Cindy Lo: Events Companies Should Charge for RFPs

By Cindy Y. Lo, DMCP, February 12, 2019

The events industry is always changing and advancing in response to the near-daily emergence of trends, fads and growing expectations. For an industry that is so fluid, why then have companies not adjusted to correct a massive blind spot in standard procedure that affects profitability, efficiency, and protection? Our industry is one of the only service-related industries not charging for Request for Proposal responses.

When you have built a portfolio of work, and have earned a good reputation within your industry, you should be able to confidently charge for a creative RFP response. This paid model has worked in other industries, and by looking at the issue from the following perspectives, you can understand why this is a change we need to make as an industry to accurately honor our value.

The Market Rewards Value 

In service-based industries, consumers have the power to endorse a company’s value simply by choosing where their dollar goes.

As an example, there is a popular U.S. coffee chain you probably went to this morning that charges nearly $6 for a large cup of coffee. Without any context, this sounds like a pretty bad business model—but this company has managed to maintain a loyal set of followers and has become one of the most recognizable franchises across the globe. How did it do this?

Consumers are willing to spend a premium when they have a high perceived value of the product or service they are purchasing. If this coffee company offered nothing in terms of consistency, quality or comfort—large contributors to their perceived value—their price would be deemed absurd and the company would fail.

We have to trust our worth as an industry, and our ability to compete as an individual agency; that even by charging for our RFP responses, our value qualifies the price, and our clients will respect us for it. We are scared that if we charge, we will lose business. But just like that cup of coffee, if we showcase our value, consistency and creativity, clients will trust us with their dollar.

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