The ‘Dating” guide to finding the perfect stand builder for your company

You don’t decide who to marry based on online profiles alone.


  • You go on dates and get to know the person
  • You find out about their habits, hobbies, friends, work
  • They meet your family
  • Then after the ‘research’ you pick your perfect partner!


The same is true in finding the right stand builder through the RFQ or tendering process. However, most companies go about the RFQ process completely wrong. What is the best practice for RFQ? And why are so many companies getting this wrong?

Having a good quotation / tendering process in place ensures you get the best goods and services at the right time, with the most favourable costs (not always the lowest price), while maintaining open, ethical and transparent procedures.

If you were to simply marry the first person you ever dated, do you think this marriage would last? It may, but the likelihood would increase if dating and courtship were included in the process. This is also true for the tender process.

Therefore, due diligence is required in the RFQ and tendering processes.

How are companies getting this wrong?

  • Many companies choose 8 or so companies
  • Submit an RFQ
  • Wait for them to respond
  • Make a decision without ever meeting the quoting representatives
  • Their decision is based purelyon design and cost


How is this process wrong?

In the first instance, having over 3 companies quoting or tendering is too many. There are too many variables to consider and too much information to compare in order to make a valid decision.

The quoting companies may outsource their exhibition design work. How do you know they have the facilities to reproduce this design? Do you have the confidence that they can ‘create’ the design if a separate firm has completed this step of the process?

Then, basing your selection on price may not always bring the best results. While you may save some money on the build process, you may be faced with reduced quality, lower functionality and reduced customisation. This could cost your brand money as you are not achieving the most from your exhibition experience.

So why would you pick a stand build partner based just of their written submission?You should ‘date’ potential stand builders to find the perfect fit.

RFQ dating process

First date | Company research

The first date is the first step in all relationships. You meet the person, get to know them, learn about what you like and dislike about them. Do they tick everything off your ‘list’? The same should happen in the RFQ process.

In the first stages of any RFQ a company should create an in-depth criterion of what is most important to their company when selecting a stand builder, just like having a ‘list’ when dating. This could include the stand builders eco-friendliness, core company values, manufacturing processes, design ability, in house processes etc. This will be useful later in the process to compare potential stand builders and highlight suitable partners.

Before submitting an RFQ to any companies, complete comprehensive company research. Take the time to meet and visit potential companies. Learn as much about them and their processes as possible.

  • Take factory tours. Learn how they design, build, store and transport your stands.
  • Talk to customers. Source some of the companies past clients, as ask them about their experiences.
  • Meet the staff. Ask to meet any staff that you would be in close contact with if the company was successful. This may include a Project manager, Installation Manager, Designer etc.
Courting | Select 3 Companies

After a first date you decide if you want to see this person again, did they meet your expectations? Did they impress you? Did they tick everything off your list? You may not like their family values or cultural beliefs, so no further dates are planned. However, you may like everything you have learnt from this person and wish to start courting them further. The same is true when selecting a stand building company.

After initial meetings, you should now be able to score the stand builders against your criteria (or list) you developed in the initial RFQ process. You will be able to now clearly see which stand builder align with your criteria and your companies values / culture.

It is now time to select 3 companies and submit the RFQ or tender to these select companies. This will reduce the documentation you need to review to make a decision, but also give you increased confidence in your decision.

Meeting the family | Selection process

One of the biggest steps in any relationship is meeting the family! They, after all, have a huge impact on the success of a relationship. In the RFQ process the ‘family’ would be the companies key stakeholders.

After all the quotations or tenders have been received, involve key stakeholders in the selection process for buy in.

Exhibitions are usually a companies’ highest percentage of spend in a marketing budget, therefore it makes sense to involve key stakeholders in the decision making process.

Stakeholder buy-in can be beneficial as it provides opportunities to communicate new opinions and ideas that may not be readily apparent in the current exhibition strategy. This collaboration will also allow for feedback on proposed plans and suggestions for improvement. It can help align the business’ strategy and exhibition strategy with the customer needs and wants. This will help drive long-term growth and profitability for the company through the exhibition strategy.

Do it right

Get the best results

Pick your right partner

Exhibitions are usually a companies’ highest marketing spend therefore decisions should be based on MORE than just design and cost!

On average of 35.8% of a marketing budget is allocated to business-to-business exhibitions. CEIR

The RFQ process can be hard. Contact us for help with your RFQ processes.


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Start the conversation with our team by completing this form.