Dear Event Doctor:

Every aspect of an event RFP has significance, but are there areas that you frequently find to be lacking? We are reviewing RFPs for two of our events that haven’t been updated in a while and are curious where we might focus our attention. How often should we be reviewing these documents?

—Request for Help

Dear Request:

Requests for proposals (RFPs) are flawed documents by definition. Most contemplate an event two, three or more years in the future. By the time the event actually unfolds, the specifications in the RFP may be slightly, or significantly, out of date. Well-conceived event RFPs incorporate some aspirational elements that the event organizer wants to add to the program in future years. Organizers, in other words, should plan for growth and then scale back if the event or budget does not meet expectations. It is much harder to scale up specifications that are insufficient and don’t account for the increasing needs of an event.

Your request for proposals should be thoroughly reviewed after an event is awarded. You will gather great intelligence from the bid process itself, during which you will uncover ambiguities and inconsistencies in the specifications. Be sure to do this as soon as possible after the bid process concludes and record the changes you wish to make for the next go-round. After the event has been staged, review the RFP again as part of a rigorous postmortem process. Were there areas in the RFP that proved inadequate for the realities of the event? Make appropriate changes in the bid documents to reflect that experience.

If it has been a while since you conducted a thorough review of your RFP documents, it is time to gather your event team to do so in a systematic way. Let the experts in housing, transportation, facility operations, competition, marketing and media take ownership over improving their sections of the document. It will also be helpful to speak with the most recent hosts of the event to get a “responder’s perspective” on what areas might be missing, out-of-date or superfluous. There can be no doubt that an up-to-date and forward-thinking RFP is critical to the growth of your event in years to come.

This first appeared in Sports Travel Magazine and appears here courtesy of SCHNEIDER PUBLISHING COMPANY, INC.