Question: Do you still
go to bid on your A/V, rooms, security, transportation, meeting
space, etc., even if you know which vendor you want to use or if
your client or organization has mandated one of their own strategic
The answer: Absolutely. Due diligence
and accurate market rate analysis require at least three bids,
whether or not you have a procurement directive.
If you want to get back decent
proposals, send out quality requests for proposal. A superior
proposal contains meticulous, accurate and comprehensive
information. Here’s what should be included.
* A note at the top of
each page stating the information contained is confidential.
* A specific request
that your RFP not be shared with other vendors. It does happen,
especially if the vendor you invite to bid is unable to do so and
passes the bid on to others in hopes that they will reciprocate in
If an RFP is nontransferable, breach of
this request is unethical and should be grounds for future
disqualification of that vendor.
* Questions that will
measure their ability to do the job. Among them:
1) Size of company. Is
the firm big enough or too big?
2) Location. Will this
3) Experience. Does
the vendor know your company/industry?
4) References. Can
they provide testimonials?
5) Samples. Will they
provide CAD (computer-aided design) drawings, photographs or a
Ask what separates them from their competitors.
What to leave out of the RFP: The
company’s name or identity. If you are requesting nondisclosure of
the information contained in your request for proposal, be sure to
omit all logos and references to your company or client.
If you want to get at least three bids,
request them from a minimum of four vendors. Chances are, at least
one will fail to respond.
style. Will your bid be dynamic (online auction) or static
(mailed or e-mailed proposals)? Some large planning firms have
proprietary systems to handle the entire bid process online, which
streamlines the task to allow for efficient evaluation.
*Timing. Give vendors enough time to respond. Two
weeks should be adequate (one week for them to receive the RFP and
ask questions/get responses from you; another week to prepare their
* Fair treatment.
Treat all vendors fairly by providing the same information and same
advantages to all.
A spreadsheet is the easiest and most
accurate method to compare apples to apples (especially in the case
of food and beverage bids). Beyond price, be sure to consider the
following, which also could impact overall costs:
production: Familiarity with your group, the space and/or
the industry can translate to many dollars saved, even if the bid
is not the lowest.
beverage. What is the tax and gratuity? Is the gratuity
taxed? This can equate to six-figure savings for a large, multiday
space. What equipment/setup is included in the cost?
rooms. Are room rates commissionable?
*Transportation. Carefully compare quality and type
Reply to all companies that have
submitted proposals. Let them know you appreciate the effort, time
and money put into their proposal, and, if policy permits, let them
know who was chosen and why.
Louise M. Felsher, CMP,
CMM,is senior event operations manager with
George P. Johnson Experience Marketing in San Carlos,