Editor's Blog

Pitches should be on a level playing field
Wed 28 Mar, 2018 at 12:00 am

When most companies call meeting planners and creative agencies to pitch for events planned for the next year, many agencies invest a lot of time, effort, money and resources to prepare for these pitches – hoping for at least a fair assessment and evaluation. In most cases, they face a procurement process.

Procurement units within organisations are responsible for the coordination and overseeing of the sourcing strategy, selection and contract execution for goods and services to ensure all tenders are processed fairly. But what is considered fair? And to whom?

Inevitably, with a focus on the financial bottom line, quite a large number of pitches are evaluated on the basis of ‘best price policy’ and not on the best concept or ideas. Neither does it account for the planners’ experience with similar events which may impact management of the event and its business objectives. Many quotations and proposals are compared but it’s always difficult to compare oranges to oranges because events involve a broad spectrum of ideas, technologies and creativity.

Is there a way to ensure the procurement process is fair?

Ideally, the procurement team should have sufficient event exposure on site for them to tell the difference between the brands of equipment or the different finishing of build-ups. Without the relevant experience, the selection process could be at risk. Detailed specifications in the RFP should be enhanced with a brief about the client’s expectation along with a budget range. This will provide a level playing field for all agencies pitching for the same brief.

A comprehensive event brief should show past years’ event photos, expectations, areas of improvement, all of which are mandatory and a budget range. This will help maximise the agencies’ creativity based on the event objectives instead of spending time guessing what the event outcomes should be. “Don’t be restricted by budget. Be creative,” is a non-starter. We can ensure creativity within a budget.

In the process of checking the track record of an agency before inviting them to a pitch, a company profile presentation and client references should be made mandatory. Moreover, check which among the many different types of event agencies you need. If you need a road show agency, then don’t invite a travel agent to pitch. If you need a conference planner, then don’t invite an exhibition organiser to pitch. Always remember that not every event agency excels in every type of event.

I also believe a strict confidentiality policy should be in place for all proposals. I know many agencies have had the unpleasant experience of clients using their concept and plans without agencies being awarded the contract. This is common in the industry but what can the industry players do to curb these unethical practices? Shouldn’t procurement teams enforce better ethical policies to protect vendors as well as looking after their own interests?

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