Tips for Running a Better Tradeshow Program RFP

by | Mar 28, 2016

There are all kinds of articles on how to run a better exhibit house RFP process. So we thought we’d offer these five not so common tips for making the process easier and more effective.

  1. A lot of RFPs get answered by people hired to answer RFPs. This doesn’t mean that the information is false. But it’s not always the best way to get to know a company. So when you’re down to a few finalists, spend the time and money to visit their facilities and meet your account team. Is the building clean? Do the employees seem happy? Would you mind sharing a long plane ride with your Account Executive? Your gut reaction to people and places is never to be discounted.
  2. We know a company that spent months running an RFP process, chose a winner, then were told their CEO had never approved a change of exhibit houses. You don’t want to spend a lot of time on the process and then have people disagree with it. So before your start, make sure you have consensus from all internal stakeholders (e.g., legal, procurement, management) on what you are looking for (the selection criteria), the selection process and everyone’s roles within it.
  3. “Describe your document retention policy.” “What is your history of acquisitions and mergers?” We get RFP questions like these, and if you need this kind of info, great. But if you don’t, and you and your team don’t want to read a half dozen 63-page responses, carefully consider what kind of answers and information you really need to help you choose a company, then focus on that.
  4. If there is a presentation component to your RFP, you want all your “judges” to come to all the presentations – not two to one, three to another. So calendar your presentations weeks in advance with all your company’s participants and the candidates. Schedule all presentations within a 48-hour window and then have your judges regroup right away before everyone starts forgetting what they saw. And as a courtesy, give each group of presenters at least half an hour in the presentation room to set up beforehand.
  5. You don’t want to end up disappointed by the RFP responses you get back. So before you send out your RFP, review it carefully for clarity to see if your instructions or questions are ambiguous or open to interpretation. Get someone else to review it too.Take extra pains to be sure your list of deliverables – what you expect to get back – is crystal clear. Otherwise you are not going to get the “apples to apples” comparisons you want.

We hope your found this helpful. And we have more advice if you need it. Just contact us at