The Art of the RFP

Why would you ever tell your AV partner your budget ahead of time?

As an event professional, you likely have very specific goals and objectives for the events that you plan.  If your goals include staying within your designated budget, keep reading!

Have you ever flinched when you have sent out an RFP and your audiovisual supplier asked “What is your budget for this event?”  The budget question is one that some buyers are okay with but makes others cringe.  Many buyers see this question as a cop out for a supplier- if you disclose that your budget is $50,000, the supplier will surely submit their bid at $49,999.99.

A good partner will use this as an opportunity to be truthful with you about their ability to provide excellent services to you at the price point that you desire. If your budget is $50,000 and your audiovisual service provider is not able to provide the required services for less than $60,000 (maybe due to travel costs, equipment availability, etc.), a good partner will tell you that information up front.

An experienced staging company can help you determine in which technology areas you can save costs.  For instance, are you interested in an audience response system but you already have an event app?  You can utilize the polling function in your event app for a nominal fee (or maybe it is included in the base cost) and save the cost of setting out individual ARS units at each chair.  The savings can translate into adding that Video Assistant in the general session to manage the recordings or springing for a nicer scenic option that was not affordable before the cost savings.

A great audiovisual partner may also offer you multiple options to provide the show that you would like: a $40,000 option, a $50,000 option, and a $60,000 option. While the $60,000 option may be the ‘pie in the sky’ option, it could be something that you really like but will plan for on the next event or the event after that.

Without budget information, and in a competitive situation, many companies work diligently to figure out how to do the least amount that they can in order to provide the lowest possible price.  This can often be detrimental to the overall success of the event.  A company looking to just be the lowest cost provider may bid your event with less than optimal equipment or under-staff the event.  While this may help you get a low price, there are often consequences to those decisions.  A true partner will always look for ways to provide you with a competitively priced proposal, but they will also let you know which areas of your event can benefit from upgraded equipment or additional personnel.

The next time a supplier asks you for your budget before they respond to your RFP, consider that they may be asking so that they can provide you with excellent services at their best price and that they want to become your trusted partner going forward. 

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