Fed up with wasting time and resources on false hopes and having their ideas ripped off, event pros are rethinking this long-standing business practice

Want to get a crowd of event pros riled up? Ask them what they think about the RFP process. Through Ignite magazine’s Worth It initiative—focused on elevating the value proposition of the industry—we’ve heard lots of views on the subject: from a time and resource waster to

a flawed but valuable business acquisition tool. But what most people do agree on is that there are aspects of the process that need re-examination and improvement.



Depending on the ask, RFP responses require a significant amount of time and resources, and while some planners see that as a cost of doing business, there is mounting frustration about RFPs that are tendered—often because an organization’s bylaws or policy requires it—even if the incumbent is a sure thing.

Consider this: Anita Carlyle, CMP, CMM, DES, managing partner, Moore Carlyle Consulting and MCC Destination Management in Toronto, proposes greater transparency from the client in these situations: “I just wish some people were a little bit more upfront. Some of the association ones, because they’re big annual conferences, require very in-depth budgeting and responses. And you’re sharing ideas with someone that really has no intent of moving on.”


Many RFPs ask planners to propose themes, decor, entertainment and F&B, right down to providing multiple quotes from vendors—before any contract has been signed or planner selected. Not only does this require a huge outlay of time and resources—30-60 hours is a commonly cited time range; just do the math with your hourly rate (gulp)—it’s an investment with no guaranteed return.

Consider this: Sharon Bonner, CEO & founder of Sharon Bonner Consulting and Bright Ideas Event Agency in Richmond, BC, has not submitted creative in her RFP responses for more than ten years—and she’s still busy. She presents potential clients with a quote and case studies of her previous events that align with the event being tendered.

“I’m able to still bid on RFPs and be considered and shortlisted. I’m giving people enough information for them to make an educated decision about whether they want to work with me. You don’t have to give away your creative ideas, you just need to show that you know what you’re talking about.”

Carlyle has begun to take a similar approach, recalling an RFP response she sent recently: “It was five pages of galleries of events similar to what they’ve asked us for, versus creating their event. I showed them our scope of work and references. They should be able to tell by that [if we’re a good fit] or call those references.


Ignite’s Worth It Initiative aims to lift the industry through honest conversations about how business is done and what can be changed to promote more equity, collaboration and transparency. Learn more at ignitemag.ca/worthit or listen to Ignite Your Events: The Podcast.

This is an excerpt from Ignite’s article, The RFP Conundrum, by Laura Bickle. Want to hear how event pros have tackled more RFP pain points? Read the full article here >