Corporate Event Planning: Why Do Prospective Clients "Fall Off the Face of the Earth?"

If you're in event planning or a related industry, does this sound familiar?

  • You get an urgent request for proposal.
  • You scramble to pull the proposal together.
  • The prospective client never responds to follow-up emails or phone calls.

It's called "falling off the face of the earth."

Why does this happen? To get to the bottom of it, I have escalated some of these situations. In every instance, the request was bogus in some way. It's usually one of the following scenarios:

  • University students are trying to get event planners to do their projects.
  • Job candidates are getting experienced professionals to design programs requested during the hiring process.
  • Employees are gathering information to plan personal vacations.
  • Inexperienced employees are collecting ideas for events that they are paid to plan internally.
  • Competitors are trying to determine what your firm charges.
  • A supplier has been selected (sometimes a friend, relative or romantic interest) but the company has a policy of requiring 3 quotes.

If you've ever done this, shame on you. Can you spell u-n-e-t-h-i-c-a-l?

If you work for a company that uses the services of event industry professionals:

  • Request proposals only when you have a bonafide need.
  • Ensure that there is a budget and decision making process in place.
  • Mind your manners. Get back to the event planner once a decision has been made.

If you receive a bogus RFP:

  • Don't be afraid to escalate it. The person who contacted you wasn't afraid to make a fake request. You should not be afraid to call them on it. Contact the CEO's executive assistant. Reputable companies don't want their reputations tarnished by unethical behavior. Most will thank you.
  • If the person who made the request is a member of a professional association, file a complaint and request an investigation. A LinkedIn profile will quickly reveal association memberships. Misrepresentation and misusing the intellectual property of others is a violation of many codes of conduct.

Here are deeper explorations of team-building RFQ best practices.

What strategies have you found effective in preventing and dealing with unethical practices during the RFP process?

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