October 11, 2019
By Madison Layman

When looking for a company to plan an event, organizations often release a Request for Proposals (RFP). An RFP could almost be thought of as a job listing. It gives a brief overview of the job, or event and includes the requirements needed to submit.

Event Proposal

There are many types of proposals, from an event proposal for sponsorship to a corporate event proposal. Why go through this process? It allows an organization to cast a wide net and equally evaluate different event companies to find the one that can bring their event to life at the right price. It’s a matter of due diligence and is a demanding part of the event planner workload. Unfortunately for event planners, proposals take time that could otherwise be spent planning. Without an event, though, there wouldn’t be anything to plan. It’s a classic catch-22. Luckily, by following a few simple guidelines, you can cut down the time it takes to create proposals. With the right strategy, you can create a proposal that organizations will respond to.

Gain A Clear Understanding of the Event Proposal Requirements

First things first. Find an RFP and read it through carefully. You can’t go out for every event. Outside of what your company has the bandwidth to plan, you only have so much time to spend submitting to RFPs. Now, how many event proposals you submit a year depends on several factors. How large is your planning company? Do you have a dedicated staff member for proposal submissions? What can your organization feasibly take on if you win the proposal? The RFP will state the basics. In most cases, that includes event date, location, scale, and overview.

Ask Yourself These Questions When Reading the RFP

  • Looking at the RFP requirements and due date, do you have time to create a proposal?
  • Do you have the bandwidth to put on this event?
  • Do you have the resources required?
  • What will this event do for your company?
  • Does the event fit with your portfolio of events?

It’s All About the Event

There are times when an RFP will come out and it seems perfect…except it’s due in a week and overlaps with an event you’ve put on every year and requires extra staff and means you have to get new tech and on and on. Are you excited about it? Do you think it will elevate the brand of your event company and give you more opportunities in the future? Go for it.

Know the Market Requirements for the Event Proposal

Many times, the events you look to plan are being put on by organizations in the same location your company is located. Many times, they aren’t. What isn’t costly in your market might be expensive in others. There are a few steps to take after realizing you want to submit to an RFP that might impact your submission.

Cost is Relative

The market impacts cost. Most importantly, location impacts cost. If the event is being held in a city you aren’t used to working, do research. You’ll have to provide a budget in the proposal, this is just a first step. Does the location impact your normal operating costs in any way? Take that into consideration. You need to have a realistic understanding of the cost of labor, food, and venue to put together a budget draft.

Understand Regulations Such as Data Security, Labor, and More

Whether the event will be located domestically or internationally, regulations are different in each state. From fire codes to traffic, data security to labor laws, you need to understand the laws and regulations that could impact the event. Do some initial research to find out if your normal way of doing business might be impacted.

Find the Perfect Event Niche

Every time you consider a new RFP, you should consider if the potential event lines up with your event program strategy. Your company brand is based on the events you plan. The meetings and events industry is vast. From strait-laced conferences to wild product launch parties, there’s a wide variety of events to be planned. What does your event planning company do?

Think Outside the Box

What excites you? Large-scale experiential events? Internal corporate dinners? Figure out what your specialty should be. From there, you can be more discerning about the events you plan. While it might take time to build your portfolio of events to get to the kind you want, direction is key. If you want to be the go-to event planning company for weddings, you shouldn’t be planning medical conferences. Each proposal you submit should fit the narrative you’ve either built over the years or are trying to build.

Summarize the Client’s Needs

Proposals are all about telling the client what they want to hear. Speak their language. It starts with the RFP. Before you finish the proposal process, you should expect to reread an RFP about a hundred times. That’s not an exaggeration. When it comes to proposals, you should never go off-script. The RFP outlines what the client wants to know. But, be sure not to oversell what you’re able to offer.

Build the Event Proposal from the RFP

RFPs tend to be incredibly explicit. It’s not a trick. If the client wants information included, you have to include it. When you get an RFP, after you’ve determined that you want to submit an event proposal, sit down with your team. Have everyone read through the proposal and make a list of requirements and questions based on the RFP. Is there something that needs more clarification? Most clients allow companies to ask questions before the event proposal is due. Watch for a question deadline. If you need clarity, that is the time to ask. Often, the requirements will include a proposal structure. Did your team create an outline that looks like yours? If you’re in agreement about what needs to be included and if there is a required structure, you’ve built out an event proposal template.

Event Proposal Essentials

When pulling your event proposal together, you’ll work off of the template or outline you created as you were reading through the RFP. It can’t be stressed enough – if the RFP asks for something to be included, it must be included. If a requirement isn’t submitted, your proposal won’t be considered. Anything requested in the RFP is an event proposal essential.

