Or: “What information should I include on an RFP?”
A few months back I was communicating with a client about a three day event and they sent an RFP (request for proposal) including a list of specific equipment. Any other potential partners they were in touch with got the same document. I couldn’t create a quote based on the info provided so I had to give them a call. The gear listed was maybe a decade old, and it didn’t mention number of attendees or which rooms would be used. The truth is I enjoy a chance to discuss events over the phone, but the level of detail was unfortunate, because every potential partner who received it would have to either call the organizer or make a bunch of assumptions about the event. So how should you put together your RFP?
If you’re not sure what specific equipment you need, outline what you want to achieve, rather than how you’ll do it. For example, “Display powerpoint slide presentation for 30 attendees” or “Panel discussion with 6 panelists for an audience of 300 people”. As experts, potential partners should be able to make a recommendation.
If you’ve done an event with the same needs before you might consider copying the list of equipment. This will help you get responses that are in line with your expectations and comparable with each other.
You should include as much information as you can. This can help avoid unpleasant surprises later, and it also makes it more likely you’ll get an “apples to apples” quote from multiple companies. If you don’t have a certain piece of information yet it’s helpful to note as much. Include:
- Event dates & times – Start time, end time, when the AV can be set up and if it needs to be removed by a specific time.
- Agenda – Especially if the needs change between sessions, or air walls will be opening and closing.
- Room names – Things like the room size, ceiling height, columns and other features may affect the equipment your partner recommends.
- Number of attendees – By room. Number of attendees will certainly affect which equipment is called for.
- List of equipment or goals to be achieved
- Deadline for response – On a practical level this will help you get a timely reply. It also tells you something about the partner if they don’t reply as outlined. Be sure to pick a reasonable time line. Depending on complexity and urgency you might give a week up to a month or two.
- Decision date – This prevents you from getting a bunch of follow up communication before you’re ready, and saves your AV representative time too.
- Budget range – Unless you have absolutely no idea, include a budget range. And even if you don’t, consider putting what you’d like to spend. This can potentially save you money. Suppose a partner might normally come in higher – they may see your budget and stretch to hit it. It can also save you and potential partners time by identifying situations where you’re not a good fit for each other.
After you send out your RFP, be prepared to answer questions from audio visual partners that may not have occurred to you. Besides helping get a completed RFP, the occasional phone call is also a good opportunity to get a read on what sort of service you’ll receive.