If you want to be treated like a professional, start acting like one! That was the resounding message I got from a session I moderated last month at The Special Event show in Las Vegas. The focus was on procurement's growing role and on what independent meeting and event planners need to do to be chosen by corporations as preferred vendors.
It was clear right away how differently planners operate when it comes to charging for their services and making demands of potential clients. Several spoke of how they had put in huge efforts to create RFPs for potential corporate clients, and never heard a word.
“Just because an RFP says you shouldn't call doesn't mean anything,” rebutted Kathy Miller of Total Event Resources, Inverness, Ill. “Just pick up the phone.” She asks companies how many people she's up against, for example. “There's a big difference between competing with 50 companies versus four.”
While many audience members complained about the enormous costs involved in putting together RFPs, others shared that they were charging for them — and getting paid. In Germany, where procurement has been involved in the buying process for meetings and events for years, Colja Dams of Vok Dams Gruppe started charging a presentation fee for proposals five years ago. That's the norm throughout Europe, he said.
It was the same with charging for expenses. Some planners didn't even feel comfortable charging for phone calls or faxes, yet Laurie Sharp of Sharp Events, San Francisco, “builds in line items for every step we take, every miniscule service we provide, so that our costs are covered and we can make a profit.”
The conclusion? Independent meeting and event planners need to start benchmarking with each other, and working together and with the industry associations to establish uniform practices. Only then will they be treated like the professionals they are.
How do you feel about suppliers charging you for their RFP expenses? Please send comments to email@example.com.