Creative Tenders – Minority Rule!
Throughout my 30 year career I have consistently entered creative tenders, winning and losing my fair share. However, I believe that it’s recording time to shift the focus from a design competition through to a partner choosing exercise.
The creative tender is an integral part of the exhibition design industry and it allows designers to show off their skills, wow a prospective client and hopefully win new business. As a designer Minecraft from a previous life, I always found them invigorating, inspiring and enjoyable. As an agency owner I feel that a business decision should be made on more than a pretty picture. Please do not get me wrong, the pretty picture is like our shop window – albeit, one that is tailored to the needs of the prospective client – and so sets out our creative abilities. However, does the success of an exhibition stand revolve purely around the creative skills of the agency, I am 100% sure that it doesn’t?
Let’s look at some other key aspects that should be considered;
The ability to deliver the design, where required.
Budget management without reducing the creative impact
Service levels, pre-show, at-show and post show
Measuring and reporting how effective the stand has been
Pre and post-show marketing assistance
Previous track record
A combination of the above creates the #completepackage for the exhibitor, however design is invariably the deciding factor.
An exhibitor going out to tender should take time to truly assess the abilities of all of the tendering companies. Asking some clear questions will help:
“Please tell me about a recent problem that you had on site (if they say they haven’t had one then walk away as problem solving is a key aspect of the exhibition industry), how it was dealt with and the final outcome?”
“How do you handle the unavoidable onsite costs; charged on at cost, charged on with a handling fee or included in the overall cost?”
“What happens if something happens during the show, such as my AV ceasing to work?”
“Logistics are always a drain on my time, how can you alleviate that pressure?”
“My manager wants to know how I can prove that it was worthwhile attending the exhibition, can you help?”
Lastly, the exhibitor should contact references. Exhibitions only last for a very short time and there is only brief time for mistakes or failure. Questioning some existing clients about their experiences should give you a good guide as to how well the agency will perform for you. Asking them some questions, based on the above examples, should be a major factor in your decision making process.
Design alone does not make for a successful show; it is only one part of a complicated machine! Let’s face it, you don’t buy a car based on its looks alone, it’s about price, reliability and of course, speed!