How to Write an RFP to Secure an AV/Production Partner
Jaime Theresa Smith, CMP
National Account Manager
When I was a planner creating RFPs for my annual conference… yeah, I’m not going to do that to you as it’s been a minute. Fortunately, being on the receiving end of those RFPs for the past 9 years for AV/Production specifically, I can tell you, I’ve seen a lot. Some good, some bad, and some inspiring that bring me back to yes, my planning days with the possibility of getting the chance to work with fellow like-minded planners. Swoon!
What makes a bad RFP?
Now, when I say “bad”, it’s all relative, right? Well, yes and no. The bad ones are the ones without details; ones that have been copied and pasted from last year’s RFP; or ones from the previous partner’s proposal or invoice with specific gear listed (of course without the costs associated). Please don’t do that to your potential future partner, who is only trying to meet your budget needs AND give you the end product you imagine.
The Key to Writing a Great RFP
I was intentional in adding “partner” to the title of this blog. If you are just looking for a quick quote to “get the bids”, I get it, and well… below will still help you in doing that without all the fuss and potential back and forth conversations or dare I say… ALL the emails. Many production companies, especially ChoiceLIVE, are out there to work with amazing clients, create amazing events, and in an amazingly enjoyable way… together, with you, our partner. I know… a lot of “amazing’s” in that previous sentence, but if we aren’t in it for the right reason… to enjoy creating memorable experiences for our attendees, what’s the point of what we are doing within this industry?
When writing your RFP, address the macro level first. WHAT is your WHY for holding this event?
Step 1 for Creating a Great RFP – Identify your Project Goals
Start with that big picture! What do all your stakeholders hope to get out of this event? Identifying your goals and communicating them to your AV/Production partner is going to help you achieve them. Events are what we do. It’s our lifeblood. We’ve seen a lot of them and our experience with them is invaluable to you, but first, you must know why you are doing this event to determine how best to make it happen.
Step 2 for Creating a Great RFP – Narrow down your Candidates
Have that conversation with the AV/Production companies first.
The more you qualify your candidates up front, the less time you’ll have to spend in front of your computer narrowing them down later. We suggest having a conversation with potential partners before sending them your RFP. On the call, get a feel for their personalities (you’ll be spending a lot of time with them), learn their capabilities, and get a feel for their equipment inventory and processes. If you decide that they’d be a good fit, allow them the opportunity to respond to your RFP.
Step 3 for Creating a Great RFP – Scope out the Details
The more information you are able to provide up front, the better. Your partner will be able to assess your needs, offer guidance on how to save in areas you weren’t expecting, and be that true partner throughout the process.
Remember Step 1: Project Goals… What is your overall goal for the event? Is it informative and data driven? That “we all must learn” this that and the other? Or is it more of a celebratory and social gathering? Have you done this event before? If so, do make sure and include past data, pictures, and information.
How many attendees… both in person, or online, or are you considering a hybrid model? Are there varying counts of presenters in different sessions, as in a panel for 6 vs a keynote for example? Knowing what content will be displayed, from playing back videos, or sharing PowerPoint slides, or just IMAG, your partner can suggest the appropriate setup from an AV standpoint. And are you handling graphics/media creation internally or might you need your partner to help create these?
Share the agenda with projected working schedules, even breaking it all down to where your partner can anticipate how many technicians to include. If it’s not complete, don’t worry. Many times, partners help you dive in to get it finalized as they have seen successful versions from their previous work and may have tips to help. Again, partnership.
Venue location… city, space, respective room names, and of course dates are highly important as you can imagine. Do you have the space days before the event to allow for setup and rehearsal time? Hopefully the site visits and planning meeting dates are accounted for too. The pre-production process can sometimes be an afterthought. Try to include coordination lead up timelines, and know that working with a partner, this can be crafted together as well.
The budget! Yes, it is helpful to provide a budget or at the very least a range. You may have champagne tastes on a beer budget. Partners can scale the options for you, but being up front and honest will only benefit you in the end.
Step 4 for Creating a Great RFP – Consider Virtual Formats
That dreaded or sometimes loved virtual option… start with the why when determining your potential virtual needs.
Do you have a platform you hope to use, or might you need recommendations? Questions to consider include knowing what type of engagement you hope for with your attendees. As in, polling, Q&A, maybe gamification, or just the ability to chat amongst themselves, engaging on the content being provided.
Other considerations include pre-recorded sessions, streaming out live sessions (perhaps from the in-person meeting going on at the same time), or giving the online audience different content that’s providing value to them not being onsite.
Your partner can help elevate the online experience with lower thirds (title captioning), graphics and varying looks and layouts with the content and presenter(s). Have the conversations with them to determine what’s best in the end for your goals.
Important Takeaways for Writing an RFP
- Start at the end and work backwards. What is your why for this event? Then work on the how to make it happen with a partner at your side.
- Relationships are key. Having a great AV/production partner can only help you achieve that end result. Have the conversation to determine who is best to even receive the RFP.
- Develop an RFP worthy of receiving. Provide as much information as you can, by scoping out the details.
- Be open to receiving other solutions from your partner. AV/production partners want to make you look great in front of all the stakeholders invested in the event. Lean on them.
Download our RFP Checklist
This isn’t an all encompassing document, but if you’re just getting your feet wet writing RFPs, this should help you to organize your thoughts.
Trade us your email for the document?