Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘RFP’

RFP Certification Program: Word on the Street — April 7th thru April 11th

April 11th, 2014 2 COMMENTS

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Happy Spring! Hope your first full week of April was a good one. We are as busy as ever at Classic and continue to be very thankful for all the new opportunities.

I wanted to take this week’s blog post to share what I think is one of the BEST PROGRAMS ever developed for the exhibit industry — RFP Certification. It’s proudly brought to you from the Exhibit Designers and Producer Association, an association that Classic Exhibits Inc. is a member and an association that I serve as a Board member.

EDPA RFP Certification Program

Gwen Hill from ExhibitForce and her team of dedicated committee members spent countless hours, days, and months developing a program to answer a “call to action” from the Corporate Exhibitor Community.

The EDPA RFP Certification program seeks to verify that certain items are in existence and that industry standards and best practices are met and adhered to, based on various benchmarks. Research conducted in 2012 with the assistance of Exhibit Surveys to Corporate Exhibitors proved there “was unanimous enthusiasm for the concept of an EDPA ‘Good Housekeeping Seal’ that would prescreen exhibit house vendors on the basis of business integrity and operational practices and capabilities. Such a certification would even be a consideration in RFP and RFQ processes.” In response, the EDPA RFP Certification Program has been developed!

EDPA members in good standing are eligible to apply for certification. If the criteria are satisfied, member companies are certified by IComply, a division of BPA Worldwide (all data submitted is kept CONFIDENTIAL). The certification provides written assurance that the company meets the standards and practices approved by the EDPA. To achieve certification, the member company submits formal documentation along with the application. Once a member receives the EDPA RFP Certification, renewal will be required annually to maintain their status in the EDPA RFP Certification Directory.

The EDPA RFP Certification assures others that the member company adheres to industry standards and best practices. If desired, prior to sending a RFP, corporations can access certified members through the EDPA RFP Certification Directory.


So, what does this mean for you as Classic Distributor? As a manufacturer that DOES NOT sell direct to the Corporate Exhibitor (end users), Classic Exhibits would not qualify to be certified. But, Classic Exhibits Distributors do qualify as the direct sales entity serving the Corporate Exhibitor community. And here are some stats we’ve learned from the EDPA ACCESS meeting in December 2013 and the most recent EXHIBITOR 2014 meeting

  • Average cost for RFP response is $6,300
  • Average RFPs cost is $252,700
  • Wasted average is $42,962
  • Even RFIs cost $3,343
  • 29% of Fortune 500 clients require RFPs, and
  • 52% of procurement for Fortune 500 are part of selection process

Now, we have all been a part of the RFP process. We know that even the “least involved/complex” RFP processes still can involve providing the same information over and over throughout the year to many opportunities you are asked to bid on. The Certification Program solves that problem in large part. For members that qualify and achieve certification, that data about your company that the Corporate Exhibitor client is looking for is captured, culled, and vetted. Meaning that your Certification is your “Good Housekeeping Stamp of Approval” at the beginning of the process. Saving time for the Corporate Exhibitor as well. Providing them with the ability to KNOW that the clients bidding on their project/program already meet the core qualifications they are seeking. Therefore allowing everyone involved to fast-track the process essentially and get to the meaty stuff! Designing and bidding on the client’s desired project/program.

Another way to view this is to think about when, as a business manager or owner, you are asked by a client for terms within the accounting process. As a responsible business manager/owner, you would likely do the necessary credit check on the client’s business. And if that comes back good, then you grant them terms moving forward.

This is not too different from that. The EDPA RFP Certification assures the Corporate Exhibitor Client that a Distributor or Exhibit House is who they present themselves as, that they do in fact provide all the services they say do, and that they do in fact have locations at all the places they list on their website.

For many of you, I can imagine how powerful this could be for you and your business when going into a competitive bid situation, especially if you are coming to the table with your certification in hand when others may not have that level of pre-qualification. You would likely jump to the top of the list in the eyes of the potential client.

Having watched the program develop and seeing firsthand the level of detail, thought, and work put towards making this program what it is, I would strongly suggest that those distributors who frequently complete RFPs at least see if you qualify.

It will prove to be a significant leg up for you and your organization when being considered for new projects/programs in the future

Kudos again to Gwen Hill and her team putting this program together, one that I believe is a benefit to all of us in the Industry and certainly the clients we all proudly serve daily.

For more information, please contact Gwen Hill, EDPA VP of Education, by email at or by phone at (713) 331-3325.

And…if you are not already an EDPA member, but are interested in learning more about EDPA. Call me anytime. I am happy to share with you why I think we need MORE distributors in the ranks of EDPA membership, and why I value Classic’s membership in EDPA so much.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend with your families.

Be well.




The Dirtiest Word in the RFP Process: Word on the Street — April 30th thru May 4th

May 6th, 2012 6 COMMENTS

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Earmuffs Kids . . .

“BUDGET!” There I said it! The dirty word that none of us like to discuss when starting a new design. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Let me be so cavalier as to suggest that we rip the band-aid off when we first start the design process. Don’t get me wrong. Make sure you introduce yourself and show the client around your place or let them give you a tour of theirs . . . whichever applies. But then cut to the chase.

Now I know what you’re saying, “But Kevin, you don’t live in our world. You are not the one in front of the end-users everyday. You are not the one who always gets the 1/2 honest answer or the unrealistic requests.” I agree. I am not. But I am on many of the initial calls as your manufacturer representative for the project. So I get it! Especially the frustration of the answer to the dreaded question that goes something like this, “Well, we are not really sure. We know we want an open, airy, and fresh look that can house all our product presentations, four staff members, and space for a live presenter. Most importantly, we want to not look like anyone else and to really standout.”

Ouch! Ahhhh!

This is usually when I make a comment that makes the room go silent. Something like, “Well, we can make exactly what you want between $50k-$125k. It just depends on how much you want to standout and exactly how ‘fresh’ of a look you are looking for.” This usually gets a response of . . . “Oh, that seems like a big spread in dollars for the same footprint.”

Point being, you can go out and buy a 4-door sedan tomorrow and do the same thing. You can spend $19,999 or you can spend $59,999 for what appears on the outside to be a car that is the exact same dimension. But once you lift the hood and/or open the doors, you will see the differences. Both cars may suit your base purposes just fine, but one certainly comes with more options and accessories. And one will make your more noticeable.

In these situations, what our PM’s, designers, or anyone else at Classic working with the client does is take you and your client to Exhibit Design Search — preferably yours if you have a branded version or ours if you do not. Then we ask the client to “drive the models,” and check the boxes that fit them — size of exhibit, type of exhibit, and price range. In doing so, you are essentially getting the client to self select and reveal their budget range.

Now to be fair, you are often working with clients who are new to trade shows displays. They don’t have a point of reference. To them, they see a pop up display and assume it costs $199 with graphics. The sticker shock can be jarring, and they may not see the distinction between two banner stands and a portable counter and a custom hybrid. Why does one cost $10,000 more than another?

Now, I don’t pretend to think this always works or that it fits all scenarios, but at the end of the day, it gives us the best chance at being successful. We have to know their realistic budget — are they a Kia or a Mercedes customer. Is the car a means of transportation or is it a refection of their personality? Do they want it to last two years or ten years? Does it make more sense to lease or rent?

Design and detailing can solve a lot of the other issues once we know that.

Be well!

–Kevin Carty