Bidding for major events

Bidding for hosting rights is an intensive, high-risk and time-consuming business. This section aims to help you decide whether it's worthwhile going ahead.

The importance of bidding

For major events, the bid planning, feasibility and preparation stages are critically important. Securing event rights is increasingly a hotly contested process, as traditional host cities and countries — as well as emerging nations — realise the benefits of hosting major events. There are now many more players in the market.

This level of international competition means that:

  • the bar is constantly being raised for the quality, depth and thoroughness of event bids
  • event owners are becoming more demanding and more prescriptive in their requirements.

Deciding to bid

Bid preparation requires a team of people with a blend of major event experience and high-level business skills, including:

  • strategic planning
  • relationship management
  • financial and analytical expertise
  • marketing
  • project management
  • in-depth knowledge of the event/sport
  • knowledge of local and central government processes.

Prospective bidders need to gather as much information and intelligence at the outset as possible. The following questions can help with early decision-making:

  • Infrastructure: Does New Zealand have the infrastructure to host the event?
  • Funding: What are the ballpark estimates to run the event appropriately? Where will the funding come from?
  • People: Are there the people with the appropriate mix of skills to run the event? How many volunteers are needed?
  • Timelines: What are the lead times? For the bid? For the event? Is there sufficient time to complete a thorough feasibility study, identify funding sources and prepare a business plan? Are there other major events scheduled at the same time, or in the same region?
  • Stakeholders: Who are the key stakeholders (eg, national body, potential supporters, local government)
  • Strategic fit: What are the motivations behind bidding for the event? Does the event align with the main stakeholders' objectives and strategic direction?
  • Other bids: Is there another group in New Zealand looking at this event, which could result in competing national bids? Would a joint approach work?

Support available

Our team can help you with planning your bid process. It's never too soon to start talking to us about a prospective bid. Engaging well before an intended application can be helpful to the planning process.

Email us at, or see Contact us for other ways to get in touch.

Other support available

For sporting events, Sport New Zealand may be able to help — see their website for more information.

Sport New Zealand(external link)

We would also recommend contacting your local economic development agency, or local council, as they may be able to provide some guidance.

Make sure you talk to the appropriate local and central government agencies before preparing a bid, to secure their support.

Bid feasibility

The bid feasibility stage starts when you receive a Request for Proposal (RFP) from the event owner seeking an organisation to host their event. The RFP should include detailed specifications about the event and the bid criteria. If it doesn't, you should ask for this information.

The bid criteria should provide a quick overview of what's required to host the event. This will help you determine whether you have the resources to submit a comprehensive and competitive bid.

We've included an example below of an event RFP document. 

FIH Requirements for the Organisation of the Qualifying Tournaments for the XXIXth Olympic Games, 2008 [PDF, 205 KB]

The amount of effort and resource you will need to put into the feasibility study depends on the size of the event. The greater the risk associated with hosting the event, the more comprehensive the feasibility study should be.

The questionnaire below has been designed to help with your feasibility analysis.

Event Bid Feasibility Questionnaire [PDF, 503 KB]

Preparing your bid

If the outcome of the feasibility study is positive, the next stage is bid preparation.

The major event bidding process is a rapidly evolving discipline. These are the things you need to focus on to ensure your bid is successful:

  • Establishing confidence levels with potential investors and partners is essential. They will be confident to walk with you if the vision, plan, budget and leadership are well-reasoned and believable.
  • Establishing a clear vision allows people to understand why the event is important, why it's a great fit with them and what the benefits from investing in it will be.
  • Articulating possible benefits/value across a wide range of spheres is important, as these are the 'hook-ups' to which organisations will initially gravitate and then possibly develop from their end.
  • Articulating the risks and mitigations in full will reduce nervousness and suspicion that unidentified downsides might place the investment at risk.
  • Specifying the expert event knowledge/experience/leadership involved provides further confidence that the right people are in place to deliver on the vision.
  • Successfully focusing on and being able to articulate the critical success factors will help event instigators by:
    • giving clarity about the most effective next steps
    • attracting other quality leaders and advocates to the event
    • attracting investment.

The 4-step guide to bid preparation

The material in this guide has been adapted from a SPARC (now Sport NZ) seminar. It comes from practitioners with extensive experience in the New Zealand event sector, is "tried and true" and applies specifically to the New Zealand market.

You can select, adapt and implement the elements in the guide according to the nature of your event and the information required for the bid. It's not intended as a rigid blueprint, and doesn't necessarily apply to all events in its entirety.

The 4-step Guide to Bid Preparation [PDF, 474 KB]

How to use the guide

The 4 steps are:

  • Step 1 - Scope or Pre-feasibility.
  • Step 3 - Full Feasibility Analysis.
  • Step 3 - Bid Presentations, Inspection Visits and Sign-Off.
  • Step 4 - Establish Host Structure and Governance.

Guide for successful event bidding

This guide is for individuals and organisations new to event bidding and provides insight into:

  • the main stages of the event bidding process
  • the theory of event bidding
  • what is required to win an event bid
  • the common success factors for winning an event bid.

Guidelines for Successful Event Bidding [PDF, 530 KB]

Example bid document

2011 UCI BMX World Championships [PDF, 8.4 MB]