they’re getting the most bang for their buck," Hollis explains. "And while I think the amount of work hasn’t changed--we always took care of all the extras--now we have to make sure they’re aware we’re taking care of the extras. We literally have to spell out each individual item so they know how much work we’ll be doing for them."

Indeed, Mark Baltazar, CEO and managing partner of New York-based Broadstreet, finds that responding to RFPs today requires more "layers of vetting," as he puts it. First comes a round of paper proposals, "then a cut, then a stand-up, then a decision," he says.

A winning technique for Broadstreet, Baltazar explains, is adhering proposals more strictly to the brand. Another ace in RFPs: "More elements that are used in the program that have life beyond programs," he notes, "such as videos and Web sites with information contributed by participants."

Adhering to the RFP—giving clients just what they ask for—is crucial, says Claudette Bouton, manager of integrated marketing for Atlanta-based AGL Resources. "The best proposal I ever got was from a facility that literally took my RFP--which was a Word document--and inserted all of her information right into my text--brilliant!" she says. "It made it very easy to read, and she didn’t miss a detail."

Read the full story in the September-October issue of Special Events.

Photo by iStockphoto.com / © Patryk Galka

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