Meetingselect - How to Write An Effective Event Venue RFP

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Sending and submitting successful event venue RFPs can be a tedious and time consuming process. (As if event planning wasn't stressful enough, right?)

You not only want to find the best event venues for your needs, you also want to establish a good relationship with your supplier and create an amazing experience for your attendees.
And all of that within the constraints of your super tight event budget.

To help you out, we've created some tips on how you can create a successful event venue RFP without loosing your mind.

What is an Event Venue RFP?
Selecting the perfect venue that tells your event story & meets the requirements of your audience is key. If you're a sophisticated planner, your requirements go far beyond location, availability and parking spaces available.

While those pieces are important, you need to consider other dimensions as well. RFPs can help you logically structure your needs and find potential suppliers that match that needs.

By sending out a Request for Proposals (RFP) to a pre-selected shortlist of hotels or venues, you're showing interest in buying a range of services (e.g. sourcing hotel guest rooms, unique meeting spaces, event technology, and food & beverage).

In exchange to your request, interested venues might then participate in your RFP and submit their pricing proposals and offers back to you.

The quality of your initial request for proposals (RFP) can hugely influence the quality of the responses.

If you send out your event requirements in a structured way, it's not only easier for you to compare the responses that come back to you, it also helps making a fair decision which venue you want to work with.

You might also consider sending out an RFP if you're planning a meeting at a new destination for the first time to get an overview of the market. Or maybe you've been unsatisfied with your previous choice and are now trying a new city.

Building fruitful relationships with venues and suppliers is crucial. It's not nice to 'pit' one venue against the other for the sake of driving costs down.

But wait...before you scan through this article, hit the phone to arrange dates, write an email to your favourite venue, or use an online venue database, here are some important strategic points to consider first:

Your Event & Meeting Goals
Event Venue RFP - Event & Meeting Goals

1. Tell Your Story First
Venues evoke emotions, bring people together, and reflect your event's brand and ethos. The venue is the center stage which tells your story. Start with your event & meeting goals and your "Why" in the first place:

  • What type of event are you organising?
  • What's your vision, topic, and objective for your event?
  • Is this the first time you're running the event?
  • What's unique about your event?
  • What ambiance and look & feel are you hoping for?
  • What's the event website?
  • What is the anticipated format, e.g. one day conference with 6 breakout sessions before and after lunch and a gala dinner in the evening?
  • What's your reason for choosing the city or destination?
  • Why is this important? You want the venues to get excited about the opportunity to hosting an event and potential co-marketing opportunities.

2. Who is your target audience?
  • What is the minimum and maximum number of attendees you're anticipating for your event?
  • What's the demographic profile of your target audience?
  • Why is this important? If your target audience matches the ideal audience of the venue, it might help you negotiate better rates.

Try to give as much information about your event as possible. This enables the venue to quote accurately and also helps to understand the bigger picture for potential co-marketing opportunities.

3. Your Event Basic Needs
Once you have your WHY, let's not forget the basics. It's always good to include a reference in your email or proposal letter. Let the venue know about the deadline for responses and how the responses should be returned.

Be aware: Often, venues try to send large email attachements with menus, images, or brochures, which can end up in spam. Be clear and transparent and only ask for the information you need.

To be entirely respectful, also include when the decision will be made and how the venues will be informed. Remember, it's a partnership based on respect. 

Don't forget:
Dates and times for the event
  • When will you set up and how long will you need?
  • When will you breakdown (not mentally)?
  • What's the arrival pattern from attendees?
  • Do you need sleeping rooms? If yes, how many room nights?
  • Do you require early access on the day of the event?
  • Identify Meeting Space Requirements & Accessibility
  • Event Venue RFP - Meeting Space Requirements

Although, not always easy, try to identify your meeting space requirements the best you can. If you've hosted a previous event, look a the historic attendance level and then ensure you ask the venue about the maximum capacities in both, the main and breakout rooms.

Questions to think about:
  • What's the main room for your event?
  • Where can breakout sessions take place?
  • Where is the registration area?
  • What's the distance between the rooms? Are they all easily accesible?
  • Can the venue provide floor plans?
  • Where is the cloakroom?
  • Where will you have your organisers office?
  • Where is the exhibition area?
  • Is parking included?
  • What's the distance between your preferred location and/or nearest airport / train station.
  • Why is this important? Room rental is typically based on the capacity and has a minimum food & beverage spend requirements if you decide to go with the venue's in-house catering.

Your Food & Beverage Options
Venues love sharing their incredible catering menus. But too often, these don't match your needs, budgets or are simply boring.

It's not wrong to ask the venue about your preferred food choices. Maybe you're looking for a special theme or have a large group in your audience who can't eat Gluten, are Vegan, or Halal.

Tech, Wifi & AV Requirements
Event Venue RFP - Tech, Wifi & AV Requirements

Try to be as specific as possible when mentioning your tech, wifi, and AV requirements. What setup and equipment is required. For example: "We need a laptop and projector in the main room and all breakout rooms.

We anticipate a panel on the main stage with 6 participants. We require a PA system, 4 lapel mics and 2 handheld mics or a Catchbox.

Venue wifi is known to be flakey (at least in some properties). The main question for you to ask is if you need dedicated access with your own password or if delegates will use the public venue wifi.

Tip: For your site inspection, always make sure you run a Wifi test on your own device. Login to the venue's wifi and run a speed test.

Other Important Questions to Ask
Below are some other important questions you should ask. In addition, Event Manager Blog has put together an amazing and comprehensive event venue checklist which you should definitely check out.

  • What is the payment schedule and terms & conditions?
  • What is the attrition rate for room nights?
  • Is there commission payable for you (if you're an agency)
  • Can the venue block a specific range of dates for you until you've made a decision?
  • What is the best way of communicating with the venue?
  • Are there further opportunities for co-marketing & promotion?
The venue - event planner relationship is based on trust and respect. Be clear about your objectives, tell your event's story and don't forget these all important questions when writing your next venue RFP.

What are your considerations when creating an event venue RFP? Let us know in the comments or via Twitter at @meetingselect.
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