August 31, 2023
By Cvent

If you’re in the meetings and events industry, there’s a good chance you’ll have to send out RFPs at some point. But what even is an RFP and what does the overall process look like?

Let's reel the tape back to the beginning. In this post, we'll review what RFPs are, why you should write one, and the core elements you need to garner great responses.

What is a Request for Proposal (RFP)?

An RFP or Request for Proposal is a solicitation by an organisation to potential suppliers.

The buyer is interested in the procurement of services and asks prospective vendors to submit business proposals on a timely basis. The requirements are all the same in order to evaluate responses in a comprehensive and fair manner.

In the meetings and events industry, a perfect RFP is often considered the cornerstone to improve the venue sourcing process and maximise ROI.

Submitted by an event organiser, an RFP is created to source suppliers and procure services such as food options, AV, meeting space, etc. It is usually sent when planning an event in a different city when there is no preferred vendor and/or when planners intend to opt for a new venue or vendor.

It can also be sent if there is a major change in event requirements from the previous year, such as event size and budget.

Why send RFPs?

It’s normal for a seasoned event planner to develop relationships with venues and vendors over a period of time. But this relationship shouldn’t turn into an obligation to return to the same venue over and over again. If you continue with the same vendor, you might lose track of the market value and end up paying a lot more!

As suppliers continue to change their offerings to woo planners, sending a request for a proposal can help you choose your ideal fit. By asking precise questions about services and pricing in an RFP, you can see which supplier is willing to offer you the best deal.

In other words, sending an RFP can give you immense strategic and tactical value. After all, suboptimal results and ineffective processes are too common features of poor event sourcing. In this detailed guide, we’ll uncover the process of writing an effective RFP and walk you through some RFP best practices.

How to write an effective event venue RFP

Event planners will agree that investing time in building an RFP process can yield major benefits that improve the overall quality of events. Here is our step-by-step process to write an effective RFP for hotels and venues.

1. Provide an overview

Take the time to give the recipient of your RFP a comprehensive overview of your company and the meeting you are asking them to bid on. 

When you design an RFP, you should provide all the details for your organisation and the particular event you are asking your recipients to bid on. This helps in explaining your needs and why you think that the hotel or venue is aligned with what you are seeking.

Make sure the vendor understands your needs and why you think their hotel or convention centre is a good fit. Be sure to include why you are issuing the RFP.  Are you trying a new city? Unsatisfied with the previous venue? Be transparent and share the “why”. 

Also, be sure to include in your narrative what worked and what did not work in your previous meetings.

Last, discuss the strengths and challenges of this event. If your strength is continued growth in attendance, but you’re challenged with a flat budget, let them know this upfront. You are letting them know as much about your conference on a macro level, thus reducing uncertainty and hopefully encouraging the hotel marketing staff to complete your request.

The key is to avoid generalities and be specific about the event theme, attendee demographics, transportation, and other requirements. The more precise your requirements are, the more viable proposals you will get.

2. Define your purpose

Your RFP should clearly define the purpose of your event in all possible senses. Is this a one-time event or does it happen every year? 

Is there a possibility that if everything goes well, this venue can be put into your meeting rotation? Let them know upfront – because the possibility of future business can help them sweeten the deal even more. 

You should also mention if you’d like to make the venue a preferred destination if everything goes well. The goal is to let the venue know that they might get more business in the future, which could lead to more competitive pricing.

Don’t forget to include your event objectives. What are the top three to five things your organisation hopes to accomplish from this event, and how can the venue help?

3. Create an event profile

Your event profile will house a checklist of things you want from the venue. It lets you define and determine all the information you want from a supplier and sets expectations.

Be sure to start with your name, as well as the names of the company and the event.

Let them know what type of market segment you fall into – for example, association, corporate, government, or non-profit. The sales staff at the hotel or convention centre generally have their staff defined in these segments, which allows the most qualified person to best answer your inquiry.


While crafting an RFP, you should include the submission details for the venue, such as the proposal deadline, how it should be returned, and by when you intend to make your decision.

Let them know when you will make the initial cut and if there will be a presentation required after that. Let them know if a site inspection will be required before you make the final decision and an approximate date for the final decision.


Provide the time and date of the event. It is also good to mention how early you need to access the venue on the day of the event.

Event details

This is perhaps the most important part of your RFP. It is the place to include all event details. Some details worth mentioning are:

  • The type of event
  • Format of the event
  • Event dates - it's important to let them know if these dates are flexible
  • The theme, topic, and vision of the event
  • Whether this is a first-time event - and if it's not, share how many years you have been holding it, as well as averages in the following areas over the past three years: total attendance, total room nights booked and meeting space used
  • Any preference in terms of ambiance and layout
  • Your event page along with social media handles


Your RFP should clearly state the minimum and the maximum number of attendees you anticipate at the event along with the demographics of your target audience.


