How To Write an RFP for Hybrid Events
If there’s one thing the events industry has learned over the past few years, it’s this: Hybrid events are here to stay.
To ensure your next hybrid event delivers the results you’re aiming for, you need an all-singing, all-dancing hybrid event RFP to source everything you need to put on an enriching, engaging, and entertaining event — all without breaking the bank.
What is an RFP in event planning?
An RFP — or request for proposal — is a document that announces an event, describes its objectives and requirements, and solicits bids from vendors, venues, and other suppliers who are capable of providing the services, spaces, technologies, and other items needed to make the event a success.
Event planners use RFPs to ensure they have everything they need to pull off a great event while also staying within budget and maximizing ROI. For example, you may create an RFP for an event venue, event management software partner, or other technology partner.
Although who’s involved in RFP creation will vary on a company-by-company basis and depending on how big the events team is, here are some folks you may want to include in the RFP creation and selection process:
- Head of events
- Event coordinator/organizer/planner
- Head of marketing and relevant team members
- Head of sales and relevant team members
- Event operations technologist
- Event designer
What are the benefits of creating an RFP?
As you begin planning your next hybrid event, it’s critical to create an event RFP to ensure you’re working with the best vendors and partners. Here are a few of the benefits of creating a hybrid event RFP:
- You get a 360° view. Creating an RFP puts you in a headspace to consider all aspects of the event so nothing gets overlooked.
- You get options. It’s much easier to stay within budget and generate the ROI you’re looking for when you have options. The more competitive bids you have, the better positioned you’ll be to run your event the way you want.
- You make smarter decisions. As more bids come in, you’ll have a better idea of what a good price and top quality look like. At the same time, you’ll be able to compare vendors on an apples-to-apples basis.
Additionally, once all of the bids come in, you get the opportunity to negotiate on pricing with the top contenders so you get the best deal.
What should you include in a hybrid event RFP?
In order to make the most of an RFP, you need to be as thorough and detailed as possible. When you sit down with the team to create an RFP for your next hybrid event, be sure to include the following:
- An overview of your company and event
- Event goals and objectives, as well as how you’ll measure success
- When and where your event will take place
- Event planning timeline with key milestones
- Information about your event’s virtual and in-person attendee personas
- Whether you’ll have on-site food and drink or swag boxes mailed to virtual attendees
- How many speakers the event will feature and whether they’ll be in person or remote
- Whether there will be pre-recorded or live-streaming content (or both)
- Whether you’ll have exhibitors or trade show booths
- How attendees will spend time when they’re not in sessions
- The type of equipment and technology you’ll need
- The type of audience engagement tools you’re hoping for (chat, polls, 1:1 meetings)
- A rough — but realistic — budget estimate with a clear breakdown
- Any potential roadblocks or challenges you foresee
- Deadline for RFP responses and when you’ll announce who was picked
Although this list isn’t exhaustive, it should help you get started planning your hybrid event RFP. At the end of this article, we’ve got templates and examples to help you get started too.
What are some special considerations for a hybrid RFP?
Depending on the type of hybrid event you’re hosting, your event’s needs will be different and your RFP will have to reflect that. Here are the four types of hybrid events you’ll want to choose from before creating your RFP:
- Simultaneous: Also considered a “true hybrid event,” a simultaneous hybrid event features live and virtual attendees experiencing the event in tandem from wherever they are.
- Live studio audience: This one is a talk-show-style event in which there is a small (often VIP) in-person audience plus a much larger virtual audience tuning in remotely.
- Delayed/on demand: This type of event offers a live, in-person experience and an on-demand virtual experience, with content available hours to days later.
- Hub and spoke: This type of event has speakers co-located in a studio creating TV-quality content and virtual audiences accessing the content remotely.
No matter which type of hybrid event you’re hosting, your primary consideration as you bake out your RFP will likely be event technology. Here are some key tech considerations:
- Cameras: How many broadcast rooms and cameras do you need? Is the space suitable for a camera panning across the room or are there large beams or other obstacles in the way that would put a damper on the remote viewing experience? These are just some of the considerations you need to make.
- Microphones: For the at-home viewer, microphones can make all the difference. If you don’t have the right mics, the event might be seamless for in-person attendees and frustrating for virtual attendees. To capture the in-person event as best as possible, you’ll want to ensure the venue is outfitted with audience mics.
- Internet: It used to be that event organizers cared most about download speeds. In the era of hybrid events, that’s all changed. Although download speeds and WiFi connectivity are still important for in-person attendees, you need to confirm the venue has a hardwired internet connection that supports high-speed uploading and streaming so that the video experience is seamless for remote attendees. You’ll also want to articulate whether you’d prefer a dedicated connection or you’re comfortable sharing bandwidth.
- Lighting: Without proper lighting, the event might look great to those in-person but grainy and dark to someone watching at home. Lighting plays a critical role in a successful hybrid event, and you might have to put in extra lights to ensure that the home viewing experience is authentic.
- Interactivity: An easy way to deliver a comparable experience for virtual and in-person attendees is to invest in a hybrid event management and experience platform. Your RFP should make clear that your hybrid event needs to offer chats, polls, Q&A, breakout rooms, and more that enable in-person and remote attendees to engage with each other.
- Labor: Whether you prefer to bring your own technology team or hire third-party staff, make sure your RFP takes every resource needed into account. Additionally, you may want to specify union vs. non-union labor in your RFP.
Remember: You want virtual attendees to be able to engage in real-time (or as close to it) with in-person attendees. With the right equipment in place, you’ll ensure that there are no spoilers in the chats or that questions get missed because of a lag in the feed.
Get Started with a Hybrid Event RFP Template
While building out your RFP, remember to be as realistic as possible with your budget, goals, and vision. We’ve collected some real-world hybrid event RFP templates and examples to help you get started:
- RFP Template: Hilton Hybrid Event RFP Questionnaire
- RFP Template: HubSpot
- Event RFP Example: IAEE Expo
- Event RFP Example: ICMA Annual Conference
Not sure whether a hybrid event is right for you? Learn more about what event planners think about the future of hybrid events and how to make the most of hybrid events by downloading our ebook, The Future Outlook for Hybrid Events.