The process for creating a request for proposal (RFP) has wildly changed now that virtual and hybrid events are regularly in our repertoire. While we’re excited to welcome back face-to-face events, we know that attendees and companies require flexibility.
This means virtual and hybrid events aren’t going away anytime soon. So, we must continue to be laser-focused on creating RFPs that will truly meet our needs and set us up for success. Technological considerations play an important role in creating your RFP.
Don’t rely on a cookie-cutter approach to RFP creation, especially when you are in need of an event platform or mobile app to facilitate a virtual event. Your technology can make or break your event. Here are 10 key questions that can help start the conversation.
Type of Event
What is the purpose of the event? Are you gathering for marketing, networking, or community building? Are you bringing teams together for data download, messaging, or rewards/recognition? The purpose of the event will drive questions like whether networking, live polling, Q&A or chat functions are important to include in your RFP.
Will integration with registration content be needed? Will you need to access to basic attendee data, or will you need to create unique schedules for all attendees? Will there be a need to include specific details pertinent to some groups and not others? Understanding the integration needs is critical early in the process to set you up for success.
What privacy settings are expected for the app? Will public app downloads be acceptable? Will the app be hidden? Will you require attendees to log in to the app or virtual event? Will you be expected to offer easy access to the app, but lock it down? Clearly defining the level of privacy expected within the event app will help you create an RFP that ensures security takes top priority.
Is social sharing within the event app encouraged, or restricted? Is this a public event with links to social media platforms, or is this a private event that should only be held within the event app? Some companies may have super strict guidelines that don’t allow participants to upload photos or add comments. Make sure you fully understand the client expectations so your technology can support these expectations effectively.
What level of customization is needed? Does your event app need to accommodate branding and logos specific to the meeting? Do you need to account for company or sponsor logos? Will you need an event description to help attendees find the correct app download? Determining the branding needs is important to ensure the app will meet marketing specifications.
How much content is needed within the event app and virtual site? Will you need an on-demand content library? With the content be easily digestible? Will there be a gamification component? Stretching out the digital experience and giving your attendees content as early as possible will set them (and your event) up for success.
Will you have any featured speakers? Think through how you want to display your speakers, whether they are serving in the keynote, breakout, or support role. Should those speakers be linked to any sessions?
There are several levels in which you can showcase your speakers, and understanding that detail helps in the overall design. Are assets available for your speakers, like headshots, bios, company logos, social media links and websites? All of these materials are helpful to have up front, yet they tend to take a lot of time to track down.
Is networking a priority or required? Do you expect your attendees to network via email or chat, or will there be an expectation to network virtually (in which webcams are required)? Will attendees need an opportunity to interact with sponsors? This question is essential to identify technology requirements for both your app and virtual site.
What data do you need post-event? This is an important question that can fuel greater privacy conversations. If you aren’t asking for attendees to log in, often times you will have lost a big opportunity to collect meaningful data.
What level of technological support will be available? Onboarding large teams onto a new platform/solution can be an arduous task. Will you have the vendor support you need?
To bring it all together, it’s important to create a robust capability spreadsheet to use when vetting a virtual event platform or app. This allows you to receive a quick, high level “yes” or “no” from your short list of service providers before you dig into the more specific details.
Next, identifying your list of must-haves, nice-to-haves and wish-list items will help refine your questions. Finally, take an honest look at the sales process of each vendor you’re reviewing. You can tell a lot about their customer service by taking an honest look at your own experience throughout the process. Transparency within the partnership and consistency of service is imperative.
Libby Zito is the lead, attendee experience manager and Melissa Patruno is the executive producer at Bishop-McCann, an award-winning, full-service event management partner that helps innovative companies elevate their events and increase audience engagement by connecting audiences with their brand in a passionate, strategic way.