The Major Lift: Event Budget

With the information provided in the RFP, you’ll need to create a budget. Budget is one of the reasons it’s important to understand the market. If you come in too high, you won’t be considered. Too low, and you won’t be able to deliver without hurting your bottom line. The budget isn’t set in stone, but it should be as close as possible to reality. Event budgets are involved. Take the time to budget carefully. Make sure to include costs such as mobile event apps and event management tools.  In addition to giving the client a clear picture of your literal value, it will help you understand the return you could get from the event. Be clear, include all costs, and underestimate as little as possible.  

Understanding Dates: Event Timeline

If you need to create an event timeline, keep it simple. Don’t get too caught up in design. An event timeline like the budget is a draft, an estimation of what will occur and when. It can be helpful to add in large milestone, such as when the venue will be chosen, as well as recurring touch bases with the client. In the event proposal, the event timeline gives a clear picture of how your team plans and executes an event.

Pulling from Experience: Event Examples

Clients want to know what you’re capable of. They will often ask you to include anywhere from two to five event examples. When choosing events, create a story that would resonate with the client. After all, this proposal is all about them and their event. If the proposal is for a gala, include examples of galas you’ve produced. Don’t have any similar events to include? Get as close as you can. The language you use to describe the event and its success is instrumental. Don’t forget to include images. Include reporting and key data that points to event success you get from your event management software.

Showcase the Team: Resumes

The client wants to know who they’ll be working with. This is a chance to let your staff shine. When pulling resumes, update them to cater to the client. Showcase the experience of your team, but always so that it reflects the event you’re trying to win. Don’t include a team member in the proposal if there’s no chance they would be working on the project, even if they have the most experience. Again, don’t oversell. 

Break it Down: Scope of Service

What services will you be providing? The scope of services includes everything the client expects you to cover. Sometimes, multiple RFPs are put out for pieces of an event, such as planning, AV, etc. Other times, you’ll need to pull in vendors to meet the requirements of the RFP. If you use event technology, you might want to include it here. Vendors like AV partners, technology partners, and ideation partners should be included. Break down your scope of services. If the RFP asks for it, include cost per role as it aligns with the budget.

Successful Event Proposal Design

Your proposal isn’t only about the information. It’s about event proposal design. Event planning is about an experience. If you submit a lackluster proposal, the client will think that your company is lackluster. Design and imagery should be used heavily. When deciding on a design for the proposal, start simple. Think about the client. Have they provided any direction on event design? Think of this as an opportunity to think big. This is your chance to dazzle them with your ideas for the event. Don’t forget to use the client’s logo, this is about them.

Event Proposal Template

While your event proposal template will rely on the RFP requirements, there are a few standard event proposal essentials to include. Use the list as a guide. Always, always, always work from the RFP. Unfortunately, every event proposal is different. Every event is different. To create a winning event proposal, you need to tailor the proposal to the client.

Checklist for Your Event Proposal Template

  • Title page
  • Table of contents
  • Client name
  • Client logo
  • Event name
  • Event date
  • Your company name
  • Your company logo
  • Your company contact information
  • Company overview
  • Event overview
  • Team resumes
  • Event budget
  • Event timeline
  • Scope of work
  • Event experience (example events)
  • RFP requirements
  • Check for consistency, grammar, spelling, and proper design

Event Proposal Presentation

The event proposal is the first step. Generally, once proposals have been submitted and evaluated, the client will narrow down their options. If you’re chosen to give an event proposal presentation, the client will let you know. The presentation will have its own requirements. You can search for a sample event proposal presentation help you get started. If you make it to this stage, you’re close to winning the event.

Submit Your Event Proposal

After all that hard work, you can submit your event proposal knowing you did your best.

Remember, the RFP isn’t there to trick you. If you don’t understand anything, ask the client to clarify. Tailor the presentation to the client’s needs. The more event proposals you submit, the easier they get. Go after the ones that align with your company goals and help you to further grow your business. Event proposals can be a time-consuming hassle, but they don’t need to add stress. While you should be aligning each proposal with client needs, that doesn’t mean you need to start from scratch each time. The basics, like team resumes and company information, should already exist. Take your time with each event proposal. Quality over quantity. Good luck!

Madison Layman

Madison Layman

A graduate of the College of William and Mary, my passion for writing began before I could read, with a nightly verbal diary dictation transcribed by my obliging parents.

When I'm not writing, you can find me binge-watching TV shows, baking elaborate desserts, and memorizing pop culture facts.

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