Meetings + Events

The power of gathering people

room space calculator

Find out how many people will fit in your room or what size room you need for your number of attendees.

Step 1
Choose a Room Layout type:

Step 2
Enter one of the following to determine the other:

Room Size:

sq.ft.

Capacity:

NOTE: This is a starting guideline only. Accuracy for your particular event cannot be guaranteed.

look_for_new_issue

The Real Cost of RFPs

By Adrienne Clarke

If you’ve worked long enough in the meetings and events industry, you have likely responded to hundreds of RFPs.

Many client businesses believe that RFPs are the most effective way to secure the best service, creative and pricing from suppliers. But is that actually true? And is it time to disrupt this practise?

Partnership and collaboration are core values of every agency in our industry. And for good reason. In my experience, our most successful programs have consistently been the result of collaboration and transparency. Yet an RFP—with its strict rules, clinical format, limited information and request for ideas ‘on spec’—is often at odds with achieving the kind of relationships that lead to outstanding work.

Furthermore, the practise of requesting speculative work without compensation consumes industry revenue, adding to the infrastructure costs of agencies and incentive houses. These costs ultimately get pushed back to the client. 

But what are the costs? Let’s run an experiment with a relatively basic incentive program RFP.

We’ll assume that three meeting and incentive houses are being invited to respond. That there is a three week turn around for the RFP. That previous program locations and budgets have been provided. And that the response must include…

  • A corporate profile
  • Financials and Q&A
  • Three destination proposals with budgets for hotel options, theming, decor, entertainment, suggested activities and flight routing

Some of this is easy. Most respondents will have boilerplate copy that can be customized to cover off the corporate profile and financials. However, the balance of the RFP is more time consuming than many clients realize.

There’s working with the planning and air department to recommend three locations. There’s all the communications between hotels, DMCs and other suppliers who submit their own proposals for review. There’s all the back and forth with these suppliers. And then there are the revisions and course corrections that are part of the proposal process.

The net result here is approximately 98 hours of speculative work per agency, with an average cost of $75/hour. That’s $7,350 per incentive house—a total cost of over $22,000.

And these are hard costs, spent before any business is awarded, and without any guarantee of a return. Then, once a project gets awarded, it can end up being significantly different than the parameters quoted on—often requiring going back to square one.

Forward-looking companies have begun to realize that there is more cost than benefit to traditional RFPs and are starting to take a different approach: the request for information, or RFI.

While RFPs can work well when comparing budget line-items, they are not as good at helping you compare the kind of service you will receive. The RFI is a face-to-face meeting (often at the office of the incentive house or agency) that gives clients a good read on the supplier’s culture. Are they solution drivers or order takers? How do they make you feel as a prospective partner? And how effectively they will manage your time and budget?

This makes RFIs superior to RFPs when seeking a true partner, while weeding out those who are not the right fit. Then once the project is awarded, the table is set for collaboration. Sitting down, brainstorming and designing best possible program at the most sustainable cost.

—Adrienne Clarke is the ‘chief distiller’ at Distill Strategic Inc., based in Toronto.

other articles in this section

The new reality for... Speakers

The new reality for... Caterers

Fight Right

The new reality for... Team Building

Virtual Sponsorship How-To

The new reality for... Hotels

CanSPEP Connext Conference Kit

The new reality for... DMCs

How to turn delegates into social media brand ambassadors

The new reality for… CONVENTION CENTRES

Job Hunting Today

Your Event Contract Questions Answered

The New Reality for… RESORTS

Hack Away

Beyond Talking Heads

Keeping Connected

Be a Part of the Solution

Time Wise

One Big Virtual Reunion

There's No 'i'solation in Team

New Direction in a Time of Need

Financial Smarts

On the Bright Side

Talk to Me

Food Forward

The Value of Employee Sustainability

All the Right Moves

The Real Cost of RFPs

Valuable Video

Meetings Forecast 2020

RFP Writing 101

Epic Flight

Events that Matter

Trade Show Secrets

Taking Good Care

Oh Canada

Canadian Teambuilding

The Dilemma

We’re All in This Together

Trend Update

Vision Quest

Turn Off that Phone!

Get Into WEC 2019

No Place Like Home

Get into the Tourney

Eating Cleaner

Marriott’s Bonvoy Launches

On the Quiet Side

Getting to Know You

Lifelong Learning

Dynamic Icebreakers

New Year, New You

The Next Step

Meeting Trends 2019

Dialled In

MPAHT Signs The Code

Holographic Magic

Light Touches

Screening Room

Attendee Survival Guide

Oh Canada!

Supporting Roles

Breaking Down the Barriers

Tour Guides

Happiness Matters

Deals on Meals

You need a ‘Workation’

Pop-Up Events

Green Event Trends

Risky Business

Tee Time!

On the Quiet Side

The Next Generation

First Aid Facts

How to Get your Productivity back

A Sense of Taste

RFP 101

Ignite your Panel Discussions

Stay-Put Strategies

Words of Wisdom

Copyright Knowledge

The Power of Hindsight

Liquid Assets

Grape Escapes

Icebreakers!

Geofencing Technology

Social Media Smarts

Online Registration

Master your MC Smarts

Demographic Shift

Ignite your Hiring Skills

Responsible Food Management

Save your Event from Disaster with Forward Thinking

You’re Virtually There

Event Music

Taking a Constructive View of Negative Feedback

Boosting Numbers for Less-attended Events

Team Mentality

Beyond the RSVP

Langdon Hall, Cambridge, ON