Evolving Budgets & RFPs in a Post-Pandemic World


Why is an RFP important?

A Request for Proposal (RFP) is the key method to efficiently gather information for the bidding process within the meetings and events industry. The RFP process should ultimately result in a successful and solid working relationship between the agency and client.

How will agencies support RFPs moving forward?

The trusted agency partner should serve as the sole negotiator for all contracts on behalf of the client. This not only takes the pressure off of the corporation, but it allows the agency to ensure that each party is covered, and every clause is protected should an outbreak of coronavirus – or any other type of similar pandemic – occur. “This especially rings true for clients that plan a limited number of events,” says Becca Kennamer, Meeting Planner at LEO. “Due to the quantity that LEO sources and negotiates, we are more likely to know best practices in this new world.”

LEO Principal and Co-Founder Cindy Brewer explains, “Agencies are equipped to manage the entire set of negotiations, from venue, hotel, food and beverage to staff and security. It makes for an all-in-one, seamless process when overseeing everything versus just one or two pieces.” By serving as the all-in-one negotiator, the agency additionally helps with implementing safety and security measures throughout the event.

What does the future of face-to-face meetings and events look like?

In regard to the RFP and booking process, LEO Events predicts that virtual site visits will become the standard norm due to more limited travel and costs. And while a virtual site visit works very similarly to ones on-the-ground, agency partners are prepared to ask the necessary questions to ensure all components are intact.

The future of in-person events relies heavily on reducing risk exposure and implementing the appropriate sanitization guidelines. Personal protection equipment will be a crucial component of general wellness for the foreseeable future, and these can be personalized and adaptable for your attendees. With every day bringing new data, it can be a daunting task to determine next steps. We suggest working with your agency partner to develop and implement an action plan – and then monitor and revise as necessary.

How will event budgets evolve and what considerations need to be in place?

It’s no secret that the hybrid event model will be the safer alternative to gathering for a while. That said, it’s important for event budgets to incorporate hybrid facets from the beginning. Planners should also consider budgeting for the possibility that the meeting or event could shift to a fully virtual program.

Moving forward, it’s imperative that budgets contain contingency plans for cancellation, as well as attrition should attendees cancel at the last moment. This drastically impacts the budget for those events that have an attendance fee. We recommend budget planning with your agency partner for multiple scenarios with attendance, such as virtual guests, hybrid attendees, and various percentages of cancellation. This helps to determine the break point of knowing when the event is not feasible.

Another key component to future budgets will be a contingency plan for safety and security. Costs must be allocated for additional safety and security checks of venues prior to attendee arrivals. LEO Meeting Planner Kristina Johnson suggests sending an officer to stay at the selected venue a few weeks prior to the event in order to check how safety measures and protocols are being implemented.

We also expect to see the addition of a job-costed role for a safety and security officer, along with dedicated medical staff to monitor temperature screenings or any other onsite issues. Add-on options for a dedicated physician to answer attendee calls and assist with ill travelers can additionally be incorporated.

Overall, event budgets will become leaner, and producers will want the biggest bang for their buck while protecting their company’s bottom line. Everything has changed within the industry, and quite possibly for the better. There has never been a more potent time than now to take chances on creative ideas, innovation, and adaptations. The meetings and events industry was built on the desire to bring people together. Face-to-face experiences have always been a critical catalyst for groundbreaking connections and conversations – and that will remain the same as the industry evolves post COVID-19.