Give them a sense of their age, gender, occupation, education level, locations and whether most of them are driving or flying into the destination.

Identify what they like to do during their conference downtime. Let the hotel or conference centre know whether or not they are likely to bring their partner and/or family to this event.

Conference Room 

Depending upon the number of expected attendees, mention how big the room needs to be, as well as the breakout room and pre-function space. Ask if there is a green room available and the floor plan of the venue. This will help you in setting up the event and keeping your event-related material in one place.

Food and Beverage

In this section, indicate what your catering spend is and the type of refreshments you intend to provide for your guests. If there are any meal preferences or dietary restrictions, don’t forget to mention them.

Technology, AV and Wi-Fi

State your requirements for AV setup and equipment for the room. Also, mention if there is a need for WiFi connectivity and any other type of technology you will need.

4. Disclose the Budget

It is important to share your sleeping room rate range and whether or not room reservations will be taken by you or made directly with the hotel. Share your overall F&B budget and ask the responses to include tax, service charges and gratuity. In addition, try to get a feel for the per-person rate of each meal served.

Determine price lists for the following:

  • Resort fees, which are a mandatory nightly surcharge imposed by hotels to cover the cost of certain amenities that are generally a fixed amount per night
  • Parking, including valet
  • Internet and Utilities Fees, which include a surcharge based on Wi-Fi connectivity costs and estimated costs for electricity, water, sewer, steam, gas and other fuels used during your conference
  • Corkage, which is a per-bottle fee that a venue charges when you bring your own alcohol to be consumed at the event

5. Stay Connected

When you write RFPs for venues and hotels, make sure to be available for communication with them. After reading your proposal, suppliers may have questions. Therefore, mention your company name, mailing address, and phone number in the RFP. To make communications easier, disclose your preferred method of communication and provide a backup contact number.

RFP Best Practices

Now that you know the process of writing effective RFPs for venues and hotels, there are certain RFP sourcing best practices you should keep in mind to get the most out of the event sourcing process.

Collaborate with Stakeholders

Before you even begin drafting an RFP, know what stakeholders need to be involved in the purchasing decision.

Schedule rounds of internal meetings to understand the business and the overall budget so that you can communicate that in the RFP.

In these meetings, you should also establish how you will score the vendors, the evaluation criteria, and potential “dealbreakers.” Document your team’s responses and come to a mutual understanding.

Be Specific

Compile a list of questions that you want to include in the RFP. To help you get started, we have already shared some questions in this guide.

It is also wise to include open-ended questions, as well as the criteria for comparing one vendor to another. Since your event has a timeline, don’t forget to set clear timelines for both internal stakeholders and vendors.


Be Available

As respondents look at the RFP, questions inevitably arise. Be sure to include your name, company name, mailing address, email address and phone number in the RFP. Tell them which are your preferred contact options and how soon they can expect a response from you. Also, be sure to include a back-up contact in case you are unavailable.

Score and Shortlist

Involve internal stakeholders in the evaluation process and score the supplier’s responses. Eliminate vendors that fail to meet the minimum requirements. Compare and score different vendors based on their strengths. Shortlist the ones with the top scores, select the winner, and contract. 

Seek More Information 

While you follow these RFP sourcing best practices, don’t be shy to ask for demos or meetings before you make the final decision. It is also a good practice to read reviews and contact references to be sure of your choice.

Negotiate for the Best Deal

Once you have scored suppliers, you may want to negotiate with other leading contenders for the best deal possible. Once the negotiations are complete, lock down the venue of your choice and notify the non-winners. Thank them for taking the time to respond to your RFP.

Use RFP Tools 

The most popular method of managing RFPs is by using long email threads containing spreadsheets and word documents. This is a tedious process that can often lead to a mismatch of data and people. It is an arduous and time-consuming way to source event venues. For an accurate evaluation method, many planners are embracing RFP management software.

Invest in an RFP Management Solution

Investing in an RFP management solution can be a game-changing investment for you and your team.

RFP tools can get your internal stakeholders involved in every step of sourcing events and save time by providing all the relevant information in one place for direct comparison. It saves you from referring to tiring documents and can score venues based on the parameters you set. That’s half your event sourcing job done!

Want to automate your RFP process? Learn how Cvent can help.

Cvent logo


Cvent is a leading meetings, events, and hospitality technology provider with more than 4,500 employees and nearly 21,000 customers worldwide.

HC resources
Woman and man looking at content on tablet device
Resources to help you succeed
Stay on the cutting edge of the industry with our extensive library

Subscribe to our newsletter