In my last blog we explored the reasons for considering an outside a/v company vs. an in-house supplier.  Now it’s time to deal with the RFP (Request for Proposal) document itself.

 BEGIN WITH A BRIEF OVERVIEW

I like to begin with a very brief overview of the event, its “who, what, where & when.”  Be specific as to dates, location and attendance.  Here’s a typical overview:

  • Typical Home Parties, the direct sales division of Typical International, is having its 2011 “Believe It” National Convention at the Mammoth Hotel, in Mammoth, New Jersey, July 22-24, 2011. The event will be held in the Bodacious Ballroom, which has approximately 12,500 square feet of space.  The program will consist of equal parts promotional announcements, recognition and training for a largely female audience of approximately 500. Seating will be at rounds. 

I usually end the paragraph with a link to the room diagram of the space, which most hotels and convention centers are likely to have on their websites.  It’s also helpful to include a link to your own company’s website.  Other than that, you don’t need to go into detail about your company.

SCHEDULE

Next, I’m likely to include a brief schedule that shows what will be going on and when.  Don’t bother with a detailed presentation by presentation schedule.  Instead, offer a “glance-able” calendar-type schedule, something like this:

 

 

 

STATE YOUR NEEDS

Don’t try to get technical, just describe what you need equipment to do from your perspective. If you can be more specific, that’s great.  Definitely include basic dimensions, such as the approximate size of your stage and the number and size of your projection screens.  Here are some examples:

  • Lighting package & crew:
    • Stage will often be full of people for recognition, so we need enough general stage lighting to fully illuminate the stage. Most other presentations will simply be an MC speaking from the lectern. No spotlights needed, just general stage lighting.
    • Appropriate crew for install, show, and strike.  
  • Sound package & crew:
    • Sound system to fill room.  Music is a big part of our meeting, so we need speakers with good bass qualities.
    • One lectern microphone plus 2 wireless hand-helds or lavalieres. 
    • Onstage and backstage audio monitors.  
    • Audio mixing board with 6-8 inputs, including one dedicated to laptop for music playback.  We will supply laptop and operator.
    • Appropriate crew for install, show, and strike.  
  • Projection package & crew:
    • Two off-the-stage side screens, 10 ½ x 14’ or possibly 9 x 12. 
    • Projection equipment for Mac supported visuals (Keynote with embedded videos).   Client will provide laptops and operator
    • Appropriate crew for install, show, and strike.  
  • Staging:
    •  Hotel risers to create stage area approximately 40’ wide, 20’ deep, and 24” -32” high (depending on height of hotel risers). 
    • Pipe and drape to cover back of stage, and create wings and close in area between screens and upstage drape.
    • One lectern at stage right or stage left.  
    • Appropriate crew for install, show, and strike.  

Most important, tell them what total a/v your budget is, labor, gear, everything.  In short, what do you have to spend?  A/V companies are accustomed to working with all ranges of needs, but they have to have that dollar figure to give you an informed bid.  And often, they can be pretty flexible when it comes to gear, even if your budget falls short of what that gear might actually cost. 

INCLUDE PHOTOS & DIAGRAMS

If you have stage photos or room/stage diagrams from past events, include them.  Wide stage shots showing the entire stage and screen area are best.  These will go a long way in helping the a/v company understand how best to fill your needs.

YOUR CLOSING

Be sure to give the name and contact information for the person who should receive the bid.  And ask for a bid that spells out the details, otherwise you may get a bunch of lump sums like “Lighting Package- $3,500.”  I usually end my RFP’s with a paragraph like this one:

  • Please submit proposals by email (Word, Excel or PDF files only) by Monday, May 9, 2011 to (your email).  Questions may be directed to this email, or phone number ________. Also, please show us how you arrived at your pricing, i.e., daily rental times so many days, labor hourly rate times so many hours, etc.

Creating a good Request for Proposal is a big part of the convention production process.  It’s also your introduction to the people who will be partnering with you create a successful event.  Make sure the RPF you send makes it easy for a/v companies to understand and respond to your needs.

Writer/Events Producer Dick Wilson has worked on meetings as small as 50 and as large as 7,500.  He’s learned that dealing with an event’s audio/visual needs can be demanding regardless of the size of the audience.  Learn more about what Dick can do for you at http://luceandassociates.com/Dick-Wilson.html.